Neon Waltz – Interview 2017

Neon WaltzScottish rockers Neon Waltz will soon be releasing their debut LP Strange Hymns, as they look to showcase their stringent melodies, delicate harmonies and emotional compositions to a wider audience. Ahead of this release and their headline London show at the end of August, I caught up with guitarist Kevin Swanson.

Can you give us a brief history of the band and how it was formed?
The six of us came together to form Neon Waltz about three years ago. We’re from a small community in the north of Scotland where it was inevitable that we’d cross paths. The six of us loved working with each other; playing music, hanging out, etc. so after a while we knew that we could trust one another to give up everything to concentrate on the band full-time.

How would you describe your music?
Think ‘wall of sound’ with an angelic voice for balance.

How old are the songs on the album and what was the recording process?
They are anything from one-three years old. There are newer songs that could have appeared on the album but we felt that some of our favourite tunes would miss out on their moment in the sun. The recording process was: find a studio with a large enough room to fit the six of us in, then, basically setup like it was a live show and press record.

Are you conscious of how the tracks will sound live when you’re in the studio?
Definitely. We tried to keep it as straight-forward and as close to our live set-up as possible. We wanted to try and capture the band sound at that moment in time.

Can you pinpoint the influences from the album?
There are hints to classic songwriting from groups like The Band. Personally I was listening to a lot of Interpol and The Walkmen at the time of recording so they definitely influenced my style of playing. For the rest of the guys you’d need to ask them. I seem to remember John Denver getting played a lot at Darren’s (drummer) house so that must have been his main influence…Yes, I can confirm that this is definitely (maybe) true.

Is there a particular process that your songwriting goes through when crafting the tracks?
For this album, as soon as we went in to our rehearsal room we’d press record. Some of the best parts came from sifting through 16 minute-long recordings for any nuggets of gold. The guitar part at the start of ‘Bare Wood Aisles’ is a good example of this approach.

What does the next 12-18 months have in store for the band?
We’ll hopefully do loads of touring around the country and further afield showing people the debut album. We’ll also keep writing and recording so we can keep releasing music. That’s what everyone wants right?!

If you could work with any artist, who would it be and what would they bring to?Neon Waltz??
Johnny Marr would be up there. I love the work he did with The Cribs on their album Ignore the Ignorant.

What music are you listening to at the moment? Are there any bands on your label that we should listen out for?
Listening to the new Big Thief album called Capacity. The song ‘Mythological Beauty’ is probably my favourite song of the year. The new Cabbage EP is good.

Is there a particular ethos that drives you as a band?
Believing in ourselves no matter what happens, and taking time to get the best out of the music. Sounds cheesy because it is.

What is your relationship with the city of Brighton?
We love Brighton! We first came here to play The Great Escape festival. I think we’d driven from John O’Groats to Brighton playing shows on the way down. At home we were maybe the only band at the time writing original material, so there isn’t a band scene to be involved in and you tend to stick out a bit. By the time we arrived in Brighton it felt surreal, but brilliant that we were in a place where every band in the UK had gathered. We could clearly see the level we needed to be at to stand out.

Paul Hill