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Windmill Lane Sessions

Windmill Lane Sessions: The creative wisdom of the Young Folk 12.06.16

In The Dharma Bums, Jack Kerouac writes: "Comparisons are odious, Smith. It don't make a damn frigging difference whether you're in The Place or hiking up the Matterhorn, it's all the same old void, boy." Apropos of odious comparisons, the lazy description of The Young Folk would possibly include references to Fleet Foxes and Mumford And Sons.

Listen to The Young Folk's music for more than a minute, however, and you'd want to be from another planet to think of them in terms of the aforementioned bands (in my opinion, The Young Folk - since we are going down the dodgy comparisons route - are far closer to Bon Iver, Villagers, The National, or even sometimes Tom Waits.) So I ask The Young Folk to describe their sound to an alien in two sentences. . .

Anthony Furey (acoustic and electric guitar, lead vocals), sent me this cheeky, if cool, answer by text: "Eal ceamja yuc keyumgoja gequuljc rilyusc cgelyuoc eh nyuchelgamo.

"Actually - our sound is pointed towards polyphonic folk pop and our lyrics are life tales of misfortune."

Paul Butler (vocals, piano, melodica, xylophone) told me in person: "We've been described as polyphonic folk pop, which I think is an amazing description. For all you aliens out there, our music is easygoing and we don't mean you any harm."

The Young Folk's Tony McLoughlin, Anthony Furey and Paul Butler. Photo: Independent.ie
The Young Folk's Tony McLoughlin, Anthony Furey and Paul Butler. Photo: Independent.ie

Tony McLaughlin (bass, mandolin, banjo, backing vocals): "Alternative folk with sunny spells and occasional downpours."

"We each have different musical influences, ranging from Ryan Adams to The Chemical Brothers," says Anthony. "Recently I have been inspired by short stories whereas Tony and Paul tend to draw on real life experiences."

How does the writing process work in the band?

Paul: "We write our lyrics and the basic music separately, and then collectively we work on the sound of each song together. This is usually a long process. If a song isn't strong enough from the start, it's scrapped immediately. But for the next album we've decided to try and work together on lyrics. Let's see how that goes..."

Tony: "We write separately, bring our songs to the table."

And then? "Render. Reduce. Pick through the bones. Put the meat back on. Add seasoning."

The Young Folk's Tony McLoughlin, Anthony Furey and Paul Butler. Photo: Independent.ie
The Young Folk's Tony McLoughlin, Anthony Furey and Paul Butler. Photo: Independent.ie

The Young Folk - whose second album, the recently released First Sign Of Morning is a sonic treasure worth finding for yourself - are a bunch of characters, to put it mildly. Paul describes himself as "the more relaxed one in the band and sometimes the peacekeeper. But most of the time the lads think I'm too relaxed. I can't win."

Anthony thinks Paul is "the most talented musician in The Young Folk, family-oriented and has a warm heart. People say he's the good looking one in the band - I beg to differ."

Tony sees Paul as "stoic, loyal, reflective" and Anthony as "quiet, loyal, spontaneous."

And how would Anthony describe Tony? "Quick-witted, a quirky lyricist, enjoys a good pun - and he's the social butterfly of the band."

The Young Folk, who play the Academy in Dublin on October 21 - as well as various festivals around Ireland - are much bigger in places like Holland, Belgium, Germany and America than they are in their homeland. Prophets not being recognised in their own land and all that.

Be that as it may, Tony says the process of touring internationally, as they often do, makes "every new gig seem like being blindfolded and then a pin being randomly placed on a globe." As long as The Young Folk remember that whether they're in The Place or hiking up the Matterhorn, it's all the same old void, boys.

For the full interview, plus two exclusive performances, see the Windmill Lane Sessions at independent.ie