Interview by Barry Egan
Freud certainly had some fruity views on fetishes. I’ll keep them for another time. That said, had the frock-coated Austrian guru of psychoanalysis been at a certain HamsandwicH show in Dublin a few years ago, he possibly might have had a field day of sorts.
The group’s elfin-cool lead singer Niamh Farrell — equal parts Bjork, PJ Harvey and Kate Bush — recalls the incident all too well...
“I’m pretty sure I saw someone smelling my shoe at a gig when I took them off. Someone saw them do it and then the shoe was put back on stage. I was like: ‘No! No! No! That did not happen!’”
She roars with laughter unbridled. “It was about three or four years ago.”
“The guy has probably opened a shoe shop,” giggles Podge McNamee, one of Niamh’s co-conspirators in HamsandwicH. “One free shoe with every album you buy.”
At the aforementioned sold-out show at Dublin’s Academy, Podge was guilty of a bit of shoe-related carry-on himself — granted, not with Niamh’s footwear, but his own.
At one point at the end of a song, having enjoyed one too many Buckfasts (Podge’s onstage tipple of choice), he threw his shoe into the audience. I’m not sure what the logic was precisely, but suffice to say Podge didn’t get the shoe back and he spent the remainder of the show hobbling around like an indie folk and peg-leg Jimmy Page.
“I should pack another pair of shoes for him,” laughs Niamh, sitting in Windmill Lane Studios on Ringsend Road. The much-touted band have just recorded a stonking version of Talking Heads’ This Must Be The Place for the Windmill Lane Sessions.
HamsandwicH’s new album Stories From The Surface is teeming with heartbreak, regret and whatever you’re having yourself.
“Maybe it’s a bit too autobiographical,” says Niamh.
“The last album was definitely in the 90pc bracket of heartbreak,” Podge says referring to the White Fox record in 2010. “I know I was single. So all the lyrics I wrote were quite mopey.”
I ask Niamh what was Podge like to be around at the time. Was it like hanging out with a black cloud?
“Ah, no. He was great craic,” she laughs.
“It was all on the outside,” retorts Podge. “It is like we are synchronised in our relationships. Two or three of us had... not bad break-ups, but do you know those weird, sad break-ups? But they fuelled a lot of lyrics — which is good, you can use that. With this album, we’re all in happy relationships. So there is a good bit of positivity.”
Asked about the line from the song All Worthwhile ‘Because we only used ourselves/We were the only ones to get the joke’, Niamh says that: “We wrote that sitting in Podge’s house. It is kind of about that they are only two people in the relationship; so you are the only two people in the relationship that knows how each other feels. So you are essentially the only two people to get the joke.”
Podge adds: “And no one is hurt in the process.”
So there were no hearts hurt during the making of this new album?
“I don’t think so. They’re all mended now, I think,” Niamh says. “Podge is very in touch with his emotional side.”
“It’s funny because my current relationship...”
Podge stops and laughs at what he has just said.
“My current relationship! But my girlfriend has been very sound about it. She said: ‘Don’t let anything stop you.’ Not that she doesn’t care, but she is not going to read too much into it. She is not poring over the lyrics looking for clues.”
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