Federal Charm @ Nice N Sleazys 10/06/16

Posted: June 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

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Since writing the article about Glasgow Blues Players in the “Blues In Britain” magazine in May, there have been a number of artists that have been in touch.  The first of these is Federal Charm.  An awesome four piece from Manchester who have just released a new album called “Across The Divide” and are touring the UK at the moment to promote this.

On the Blues scale these guys are up close to the rockier end and they do it incredibly well.  I first started listening to the new album a couple of weeks ago and it’s a belter.

“Guess What” is an absolute classic and if I could put an influence on this it would lie somewhere between INXS and Allman Brothers but transported to a groove that is absolutely “now”.  They played this at the gig tonight and it was incredibly tight for the first gig of the UK tour.  The punters in N&S reacted in true Glasgow style and left the boys on stage in no doubt of their appreciation.  The whole album is very much Blues based but has an edge to it that I can see appealing to a wider market that Blues/Rock.

There’s loads of different feels throughout the tracks.  For example, “Give Me Something” is a pedal to the metal banjo, harmonica and guitar driven track that jumps nicely been cotton pickin, 4 to the floor Country to an almost “Free” feel.

I caught up with Nick Bowden before the gig and had a quick chat…

K:  Hi Nick and welcome back to Glasgow.

N: Thanks very much.  Good to be here.

K: So you’ve released the Across the Divide? Which divide are you referring to? I noticed that there is no track on the album with this name so am assuming that all of the tracks are based somehow on a theme of the album title?

N: The title ‘Across the Divide’ is a line from the song ‘Silhouette’. When we got to the stage of naming the album, we’d finished recording and mastering and everything so it was the last thing we had to do. The longer we thought about it, we knew it had to be a title that made a statement, just as (we think) the album itself does. I’m not sure if ‘profound’ is the right word, but we thought it sounded cool as well as being the last line in the song.

K: All of the songs on the album are original material written by yourselves and there is quite a varied feel across the tracks.  What is your song writing process?  Is it a group process or do individuals come up with ideas that are expanded by the rest?

N: Our songwriting process for our 2 releases has been reasonably straightforward. It usually starts with Paul and I jamming a round with a riff, a basic bass and drum pattern are established, then we’ll work out an arrangement. Once we’ve done that, Danny and LD will add their respective flavours. Then, once I’ve got a solid structure to work from, I’ll come up with the lyrics. We’ll rehearse it and even play it live 2 or 3 times to iron out the kinks and then commit it to tape once we’re happy with it. It doesn’t always happen like that but generally that’s the way we go forward.

K:  You are now on tour with the band. How do you guys define the concept of “A Band”.  What does being in a band actually mean to you?

N: The definition can take you in a few different directions, I guess. To me, it means a group of 3,4,5 (or 2 these days!) people who play their own songs on their own instruments, and who are able to transfer that onto a stage. Being in a band is akin to a family, especially once you start touring and spending a lot of time together. There are a lot of ingredients that go into making a band but I think the main one is that you have to have fun!

K: What is your definition of success in this tour?

N: I suppose everyone has their own idea of success, possibly revolving around fame and money, and although it’s nice to make a few quid from doing what you love, my own definition would involve playing songs in front of an audience who came out of it feeling like they got their money’s worth, possibly a few of them singing along with the words too!

K: You are offering support roles for local bands wherever you play and at the same time you are playing support gigs for other acts. How does it feel to switch between those 2 roles regularly?

N: I feel like it’s a privileged position to be in. Certainly unique because we are able to stand on our own and play clubs knowing there will be a good turnout, but also we’re able to support the bigger acts and maybe make some new friends along the way! It’s a great place to be in at the moment because it means we are considered for all types of venues, and we never turn down a show.

K: I love the album cover for Across the Divide.  Can you tell me a little about the concept and the design?

N: The man most responsible for the cover is our art guy and good friend, Brian Cantwell. He’s been with us since day one and we’ve always completely trusted his way of thinking. When he originally came up with the concept for Across the Divide, we all fell in love with it instantly. The great thing about it is that you can look at the picture and come up with your own story as to how the ship got there, who the man is etc. which is just what we wanted.

K: What’s the Holy Grail of gigs for you? Do you have one venue or Festival that you would consider to be the Dogs Bollocks?

N: Being Manchester lads, I think our holy grail of shows would be to headline at the Manchester Apollo. The four of us have been to loads of gigs there over the years and it is by far the best venue in the city. It’s definitely a good sized venue, so one to aspire to!

K: You are touring the UK at the moment but if you had one city to play in the USA which one would it be?

N: I personally would love to play MSG in New York. Just to be affiliated with the legions of other great bands who’ve played there, not to mention the experience itself, would be amazing.

K: Nick, if you could own only one instrument and had the choice of one that had been owned by your musical hero or one that you had grown into and had a personal emotional attachment which would it be? E.g. A guitar you’ve used for 12 years that or one that Jimmy Paige owned? Tell me a bit about either choice and the reason behind it.

N: Speaking on behalf of the other members, I think we’d all love to own and use an instrument that was used by one of our heroes. Obviously you would have to be in love with the instrument yourself too, I don’t think would be able to play something I found difficult to connect with, just because, say, Paul Kossoff played it once. I wouldn’t turn down one of his guitars though!

K:  Thanks for your time Nick.  Before you go on stage I just want to check to see how much of the Glasgow patter you have picked up in your last visits to the city.  A wee test of you will.

N:  Ok, cool.  I’m up for that!

K: Can you please let me know your choice of definition of the following words…

Bawhair
a. A pubic hair
b. A unit of measurement
c. A posh sweater

N:  b… A unit of measurement

K: Correct!

Taps Aff
a. Scottish Tapas
b. Removal of one’s string vest due to inclemently warm weather
c. A hose pipe ban

N:  b… Removal of one’s string vest due to inclemently warm weather

K: Correct!

Aye right!
a. Agreement with a statement
b. Disagreement with a statement
c. Total and utter disagreement with a statement intoning sarcasm and ridicule

N: c… Total and utter disagreement with a statement intoning sarcasm and ridicule

K: Correct!

Ok last one.

That’ll be chocolate!
a. Identification of a cocoa based confection
b. Identification of a rather unsightly stain in the trouser department
c. Total and utter disagreement with a statement intoning sarcasm and ridicule

N: c… Total and utter disagreement with a statement intoning sarcasm and ridicule

K: Awesome:  4 out of 4.  You’re ready 🙂 Have a great gig!

N:  Thanks mate.  All the best.

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