We spend a day with the London four-piece as they prepare to release their debut album.
Album’s a tricky things, and a first album is even trickier. It sets the tone for what people come to expect of you and it must also feel current and fresh whilst also hinting at your direction in the future.
ISLAND, then, are facing this sort of pressure as they storm ahead to releasing their debut album, ‘Feels Like Air,’ After breaking through in 2015 with their EP ‘Girl,’ the boys are now signed to a label (Frenchkiss Records) and are ready to break through into the big time.
We spent a day with ISLAND (and also asked them to introduce themselves nd describe themselves in three words – see more below) and here are their un-filtered thoughts about their new album, their fans and one member whose a part-time bouldering enthusiast.
On their new album ‘Feels Like Air’:
Feels Like Air all came together very quickly actually. As soon as we’d landed on a general theme for the record, we wrote & demoed all the tunes in just a couple of months. We then went into the studio to record & mix the album with our good friend Mike Hill – and somehow managed to get it all done in less than 2 weeks.
After lots of time spent on the road touring, listening to loads of great albums whilst travelling through Europe & the UK, we realised we really wanted to make a record that could soundtrack any type of journey – be it in a car, plane, train etc. With this theme of ‘driving’, everything started taking shape and the songs kind of fell into place.
The songs on the album are written from the perspective of a day-dreaming passenger, so as a result there are many different ‘dreams’ that are all quite introverted.
On inspiration and writing:
Our songs tend to stem from the most unexpected places, but usually we’ll form the songs in the studio where we rehearse. Writing the album was a really collaborative process, but Rollo has always been the man behind the lyrics. It’s very much within the usual ISLAND realms, but naturally we like to think we’ve developed the sound & stepped up our game. We’ve been sitting on the finished product for a while now, so we just can’t wait for the world to hear it.
On the fans and playing live:
Our European fans are always so welcoming & respectful. It was especially cool to play our first shows in The Czech Republic & Austria. Toby & Jack have family in Vienna, so it was almost like a home-coming gig.
We had no idea if people would actually turn up, but suddenly the place was packed & we got one of the best crowd reactions of the whole tour. Driving through all the different beautiful landscapes was also really inspiring, so much so that we actually ended up turning our tour footage into a music video for our latest single ‘Ride’.
Selling out Amsterdam & Berlin was an absolute dream, but nothing beats playing a show in our home town – London. We didn’t actually play London on the last tour, but we’ve got our biggest headline show ever coming up on 23rd May at KOKO.
Things didn’t look too promising when we realised our first ever show in Prague was on a bleak Monday night in November… but somehow people had heard about the show & it filled up nicely.
The banging goulash we had for lunch may have added to the surprise here. A massive highlight was when Rollo invited one of our biggest fans on stage at our final show in Paris.
Fred’s flown around Europe a few times to see us, and we’ve become good friends with him as a result. He’s a top guy & has the most amazing unique dance moves we’ve ever seen. He joined us on stage for our new single ‘Ride’ & absolutely stole the show.
On their bond:
We spend almost everyday together, even when we’re not touring or writing. There’s a lot of admin to be done, as well as putting together videos & other creative bits for promo – and it’s definitely easier to keep on top of everything by spending lots of time together. We see our studio as a kind of office!
Naturally we all have very varied music tastes, but the middle ground at the moment would be artists such as: Leif Erikson, Klangstof, The Shacks, Otzeki, The War On Drugs, Grizzly Bear. Sadly we don’t really have hobbies at the moment, but Jack occasionally finds the time to go bouldering…
Dates for ISLANDs tour can be found here
ISLAND’s new album ‘Feels Like Air’ will be released on Frenchkiss Records on April 6th.
Words by Charlie Coleman