Paul Fennessy speaks to Johnny Adger of And So I Watch You from Afar about the unassuming post-rock outfit’s recent Choice Music Prize nomination
Depending on your point of view, post-rock is either the most pretentious music genre ever conceived, or a noble pursuit undertaken by admirable musical purists in an age where the industry is sadly lacking in tunes of substance. otwo conforms to the latter consensus, believing that post-rock has spawned some of the most beautiful sounds of the past two decades amid a movement spearheaded by bands such as Godspeed! You Black Emperor and Explosions in the Sky.
Regardless, though, mention of this notoriously challenging genre often causes music fans to roll their eyes, particularly when it is crafted by an obscure, up-and-coming Northern Irish band. otwo asks Johnny Adger, the bassist of And So I Watch You from Afar, whether being associated with post-rock constitutes a hindrance.
“Well initially people were kind of like, ‘Right, an instrumental band, let’s see what they’ve got’. But people who’ve come to see us have said, ‘Look, I thought you were just gonna be normal shoe-gazey post-rock, but you weren’t.’”
Evidently, it is not just fans at the gigs that have recognised the band’s unique talents – they were one of the more surprising names to be shortlisted during the recent Choice Music Prize nominations. Yet Adger appears to have received such acclaim with typical modesty.
“We were surprised to be honest, but we just felt very honoured by it, because I think when you look at the range of talent through the nominees, it just feels like an honour to be the only alternative rock band up for the nomination.”
Adler sees this critical approval as testament to how in Irish music, “the trend seems to have shifted now,” as there is an increasing audience for the type of intelligent, expertly arranged songs which ASIWYFA specialise in.
Their music’s intricate nature leads otwo to ask whether it was intended as a deliberate antidote to the ubiquity of three-minute pop songs that characterises the iPod generation. Yet the truth of how their sound materialised is considerably less romantic. Adger recalls how: “It was never decided that we were gonna be solely instrumental… It just sort of happened and it worked for us.”
The bassist’s passion for making music is manifest. From someone who is used to speaking with fame-obsessed artists who are plainly in it for the money, Adger’s modesty and lack of pretentiousness is refreshing. His genuine acknowledgement of possessing the good fortune to live the dream is conveyed when he concludes excitedly that “just being part of the Irish scene at the minute is something very exciting and it’s something we’re really happy to be a part of.”
And So I Watch You From Afar play the Andrews Lane Theatre on 26th March. The Letters EP is out now.