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Eyre Llew on Success in South Korea

7 December 17 interview: Jenny Sneap
photos: Emma Ford Davis

Sam Heaton, Jack Bennett and Jack Clark have been wowing audiences as Eyre Llew with their orchestral take on post-rock since forming in August 2014. Their music has taken them on tour around the UK and Europe, as well recent dates in South Korea. Fresh from a headline show at Rescue Rooms, and having just released their debut album, they joined us for a chat about their musical endeavours...

Can you explain the band’s name?
Sam: We were going through that awkward process of trying to come up with one, with all of us hating every suggestion. Then on a bus to London I saw a street that said “Eyre Avenue” and thought it was a really cool word, then later on I saw a poster for Inside Llewelyn Davis and thought “Llewelyn” was also a cool word. I started playing with the two words and eventually came up with Eyre Llew; I thought it had a nice ring to it. I looked in to the meaning of each word; “eyre” is an old French word for travelling and wandering, and “llewelyn” is Welsh for “lion” or “brave one”, so it effectively means “travelling lion” or “wandering brave one.”

How would you define your sound? It’s quite different to anything on the local music scene at the moment...
Sam: There are industry professionals that don’t know where to place us, but that’s also what’s been working for us. We’ve often found ourselves on lineups where we’re really dissimilar to who we play alongside. For example, the last time we played Rough Trade they described us as a “palate cleanser” because they had three metal bands on, and we were on in the midst of them all.

Jack B: The easiest way to explain our sound is probably “ambient rock” and there’s not a lot of it going on in the UK as a whole, let alone in Nottingham. It’s not a popular genre, it’s quite niche but people seem to enjoy it.

Can you describe your songwriting process?
Jack B: Any one of us will come with an idea of a chord progression or a melody, or even something as simple as an effect on a guitar or piano, which will get the imagination going and from then it all happens very quickly. We tend to write very quickly, as songwriting can have a fruit-like nature to it; it can get ripe and good, and then it can start rotting. The longer you spend on a song, the more you risk that happening.

Have you realised your musical ambitions from the start, or have they changed?
Jack C: Jack [Bennett] started off playing drums. I was playing bass.

Sam: I’ve always been on guitar.

Jack C: Then Jack [Bennett] went to piano, and guitar and I went to drums, which we stuck at for a while when writing our initial songs. After that, Jack wanted to play electric guitar, because we were getting into some effects. He’d never even played guitar before this band and I’d never played piano.

Sam: It’s like we’ve added extra layers to the band with exciting new instruments that we’d wanted to learn.

Jack C: With the introduction of guitar, we took on a rockier sound for this album than any of the singles before it; it’s a bit livelier and I think that’s what we wanted for our shows.

Do you have a favourite song from the album?
Sam: We all love Edcar which we play towards the end of our set and always gets a good reception. Havoc means a lot as it was our first single to be released from the album and the first video, which we shot in Norway. The collaboration with all the artists who made that happen was a really enjoyable experience.

Jack B: Songs like Opus 1, which is purely instrumental, doesn’t have a meaning in a literal sense but we all get something when we play it. It’s a personal favourite of mine as it seems people never really know how to sit with it when we bring it out at shows, and I like throwing people a curveball.

Jack C: We have a bonus track as well which is just a piano piece with very minimal production.

Jack B: It’s called Hello but it’s the last track on the album. We went to Lincolnshire to record the piano for the album over a weekend, sitting round it with some wine and a few mics. On the morning that we were packing up I was playing around and we came up with the idea for this track. The whole writing process for this song took five minutes, we decided to record it and that’s what finishes the album.

Can you give us an insight into the album’s title track?
Sam: Atelo for the three of us means something different. It was one of the really early songs we wrote after all the singles. It’s about progression and moving on from something that you’ve been lingering over for a long time, it’s quite an optimistic song.

Jack B: The word “atelo” is actually short for the word “atelophobia” which is the fear of imperfection. When we wrote that song, we’d got to a certain point with the singles where people were listening to our music and we were being offered some good gigs knowing that we wanted to do an album. As we started writing the album, we realised that it was quite a big thing to do.

You’ve recently come back from tour in South Korea...
Jack B: The Korean audience was amazing. We were speaking to someone and they mentioned they hadn’t had a post-rock band in Korea for about four years. That is not to say they hadn’t heard it before, but it was something they experienced so infrequently. We did three shows in Busan when we were only actually there for one gig. After the first show the promoter asked if we could play his venue the next night, to which all the people from the first show turned up, and after that gig we got asked to do a third and the same thing happened.

Jack C: It just grew and grew. I only had two t-shirts with me because I only thought we were going to do one gig then come home, but we ended up staying there for four days.

Sam: If we didn’t have to go back to Seoul to play the festival that we initially went out there to do, I think we could have just kept going.

What is the plan following the release of Atelo?
Sam: We’re going to Europe to do 25-day tour in ten different countries. In 2018, we’re doing a UK tour in early spring. We’ve had offers to play all over the world, including Japan, Taiwan and South Korea again, so I think 2018 for us is going to be nine months touring and three months trying to organise it, which is a really exciting place to be.

Jack C: And if we’ve got time, maybe we’ll write a bit more music.

Atelo, the debut album from Eyre Llew, is out now.

Eyre Llew website

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