Last April saw the select release of the band’s sophomore effort, “Gangs.” This was followed up in the Fall by the departure of guitarist and founding member, Tony Wright. In the latter portion of 2011, the album was finally released across the board, and the beginning of 2012 brought with it news that “Gangs” had been nominated for the Choice Music Prize.
Although “Gangs” wasn’t the eventual winner, the nomination was certainly well-deserved, if not a bit of a surprise. Bassist Johnny Adger shared that while the band felt accomplished about the album, the positive reaction it garnered from both fans and the press wasn’t as expected.
In retrospect, however, it seems fitting for an album that took a route entirely separate from the first full-length. Part of that had to do with the collaborative process; Rocky O’Reilly, a friend of the band, began as the sound engineer, but ultimately ended up taking on more of a producer role. While the self-titled debut was all over the place, both in setup and execution, “Gangs” was held together by the obvious consistency, or a through-line, to the music.
“We had a definite idea that we wanted it to sound like an album, rather than a collection of songs,” Adger said.
This is quite a departure from the beginning stages, when ASIWYFA formed in 2005. Then, the band – which also consists of Rory Friers (guitar) and Chris Wee (drums) – was a four-piece instrumental rock band, although, admittedly, none of the members were certain at the time what the direction of the band would or should be.
“We knew we wanted to create music together but we didn’t really know what we were gonna be,” Adger said. “Whereas, I think, just from spending time together and writing together and from playing the shows together, it’s now a lot more obvious to people and to us.”
Indeed, just as Adger notes, the process of self-discovery is something that evolved over time, as such things are wont to do. And while ASIWYFA began as a jam band, the uncertainty tied up in the origins of the group certainly predicated such an aspect.
Because of this, one unique facet of the group is that the four have always been open to experimentation. As Adger explained it, the members have never backed away from the idea of trial and error.
“As far as our music’s concerned, we’re not really too precious about things,” he said.
Yet at the same time, Adger said they have had to learn how to limit themselves for the sake of efficiency.
“We kind of maybe, around the time we started, would have had tunes that were 15 minutes long…and then we kind of realized that it doesn’t need to be that length and this has the same effect at four-and-a-half or five [minutes],” he explained. “We’ve learned to be a lot more critical of things that we’re doing.”
Now, with two albums out, the band has already done work on a third. During a stop in Berlin last November, Adger said the band talked about a Spring release, but admitted there could be a delay, particularly because of the staggered timing in the release of “Gangs.”
“Things have been going really well, and it’s very definitely us,” Adger said of the new music. “But you can tell it’s moved on again from the ‘Gangs’ album recordings.”
And while things without Wright haven’t been easy, the band has been able to rely on friend and guitarist Niall Kennedy.
“We can’t work as a three-piece,” Adger said, referencing the shoes Kennedy has been filling.
Additionally, he’s helped hold together the integrity of the band as a unit, something which Adger said is the biggest change between the band ASIWYFA is, and the band it used to be.
“We’ve always wanted to do this and we’ve always been determined to make it work, so there’s no change as far as drive or anything is concerned, [but] I feel, at the beginning, we were playing shows, we were enjoying the shows, but we still didn’t have any idea as to what we were supposed to be,” he said. “There’s more of a kind of band identity now.”