On the Radar – No 223: Croy band Campfires in Winter have overhauled their sound on debut single White Lights, which they launch with a show in Glasgow this week. Frontman Robert ‘Boab’ Canavan explains all to Patrick McPartlin …
Croy isn’t known as a hotbed of alternative music, but it seems no-one’s told Campfires in Winter, who formed in the Lanarkshire village in 2004 and are enjoying a steady rise to the top.
Peddling a brand of alternative folk that sits comfortably between Frightened Rabbit and Idlewild, the band launched their debut single ‘White Lights’ this week, following positive reception to their 2010 EP ‘Cardboard Ships’.
Support slots alongside the likes of RM Hubbert and Kid Canaveral have boosted their profile, culminating in appearances at the Wickerman Festival, Inverness’s goNORTH gathering – “just one of those mental, sweaty gigs I’ll never forget,” according to frontman Robert ‘Boab’ Canavan – and a King Tut’s support slot with Kitty and the Lion.
There’s certainly a nod to Frightened Rabbit within Campfires in Winter’s songs, but is it an obvious, even deliberate influence?
“We certainly draw inspiration from Frightened Rabbit’s rise,” admits the frontman.
“We’ve followed them for so long and it’s great seeing them selling out huge venues these days.
“It gives you that extra push, knowing that just a few years ago bands like them were at the same venues we’re playing,” he adds.
With plans to head north to record an EP in the coming months, and appearances scheduled for A Quiet Night In and the West End Festival, Campfires in Winter are in for a busy few months, with Canavan adding that the band are hopeful of embarking on a tour of Scotland sometime between April and June.
Debut single White Lights is something of a departure from the band’s earlier post-rock efforts. Gone are the atmospheric textures and pianos, to be replaced by a more straightforward guitars/bass/drums format.
“I remember thinking it would be good to just have something a bit straighter than our usual stuff, something where, instead of using the guitar for texture, I’m bashing it around a little,” Canavan says.
Likewise, the reworking of Cardboard Ships – which appears as a B-side on the single – showcases the band’s versatility, with the earlier version replaced by a stripped back, more tender number.
During their time on the Scottish music scene, Campfires in Winter have been given all manner of advice from contemporaries throughout the past ten years, but there’s one particular lesson that stands out.
“Scottish bands have taught us is that it’s fine to use your own accent, that you don’t need to try and sound like something you’re not,” reveals Canavan.
“Someone moaned at me a while back that all Scottish bands were singing with Scottish accents now. I asked them what accent they’d rather people from Scotland sang in.”
One of the many appeals of the band is the raw and unhoned vocals, and whilst more and more bands may be following similar advice, Canavan remains confident that Campfires in Winter can keep their noses in front.
“We’re constantly trying to better our songs and keep them sounding fresh,” he says.
“Hopefully people find something new in it to enjoy.”
By Patrick McPartlin
Campfires in Winter play Nice ‘n’ Sleazy, Glasgow tomorrow (7 Mar), with support from Vasa and Garden of Elks. Tickets are available from www.campfiresinwinter.bigcartel.com.
White Lights is out now, available on iTunes or from their Bandcamp page.