On the Radar – No 246: It’s been just over two years since the release of their debut album Fully Cocked, and since then Bwani Junction – Rory Fairweather (lead vocals), Dan Muir (lead guitar), Jack Fotheringham (drums) and Fergus Robson (bass) – have been performing everywhere from T in the Park to Vietnam.
Ahead of the release of the follow-up Tongue of Bombie next week, Morgan Cranch had a quick chat with the Edinburgh band at BrewDog bar in the Scottish capital about what it was like making the video for ‘Borneo’, and what it’s like getting a bad review from your mum…
For the uninitiated, tell us how Bwani Junction was formed?
Jack: “Outside a brothel in Leith, we all met.”
Rory: “Jack was spewing on the side walk… on the pavement, I wiped his face and since then we were bros.”
Fergus: “We met at school.”
Your music has been described many times as being ‘afro-beat’ – is this how you guys think your music comes across to your listeners in this genre?
Rory: “Afro-beat’s a weird term, because afro-beat is now used for pretty much anything that does an off-beat. The real comparison with African music for us is Dan’s guitar playing, because he was taught to play by Rise Kagona, that’s why people associate us with African music.”
Your last single ‘Borneo’ has been well received. What has been the best review you’ve had?
Jack: “They are all terrible.”
Fergus: “We think it’s been better received live, where we’ve gone, because even in Malawi and Vietnam people can sing along to it before the song’s even finished, so we always get this vibe that it goes down better live.”
Rory: “The worst review came from Jack’s mum.”
Jack: “She didn’t like the video, she thought it was crass and what else did she say, she said…what other word did she use… homoerotic. So I had to find a girlfriend quickly and bring her home.”
You guys have fun making the videos? Because I saw the video for ‘Two Bridges’ and I thought it was impressive climbing that thing, especially in the Scottish wind.
Dan: “It was a miserable morning I remember.”
Jack: “We’ve now played at both bridges. The video [for Two Bridges] was good fun, I mean that was the first video we did, so that was always going to be a memorable one for us.”
Rory: “We had no idea what we were doing.”
What do you think of your acting in the video for Borneo? Do you have much say in the acting side of things?
Rory: “With our manager, we all sit down and come up with the scripts and we have a guy who comes and films it for us, he’s named Peter Stewart. He’s really, really good and he directs how we’re supposed to act.”
Jack: “We all watched Shawshank Redemption to get into [character] so I had to get into the zone of…what’s the guy called again… Sisters. So I thought, ‘what would ‘Sisters’ do at this point?’”
In this day and age, with streaming apps like Spotify or Rdio, is this your preferred platform for your music to be heard?
Jack: “Obviously it’s good… anything to get your music out. It’s obviously not the preferred way.
Rory: “Its not the ’70s any more, people get music for free, you’ve got to roll with the times.”
Fergus: “And Spotify is awesome, I use Spotify.”
It has been just over two years since the release of Fully Cocked – are you excited about the prospect of touring with new material?
Dan: “We’re ready to start doing the third album.”
Jack: “What would be nice though, is if we’d get to a point and be doing the third album, it’d be nice to start missing the first album again, wanting to play those tracks again, that’d be quite nice.”
Are there any festivals this year that you are hoping to be on the bill for?
Rory: “Glastonbury, Reading, Leeds, anything really!”
Fergus: “T in the Park, because we’ve played twice now overall.”
I saw that you travelled to Vietnam for some gigs? Where would you most like to perform in the world – if you could choose anywhere?
Fergus: “Probably not somewhere quite as hot.”
Rory: “The Ukraine”
Dan: “Iceland would be pretty sweet.”
Rory: “LA is too hot for me.”
Fergus: “He burns so easily.”
You play a fair amount of your live shows here in Edinburgh – how does a performance in your hometown compare to other cities?
Jack: “More people”
Rory: “We love playing in Edinburgh, but our biggest fanbases are probably in Dunfermline and Glasgow.”
Fergus: “In terms of Scotland, the shows are better than England or anywhere else we’ve played apart from France, we toured with a guy called M – Matthieu Chedid, he’s kind of like Bon Jovi in France, he’s huge, a really big pop star. We played three… four shows with him.”
Rory: “To crowds of like 10,000.”
When you are on the road, what do you miss most about home?
Dan: “Not having to think about clean clothes, you just kind of have clean clothes.”
Jack: “Cups of tea…if you can’t make a good cup of tea, we get on edge.”
Rory: “Not being hungover!”
Fergus: “I live with Jack, and we have a really cosy, cool flat and I miss the flat when we’re away.”
Dan: “Hanging out in the right bars in Glasgow.”
Rory: “We wrote a song one time, me and Dan were writing a song, about Edinburgh, it’s on our first album, and we looked out the window and there was Scott Hutchison walking in front of the flat, just in Bruntsfield and we were like, ah… Frightened Rabbit guy.”
Bwani Junction’s new album Tongue of Bombie is out on Monday (3 Feb) (pre-order link). The launch show is at the Liquid Room, Edinburgh on Friday (31 Jan) – tickets link. You can follow Bwani Junction on Facebook and Twitter.