Interview: Foy Vance (Part 2)

By on Wednesday, 6th July 2016 at 11:00 am
 

This is part 2 of TGTF’s interview with Northern Irish singer/songwriter Foy Vance about his new album ‘The Wild Swan’. If you missed part 1, you can find it right back here.

“We had plans when we went in,” said Vance of the Nashville studio sessions for ‘The Wild Swan’, “but they were constantly changing, and I think that’s the way a record should be made. You need to evolve, be [receptive] to what’s happening in the room, and not go in with a definitive plan. You can have ideas of what you think it’s going to sound like. I mean, unless you’re U2 and you can take a year and a half to make a record. Then you can make it sound exactly like you wanted it to sound in your head in the beginning.”

Vance singled out one song on ‘The Wild Swan’ as a turning point in the album’s recording process. “There’s one song in particular on that record called ‘Casanova’, which wasn’t even on the list of songs to record. We were recording another song called ‘Upbeat Feelgood’, and we played it live three or four times, and it became apparent that no one was feeling upbeat or feeling good. We were starting to get into our parts a bit too much, thinking about it too much. So I said, ‘Listen, keep the tape rolling, and we’re going to have a three or four minute departure here.’ And I started playing ‘Casanova’, which actually the bass player had never played before in his life, he didn’t even know what it was. But in that one take, you know, we got it. So that transformed that day, and it sort of transformed the record a little bit.”

As it turned out, the ‘Casanova’ departure indirectly resulted in the album’s first single. “There was another song that I had only half-written called ‘Noam Chomsky is a Soft Revolution’. I had one verse for that, and I thought I should finish that song off because [musically] it ties in with the ‘Casanova’ thing.” In spite of its seemingly cerebral title and subject matter, Vance described ‘Noam Chomsky is a Soft Revolution’ as “essentially a 12-bar rock ’n’ roll song. I think the only thing that makes it cerebral, or makes people think that it’s trying to be cerebral, is the mention of Noam Chomsky. I guess I like that juxtaposition.”

Elaborating on the inspiration for the single, Vance became a bit philosophical himself. “I love Noam Chomsky, I love listening to him. I remember reading these interviews with him, and he’s so articulate and brave. But there’s something about listening to him, ‘cos he has that soft [tone], he sounds like your granddad saying ‘Would you like a cup of tea, son?’ Yet he’s telling you these devastating sort of truths, you know, about how he sees the political structure, the corporations and terrorism and all kinds of stuff, but it’s all so softly spoken and gentle. He’s quite an anomaly. He puts me in mind of all those other people who I feel were revolutionaries in their own right, who saw the status quo, saw the way things were and thought ‘No, I’m not going to have it like that, I’m going to say it how it is and how I see it.’ Take any one of those people named in [the song], you know, there’s Willie Nelson or Muhammad Ali or Dostoevsky, all of these people spoke from their hearts. I guess that’s what that song’s about. And ‘Noam Chomsky’ is just a beautiful thing to say.”

The next single to be taken from ‘The Wild Swan’ is another one with a melodious name in its title, the sweet-tempered ballad ‘Coco’. The song was inspired by the young daughter of American actress Courteney Cox, who is romantically involved with Vance’s friend and Snow Patrol keyboard player Johnny McDaid. I suggested that it might be considered questionable for a man of Vance’s age to be writing songs about such a young child, and he bristled a bit, perhaps because his own daughter is near the same age as the eponymous Coco. “I guess being a daddy myself, you know, I’ve written lots of those songs. I’m a big fan of Paul Simon, who is the master of sweet and innocent. I love his writing, absolutely love his writing. That song about Coco, she’s just such a sort of enigmatic wee girl, you know, just full of the joys of spring and full of the mayhem you would imagine of a 12-year-old kid, or 11 she was at the time. I wrote that for her just messing around one day. We were on holiday and my daughter was with us, and they were hanging out, and I picked up the guitar and was just singing silly songs, and I started singing that to her. And then the second I got to the end of it, I thought, ‘That could actually be a song’, so I wrote it.”

Despite what people outside his social circle might think, Vance had absolutely no reservations about including ‘Coco’ on ‘The Wild Swan’. “There was a guy, a critic here in the UK, who took it like it was a chat-up line, and I was thinking, ‘I don’t know where you come from, mate, but where I come from, that’s not the done thing.’ I know in an age of this media mayhem that we live amongst now, they’d like to portray all that kind of nonsense, but at the core, it’s an innocent song.”

‘Coco’, the latest single from Foy Vance’s album ‘The Wild Swan’, is due for release this Friday, the 8th of July, on Gingerbread Man Records. Vance recently performed ‘Coco’ in live session for The Telegraph, which you can view here. Tune in to TGTF tomorrow for the conclusion of this interview.

Tags: , ,

Leave Your Response

* Name, Email, Comment are Required
 
 
 

About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

All MP3s are posted with the permission of the artists or their representatives and are for sampling only. Like the music? Buy it. If you want a track removed, email us and we'll sort it ASAP.

E-mail us  |  RSS Feed   RSS Feed  

Learn More About Us