Interview with The Sandrunners
The Sandrunners are gearing up to release their debut album in Belfast later this month. Ahead of the launch, I managed to have a quick chat with band member David McCann about the band and the new record.
Tell me how the Sandrunners came together and who’s in the band.
Well, John and Ryan and Mark had a great band going called The Bubbleheads. Then John and I started writing together and the songs just didn’t suit the Bubblehead style so much, so we thought we’d go a bit more acoustic. We got Peter on board to play bass on our EP launch and Gary joined on accordion soon after. So it’s:
• John McLaverty – Guitar, ukulele, lead vocals
• David McCann – Guitar, ukulele, vocals
• Ryan Lynch – Mandolin, guitar, vocals
• Mark Johnston – Drums, guitar, vocals
• Peter Doherty – Bass, vocals
• Gary Arnold – Accordion
What are the musical influences of the band and how does that contribute to the overall sound?
The band’s influences come from all arts and parts. As songwriters, our primary influence would have to be the Beatles, but we’re drawing on just about everything from The Band and The Faces to Irving Berlin and Cole Porter, along with Bowie, Elvis Costello, and Randy Newman. Soundwise, everyone has influence in the arrangements and how we sound. We have a heavy metal freak, an accordion band player, a jazz head, and a lover of 60s pop. And that’s all just Gary.
As a band, you don’t appear to compromise in your music. Was this a deliberate decision as a band to focus solely on the music?
We never thought about it. It’s always been all about the music. I can’t think how you’d do it any other way. We’re all far too old and ugly (except me) to concentrate on image instead.
Your first EP ‘Angel of the Northern Wind‘ was well received by fans and critics. Was a that a firm foundation to use to continue on to record the band’s debut album, or was the album always planned?
Thanks Gerry. By the time we had the EP out, we had at least an album’s worth of material written. Now, as we release ‘The King of the Screen’, we have another couple of albums’ worth on top of that. We start recording the next one in September – again we hope to record with Rory Donaghy at Blast Furnace. Too many songs – not enough time.
One of the things that I like in particular about your music is that each song seems to contain its own story. Is that how you approach the process as a band, or is it more personal decision made by the writer?
Well, so far, it’s been John and I that have done most of the writing, though Seán Doran has also co-written a few of the songs. I guess we are quite cinematically driven in a way – if we can see the story in our heads, it’s easier to write it. But the tune almost always comes before the lyrics.
The title of the album is ‘The King of the Screen’. What was the inspiration behind that choice?
John just suggested we write a song about the death of the silent movie. So we wrote the song ‘The King of the Screen’. It just seemed like a good name for an album. Kind of suggests that late 20s-early 30s vibe.
The launch is on the 24th June at the superb Duncarin Cultural Arts Centre, any plans to tour or play any of the summer festivals after the launch?
We have no Northern Ireland festivals planned as yet. It’s hard to get a festival that’s willing and able to pay a 6-piece band. Also, our band members live pretty far apart (Kilkeel, Bangor, Comber, Randalstown, Larne and Donegal. We are heading back over to Holland again to do a small tour in August.
The Sandrunners will launch ‘King of the Screen’ at Duncairn Cultural Arts Centre, Belfast on Friday 24th June.