Hailing from Midlands, Ireland, The Winter Passing are a deceptively jagged quintet bursting with enough youthful energy and sopping-wet hooks to leave any devotee of jangle pop salivating in glee. Recently The Alt Review sat down with Rob, their guitarist/vocalist for a quick Q&A about his history of crappy punk bands, their recent EP Scrapbook, Ireland’s morphing music scenes and their upcoming debut LP.
Mind telling us a little bit about yourselves? Individually or as a band, whichever is more comfortable.
I’m Rob and I play guitar in The Winter Passing and do some singing. The Winter Passing is a band made up five friends from the Midlands in Ireland.
How long have you guys been making music — by yourselves I mean — life-long musicians or late-bloomers?
I’ve been playing/writing/whatever music for about ten years, since I was a teenager. I was always in crappy little punk bands from an early age and the idea of writing original music stood out for me more than playing other people’s songs. We’ve all been in other bands together through the years previous to this band. So yeah, life long so to speak!
Tell us a little about Scrapbook your debut — was it a long process of writing/recording? Do you feel you pushed all you could out of yourselves with the EP?
Scrapbook is a collection of a bunch of songs we had wrote from when we first started the band, some of the songs are newer and some of the songs are a little old (basically some of the first songs we ever wrote when we started the band). We recorded it at the back of my parents house with our friend Ciaran from the band, Starters. It was a comfortable enough environment to record in and Ciaran was really helpful with the process. I don’t think we pushed ourselves on the release though to be honest, I think it still could sound better. We didn’t have a lot of time to do it really but I guess it sounds good for what it is. I’m really glad it got released on 7 inch.
The name ‘Scrapbook’ in general denotes a certain sentimentality — are these an intensely personal set of songs?
Yeah they are — all the songs deal with a particular time in my life and I feel like I used this record to make account of that period for myself. The title Scrapbook comes from the songs themselves on the release, some of the songs are old and some are new. Like a scrapbook, where you place old and new bits of material into them traditionally, you know?
Do you guys feel any legitimate personal comparisons to other European (broad I know) dual-vocal rock bands? Or more traditional indie rock a la Built to Spill or The Feelies?
Yeah I would feel like we have similar sounds, alright yeah, especially with Built To Spill. I’ve got a cousin who lives in Egypt right now who use to visit us a lot when I was growing up, he was such a big Built To Spill fan and he use to always play the riff from “Car” on my first acoustic guitar. I’ve listen to them a lot recently, bands like them and The Get Up Kids play a big roll in the sound of our band. The Feelies are also a cool band. Cool question, brought back some cool memories.
Would you say Ireland possesses a bustling music scene? Is The Winter Passing in some way a reflection of this?
The music scene in Ireland is weird. It goes through periods of being very good and then goes through some sketchy times. The scene we are affiliated with is mostly based in Dublin. We have a lot of friends there and people support the punk/emo/indie scene which is cool.
Any plans for an LP in the near-future? Do you think Scrapbook’s set of songs would make the cut?
We are actually currently writing our debut LP which will be released later this year through Fist In The Air Records in the UK. None of the songs from Scrapbook will be on the release. We have so much new material that I’d rather just have a fresh set of songs for the album. The writing process has been hard, it’s difficult to write so many songs for one release and you need to make sure all the songs fit the release also you know?
You mentioned a few shows you had lined up in our initial correspondence — any tours, of any nature, looming on the horizon of 2013?
We’ve had shows throughout Ireland all this month which were cool. Once we get the album finished we’re planning on touring the UK and Europe later this year.
I know this seems sweeping but — what are the ambitions of The Winter Passing? You guys content to keep playing music or is this something you’re trying to turn into a life style?
We just want to write music, travel and have new experiences with the band, so whatever else happens is a bonus. The idea of the band means we get to hang out with each other a lot more than we would if we didn’t have the band. Everyone has always wanted to tour and release records so it’s cool that we’re doing it now. It’d be cool if we could make money off it too or for it to pay for itself, I guess that’s the goal. Just taking each day as it comes, I’m still having fun with it, which is sick.
Any personal favorite artist/songs/movies/tidbits of pop culture that you cannot help but (or at least try to) weave within your own output?
Brand New, we couldn’t help but not reference them on our song ‘’Nowhere Still.’’ Bands like Weezer, Jimmy Eat World, The Get Up Kids and The Gaslight Anthem also play a big roll in the bands sound. We always take ideas for songs or album plans from movies we watch also. I think the album is going to tell a story in two parts, it’s not finished yet or anything but I’d like for all the lyrics on the LP to be connected to each other and tell some sort of a story.
Any specific books/artwork/movies/TV that has been catching your eyes and ears as of recent?
I’m currently listening to a lot of Manchester Orchestra, Best Coast and Modern Football recently. I’m reading Pulp by Charles Bukowski. I’ve just finished all the seasons of Dexter too which was so good. The last film I watched was The Perks of Being A Wallflower which was really good too.
Any place you’d conclusively die to tour in?
We’d all love to tour America anyway. Europe would be sick, Canada and Japan too. Everywhere we could possibly go to we would! Touring is the best.
Rob, feel free to add anything you think we might have missed and thanks again for taking the time to sit down with us at The Alternative Review.
Thanks for asking me to do this, I enjoy reading your blog. Our album will be out later this year, make sure to check us out if you have the time. Listen to Moose Blood, Forrest and Starters. They are all excellent bands from the UK and Ireland. Peace!!!
Scrapbook is out now and can be found via The Winter Passing’s bandcamp here.