Barnsley’s Garforth and Myers are made up chiefly of (unsurprisingly) Rory Garforth and Adam Myers, two of the town’s most respected and experienced exponents of all things acoustic. Having met in 2008 (Garforth coming from Hotel Brown, Myers from Tiny Little Secrets), their collective sound focuses on flawless vocal harmonies redolent of Fleet Foxes and, in some instances, a softer Arcade Fire, supported by intricate, delicate guitar lines akin to Nick Drake and the woefully underrated Bonnie Prince Billy.
The duo are notoriously meticulous; their self titled 2012 debut album took three years to complete and features some of the region’s most sought after folk/acoustic musicians (namely, the Angel brothers – Dave and Keith – who were Garforth’s bandmates in Hotel Brown, and double bassist Andy Seward, noted for his work with the North’s First Lady of folk Kate Rusby, among many others). Their graft paid off; the album garnered luminous reviews from all manner of magazines and websites.
I interviewed Rory Garforth in mid September, during the recording process for the second album and just prior to their sold out gig at Barnsley’s exceptional Polish Club venue.
There seems to be a considerable amount of time between gigs, releases, etc. Is that purely logistical?
‘Because we’ve both been in bands for such a long time, we got to the point where less is more and we just wanted to play nice gigs; instead of playing ten gigs, we’d rather play one in a nice venue. Personally, these days, I’m more into recording and writing, that side of things. I enjoy gigs while I’m doing them… Ha ha! The last gig we did was Big Boulder festival in Sheffield, and that was well over a year ago.’
Will this upcoming gig be the first of many or a one off? Will there be an extended period of writing and recording afterwards?
‘I’m hoping it’ll kickstart us into doing a few more gigs. I hope we’ll do this one and want to book some more. We wanted to have a product [the second album] ready for this gig, but it’s not going to happen.’ From a mixing and mastering point of view? ‘Well, I think there are about nine or ten songs done, but some of them aren’t ready, and I don’t want to rush them out for the gig.’
Where have you been recording?
‘We did some sessions with Keith Angel at his studio in Doncaster, but me and Adam like to do things slowly, get it right, and, even though Keith’s a mate, there was the pressure of knowing someone else was giving their time and effort to us. When we’re here [Rory’s converted one of his bedrooms into and enviable studio], we can have all day at it, if we want. On the new stuff, we took a more lo-fi approach. It’s not so important that it’s polished; the vocals are the centrepiece, and everything else is there to back them up. There’s very little fancy instrumentation.’
Do you have a name for the album?
‘Erm… All I can say is that it’s very… nautically inspired! There are a lot of songs about the sea.’
‘There’s a bit of a shanty, but not in the ‘finger-in-the-ear’ sense. I’ve always enjoyed a good shanty!’
And who shouldn’t. Is the writing process democratic?
‘We tend to write separately. We do have different styles, slightly; I come from a more folky spectrum, Adam’s stuff is a little more melodic and commercial, but it marries up well when we get together.’
Andy Seward and the Angel Brothers are very prestigious sidemen; did they influence the sound? Or even the songwriting?
‘They didn’t influence the songwriting, but they did influence the sound. We went in with guitars and vocals, and they added bass and percussion… They had so many good ideas. On the previous album, I mean – they aren’t on the new stuff. I think the new stuff is definitely a progression, from a songwriting point of view.’
Was that conscious? What are the noticeable differences?
‘Yeah, we wanted a different sound, a bit more raw, and we wanted more vocals. It’s ended up with two wale voices and two female [Emma
Johnstone and Susie Martin, the latter from Imoko Set], and it works really well. Everyone had their own ideas for the harmonies, and it came together very naturally.’
Obviously, the gig will be the focus for you both, then the album launch. What comes after that?
‘We’re just going to take it as it comes. We have no massive game plan. Maybe some festivals. We need to kick ourselves up the arse, gig-wise. I think, eventually, we want to get some like-minded musicians and even artists, get a venue and make it special, a one off…