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Things Are Building Up For General Fiasco

Written by Kate Maconachie on April 14, 2010

General Fiasco was formed in 2007 by brothers Owen and Enda Strathern and friend Stephen Leacock. They’ve been tagged with the ominous moniker of the next big thing in music but after hearing their sound, influenced by the likes of The Strokes and Maximo Park, it’s hard not to believe the hype.

Growing up in Northern Ireland and making their mark on the mainland UK music scene, I had the pleasure of talking to front man Owen about their debut album Buildings.

Music Feeds: How did you guys come up with the name General Fiasco?

Owen Strathern: We came up with the name General Fiasco out of two terrible names that we had. Our ex drummer wanted to call it General Music and I wanted to call it The Marly Jedrajack Fiasco. Apparently my mum came up with General Fiasco because she took the general from each of the names and that was it.

MF: How did you get together?

OS: Me and the guitarist are brothers so we knew each other from living in the same house for years and years, the drummer we just knew from playing in other bands. After exams, at about sixteen, we moved to his school and got to know a little about him and decided to start up this band. We all love music and wanted to do something different so we got together and started General Fiasco.

MF: What where your main musical influences?

OS: I think when we first started the band it would have been The Strokes, Kings Of Leon and Maximo Park, Jimmy Eat World and the Foo Fighters. I think The Strokes though were a big band for us.

MF: Have your influences changed much now that you have made your album?

OS: Yeah absolutely, your musical taste is always changing. I think we were really into Death Cab For Cutie, Manchester Orchestra and stuff at the time of recording. Our influences are always changing, something really different all the time.

MF: So your album Buildings came out on the 22nd March, how are you feeling about it and the reception is has gotten so far?

OS: It’s really good. It’s nice to have something out there and people come back to you saying, “I got your album and I think it’s really great”. I love it when people pick songs off the album as their favourite track. It’s nice to know that something appeals to everyone.

MF: How did you get the title ‘Buildings’ for the album? How did that come about?

OS: All the songs on the album, they are all about something, like an annoyance, problem or frustration that kept building, building and building up. Rather than confronting it or doing anything about it at the time, it got to be this big problem. If you had confronted the problem at the time, you could have gotten rid of it but all the songs are about things lightening up and things getting worse. People sit back and don’t deal with the problems they should be dealing with; we’re too easily distracted by all the comforts of day to day living.

MF: What was it like breaking out in the Northern Ireland music scene?

OS: I think for us, Northern Ireland had a really healthy internal scene, where people would go out to gigs and get really excited about local music but it wasn’t really attached to mainland UK. It just meant that we had to develop our act to some degree. I remember we had a bag full of gin and we went over and played a show in London, all of a sudden this band had appeared out of nowhere as no one was paying attention to Northern Ireland! So it was good to get everyone excited about our band because for a while it was a little bubble but it worked in our benefit as it sort of kept us a secret.

MF: Were there any memorable experiences you had while recording Buildings? Any major problems?

OS: It was a pretty smooth process as far as I remember. We’d been touring Glasgow for a year and half, two years and we recorded the album in between our time off. We were recording it within ten miles of where we lived so it was nice to be at home recording our stuff. If we were writing new songs, you know we would go in and record it when it was fresh at the time. For me, I can see what we were doing with the song at the time and progress from the first recording session to the last recording session, and the songs we wrote in between times. It was a nice way to do it, because whenever we had the song written or we were excited about it, we’d come together and do it. It was a natural, organic process and I hope it comes through in the record.

MF: What inspired the song writing for Buildings, and is there any track that you are particularly proud of?

OS: I really like ‘Singing Ships’ cause I remember sitting in my living room with my acoustic guitar, it sort of all happened at once, it took as long to write it as it does to sing it if you know what I mean, the words in your mouth just all came together and whenever I went back to play it, I remembered it. I would play it again and again, keeping lots of the lyrics I had sang in the first place, it showed that at least it stuck in my head! It was just nice to write something that was organic and honest and I hope people perceive it that way.

MF: Lastly, what do you guys want to achieve in 2010?

OS: We just still want to be a band and mature and promote the album, get it out to more people, I mean, I don’t want to go out and say “I want to sell 150 000 records” we just want it to get bigger and better and let it be a gradual thing. It would be amazing if it blew up one day, but we’re just happy to do what we do and if you get it, you get it. That’s the plan, just to tour and be everywhere we can possibly be. That’s all I hope for.

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