Lankum are one of the most intriguing bands to ever spring from Irish soil. During their Irish winter tour, before they took to the stage at The Model Sligo, Rebecca Kennedy sat down with Ian to talk tours, fans and tradition.
How’s the tour going?
It’s going really good. It’s really enjoyable. We are playing a lot of iconic venues around Ireland; Cleere’s in Kilkenny, The Spirit Store in Dundalk, Connolly’s in West Cork. We haven’t played so much in Ireland so much in the last year. We go to the U.K. a lot and play in other countries so it’s really good fun to catch up with friends and having a laugh.
What kind of audience are you seeing at your gigs?
We’ve always had a very big mix of different types of people coming to our gigs everywhere. If we play in Dublin or we play in London or Scotland. It’s really funny because you see really heavy metallers sitting beside 70-year-old traditional singers. And you’ll be thinking, ‘Where else would you see those two sitting beside each other in any other kind of gig?’ It’s really positive. We get a mix of different age groups and different people that are into our gigs and it’s been like that since we started playing together.
How did your audience re-act when you were signed to Rough Trade? Was there a fear that joining a major label would change the fabric of the music?
Rough Trade have been great. It’s a really legendary label, like they’ve been going since 1976 and they are still independent. I can imagine with any other big label they might be trying to get you to change the music in someway. But rough trade they said right from the get-go, ‘we love what you do, were not going to tell you how to do it.’ And they didn’t, whatever we wanted, like a 12-minute ballad they were like grand. We didn’t want a barcode on the front of the album, they said that’s grand, we will put it on a sticker on the back. We’ve always been a band that’s focused on the songs. We keep the compositions sparse because all the magic you already need in the song itself.
Lankum follow the old Irish tradition of collecting songs. How does that process work?
We spend a lot of time going to special singing gigs. We go a lot to Donegal, especially the Inishowen peninsula. They have really nice ballad singing weekends and monthly sessions as well. We just like travelling around and spending time with older singers, it’s really great craic as well. Most of the songs that are on the new album are songs we heard people singing and we would ask them if we could we write them down. We spend a lot of time trawling through archives & going through older print collections to find songs. It’s one of my favorite ways to pass the time. I would have grown up in that type of environment where anytime the family was together, someone was singing for the craic. It didn’t even need to be traditional songs; it just needed to be someone singing to pass the time. That’s why we have such a taste for it.