Campfires In Winter are a four piece “alternative folk” band from Croy, near Glasgow. They bring everything we could look for in a Scottish band these days; endearing lyrics, guitars, that spine-tingling Scottish accent and beards.
They’re due to come up to the Highlands on Friday 27th September for the Netsounds Unsigned takeover night at Hootanany and an acoustic session in HMV beforehand, naturally we took this as an opportunity to catch up with frontman, Robert “Boab” Canavan.
Having listened to Campfires In Winter they seem to fall into many categories, due to continual experimentation with their sound. With so many different aspects Boab reflects on how he would best explain their sound to someone who hadn’t heard them before, “I can see where that [alternative folk] description comes from. The music itself might not be outwardly folky but the singing style is rooted in folk music. The chord sequences too – if you swapped out the guitars and piano for fiddles and whistles, many of our songs would probably still work. So yes there is a degree of inspiration from folk music, but that’s only one element. We draw inspiration from a great number of genres: post-rock, shoegaze. Loads of stuff.” He added, “people seem to say that they like how we’re not afraid write a pop tune under the wall of noise.”
Since forming in 2004 they’ve recorded several demos and released a debut EP, “White Lights”. The EP saw them changing their sound slightly, Boab explained “It’s a bit more positive lyrically than a lot of our other stuff and we realised it was pretty catchy too so went with it for the single” but assured me there was no conscious decision made to change the sound they had beautifully sculpted.
They’re now working on new material, having recently recorded a new single “Picture Of Health” and a video for it. Boab looked back over how the process of doing recording the song and putting their video in someone else’s hands: “With the single, we’d produced it ourselves, recorded it ourselves, mixed it ourselves. Even at the mastering stage we were in the studio giving the engineer our thoughts throughout. So when it came to the video, we decided to be involved as little as possible. We met up with a director called Oscar Sansom, whose previous work we really liked, let him hear the song and left him to come up with something. We loved his ideas and left him to it. We’ve always had a strong DIY ethic but there was really something nice about just letting someone else take care of the video, trusting them to do a fantastic job.”
Being from a small town outside Glasgow, they have the advantage of the small town mentality where everyone supports you, as well as having the hub of Scottish music on their doorstep. For many small bands, they couldn’t ask for much more – yet Campfires In Winter look to travel further afield for opportunities: “Although we’re from outside Glasgow, it’s only 15 miles away so not all that great a distance. As for opportunities for gigs, there are a few select promoters and venues we work with. We also organise some of our gigs ourselves too. Recording, we do a lot of that ourselves too.
The Picture of Health EP was recorded and mixed entirely by ourselves. We found a beautiful wee place up in Tomintoul called Balneden Steading and holed ourselves up for a few days recording. Had a great time. We also use a cracking little studio in Cumbernauld called Unit 55 from time to time.”
Several times in the past he has noted their date at The Market Bar in Inverness as one of his touring highlights to date. Inverness is frequently noted as the highlight for many people, but I wanted to know what made this particular show so special: “It was just the intimacy of it I think. The place was packed (which doesn’t take much of course) and everyone was really into it. We had been worried that, with so much going on at goNORTH, nobody would turn up. It was hot, sweaty, cramped, loud. Loved every minute of it.”
Hopefully their show at Hootanany on the 27th can match this, if not better it. Boab best describes their gigs as “a loud, raucous – yet controlled – din.” So the show should be interesting, to say the least. Be sure to head along to the show, and to their acoustic set in HMV before.