Ahead of their gig at IGigs presents @ The Highland Games in July, Sarah WIlliamson of Table for Four chats to IGigs.
Sarah WIlliamson has been playing on the Inverness scene for the past few years. Initially fronting punk trio ‘Shaped’ and then as a solo act, but now in 2018 she has returned to lead singer responsibility with Table for Four.
Sarah has an intriguing and charming approach to songwriting and always shines as a reluctant but charming champion of the underdog. We took the opportunity to catch up with Sarah to find out a bit more about the role of music for her and what role the new band has on bringing her that one step on the path closer to world domination.
Sarah has strong memories of what drew her to music, and performing. It was very DIY but also very effective.
“When I was in primary school, on break times I did this thing called ‘The Crazy Show’ that I made up. Me and a couple of friends would stand on a step, it was our stage, from where I started performing. I wrote little scripts and sung songs I’d heard on my big sister’s mixtapes. In primary six the school had a talent show so I went up and did ‘The Crazy Show’ and I won! I finished with a version of ‘We Will Rock You’ by Queen where my whole school stomped and clapped to an acapella beat!
So primary seven rolls around and the next talent show I’ve rewritten the lyrics to ‘The Girl All The Bad Guys Want’ by Bowling For Soup to ‘the girl all the cool girls taunt’ a song about an unpopular classmate. I changed Busted’s ‘What I Go To School For’ to ‘what I told the school for’ a song about my school, homework, teachers and classmates. I can still remember the words today! My memory’s crap but when I think about that reaction, everyone just cheering, and to this day that feeling keeps me hooked. It’s just the feeling of being cool, I guess, which I’m not, the feeling of people happy. I kinda live for that and performing just gives me a buzz like no other.”
It’s interesting that Sarah has this feeling of not being ‘cool’, and her song ‘Loser” speaks about not quite fitting into society, but there is a sense that Sarah is happy with this. We explored this a little further.
‘Loser, it’s intent basically is… like I know I’m flawed, I know I’m not perfect and I know I have problems, but I’m very self aware of all of this and accepting of it I guess. Growing up with my big brother was mad, I took a lot to heart! He’d make fun of my hunch, which isn’t by choice, he’d make fun of my weight later in life and he’d mock that I’m gay if an argument occurred. I think in anyone’s life you have to hit a point where you just know, and welcome, who you really are. ‘Cause I’m a geek and over weight, my dirty jokes seem to lack taste, I’m a wannabe super famous, I’m a douchebag ignoramus, all my nicknames include anus, people tell me I am shameless, but I can see you love a loser like me!!”
Sarah’s songs have a brutal frankness about them, covering subjects including relationships, loss and her mental health. Bringing such honesty to material must surely provide challenges but are there benefits too?
“It’s harder when I have to ask for a subject to write about to be honest, but that’s actually my preferred method for writing just now, asking a fellow bandy for a subject matter! However, the more personal lyrics, a lot of them spout from having battles back and forth with borderline personality disorder. For lack of a better description this makes me the most dramatic human on earth ever! Well at least on the bad days which are fewer for the time being ! But when I was feeling really shitty and there were words I couldn’t say, because yep sometimes I struggle to even just speak about stuff, it was easy to write about them for me.
No longer a solo act Sarah is now part of “Table for Four”, and we went on to talk about the band and the development in their music.
“Table for Four goes further back than you’d ever know. When I was 14, me and Mads started a metal band called Desiccated Angels. I wrote two songs in this band ‘Screw You’ and ‘Gravestone’. Mads has always amazed me on guitar for as long as I have known her she’s played these sweet, majestic melodies and it all comes so easy to her. It’s like she has extra fingers! So, anyway, Desiccated Angels’ didn’t work out… About 13 years later, still in contact with Mads, I asked if we could jam. She brought this magic to the songs and we became Bunny and the Bear in 2017. We played a few gigs, even got into Bella for a few tunes. I wanted badly to expand so Mads asked her friend Honda to come jam on bass. He did and joined the band.
The final piece of the puzzle was Ryan the drummer who we found December 2018. I also had known of Ryan from about 10 years previous. Although we never really met, we had crossed paths a lot, and knew a lot of the same people , one of those people was Mads who made the call to Ryan and he came along, set up his kit and jammed along. At this moment i fell in love and table for four was born. I feel lucky to be in this band because now as all I can bring to the table is lyrics! These guys are great talented musicians who teach me, and challenge me, to be better. We are the strange family across the street that spend our lives in a garage and, of course, I love them!.”
As a genre pop punk draws together the idea of catchy lyrics with an edgy approach. Does this encapsulate how Sarah describes the bands music?
“Not pop punk … I just don’t think it sounds like typical pop punk. However, I hate this question because I don’t know the answer. To me it’s just songs, rock songs…. Is rock a genre? ‘cause I say it’s rock. I’ve never had a prefered genre really, or like aimed a song towards a genre. I don’t know. I hope someday I find out though!”
As a solo artist Sarah supported John Otway, which she described as a great opportunity. As a band who do they aspire to support?
“That’s a tough question… That’s a really tough question! There’s just too much good music in this world… I can tell you who we wouldn’t like to support. Justin Bieber! Never ever! I do love great opportunities so whatever rolled around we’d just say yes and try to play the best damn support slot of our lives!’
With Ryan, Honda and Maddie lacking in band experience, can this actually be a help in the development of the band?
“Only Ryan has not been in a band before, everyone else has though not in well known bands. But I love this band. it’s easy to work with and everyone’s great at doing their bit. We have achieved so much already in a few months!”
It’s difficult for a band to get gigs and attention if they don’t have a big network of friends and have to perform away from their hometown. For a band from Alness this is potentially an issue.
“Hard. The struggle is so real, there’s no easy way to get noticed so it seems. So we just play every show our best and try tell as many people we can with our social networks and word of mouth. But it’s hard getting spotted.”
We rounded off by looking ahead, ten years have passed, and everything has gone as planned. Where does Sarah envisage the band being?
“Selling out the 02 arena, we will all have our own houses and many nice things. This is the dream!!”
IGigs Presents @ The Inverness Highland Games is on the 21st of July, 2018 6pm -10pm. Other gigs can be found on their Facebook page.
Details on the Highland Games can be found at here