And So I Watch You From Afar: 'We try to create that moment of escapism, music you can let go to'
- David Pollock
- 1 August 2018
The complex post-rock instrumentation from Northern Ireland play Summerhall as part of the Nothing Ever Happens Here programme
'My dad would love to hear you say that!' laughs Rory Friers of Northern Irish instrumental rock group And So I Watch You From Afar, when I put it to him there's as much of the whimsical lightness of Genesis in their music, as there is the roiling sternness of their early post-rock heroes Godspeed! You Black Emperor, Explosions in the Sky and Pelican. 'It's completely true. Our MO was always just to squeeze whatever's fulfilling and exciting into our music, regardless of what people perceive an instrumental band to be. We're sincere about it, we try to create that moment of escapism, music you can let go to.'
The live aspect of And So I Watch You From Afar – who play Summerhall as part of this August's Nothing Ever Happens Here music programme – has always been the most important to the group since they formed on the north coast of County Antrim in the mid-2000s. The quartet now includes guitarist Friers, his oldest friend Chris Wee on drums ('we've been playing Nirvana covers in our bedrooms for 30 years,' says Friers, 'but it doesn't feel much different doing it for a job'), guitarist Niall Kennedy and bassist Johnny Adger.
These grunge-obsessed kids hanging round the local skater and surfer community had one eye on getting into Belfast's busy live music venues. Now they're internationally recognised, with five records (the most recent was last year's The Endless Shimmering). 'There was a period where we were becoming more proficient at playing our instruments, and I felt really proud, really accomplished,' says Friers. 'Then we remembered it's not really about that, and we found a more rounded perspective of what's important about music, that it can be really full, or empty; a void. We have a better understanding now of what sort of journey we want to take people on.'
For this band, that journey happens best when it's live. 'It's like when we were teenagers,' says Friers. 'Growing up where we did, it was about Friday night, the end of the week, going to see a favourite band that had come to town. That was one of the few moments of congregation, and it was important to completely escape in that. For me it's about how it feels live, and whether it's really going to be worth people's hard-earned money to come and get those moments we all yearn for, where you can forget the day job and go into another world.'
And So I Watch You From Afar, Summerhall, 8 Aug, 8pm, £16.50.