A.S. Fanning – one of the International headliners at Endless Daze Festival this year – is a singer-songwriter from Dublin whose songs take inspiration from Irish literary tradition and folk music as well as from 60s psychedelia and gothic rock n roll. He has been touring throughout Europe and further afield since his first release, Carmelita, made it big in 2015. He made his US debut at South by Southwest in March 2017 and his debut album, the self-produced ‘Second Life’, was released in October.
As a multi-instrumentalist he has played with acts such as Dublin troubadour The Mighty Stef, Berlin Industrial Electro outfit Suzies Ashes, and Irish songstress Candice Gordon, most recently producing and playing on Gordon’s debut LP, ‘Garden of Beasts’.
This November see’s Fanning headlining one of our very own rock festivals: Endless Daze.
We chatted to him ahead of his visit…
What / Who inspires your sound and lyrics?
A lot of different things. In terms of sound, I’ve been listening to a lot of electronic music in the last few years, and a lot of German stuff. I think my first album was influenced a lot by stuff from the 70s like Neu! and Harmonia. And working on the new album I found myself referencing Suicide quite a lot, for whatever reason. Not that either of those albums necessarily sounds like those artists, but I’ve found myself coming back to them as a reference point quite frequently, and using that as a basis to get a particular vibe for a song.
Lyrically, it’s very hard to say. I listen to a lot of stuff and read a lot of stuff and it’s hard to know which part of what comes out when I’m writing. I don’t think I’ve never really tried to imitate anyone or been so enamoured with any one lyricist or writer that I’ve noticed myself copying them. Not to say that my lyrics are totally original or anything, I’m just not always consciously aware of who I’m ripping off. Except when I am.
Your first ever release in 2015, was on vinyl, why vinyl?
Growing up, there was about 400 records in my house belonging to my Dad and older brother, my Dad had some amazing old jazz and blues records and my brother would have been into stuff like Bowie or Van Morrison or The Velvet Underground. So I borrowed a turntable off a friend who had been doing some DJing, and suddenly I had this huge record collection at my disposal. I got really into going to record fairs as well and then when I’d visit my brother in London I’d always go down to Portobello Market or various second hand shops to try and find stuff that I hadn’t been able to find in Dublin. When it came to releasing my own stuff, I just really wanted to hear it on vinyl so that’s why I got the single pressed on 7-inch.
What is the most memorable event you’ve played at and why?
With my previous band, The Last Tycoons, we once played at some kind of town fair somewhere in a small town in Germany and we had to go on after a sort of kiddies’ fashion show. The parents were getting very animated during the fashion show, furiously clapping their hands in time with whatever German pop was being pumped out of the sound system, while their kids were wandering around sheepishly on the stage, probably as bewildered as we were. Anyway, the place cleared out as soon as the fashion show was finished and we played to about three people.
Favourite festival of all time?
There’s an Irish festival called Electric Picnic that had a few great years going back 8 or 9 years ago, but I haven’t been in a long time. The Stooges headlined one year, and I took some LSD and spent an indeterminate amount of time staring into a dustbin from which I was convinced I could hear Elvis Presley singing. Then I watched Iggy and the Stooges. That was a good one.
Favourite artist of all time?
The Beatles. I don’t care if it’s boring, that’s my answer.
Favourite city you’ve travelled to?
Hard to say. There’s a lot of places when you’re touring that seem like great cities but you just don’t have much time to spend there. I spent a couple of weeks in Austin, Texas last year for SXSW which was really great. I’d been there maybe 2 or 3 times before as well and I’ve always had a great time, but getting to stay a bit longer and get a proper feel for the city was really nice. A friend of mine took me to a place called the Broken Spoke which is a legendary Texas honky-tonk. Garth Brooks had played a secret show there the previous night and the owner, who was on stage singing Hank Williams songs when we arrived, already had a picture of himself with Mr. Brooks framed and mounted behind the bar, less than 24 hours later. It was also the day that Chuck Berry died and the band played a whole set of Hillbilly-style versions of his songs, so that was a highlight.
You’ll be here in November heading Endless Daze- is this the first time you’re visiting SA and what you are excited to do / see?
I was there a couple of years ago and travelled around a little bit as well as playing a show in Cape Town. The countryside was really beautiful but I’m looking forward to just hanging out in Cape Town a bit more this time. Maybe go swimming, although I’m a bit worried about sharks. And snakes. And pretty much all the wildlife in South Africa, we don’t have this shit in Ireland.
Any cool gigs coming up?
I’m doing a tour in Germany in November so that should be fun. Otherwise I’m just finishing this album and planning a whole load of live shows for 2019!
When can fans expect a new release?
I should get a track out from the new album by Spring of next year, and then the full record is scheduled for Autumn. I’m mixing this album myself, which I haven’t really done before, except for a couple of b-sides and demos and stuff, so I’m getting into that, but it takes time.
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