Thursday, February 26, 2009

WTBU Interviews: Ferraby Lionheart

Photos by Nina Mashurova

Ferraby Lionheart started off a sold out show at T.T. the Bears in Cambridge this Tuesday. The folk/indie musician made time to talk to us in his busy day after traveling from New York that morning to play a quick set before going right back down the coast. Ferraby has released two records: In 2006 he came out with a self-titled EP and in 2007 he followed up it with his first full length album Catch the Brass Ring. Ferraby's whimsical name, warm personality, and Nashville roots contribute to a sound that's as soft and sweet as it is genuine.

How was your trip up from New York today?

It was pretty easy. We had to leave at about eight in the morning so that wasn’t too fun but we got here all right. We’d been in New York a while playing this place called Pianos.

You had a residency there for the past month, right? How did that go?

It went really well. There are a lot places in the city that are fun to play, but it was nice coming to the same place for a while. You get a rhythm going. I’m also sort of getting a new band into shape so it was cool to have somewhere to get together.

Your music has changed a little from your earlier songs like “The Ballad of Gus and Sam” on your EP which had more of a rock and roll sound to the more recent single “Dear Corinne.” Do you feel like your style has evolved?

I think a little bit. I’ve been growing. It’s hard to say if I’ve been more into folk or ballads. I couldn’t say that there won’t be a song on my new record that sounds like “Gus and Sam.” For me its more like a less specific change, maybe its more about lyrics and the combination of instruments that I use to record.

What instruments do you like to play the most?

When I record I play mostly guitar, sometimes percussion, sometimes the bass. Sometimes just knick knacks I find around the house. I think I like the piano the most.

Clearly you are a man of many talents. You first started out with a band. What made you decide to go solo? Do you enjoy performing without a band more?

I decided to go solo because it made it easier to change up what I wanted to sound like. When you’re in a band you are confined to a format because the other members may be limited in their function or skills.

Your name is pretty awesome. Where did it come from? Is it your real name?

Ferraby is my real name. Lionheart is catchy. I think it’s good for show biz, most people like the way it sounds. I guess some say it’s heavy handed or something. They like it here but they make fun of it in Europe sometimes. I got a write up when we put our record out in the UK that was complimentary, but it started out with “Despite the name...”

How did growing up in Nashville influence you? Who would you say your biggest influences are?

I like being from Nashville, mostly because I like the sound of it. My influences change up depending on what I’m up to at the time. I like Paul Simon a lot, he’s definitely one of my heros. He’s really prolific. I like stuff from his whole career.

What are you listening to now?

My friend recently got me into Beach House. I also like to listen to jazz a lot because I get sick of pop songs sometimes. Everything starts to sound the same.

When you’re writing songs, do you find that you write music or lyrics first? Does one influence the other or does it come to you at the same time?

I typically write music first. I’ve dabbled with the other order but what works for me best is writing music first. Everyone in a while it comes at the same time.

We heard Jon Brion had you come up on stage and play a song with him in LA a couple years ago. How was that? Are you a big fan?

I think it’s so weird when younger people know who he is! I guess most people know him from the stuff he produces like the “I Heart Huckabees” soundtrack or “Eternal Sunshine.” Going on stage with him was really exciting. I was very nervous. I was a fan of his before I moved to LA because of stuff he produced like Rufus and Fiona and the soundtrack to “Magnolia.” For 6 or 8 years he was playing a Hollywood show in West Hollywood at a place called “Largo” and I was working at a pizza place right next to it. One of my coworkers was putting on a benefit that we were both supposed to play at and she gave him my CD and he liked it enough to know one of the songs. I was at his show on a Friday night and he took me up on stage.

How long have you been touring?

A couple years. I toured a little with my last band but I have been more now.

How was sharing a stage with The Walkmen?

The Walkmen was my first tour after the CMJ festival in New York two years ago. My agent called me and asked if I ever played with a horn player, because if I did, he thought he might be able to get me on tour with them. I actually had never played with a horn player before, but they were one of my favorite bands at the time so I told him I could definitely manage to find one.

And you also did a couple shows with Langhorne Slim?

Playing with Langhorne Slim worked out really well. Our crowds overlap nicely. He’s a little more rough and tumble but there was a great balance. I was only on a short leg of his tour but when it was over we wished it had been longer.

Do you have a favorite venue or city to play in?

The other night we played at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. The crowd was great. It really stuck out. The Aladdin theater in Portland, Oregon is great. The Pabst in Milwaukee is also pretty cool. I toured all the UK in April and went to 16 cities. Glasgow was really great. The people there love music and folk musicians so much.

Have a great time playing in Cambridge tonight! Thanks for talking to us!

-Emma Dessau and Nina Mashurova, of Nick at Night, Emma in the Evening

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