Compared to Bristol’s notorious underground raves or the big-hitting Leeds and Nottingham, it’s safe to say that the St Andrews music scene is a bit lacking. All that may be about to change, however, thanks to O Fisher. Having graduated last year, the international 5-piece band (formerly known as Ticho) have just recorded their first EP – an expert blend of blues and rock n’roll, full of soulful vocals, cracking guitar and harmonica solos, and even a bit of clever rap on Leg Shakin’ Sweetspot for good measure. Read on to find out more about the band’s distinct retro sound, and make sure to listen to these former St Andreans’ self-titled EP, which was released on the 18 of March.
The Saint: So, who are O Fisher and how would you define your music?
O Fisher: The original idea was to test our hands at capturing the bareboned delta blues sound… but we failed. We gave in to the mix of influences and backgrounds in the band: Pedro our harmonica player comes from Brazil, Chris our keyboardist is from Slovakia, Declan our bassist is from Northern England, Youkang our drummer/rapper is an American from France, and James our singer/guitarist grew up in different parts of Australia, China and Italy. So we ended up tapping into that original well of the blues, but with a modern interpretation. Hopefully it’ll reach old souls and fresh ears alike.
TS: How long have you been playing together and how did it all get started?
OF: We’re all actually ex-Andrew Melville residents and met in first year, except Pedro who is an unfortunate soul from Albany Park. We started writing in second year and at that point it was just James, Chris and Declan. Although we hadn’t gigged yet, we contemplated keeping that setup, exhausted by the idea of continuing the search for a drummer. But we found Youkang, his first question was do we like Zeppelin, and from there it all fell into place pretty effortlessly. Then we started playing live in third year. We found Pedro by the bar after one of our gigs, we saw the harmonica in his pocket (hoped it was a harmonica) and the next day we were in younger hall testing the new guy…He passed.
TS: Your debut EP is coming out soon – can you describe it for me in three words?
OF: Like a good single malt – ‘’smoky’’, ‘’full-bodied’’ and ‘’great to drive to’’, just joking of course, we don’t condone drunk driving, especially not in Scotland. We recorded the EP in a studio in Milan, where James currently lives. The process was hard work but also a lot of fun. It’s a relatively short piece, a five song EP, and we knew all the songs very well so it flowed quite naturally and quickly. Particularly our bassist, aka “One take Mcghee”, was shooting through the songs back to back.
TS: Who would you say are your key influences?
OF: We seem to collectively have quite an eclectic taste. We listen to a range of music, from old school blues like John Lee Hooker and Lightnin’ Hopkins, to hip-hop with The Roots, to Chris’ extreme prog-rock favourites such as Jethro Tull and more modern acts such as the Black Keys and Nicolas Jaar.
TS: How did you find the music scene in St Andrews? Any tips for budding student musicians?
OF: We’d take any excuse for a gig: at a party and spot a guitar? what a coincidence, here’s a harmonica! That would happen sometimes and we’d either get invited back or never hear from the people again, but it was a great way to weed out the blues fanatics in the room! At times the music scene in St Andrews seemed pretty dry, but the venues and events are there and the beauty of a small town is that everyone knows Aikmans is THE live music hub. It was a great venue every time, but we also enjoyed playing at some other spots: The Blue Stane, The Brew Pub, The Vic, The Union, STAR Radio, The Barron Theatre, the New Inn out by Albany Park- you’ll have to bring your own crowd but the owner’s a great guy!
Some advice: no matter what the music centre tells you about guitar amps being prohibited ignore them and sneak them in anyway… if you’re having trouble sneaking in your amp, we found a nice little hiding spot under the stairs in the basement. You’re welcome.
TS: Do you feel like your sound as a band has changed much since you first formed?
OF: You can bet when you (finally) add a drummer into the mix, the sound changes and you never look back. It’s like the difference between that really fine rain that soaks you through (you know, weak but persistent) and a thunderstorm. Same thing when we found Pedro’s harp. Just gradually building up the group we literally saw new sounds come in. Thinking about these new layers also influenced the writing process, and probably changed a lot of the decisions we would have made otherwise. Now even though we don’t foresee any new additions to our lineup any time soon, we’ll keep on changing – starting with the name: goodbye Ticho, hello O Fisher!
TS: What’s next for O Fisher – any tours or plans for an album, and will you be returning as a band to St Andrews?
OF: Since leaving St Andrews we’ve played a few gigs in Slovakia and Czech Republic, and recorded in Italy. We’ve started with these five songs and there’s plenty more to get down. So the plan is to get back in the studio within the year and, in the meantime, play some gigs here and there. We would love to come back to St Andrews.
TS: Where should people go online to find out more about you and listen to your music?