5 Minutes with… Fourth & Folsom

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Making their way across the Indie/ Americana scene, Fourth & Folsom are a band heavily influenced by West Coast Harmonies, consisting of Jamie Davies (Vocals/guitar), Theo Byrd (Vocals/Guitar), Jack Manser (Vocals/Guitar), Kristjan Cavdarovski (Bass) and Hannah Feenstra (Drums).

The bands origins begin with Theo and Jamie playing together under the stage name “Wildcuts” and spending the early stages of their career honing their sound within the London folk circuit. This duo was continued until a tour of the UK, where the band met with singer songwriter Jack Manser and asked him to take part in their project as third vocalist/bass. Keeping to this core concept of three primary songwriters, and after interest from labels with their current sound, the band began to experiment with various genres and form their unique sound. After recording their new album the trio recruited Kristjan Cavdarovski and Hannah Feenstra.

The name ‘Fourth and Folsom’ alludes to the Beat Generation era in their music, taking their name from Jack Kerouac’s novel ‘On the Road.’ The reference comes from an extract wherein Dean and Sal go dancing in the jazz clubs of San Francisco, on the corner of ‘Fourth and Folsom’ Streets.

Interview with Jamie

Hi there, how are you and what are you up to today?

Hi there, pretty good thank you, currently sitting in our studio outside of London working on some side projects at the moment.

To those not familiar with you, how would you describe your sound?

This is always a very hard question for us as we tend to try and create unique songs, especially in more recent times with our new stuff. We’ve only recently come across a sound that we’re really happy with. Think layered guitars, west coast influenced harmonies and healthy doses of reverb.

What are the 5 albums and artists that have influenced you the most?

Hummingbird – Local Natives
Deja Vu – Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
For Emma, Forever Ago – Bon Iver
Man in the Air – Kurt Elling

What other artists do you really like at the moment and why?

Has to be The War on Drugs, Adam Granduciel is killing it at the moment and their new album Lost in the Dream is just incredible. Really nice to see him get more appreciation for his work, so many publications have made it their album of the year and it’s definitely one of ours! So many artists have brought out great albums at the moment, Alt J’s second album is a great follow up to their debut. They’re definitely a band we’ve been listening to a lot recently.

What are some of the key pieces of gear you use to write your tracks?

We’re all pretty big on guitar pedals really, we each have a few pedals which we use for our own style in the band. Theo’s is a 1989 MXR Chorus, Jack’s is probably his Strymon BlueSky and mine’s an Eventide Space. Me and Jack use MicroKorg XL’s for our synth and keys parts. Annoying actually as our album is being mixed and mastered at the moment, and I literally just today picked up a Roland Juno-6 off a guy online. Would have loved to get that on the debut album, there’s always the second one though!

You started on the London Folk scene as Wildcuts, what drew you towards the Americana scene?

What drew us towards that scene in our early days was really the bands we we’re influenced by at that age. It was just me and Theo playing banjo, mandolin and guitar, and there was a percussion set up somewhere in there as well. Wildcuts was our gateway into the harmonies we use in the band today, as we were big into folk and country harmonies. Recording and writing the album without any external influence from producers has let us have more creative freedom with our harmonies.

In your early days you worked alongside producers Gino Wong & Tim Motzer, what was that experience like? Do you for see another opportunity to work with them again?

Working with Gino and Tim was an incredible experience, their combined knowledge of production techniques made recording with them extremely easy. They both have an absolutely incredible collection of vintage equipment at our complete disposal for the sessions. We learnt so much working with them, and we still keep in contact with them for advice on gear. We’d love to get the chance to work with them again, especially since we’ve matured as musicians since then and we’d love to see their input on the project. Gino has recently started up his old record label under the new moniker ReRed Records, so there’s definitely an opportunity to fly back over there and do some more recording in his new space!

What’s the best gig you have ever done and why?

We love playing one of our favourite venues in London called Tooting Tram and Social in South London, night always seems to get a little bit out of hand when we play there. Though our best gig so far would probably be at 93 ft East on Brick Lane. All of the other bands on the bill were great guys and it was definitely one of our best performances as a band. Should be playing there sometime next year!

What’s the worst gig you have ever done and why?

I cannot explain how many there have been over the years to choose from. We once played a gig where the venue was under renovation with scaffolding outside, so no one knew the place was even open. Ended up playing to just the bar staff, although I think a dog might have wandered in at some point.

You’ve performed an acoustic session at The Natural History Museum. How did that come about? What was it like?

The acoustic session at The Natural History Museum came about through their Afterhours program. We basically saw they were holding live music and you could apply to play, we did and were one of about about 10 people to get it. We had absolutely no idea what to expect and when we got there we were all playing in the main hall at the top of the steps, right in front of the huge skeleton. Really was a very surreal experience considering we love that place, very lucky to have had the chance to play there.

What’s your opinion on the following genres:

Classical

We road tripped across Europe in this busted up car last year, and one of our mates with us was big into his classical. Trying to get this awful car across these Austrian mountain ranges while listening to Vivaldi kinda got us into it as well!

Blues

Blues has always been a big influence for us, even if it doesn’t translate into our music often. We listened to a lot of Howlin Wolf, Muddy Waters and BB King during the recording of our album. Fleetwood Mac’s Mr Wonderful seemed to be on a lot during that time as well.

Soul

Soul artists are the most incredible performers in music, with such powerful voices and amazing stage presence, it’s impossible not to be influenced at least slightly. Our favourite soul artists to listen to are Aretha Franklin, Etta James and Bill Withers.

Hip-Hop

We enjoy late 80’s and 90’s Hip Hop like A Tribe Called Quest, Black Moon and KRS-One. We’re open to modern Hip Hop, we just prefer the older stuff.

Do you have any information regarding upcoming releases, projects, DJ mixes or collaborations in the pipeline that you would like to tell us about?

Well the main thing that we’re excited for is our debut album coming out midway through this year. Can’t wait to get our new material out there and get back into our live shows after our stint in the studio. First single release off the album is due March 30th. We’ll also be back in the studio next year working on each of our individual side projects in our spare time.

Finally, if you weren’t a musician what would you be?

Haha well me and Theo have always said we’d love to be firemen. But realistically I think we’d like to be semi-professional porpoise jockeys.