Who are you and where are you from?
My name is Joe Black, I’m the singer in the band Washington Irving from Scotland.
Who are your favourite artists from home?
Oh there’s loads. My favourite Scottish artists at the moment are The Blue Nile and Cocteau Twins. I love those bands. I grew up listening to the Cocteau Twins but I only recently got into The Blue Nile and how awesome Paul Buchanan’s voice is. My parents went to see Cocteau Twins in Stirling when they were students and they played them all the time when I was young.
What’s it really like touring?
It’s fun and hard. We’re on tour with one of our favourite bands Titus Andronicus at the moment. I toured for the first time when I was 16 with our drummer Chris. I think I got the bug early on. How I feel about it has definitely changed. We all have a lot more responsibilities now so being away for a month is a big deal! All the travel and sleeping on floors is worth it if the shows are good. You have to keep morale high in a band to make you push through the days when plans go wrong. Good shows are the answer..
What’s your favourite city/town/venue to play?
That’s a tough one. We love Glasgow which is where we started the band. It’s a blast seeing all of our friends again and getting so many people we know in one place. Outside of that we love the North of England. There’s something special about places like Middlesbrough, Sheffield and Leeds for our band.
What’s your ideal festival line-up?
Connect 2007. Look at it. This was the first festival I ever went to and it also took place within ten miles of my village in the Scottish Highlands. The only problem though is that I feel like I was spoiled.
Tell us a tour story…
Earlier this year we did a week in Belarus. We had to give a lecture in the State University and we got told that we were being watched by the KGB (in Belarus it’s still called the KGB). The main show we did was to a bunch of men in suits including the British Ambassador. They didn’t seem that into it. A friend with us told me after that it was hands down our best ever performance.
What has been your biggest achievement of the year so far?
Recording this album! We went to New York in November last year to work with one of our favourite producers Kevin McMahon (Titus Andronicus, Real Estate, The Felice Brothers). We spent a month living in a shack in the woods in upstate New York and record our most ambitious work. We put everything we’ve experienced into it and all we’ve learned on the way. The first song ‘We Are All Going to Die’ is a good taste of what is to come.
What was the worst piece of advice you were given?
To not “waste” our money on making the album we wanted to make and spend our money on PR instead. I’m sure I would have got a lot more interviews like this if I’d listened! But as I’ve said, making this album has been our biggest achievement and what I’m in this business for is to make music.
What do you do to relax?
We watch Star Trek: the Next Generation
What are you reading?
Patrick O’Brian. I always read his books when I’m on tour.
How about TV, anything good on the box?
I just finished the first season of The Bridge (Bron Broen). It’s so good.
What is your favourite…
…record of the moment?
Hello Hum by Wintersleep. We toured with them two years ago and I just listened to this again yesterday and bloody loved it.
…song of the moment?
‘Trouble’ by Cat Stevens
…lost classic song?
Everyone has to hear this!
Washington Irving play Dublin Whelan’s (Sunday 22nd), Cork Cyprus Avenue (23rd), Galway Roisin Dubh (24th) and Belfast Empire Hall (25th) with Titus Andronicus.