Laish is an old word meaning ‘the tribe of Dan’, and that aside, it’s also the name of Daniel Green and company’s musical outlet. Undoubtedly one of the UK’s best upcoming bands, I’ve had the privilege of seeing these guys play live lots of times, have a few too many drinks with them on more than one occasion, and wake up to find them sleeping on my living room floor (there’s an open invitation policy for them on that front these days). Made up of members of Brighton’s Willkommen Collective, known for lending its musicians to the likes of Laura Marling, Mumford & Sons and Alessi’s Ark, Laish make humble, raw and wholesome folk music that’s as catchy as it is soulful. Read on…
1. Hi Danny! Thanks for agreeing to do a little interview with me. How are you doing today? Busy weekend?
No probs. I write this on a rather terrifying journey on the way to a show in Lindenberg, Germany. The rain and wind are lashing the van and I am trying to get some sleep but I would really hate to sleep through my death so instead I’m writing to take my mind off it.
2. For those in the know, I think it’s fair to say that Laish are one of the most exciting independent folk/alternative acts on the UK circuit at the moment. How does it feel to have done and be doing so much yourselves?
Well, that’s kind of you to say so. I’ve been plugging away at this project for many years, completely making everything up as I go along. I think it also took me a while to feel that what we had was really ready for sharing, you know? The band has changed a lot over the years, with membership and overall sound, which made it hard to move in a forward trajectory. But now we are a pretty solid entity and it is becoming increasingly satisfying to watch it unfold.
As a band we are completely independent in a way that is both liberating and torturing. We have complete control. I probably throw in the towel at least about once a month, swearing and weeping at the utter futility of the whole endeavour. It is just so much to do endlessly! Then I wake up the next day and just get on with it.
3. You guys have done a lot of touring over the past couple of years. Let’s do some favourites. What’s been your favourite show, favourite venue and favourite festival so far?
Favourites are difficult as gigs tend to go by in a blur and are over before I’ve even noticed. A good gig is usually a tasty home made meal a couple of hours before stage time, a room of our own to warm up properly and a venue full of people who shut up and listen. There have been enough of those to keep us sane.
The Cumberland Arms in Newcastle is my favourite pub in the world. It has an atmosphere and authenticity that is bewitching. The venue upstairs is just the right size and defines intimacy. Downstairs is split, front half has an open fire and the back half has a piano and regular folk sessions that have been running forever.
Festival: No Direction Home will take some beating. I looked out from the mainstage at the bedraggled masses standing in the rain who are actually listening intently. I felt that I was right where I wanted to be. We got properly involved with a Rough Trade show and a late night solo set.
4. Take on the Road is all about the good stuff in life – travel, food and music. If you could play anywhere in the world, with a food/drink rider of anything you fancy and with whoever else you wanted on the lineup, what would that show look like?
Oh, OK, time to dream is it? Well, at the moment the US is the distant dream for us. American music, literature and film are endlessly inspiring for me so how about we take Laish to San Francisco for an outdoor festival. We will play in the afternoon sun alongside Bill Callahan, Bjork, Tortoise and Neil Young. As for a rider, I’d love to do a show right after a sauna, a full body massage and a glass of champagne. Though after that I’m more likely to want a nap. It would beat the usual can of Orangeboom and family pack of Doritos but then if it ain’t broke…
5. I’m always on the lookout for new music. What are you listening to at the moment? Anybody I should be keeping an eye on?
Like Spinning. Kari has been supporting on this Germany tour and she kills me every night. There are also the girls in my band who are endlessly inspiring: Martha Rose and Emma Gatrill. I guess you know all these people already. Do you know James Canty? He’s quite a fella. Birdengine? The Angelcy – they are Israeli, that must be a new one for you.
6. I hear album number two is on its way. What can we expect?
Ten songs of joy and misery with new players, new instruments and sounds, more drums, a different co-producer. It’s all happening.
7. And finally, where can we see Laish play live in the couple of months we have left of this year?
I am writing this from Germany [where we’re touring at the moment] and then we have UK dates from end of the month til mid November. Then no doubt a break for Christmas. We are recording a song for the Lo-Fi Dogma project which we must do live with no overdubs or fancy mixing. And then onto recording album three…
LAISH UK SHOWS:
26th Oct, BRIGHTON, The Hope
2nd Nov – TOTNES, The Blackbird Collective at Studio Lounge