After catching Fred Irwin at the Dave McPherson show, I knew he was one to watch; so when I found out he playing in Wokingham I reached right out to Fred and asked if he was happy for me to do a piece on him. Luckily he said yes, but I’m not sure he was prepared or even aware that I was going to interview him once he finished his set.
It’s safe to say that the interview was beyond hilarious and I’ve learnt a fair few things about Fred and his friends, some of which will certainly not be making it into the answers for the questions I asked.
So let’s start with the venue for this review/interview combo. Situated in Wokingham, The Gig House was recently reopened with a stronger focus on live music.
Having never been to Wokingham before, walking in I was made to feel welcome instantly. John the bartender was chatty and lovely and even took the time to try and play a game of noughts and crosses with me, which I have been assured isn’t a usual service given. I’m pretty sure he just wanted to use my fluffy pen that I take notes with when I’m at a venue I am reviewing.
You can check them out on Facebook here
So let’s go into the real reason you came here, to read about Fred Irwin.
First of all, listening to Fred sober, I didn’t realise just how powerful his voice was. I don’t know if it was the smaller venue or I wasn’t hazed with which ever shots I was drinking last time but the command of Fred’s voice was certainly something that couldn’t be ignored.
From the second he stepped on stage, the charm and confidence oozed from him, even with heckles about tequila and the fact the sound from the set was being blasted into the bathroom’s so no one missed a moment of the set. Slightly creepy, but a good idea.
Watching and listening to Fred, you can see the passion for his music is palpable, which only makes him a further joy to watch. Unlike many artists, whose recorded songs are far better than their live counterparts, Fred is an exception. Listening to him live leaves you far from disappointed and clamouring for more. I found myself wishing his set would go on long into the night.
Listening to his album on Spotify almost daily now and there is certainly two stand out tracks for me. Wasted With You and Don’t Panic are songs that resonate with me on a personal level. Relatable and with lyrics that will stick in your head – Wasted With You has certainly become the song that I’ve taken to singing in the shower to all my adoring shampoo bottles. I can certainly recommend Fred’s music if you’re into the likes of Frank Turner and even if you’re not. His herculean vocals will certainly have you adding him to your playlists.
NOW FOR THE INTERVIEW.
This is a first here on my little old blog and I don’t think I could of picked a better subject for my first interview than Fred… Well Fred and his girlfriend Amber… and his friends Conor and Will. I will write names next to who answered what, just for ease! So let’s get into my first ever interview;
What inspired you for your first ever album?
Fred: Night’s Like These came about from a breakup basically. A collection of songs I came up with and came out November 2012, around 12 months after the breakup. I was in my first year of Uni, skipping lectures in favour of staying in the digs and making home demos because I’d spunked my student loan on recording equipment. Photography was not the degree for me, instead of spending on film and paper, I bought a USB sound card, it was cathartic. It all happened by accident and it got to the point the subject matter wasn’t all that raw and I could go out and play this.
So Wasted With You is a very good song, it’s actually my morning alarm tone…
Fred: Well that’s humbling… There’s nothing like starting the day on a bad note! There’s an irony in that, that it’s an alarm song, some songs come up over a period of time and few different hooks get mashed together, but this was written in the early hours. I couldn’t sleep, decided to drink instead.
So your t-shirts are really cool, as you know I’ve ordered one, I wanted to understand the image on the front a bit more? It’s got the FI (for Fred Irwin) but what about the rest?
Fred: A good friend of mine came up with the image, he understood I didn’t want anything too clean or classy because that’s not really me. A lot of my songs are a little bit grittier, so I wanted the artwork to show that. The font I used for Night’s Like These I found online and it looked nice, but maybe didn’t pair so well with the music it was representing. I wanted a logo rather than just a type face, I think that represented me more. A little grungier, something he wanted to bring through in the image.
Your lovely girlfriend looks stunning in the t-shirt images as your model, how did you two meet?
Fred: Excellent model. We were introduced by a friend Squeak (I later found out Squeak’s real name is Matt and he was named Squeak due to the fact his voice didn’t break ’til he was 17)
Who are your biggest influences?
Fred: I think it can be summarised by the line in Don’t Panic, I wish I could write songs like Tim, Noel or Frank. Tim being Tim OT, who is an unsigned relatively low key artist who has gone from strength to strength since I last crossed paths with him. He always wrote form the heart and the punk elements came through. Noel Gallagher, I’ve always been influenced by the song writing of Oasis and both Gallagher brother’s to be fair and Frank Turner, who is the main one and when I first came across his music, I was like hang on; I don’t need to find friends and start a band, I can get it all across with an acoustic and it can still be from the heart and doesn’t need to be melodic like some acoustic stuff you hear.
Well when I first heard you, I was certainly reminded of Frank Turner.
Fred: Well, thank you, that means a lot
What is coming up in the future for you?
Fred: I have been sat on some fresh recordings and new songs for quite some time now, they were recorded in April the idea was to put them out in Oct/Nov time but I had to put this on hold because there were rumblings of maybe doing that with the help of a label. I can’t say too much because I’m ironing out the details and if it goes one way or the other, it was certainly worth putting the release on hold if it meant I had something to release with them. With a label or not, it’s there, its coming. You can hear a couple of songs on YouTube and I hope to be releasing a couple of live bits as a thanks for waiting guys!
So as I have said, I’ve listened to your album a fair bit, I have to ask… Josh and Patches find a sombrero… Sorry what? What’s the story?
Fred: The song doesn’t at all represent the title. Josh is a friend of mine and I am Patches, a nickname born from being unable to grow facial hair. We have a friend who was affectionally known as the Mexican and when Josh and I went to Amsterdam on holiday together, we were like right, we are going to find a sombrero for him and while we there I swore I was going to write a song referencing the hunt for a sombrero. I never did so a girl I met through Josh and the Mexican that I was having a fling with asked for a song and it was like well I know you via them and I owe Josh a song about finding a sombrero.
How do you think your 2018 was for you and your career and what is your big goal for 2019?
Fred: My big goal is to get the EP out, legitimate reasons I had to put that off, so that’s the goal. My career in 2018 has gone from strength to strength and largely in part to the girl sat next to me (gestures to his very lovely girlfriend Amber) she has been very hands on recommending me for gigs and putting things my way and giving me a kick up the arse really when I’m a little cloudy and the mental fog kicks in. The week Amber and I met was the year anniversary of the come back gig; there wasn’t much of a career in 2016/2017. I didn’t realise ’til the night that I had taken an accidental break and I got the taste for it all over again and started applying myself again. 2018 was a great one, I got involved with that Vibe promotions, who got me involved in B-Love and got me my first tour, so from kind of agreeing to play some of my older songs for a friend and I realised I missed it.
So I discovered you at the Dave McPherson gig, so how was that, sharing a stage with someone so influential and a personal influence for me?
Fred: That was a big one, I’ve always known of InMe and they were always somewhat on my radar, they were never one of my favourite bands. When the gig was booked I was like shit, thats Dave from InMe and I had the appreciation no matter if I was one of their biggest fans or not. When I started telling people I was playing that gig, everyone was like your supporting Dave from InMe, it was an honour to play. I was nervous to play, because it was a chance to get things to a wider audience. I’ve mentioned Frank already, he started a heavier career with Million Dead and then went on to do solo stuff which is very much the same for Dave. It was a really fun night with a stacked bill.
If you could work with anyone, who would you work with?
Fred: Frank Turner. Billy the Kid. I’d really like to do something with those two, if I ever had the chance, purely because they are two huge influences.
What is something you hope your fans take away from your music?
Fred: I listen back and I’m like you know what Fred, you’re a fucking weirdo and I think that’s the take away, it’s ok to be a fucking weirdo and it’s ok not to be ok. That’s how the whole first album came about, I hit a depressive patch, without it the songs wouldn’t have come about. Without sounding cliché, they gave me focus, it was something to do instead of some more self destructive activities. It’s ok to feel shit now and again and it’s ok to be a bit abnormal.
What songs would you tell people check out from your music?
Fred: Don’t panic, because thats a song a little bit about everything. Im Getting Pissed Tonight, Wasted With You and Goodnight Irene.
(I also learnt that his favourite mug is his Southampton mug.)
As we have your friends and your lovely lady here, I’m going to ask them, why should people check out Fred’s music?
Conor: Oh they shouldn’t he’s awful. He also lets me fuck up his sets now and again.
Amber: Because he’s relatable and he’s enjoyable, you can sing along but then you really listen to the lyrics and you can understand it and see the deeper meaning.
Will: He knows all the words to his own songs, he doesn’t fuck about and gets to the point. He also lets me play percussion now and again.
Top 5 gigs you have ever been too?
1)Mowzer in Wokingham
2) Will Curry at the Railway
3) Frank Turner at the Joiners because free JD.
4) Teenage cancer trust at the Royal Albert Hall because that was Frank Turner and Will Varley
5) Billy the Kid because she stopped gigging and then she came to London and I got to meet her. When I got a picture with her, Frank Turners drummer took it!
If you could see anyone play, alive or dead, who would you see?
Fred: First answer is Queen, not just because Queen are fucking incredible but I’m also hoping my Dad reads this and my embarrassing story about my Dad is when he was about my age, he sold Queen tickets for beer money.
(At this point Fred has pottered off for a beer)
If you could recommend any local artists, who would you recommend?
Will: Us (Mowzer, William Curry)
Conor: Us (Mowzer, William Curry)
Will: And Scott Freeman
Conor: Defiantly Scott Freeman
20 minutes later Fred Returns
Fred: Mowzer, William Curry and Scott Freeman
Thank you to Fred, who got way more questions than I originally planned.
And buy one of his fucking t-shirts, okuurrr. (on his website up there ^)