Credit: @thisiswolff


Welcome HamsandwicH!  Congratulations on your fourth studio album Magnify out now via your own label Route 109a Recordings.  Could you introduce yourselves and explain your roles in the band?
Podge : Hi I’m Podge. I started in HamsandwicH without any instruments mostly as a hype man but my role has changed dramatically over the years. I now sing play guitar/uke and co-write the songs with Darcy & Niamh. 

Niamh : I’m Niamh, and I’m one of the main singers in HamsandwicH. Myself and Podge have a dual male/female vocal thing going on and it would probably be what we are most known for! 

Darcy: Hi I’m Darcy. I’m one of the writers of the band and I play mostly guitar in the band. I’m the quiet one!

Reading that perseverance was required for writing Magnify as you did this remotely in different parts of the country (Dublin, County Meath and County Monaghan) plus ideas were exchanged over voice notes and recording completed between studios and Niamh’s kitchen over a staggered timeframe, how has this impacted the album?  Did the situation influence the song-writing or was it more an escape from the limitations of the situation?
Podge : It helped with focus for sure and relying on voice notes was a great way to force us to better document our ideas. I find I can get more ideas when I’m under some stress. I was living with another musician/song writer over Covid, someone outside of the band and I think we both learned a lot from each other which gave me a nice extra kick or approach to writing lyrically and just got me more in a musical thinking place. We would have also written songs together that were a lot more darker themed so it opened the net a bit more. Definitely my most prolific period has been 2020-22. I think once the engine is rolling it comes so much more naturally.

Niamh : It was definitely a different way of writing for us, all recording separately for a bit. But it meant when we met up we had some really solid demos to work from which was great, especially when myself and Podge could sit and work out lyrics in the same room. The ideas really started flowing! It was tough at times but overall, I think our song writing as a group was more adventurous because of the whole situation. I would say we all looked to the album writing as an escape from what was going on in the world around us at times!

Darcy: I think in the short term it was a bit of a disaster! We tried to record ‘Electro-Wave‘ in a remote way. We contacted our drummer who lived with a studio engineer at the time and our producer at the time had to leave voice notes on Whatsapp as to what they should do with mic set ups etc. Something that should have taken 2-3 hours in a studio was taking a full day if not longer. So that wasn’t going to work for 10 songs, the flow of the work would have been off. We waited until we could enter the studio properly and by then we had fully formed ideas and knew what we were going in to do unlike previous trips to the studio. So in the long term, I think the process did benefit us. We lived with the tracks longer in the demo phase so we knew what worked and what didn’t.

What is your creative process?  Do the lyrics or the music come first?
Podge : Music nearly always comes first. For the most part Darcy will come to the band with at least 2/3’s of a song idea musically. And he gives it to myself and Niamh to write over it lyrically. I get slagged for being the harmonies man. I love what layering vocals can do to a simple lyric. I sometimes pitch in with musical pieces over Darcy’s demos but it’s mainly Darcy’s music ideas. Darcy has been coming out of his shell lyrically too and wrote quite a bit of ‘All Worthwhile‘ lyrically on our album Stories from the Surface so he’s no slouch. He got the ball rolling lyrically too on ‘All My Blood’.

Niamh : The music definitely comes first. Darcy will write a piece of music and record a demo of it for myself and Podge to hear. He might have an idea of a vocal melody that myself and Podge will then go from or else myself or Podge will kick something off melody/lyrics wise. After years of working together like this, we have a great knack of knowing where the other is going with the song and it also allows us to be very honest with each other which is very valuable when we are under pressure to get the album done!

Darcy: I think at this point the process has been refined to the music being written first. Sometimes there is a strong melody attached and sometimes there’ll be a theme attached. The music can really inform where the lyrics are going to go most of the time. I might have the odd lyric attached to a demo that can either make it to the final version of the song or it’ll trigger a better lyric or line written by Podge or Niamh.

Who are your main influences?  Did any artist in particular inspire the creation of HamsandwicH?
Podge : For me it’s a number of artists. I’ve always loved bands who have great music but are fun live like flaming lips and pavement for example. Nirvana and Guns n’ Roses were definitely huge inspirations when I was much younger then Radiohead and Blur. I think seeing Blur in the RDS in 1995/6 sealed my faith and I wanted to be a frontman in a band from that moment on 

Niamh : I grew up surrounded by music, so I loved it from a very young age. When I got into my teens I was a big fan of The Smashing Pumkpins and started getting into more live and loud bands! I sang in a band when I was 18 and although I was painfully shy on stage I knew I loved it! Looking at other female performers I was definitely inspired by women like Kate Bush, Karen O, Karen Carpenter, Barbara Streisand even! A real mixed bag but women who are unapologetically themselves and that’s what I aspire to! 

Darcy: My main influences to begin with are any indie guitar band from the 90’s really! I didn’t really contribute much to the start of the band at the beginning other than play live. My taste in music might not be as hip as Podge and Niamh (!) but I think having a mix of different tastes is vital for collaborations.

Your reputation for your live performances precedes you.  How did you cope during lockdown when you couldn’t gig?  And is it possible to explain just what playing live means to you?
Podge : It’s not quite possible and that’s what I love about it. It can be so unpredictable and every audience can be unique to the next. We tend to get better when we get to do a bunch of gigs close together and the tighter we get the more fun we have and it usually transcends to our audience. I would like to think it’s extremely rare that you would have someone say our show was dull if ever. We’ve had a few rocky gigs in our time but it’s inevitable when you are constantly trying stuff out. I’ve seen The National play in the Olympia with a bunch of new tracks and you could see they just weren’t comfortable and it filtered into their whole set. They came back a year later and were 5 times better with virtually the sales songs. Having to take those steps back make it worth it though when you know you’re taken them forward again

Niamh : Not being able to do live gigs over lockdown was a big low point for me. I absolutely love our live gigs and without them I really felt like I wasn’t myself anymore! When we got back to them though, I think I’m loving playing live now more than I ever have! It’s an incredibly hard thing to describe, but on the really game changing gigs it can genuinely feel like you are going to just float away off stage! Connecting with a crowd is just some sort of magic! 

Darcy: I think we are a band who people know as a live act first and foremost. That’s how they discover our albums. So it was a very quiet time for us during lockdown. We did continue to write the album during lock down but we didn’t want this album to be about lockdown so we took a step back from it every so often. We did a couple of streamed gigs like other bands but that got old very quick. Fast forward to now and the shows are getting back where they were. We find that those who are coming back to the shows are so grateful for the live experience. It’s a proper emotional rollercoaster at the minute!

You’ve played some impressive support slots opening for the likes of Arcade Fire, Pixies and Bon Jovi.  What is the main difference when playing these big stages?  How are the nerves?Podge: The main differences are the fact you are aware a huge amount of people don’t know you and I suppose have no expectations. We genuinely thrive on this and usually feast on the occasion. We absolutely rocked the support for Pixies / arcade, I threw my ukulele across the stage (silly move) with pure adrenaline and it cracked the body so it’s only a souvenir now for the day. Frank Black stood side stage for half the gig which is surreal. I’ve obsessed over the Pixies since I was 17. A lot of my friends would have been because of a bond over loving the Pixies 

Niamh : As Podge says, we probably thrive in those situations as people in the audience don’t know us! The Slane Castle show with Bon Jovi was a surreal experience! To play Slane for us was such a massive deal and it was an amazing and exciting day, one we will all certainly never forget! 

Darcy: They are huge moments that will last a life-time I think. It’s a privilege to be asked to play them. On big stages you can feel a bit lost. However I think we are the type of band who thrive in those scenarios as we’ve 2 very talented people leading the way at the front of the stage who can take up every inch of the stage.

Now Magnify has been released, what are your immediate plans?
Podge : We want to enjoy 22/23 and so much more fun gigs. We really have nothing to lose at this stage and next year I think it’s time to treat ourselves and travel to places in Europe and do all sorts of gigs. I’ve been hoping to play Italy France and places like that since we started so next year is our chance

Niamh : We have a tour around Ireland planned from the end of October. So we are getting out on the road to play the new album to people! That’s very exciting and it brings in a freshness to the band and our live shows when we get to play lots of new stuff!

Darcy: Touring in Europe would be nice. Our main aim is to get this album to everyone that’s heard of us over the years. There are so many brilliant acts bringing out albums between now and December. It’s going to be a battle to be heard, but we are up for the challenge!

HamsandwicH’s new album Magnify is out now via their own label Route 109a Recordings.
From 31 October they have a number of gigs across Ireland. For more details please check their website here.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.