Nights In

Interview: san fermin

Eclectic and deeply original, Brooklyn based classical-orchestral pop- pop rock-baroque musical hybrid, San Fermin, are coming back to Dublin, taking to the stage in Whelans on Tuesday the 28th of April. 
This event is in connection to mark the auspicious occasion that is the release of the band’s second album Jackrabbit.
Speaking to Yale University graduate and composer and band brainchild, Ellis Ludwig-Leone, I learned that he was in New York preparing for the album release over that side of The Atlantic. 
It was our second chat, as we talked two years previously, and there has been a definite and distinct evolution of San Fermin since we last spoke.
They have ultimately metamorphosed from a band to an ensemble and on asking how things have been since we last spoke, he admitted that. “it has been really interesting to watch everything happen.”  
“When we first started going out on tour two years ago, we were still trying to figure out what we were doing. In the last tour some of the members hadn’t played on the record; it was more of a solo project that I had written. Since then we played nearly two hundred shows and it has really changed,” he continued.
“I think the feeling in the band has really evolved to be where everyone can have their own style.”
Ellis went on to say that the most “tenacious” thing about touring is sharing it with his band mates, and subsequently they got to know each other really well.
“It’s great that there are eight of us, as there is always someone to talk to. Even if half the band are in a bad mood, there are still some people who want to talk to you,” he explained.
“For the actual performance it adds something really special too, because there are not that many bands that travel with as many people.”
The latest and second album is called Jackrabbit, which follows the first self-titled record; both of which where released via Downtown Records.
I asked Ellis if he can you explain the theme of the album in a few words or sentences. He explained beautifully and very eloquently that the last record was kind of a conversation between the singers and he thinks, that in this record, they are having conversations with themselves.
“It’s more aggressive and it’s darker and I think that it is a little pop-ier too,” he explained. 
The album is due for release in April 2015, with it being released on the 21st in North America and the 27th in Europe and the UK, respectively.
On the significance of the album title, he explained that, “there is a song on the album called Jackrabbit and I like that it is the wilder cousin of something very domestic.”
We also discussed San Fermin hitting the road soon. “We are basically trying to savour the last bit of freedom we have here,” he said. “Once we head to Europe, we will be basically on tour for six or seven weeks and we always find that it feels longer when we go to Europe, as we are waking up at 3am and 4 am with flying, it’s difficult travel,” he explained.
“We will be fresh faced and excited when we get to Whelans, but maybe not so much after a few weeks,” he laughed.
“I found that when I was writing one of the songs for our tour the experience definitely does cover the emotional aspect of music. It’s so jerky you go from feeling great, to feeling dead tired, to feeling depressed, to feeling great again. Touring is very extreme, which I like,” he added.
Ellis has a classical music background and studied composition, and I asked as the band has changed in personnel, has his approach to music also evolved?
“It has more instruments than you would expect,” he explained. He also went on to say that his background is in classical music and they spend a lot of time with that, but that this record is in no way a classical record. 
San Fermin have done some very impressive support slots since we last spoke. I asked if any slot particularly resonated with him. He responded, “Yeah, there have been so many; last time we were in Europe we played a show with The National, which was super cool. That really stood out as a support slot.
“We actually went on the road with The Head and the Heart in the fall. We were playing all these smallish towns in the mid-west. We were finishing up the record at the time and it was really interesting to see huge crowds of people who related so much to their music,” he explained.
“I was having a conversation with Alan while we were watching that happen. We were talking about what makes someone really connect to a song. As a result of that conversation I had with Alan, Emily and Jackrabbit a few other songs from the album emerged,” he added.
“Whenever you are supporting a band, or even playing a festival with a band, it creeps into your subconscious and we have had so much of that with all this touring.”
He said that Paul Simon would be great to open for, which was a nice coincidence, as I explained that Paul Simon was playing in Dublin that very evening we spoke.
I learned that he is already thinking about the third record and about a year ago he began picturing what album two and three would be like. He said he thinks that the second record is a transition record and you can hear the evolution of the band.
“The songs were half written on tour, so half in isolation and half not. I can already see where the third record is headed, but I won’t give that away yet, but there will be an arrival on the third record,” he said.
San Fermin will be performing many summer festivals in America and in Europe too, including Reading and Leeds and dates keep adding to the calendar. 
He elaborated with a laugh and explained that it stresses him out keeping track of all the dates and that he blocks out huge parts of the schedule and realises that someone else will decide what he does with his time.

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