Introducing: Isaac Birchall

By Lais


We spoke to heavy folk artist Isaac Birchall to find out about his solo project, how his album’s gone down, and how it felt to support the mighty Nick Oliveri from Queens Of The Stone Age.

Hi Isaac! First of all, tell us about the background behind the band. How, when and where did you decide to start the band? Would you consider it a band or more of a solo project?

Hi Punktastic! So, I’ve been a solo project pretty much since I started playing music – I’d always written and recorded songs with drums and bass and heavier guitars in them, but never had a band behind me to play them live. Back in March this year I put the band together to make the recorded stuff a reality and I’ve never looked back. This band is my solo project I guess, but we’re very much an involved band. All the guys put a lot of themselves into the sound of the music, so they’re not just backing musicians so to speak.

You released your debut album last month. How has it been going down since then?

It’s been going down great! We’re not that ‘big’ yet, so I’ve tried to do everything myself from a grassroots point of view. Loads of shops and pubs in my local town are selling our CD ‘Where We Are’ for us, and so far with combined physical and online sales we’ve sold close to 500 copies, which for us is massive. The coolest thing for me is seeing how this album is spreading across the world, yet we recorded the whole thing at home during a rainy week in May!

How would you describe your sound?

I’ve been described as heavy folk, which I guess fits pretty well. I’m both a huge metalhead and a huge fan of raw and gutsy acoustic music and I like to take influence from both. I love the sound of an acoustic guitar up front, which is what we have. Some bands like Korn use a clicky bass guitar sound to add rhythm, I like to use the sound of an acoustic to do the same kind of thing in a heavier setting.

Who or what are your influences?

On the folk side of things I’m a huge Glen Hansard fan. The guy has the most amazing voice I’ve ever heard, and he just seems like the kind of guy you could invite over for dinner and talk about and then play music all night. I’m also a big fan of heavy metal, hard rock and nu metal, everything from Testament to Alien Ant Farm, Dream Theatre to Linkin Park.

What are the main themes of the album in terms of lyrical content?

The album deals a lot with my insecurities as a person, not to sound like I’m some kind of tortured artist but just the kind of insecurities we all have in day to day life. The acceptance of others for who we are with ‘Believer’, the mourning of people we’ve loved and lost in ‘What If I’m You?’ to the big middle finger to the bullies with ‘Bones’, that kind of thing. I try to write about things I’ve felt or things I know.

You’ve done some pretty great things already, such as supporting Burt Bacharach. What has been your highlight of your musical career so far?

Supporting Burt was pretty awesome, but from a support point of view my highlight was supporting Nick Oliveri of Queens of the Stone Age. He was super sweet and I’ve been a QOTSA fan since I was a teenager so that was a huge day for me. When I was playing I saw him leaning over the balcony of the venue watching and nodding his head, and after we talked for a little while. I gave him my card and he exchanged it for one of his CDs, which he refused to take money for. I told him I couldn’t afford to get CDs done just yet, and he just smiled and said “One day”.  One of the most mind-blowing evenings of my life and a massive inspiration to me.

Do you have any touring plans in the pipeline?

At the moment we’re trying to accumulate a fan-base. I’ve done things a little backward, in that I had an online album a couple of years ago which gained a pretty huge, but massively spread out worldwide fanbase, which then acted as a catalyst for things to move forward. So I might go to a random city in say San Francisco or Berlin and have a few people turn up, yet I struggle to pull a crowd in my local area, so that’s what we’re working on right now. So far, we’re selling a tonne of CDs per gig and our Facebook page is slowly clocking up the ‘Likes’, so I guess we’re just getting out to as many gigs as we can locally to kick arse and take names, but it’d be a huge boost to start hitting some of the bigger stages.

How has 2015 been for you so far?

2015 has been pretty amazing so far! I found my band, and let me tell you they are an amazing group of musicians. Andy our drummer is probably the best drummer I’ve ever met, Jake is the kind of guitarist who can make a tonne of noise or play so delicately it wouldn’t wake a mouse and Matty is literally a 30ft tall dreadlocked bass monster. We’ve done some amazing gigs, one of which was playing in front of about 2000 people in my home town, we’ve released an album to great acclaim and of course, we got to do a feature in Punktastic!

What does 2016 hold for you? And what are the main goals for the band?

I’ve spent the last couple of years really moving forward, so I plan on 2016 being no different. I feel like we have fire behind us, so we’re going to try and take on the festivals next year and really increase our fanbase. Most importantly, I’m going to keep doing what I’ve always done: having a blast making and playing music!


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