Stranded In Stereo: The Stranded Local Q&A: Red Sails

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Stranded Local Q&A: Red Sails

Usually I'm totally down for celebrating St. Patrick's Day bar-style in one of Boston's many watering holes. Unfortunately the day o' the Irish fell the day after I got back from SXSW (no bar hopping for me!) Although I was music and partied to the limit, I stopped by the Middle East Upstairs for a hot minute and luckily caught the set from the Red Sails.

There's a definite punk influence under the band's folky exterior with some accordion and catchy melodies to boot. As most of you were probably celebrating your St. Patrick's Day and not nursing the post-SXSW overwhelmed state of being, I strongly suggest you check out Red Sails this Saturday at the Lilypad in Cambridge.

Red Sails was formed by Tom Tierney (vocals, guitar, accordion, keys) when he started playing solo shows,
performing indie folk tunes with a bluesy vibe. "I played anywhere I could, from the Middle East to the streets of Cambridge to make some scratch," says Tierney.

He enlisted pal Dan Pirello to play guitar with him in 2006. At the time Tierney was also studying at Sarah Lawrence College in Westchester, NY, where he met Patrick Southern (bass) and Colin Fahrner (drums). Southern and Tierney formed Red Sails in the fall of 2006 with drummer Nate Smith. They recorded two EP's and toured briefly around the
Northeast before Smith left the group due to irreconcilable musical differences. Fahrner replaced Smith and since then the quartet has been working on a serious of two-song singles. One will be released every couple of months, which will ultimately end up in a full length.

"The most exciting thing so far is a single series we're doing," says Tierney. "We decided to release them serially to constantly be pushing forward with the music, and not trapped into a long-winded album concept."

See below to read Tierney's answers to the five questions SIS always asks local acts.

Hailing from Boston makes us better than all those non-Boston bands because
I think coming up as a musician in Boston builds a healthy musical mindset. Bands that come up in huge cities like L.A. or New York City have the disadvantage of trying to compete on an international level – success means celebrity. That mindset can usually be heard in the music. I feel like musicians from Boston know that success is playing to a good crowd and having a good time while doing it. There is a great scene here, but the industry isn’t oppressive. It allows musicians to cultivate a good DIY ethic that keeps you working hard. I knew in high school that playing in bands in Boston meant I couldn’t really look to anyone else for help – I had to make it happen myself by working with the musicians and spaces around me (rec. halls, churches, basements, etc.). That’s a beautiful thing, and it shows in the art. Boston’s music is honest and from the heart. What could be better?

Name at least three bands that are still around and touring that you’d love to be on a bill with, and think it fits well
More than anyone right now, I want to share a bill with Akron/Family. They are just the most engaging and energetic performers I’ve seen in years, not to mention some of the most elegant recording artists. I got to sound tech for them recently, and I was more than psyched.
I would really love to play with St. Vincent. Annie Clark’s writing brings me to my knees. I think our sound fits well with hers – it could be a pretty dynamic bill. Also I think Dr. Dog is one of the best live indie rock bands out there right now. Their music is so fun, but their writing is honest and their layers are complex and texturally very lush. Dig Dr. Dog.

Your favorite Boston venue to perform in is

Hm. This is tough, but probably the Middle East Upstairs. Great vibes, good space, and the sound techs are always on it. Loud as hell.

Are there any genres that influence your music conceptually, rather than sonically? (In that you can’t hear
from simply listening to the music, but from getting into the structure or mathematics of the song-writing, etc.)
We’re all big into jazz, and play and study it a lot. It doesn’t show much in our music, but it’s there. Colin actually was primarily a jazz drummer before joining the Sails. I think a lot in terms of Jazz harmony when building chord structures and voicings. Danny and I dig Celtic folk tunes a whole lot – he spent last semester in Ireland playing in pub sessions, and I’ve spent countless hours busking on the streets screaming traditionals. I love 20th century modern composers – Schoenberg, Debussy and Part have been big influences for sure. More obviously – post punk, blues and psychadelia.

Your favorite local bar to hit up when not doing the whole band deal is
Well Sunset Grill is my favorite for the esoteric beers for sure, but I find myself dropping more green than I’m comfortable with there. When it’s right in front of you, it’s hard not to order a Stone Ruination or a Great Divide Hercules. Trouble for the wallet, man.
For a faithful PBR, dig the Silhouette Lounge. See you there!


Dock band photo by John Francis McCarthy

Download: "River Gods" [mp3]

Catch them live: This Saturday, March 29th at the Lilypad in Cambridge with Face of Cain.

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