(Editor’s note: The band now goes by Hello Casanova, but still plays the music they recorded as Foreign Affairs NI)
This is the second of three “Meet the Band” interviews to help promote the release of Foreign Affairs NI’s new pop punk gem “Pennies” on March 25.
Ethan Williamson is the man with the nimble fingers on the electric guitar. He can make it scream or sing, depending on the song. Ethan also lends his voice for backing vocals, uniting with singer Matthew Irwin in a nice blend of harmonies.
Ethan is also skilled with the video camera, creating all of the band’s videos and now looking to help create videos for other bands.
Meet Ethan and learn more about this talented musician and skilled lens man.
OK, let’s start from the top … When did you start playing guitar and what got you started?
I got my first guitar when I was about 6 or 7 years old, it was about 3/4 sized. I couldn’t play it at all and started properly learning when I was about 12 or 13.
I’ve always wanted to play guitar, I think when you’re into rock music everyone wants to learn some sort of an instrument. I could be wrong, but that’s what I think!
Do you play any other instruments?
I play a little keyboard/piano the odd time, I have a few harmonicas too. I learned the recorder back in primary school which is my favorite instrument — I joke.
Haha, I think we all played those in elementary school. So who are your musical influences?
Haha, yeah I really excelled at the recorder.
I take influences from so many genres and artists. I grew up listening to metal and punk while constantly hearing classic bands like The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac being played by my parents.
So bands like them have become favorites of mine including the late great David Bowie who my mum has always loved and played throughout my upbringing.
I love a lot of music. Some weeks I’ll be listening to the likes of Johnny Cash, Elvis and The Rolling Stones and then some weeks it’s just a lot of pop punk.
I have far too many influences to even try to begin to narrow it down!
That’s a good variety. I think variety makes a better performer.
So, what kind of TV shows and movies do you like?
Haha, ah that’s a question I’m sure Matt enjoyed. It’s also one I’ll struggle with, as believe it or not — I watch very little TV!
Anytime I’m watching TV it’s either a music documentary (like a tour movie, recording of an album, documentary about a band etc) or “Hollyoaks.”
“Hollyoaks” is a U.K. soap which is very close to my heart. I’ve always loved it and a lot of people don’t get my love for it but it’s there.
I enjoy movies like “The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Green Mile.”
Again though my favorite things to watch are music related. “Walk The Line” the movie is a favorite of mine for sure.
Yes, Matt did like the question quite well. How about hobbies — what do you do for fun?
I enjoy the odd drink all of the time.
I enjoy creating videos, which is why I’ve started Polvr which is going to be my thing to share with people videos I’ve created for bands (including my own band).
I plan to work under this name and decided to create it as recently I’ve been getting asked more and more to create videos for other bands. So, I thought, why not start working under an actual name?
I, of course, love making music and I spend most of my time doing that after work. I think if I didn’t play guitar, I wouldn’t have any hobbies, as I probably wouldn’t be doing videos either if it wasn’t for learning guitar and getting into all things to do with music.
I feel like my life revolves around music, as cliché as that sounds.
So to round-up, I enjoy creating music, creating videos and drinking.
What else does anyone need?
Hahaha, sounds great. I was getting to asking you about Polvr. It will be a great extension for Beat the Bully LP (a new indie record label starting soon that Foreign Affairs had a big hand in creating). It will be a one-stop shop.
Yeah exactly! There’s a ton of stuff going on around the band at the moment! We try our best to run everything as professional looking as possible and I feel we do that pretty well. Everything is planned and prepared so far in advance and spoke about for weeks maybe even months before posting about it.
That’s the way to do it. So, tell me a bit about “Pennies” (the single is to be released Friday, March 25). How did it come about and how did you help shape it?
So I went to Matt’s house just to write and asked if he had anything new to show, which he did– that was “Pennies” just on his acoustic guitar. Then we get to work on the guitar parts and work things out and I start starting some “woahs” through the mic.
Then Martin comes along at full band rehearsals and we start we really work things out like tempos, how drums will fit with guitars, etc., and I feel in this track especially everything fits so well!
As we’ve progressed as a band, there’s so much more time spent working out exactly how everything should be. We of course have so many tracks we’ll never record we just have to collectively decide as a band which few ones are going to be recorded.
I also heard from Matt we will be getting a live performance video of “High Tide” …
Ah, yes, there will be that! We’ve only really performed that a few times, most of which have been acoustically on radio. It’s a fun tune to play and it’s always been received well the few times we’ve played it, so hopefully, that goes down well.
We also on that day may or may not have recorded a sneaky cover but we’ll have just have to wait and see I guess.
Ooo … Sounds good. I like a sneaky tease. Well, I for one love your harmonies on “High Tide.” I’ve seen those studio performances and even acoustic, it’s great. Can’t wait to see it.
Thank you very much! I love harmonies on tracks so expect much more. We look forward to showing them!
That makes me happy to hear. I think you should have lots of them! Ok … So about your visit to the U.S. in December (they attended the YouBloom Festival in Los Angeles) … What was the best part and what was the strangest part?
Ah, what a difficult question that is.
I think the best part was not something physical but rather the whole time we were over there, there wasn’t one moment I wasn’t thinking, “I’ve got to come here purely due to music my band and I have created.”
I think for me knowing that will always be amazing. Everything we done while over there was incredible and so difficult to chose what I enjoyed the most as it was all very alien to me and new.
The strangest part for me was when LA goes into night, I think we all felt like there was a complete different atmosphere at night-time.
Like during the day, everyone’s so friendly and over the top nice and then at night, I don’t know what happens, people are still friendly, but you know you have to have your guard up at all times.
Yep, I can relate. I’m sure it was a huge difference from your town.
Haha, massive difference! I live in the country, there’s nothing here but fields upon fields and one tiny lane!
To get Foreign Affairs EPs “Heartline” and “Prologue,” go to http://foreignaffairsire.bandcamp.com/