A little over a year ago, I discovered this pop punk band out of Armagh, Northern Ireland. A pair of soft-spoken Irish lads and an equally easy-going Latvian drummer who, when combined, make the most delicious ear candy I’ve ever heard. They called themselves Foreign Affairs NI.
Matthew Irwin on guitar and vocals, Ethan Williamson on lead guitar and backing vocals and Martin Miller on drums are a tight, powerful musical unit. They have yet to find a permanent bassist.
I initially fell in love with “Familiar Faces” and “Contradiction Fiction,” and they have cranked out tune after brilliant tune, including “Heartline,” “Pennies” and “High Tide.”
Now, after being signed to a publishing deal with the London-based Supersonic Media, the boys have rechristened themselves as Hello Casanova and brought out a belter of a tune in “I’ll Be Waiting.” It’s a love song, with a bit of an Irish drinking tune mixed in for good measure. Don’t be fooled by its lively good nature — it’ll still flatten your toes in a mosh pit, no worries there!
I’ve been watching all the great reviews “I’ll Be Waiting” has been getting, so it was nice to finally have a chance to chat with Ethan and Matthew about the changes with the band and where they are headed. Here is what they had to say.
Tell me about the name change … Why, and where did Hello Casanova come from?
Ethan: Haha, of course. The name change was always kind of in the back of our minds as we’ve never been too keen on Foreign Affairs. The label then told us that now was the best time to change as signing a deal with them and releasing our first tune with them it made sense to do it with that rather than on down the line. We then were given about three or four days to come up with a name and it was a complete disaster trying to think of one! Everyone was firing names left, right and center and nothing was working.
On the last day (which was a Monday) I, out of nowhere really, came up with Hello Casanova. The guys really liked it and we done the check online and it seemed to be used nowhere else, so all was in check! It’s kind of like The Rolling Stones — they were also given a few days to think of a name and then just seemed to get it last-minute!
I was wondering … How about the logo? I know you created it, Ethan … Who is the girl?
Ethan: I was messing about on Photoshop as I often am, messing with different fonts, putting Hello Casanova over different band pictures. Casanova basically means “a bit of a womanizer,” so I put that girl silhouette beneath the name and thought it looked pretty cool. I seem to have a bit of a habit creating stuff on the spot, that’s how I designed the “Heartline” EP artwork too, just messing around on Photoshop!
Matthew: What Ethan said.
Well … Here in America, it looks like the women’s bathroom sign.
Ethan: Same here. Funny enough though, you’re the only person that’s said that. A lot of people have come up to me and said they really love the new name and image.
I’m learning to love it ….. Now, about that fourth band member …. Do you have a permanent bass player, or still just a hired gun?
Matthew: Hired gun. It’s hard to get somebody that’s fully committed. It would be amazing to have another member though. People don’t realise how much time, effort and money you have to put into a band.
Yes, I figured that. You have to be really dedicated to the band to do it — I think you will find the right one at some point. At least you have good support readily available for now.
Ethan: Very true. It’s hard to find someone who is 100 percent committed and would drop everything at any moment.
Matthew: Yeah eventually it has to happen, we’re still looking for Mr./Mrs. right for now.
Have you had any female bassist show interest?
Matthew: Nope, but I think it would be cool to have one!
Are you advertising anywhere at all?
Ethan: We post now and again and ask around. In fairness, we could probably do more. I think we are too comfortable with the guys who help us out and step in.
Matthew: We’ve advertised everywhere we can. Northern Ireland is too small! All the good bassists are already taken.
Well, hopefully the changes you have been making will open eyes and bring one …. Speaking of …. I’ve seen tons of great press for “I’ll Be Waiting” … That is great!
Ethan: It’s been the best thing we’ve done to date for sure. The reaction has been unbelievable and its not even officially out yet.
Matthew: Yeah, we’ve never had much press and to see so much love for “I’ll Be Waiting” has been amazing and I’m super grateful for it!
Ethan: Best thing we have released I should probably say.
You lads grow consistently with each new track, although older ones like “Familiar Faces” are real crackers! This is the most personal one to date too?
Ethan: Everyone seems to love “Familiar Faces” and it’s not been in our set recently, it’s seems to be the “crowd pleaser.”
Matthew: You may see “Familiar Faces” breathe new life soon. “I’ll Be Waiting” is the most personal and honest yeah! It’s the first happy song we’ve really done.
It is really happy — and a sweet ode to the lovely Chloe … How does she feel about that?
Matthew: She just always blushed when she hears it! Haha! But it’s her favourite song of ours so far!
Aw, that’s sweet. It also sounds like a traditional Irish drinking tune too …
Ethan: Haha, well …
Matthew: Love a good drink.
The drinking aspect keeps it from being too sweet, I think!
Ethan: What is your favourite we have released, Rebecca?
My favourite? Well, of the older stuff, “Familiar Faces” … Then “Heartline” … Now, “I’ll Be Waiting” is tops!
Ethan: Good choices!! Yeah there have been a lot of “Celtic” references in lots of different reviews and blogs, etc.
Matthew: It’s the 3/4 time signature. A lot of traditional music uses that. Combine that with three chords and you have a folk song, add distortion and you have a pop rock song.
That’s it! But a lot of your songs mix up the time signature, don’t keep a constant best throughout, that’s something that makes you unique!
Matthew: Aw, thanks!
Are you getting any shows lined up for England yet?
Matthew: Nothing concrete, but always looking forward. We’re trying to figure out how to get into all the festivals over there.
What have you got planned to get through the end of the year? If I hear of any festivals, I’ll be sure to let you know.
Matthew: The recording and preparation to release our next single.
Right, I knew you were in the studio recently … What can you tell me?
Matthew: Not a whole big pile as of now, just that we always give out all to make sure the next track is something we’re very proud of!
So you just worked on one track … Or more?
Ethan: One track. We take our time picking “the one” to record.
Matthew: We have the next two releases planned.
Do you have time frames for them?
Matthew: Not exact times no, but we like to have something fresh coming out insistently! It’ll be after the new year before the next one though!
OK, cool … I love the skate park video for “I’ll Be Waiting” … How did you come up with that?
Matthew: We just wanted a video full of energy and that was a cool idea we came up with to film it in a skate park! There’s not too many about so we had to travel to a cool one!
It really is an energetic location … I bet the extras were excited to take part in the filming.
Matthew: Everybody seemed to have a fun day which was awesome!
And how much footage did Ethan have to work with?
Ethan: A lot. I’m used to it though. When doing the L.A. video for “Pennies,” I had days and days of footage.
How do you know where to begin? How many hours did you shoot, normally? Yes, lots of footage for “Pennies” for sure!
Ethan: I just watch through it all and rename clips, I know straight away when watching a clip if it’s going to be used and where. I see a lot of local bands getting videos done with a lot of angles which I absolutely hate so always want to take care of the editing side myself. We have a few mates which help us out with the videoing who are excellent and always do a great job. I’m not sure how many hours in total we shoot but we know when we’ve enough! The video for Pennies however was just video everything, not just for the music video but for memories too, it was our first time in America so we wanted to capture as much as possible!
You did a fine job of capturing the spirit of your trip!
Ethan: Thanks! Although I don’t think any amounts of video could do justice to that trip!
I can imagine. What’s on your wish list for the next visit to the U.S.?
Ethan: I’m not really sure, we’ve made a lot of contacts now from the last time we were there. We know how it all works over there now, we’d definitely book a good string of dates, do more exploring and just have good times doing what we love!
I for one will be happy to see that happen! If anyone deserves it, it’s you guys.
Ethan: Ah, thanks a lot!
Yep … It’s true. Any more live dates to finish out the year? Any holiday shows? You need to stream more …
Ethan: In all honesty, we do not! We have been keeping quiet gig wise, recording away, writing, planning and just getting ready for the new year. We do need to do that more yes.
You can find Hello Casanova on Twitter at @Hello_Casanova and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/hellocasanovaa/