Greig Stewart took some time out from his busy tour schedule to answer some questions for our readers.
Jenny May: You recorded your latest album Walk The River in Wales. How was the experience recording there different from recording your other albums (Through the Windowpane, Red)?
Greig Stewart: A vast difference from Red. Red was written in the studio, over 9 months. While Windowpane was 3/4 already written before we went in the studio. Also both of these records were mostly self produced. Walk The River was firstly written over a year by the whole band and we had a producer (David Kosten). Also it was the first time we went residential to record (Bryn Derwin).
Is there someone/something that you, as a drummer – and also the band as a unit, “channeled” (or were inspired by) when writing and recording Walk The River?
For me as a drummer, it’s still always the same. I’m always on the hunt for the great undeniable drum riff. As a band, we were going for as much playing live together in a room, feel. As other artist influences go, I don’t think we had anyone specific in mind.
Who did the artwork for the album? How did you come up with the concept?
Lots of arguments until we all saw Susan Burnstine photographs. Her photographs really summed up the album mood.
You have a busy festival season this year. Dot To Dot, Glastonbury, Hop Farm, Wilderness and more. How would you compare playing festivals to a strict tour schedule? Do you prefer one over the other?
Both have pros and cons. So I wouldn’t pick one over the other. Festival shows are really cool because you get to see other bands and hang out with them after. Also you get to play to people who would usually not come to your gigs. On the negative side, if it rains at the festival then it can be quite depressing. Also the toilets are usually not very good at festivals. If it’s our own tour, we get to have our own lighting tech and lights. We can play for longer, get a sound check, decent toilets.
Guillemots recently covered the Beatles and The Who during performances in Paris. Have you covered many artists? What was it like covering these legendary bands – and what songs did you play?
It’s just a recent thing for the band. The two different shows we were on in Paris asked us to do a cover. The Who was a surprise as I never knew Fyfe was into them. As a drummer, it’s great to play (I Can See For Miles) and try and be Keith Moon for a moment. Though also quite scary as he was such a crazy drummer. Think I may have passed the test when one of the Friendly Fires crew came up to me after and said not many people can get away with doing Keith, but you pulled it off. The other cover was Tomorrow Never Knows, by the Beatles. Again another song with a great drum part. This was the hardest one for me due to the band not getting to rehearse it and then doing it live. I had to transpose the part I had practiced on my knees onto the drum kit live on air. Scary!
Your song “Get Over It” from the ‘Red’ album appears in the Simon Pegg film How to Lose Friends & Alienate People. Did you get to go to the premiere or any parties? Did you meet any of the actors?
It was quite embarrassing as we went to the premiere, did the red carpet thing. Then the song was only in the film for the last 10 seconds at the end of the credits. Afterwards we played at the aftershow party and Simon Pegg joined in playing percussion with us. That was fun. He really got into it. The party ended up the whole of Guillemots being in the swimming pool. Great night overall.
What is one of your all time favorite music videos and why?
I like dancing videos where the people in the video/band aren’t professional dancers, but dance. Weapon Of Choice by Fatboy Slim; Fatboy Slim – Praise You; The Housemartins – Happy Hour; Beastie Boys – Sabotage.
What would be the combination to make for a perfect night – e.g., what food would you be eating while listening to what album, in what location anywhere in the world?
It all comes back to Greece for me. So it would be the balcony of my old apartment in Rhodes, eating fresh Calamari, with a bottle of Retsina and listening to ‘Astral Weeks’.
In our first interview, you mentioned Sandy Denny as an artist that you like. Which song was it of hers that first caught your attention?
The first time I heard her I was on tour with my old band Bohinta. We were on tour for a long time and I was pretty knackered. I think we were travelling over night from Aberdeen to do a London afternoon gig at the Barbican. Someone put on Sandy Denny, in the van. I was totally transfixed and blown away by such beauty. The song was called No End.
If you could arrange for an artist to sing any cover song, who would the artist be, and what would they sing?
‘Into Dust’ by Mazzy Starr sung by Mary Margaret O’Hara. Or for comedic value get Michael Bolten to sing ‘There Is a Light That Never Goes Out’, by The Smiths.
Guillemots – I Must Be A Lover video:
How has your gear/kit changed over the years? Do you experiment much with new gear? How do you decide what’s best for you?
Always trying out new gear. I know the guy at Roland, so am always tinkering. But at the moment we are downsizing our tour gear so that it doesn’t cost so much to fly. So we have to take this in for consideration when choosing what to use. For the tour, if the equipment is essential and can withhold being battered about on the road then it’s in.
What gear/kit are you using now?
Yamaha drums and Zildjian Cymbals.
Are there any bands that you’ve heard recently that stand out particularly because of the drumming?
Lady GaGa live. The drummer is amazing. Big Society, Superman. Drums by Darren Hasson-Davis…love the baggy beat he plays on it.
If you could only add five songs to your iPod, and you were going to be away from all other music for a week, what would they be?
The songs would be: Mazzy Star – Into Dust; Bonnie Prince Billy – I See a Darkness; Billie Holiday – Solitude; Sandy Denny – Who Knows Where the Time Goes, and Leftfield – Phat Planet.
Buy CDs, MP3s, more:
Be sure to check out Guillemots’ latest album, ‘Walk The River’ as well as their highly recommended live show!
By: Jenny May