INTERVIEW: Danny McNamara, Embrace On New Album & December Tour

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Ahead of Embrace’s December tour and highly anticipated 2017 album, FOTF caught up with the band’s frontman to find out more about it.

The band, who are currently working on their seventh studio album for release in 2017, will be taking a break from recording to play a short run of special Christmas shows in December.

Talking about the run of dates, Danny said, “We’d been so busy working on our new album; then playing The Secret Festival in September made us hungry to get out there and play live again. We’re just playing a few selective shows, a kind of Christmas surprise for the people who love the band and if people want to come dressed up and make the gigs a great big party, then please do so”.

[Jason] So, new album, busy time at the moment?

[Danny] Yeah. busy time, new album being worked on at present. I’m getting straight in the car after speaking with you to lay some vocals. 

[Jason] Is there a title or release date as yet?

[Danny] Definitely next year, early next year. Got a lot of titles for the songs but not for the album yet. But yeah, it’s taking shape its good! Really pleased with it. Its… err, kinda got an epic and feel… and game changing for us. It’s kinda got the spirit of the earlier records that we did but has a bit more live, more loose, 5 guys in a room kinda real but epic feel.

[Jason] Does it feel different recording this album compared to other albums?

[Danny] There’s less pressure now than there was before. Errm, I think largely in the past we’ve put ourselves under pressure, me in particularly, but we all have. Sometimes that’s good because it leads to you going places that most people would give up on because they don’t want to zone in and focus under that much pressure – in another way it’s bad because your records can be quite insular, single-minded and blinkered. Erm, quite often we’ve found that songs that have ended up on the B-sides have ended up being really strong because the pressure was off.

We’ve had some of our best lyrics and melodies that way. For us on this album, the trick has been working on it when the inspiration was there, only going for it when you have a great idea. We’ve never worked this way before and the results are really exciting – we’re 5 cynical people, we’ve been around for a long time and it’s hard to get us all excited at the same time – right now we are all very excited and it’s great!

[Jason] It’s really cool to hear the excitement man, it’s good to hear – I’m really looking forward to hearing the new album… On the note of B Side’s, a couple of my favorite Embrace b side’s have been ‘Feels Like A Sinner‘ and ‘Love Is Back‘ from ‘Come Back To What You Know’ single…

[Danny] Yeah, yeah – they’re two of my favorites too. Originally ‘Feels like A Sinner’, that originally was going to be the verse for ‘Good Will Out’. I just thought the lyrics were really good but the melody wasn’t quite right. So, in the 11th hour, it was the last things we changed and swapped it around…

It’s not about how long you spend on an idea it’s all about how good the idea is. Quite often you can get caught up in the fact that somethings taken three months to make so you say ‘That’s going on the album’ erm, now it’s more in the way of… ‘is this any good?’ well – I’ve put my foot down a little bit more on the record. I’m feeling really sure about this album.

I’m feeling really sure about this album, surer than I have about the first album. I’m more positive about the things I want to say, the things I want to write about and what I want us to be. If bands have purple patches; I really feel we are at the beginning of one. 

[Jason] Six albums in and almost 19 years since ‘Good Will Out’ Do you find it difficult to write new material and be creative and original?

[Danny] It’s always hard. that’s why you have to try and treat yourself like a human being, you know, I worked it out. Me, and our Rick were talking about this the other day. In the last 20 year, we have been in the band professionally – I’ve probably spent 15 of those years banging my head against the wall trying to write a song. Probably out of all that time there’s about 4 hours worth that’s been productive. To write a song it only really takes as long as it does to play the song. So its like how to you reduce the time you spend banging your head against the wall yet keep the good stuff coming and the way to do it is to listen to yourself and go with your gut – ‘Is this a great idea?’ ‘am I feeling inspired today’ and then REALLY rush to build things around that, get the band together, get everyone in the room, get the coals fired up and always honor that and never put it off. It can happen at any time – even during sex. If you do that, then the ideas keep coming. If you stop then the ideas dry up. Then you start chasing stuff because you want it to be a certain way.

[Jason] What do you think’s more important – Writing a song to make you feel good about how it sounds or writing a song because you think it’s what your fans want to hear?

[Danny] Erm.. When you’re writing it’s a natural feeling. You just know it. You know its gonna be great. Then I think – I wanna let my brother know, the rest of the band know that I’ve written something. So I’ll text them or send them an mp3…. The next thing I think is ‘How’s it gonna sound at Glastonbury?’. I always imagine being in front of a huge field of people. If it’s a song that I really love, then naturally I think – They’re gonna love it. Then I imagine what my managers gonna think. If I’m getting those kinds of thoughts then it means I’m having good ideas. If I’m not having those kinds of thoughts then it means I need to carry on writing. 

[Jason] What do you think of the music industry at the moment?

[Danny] Its good in a sense that you can listen to a record whenever you want, you don’t have boxes and boxes of CD’s to carry around with you when you want to listen to music. You can check something new out straight away, you don’t have to listen to what other people think – you can make up your own mind but then it’s bad because all the support for artists has gone out of the window. There isn’t really anything there anymore – where as there used to be people that really believed in an artist and wanted to support them because they thought they were great or there was something there. As an artist, you need that. When you’re by yourself and no one believes in you, it’s a really lonely place but if you get on the social media side of things – that can really help you too – it gets complicated… Things have definitely really changed…

[Jason] Do you write songs for the charts? is it something you get hung up on at all?

[Danny] No, not at all. The charts basically reflect what teenagers, predominantly girls, think about music. If you look at who downloads pop songs more than anyone its girls – slightly more than boys and it’s been like that since the 60’s. In a way, that’s good because it’s kinda young, fresh and new and it has a quick turnover and in a way that’s what pop should be. But it’s not really what we do.

[Jason] A couple of readers / fan questions which have come in; Jack from Sheffield asked: What do you think is your best and worst song which you’ve released?

[Danny] Errrm, favourite is ‘Ashes’. It means a lot. A real roller coaster ride in making it and its close to my heart. All the success it gave the band was amazing too. My least favorite errr… (sigh, touch one) errr… Probably… I’m not all that struck on ‘Make It Last’

[Jason] Any particular reason?

It’s a good song, it’s just a little bit too try hard. It doesn’t feel as elegant as some of our other stuff.  Either that or Target; not sure about that either

[Jason] It’s funny how your thoughts and feelings change over time with regards to certain songs?

[Danny] Yeah, yeah definitely. There’s a lot to recommend about it that’s good but it just doesn’t quite hit the spot and give me a feeling. If a song doesn’t do that to me then it means nothing. Sometimes you can get caught up in the feeling and everyone else’s enthusiasm – That’s definitely not happening with this new album

[Jason] Kate from Halifax asked: Best and worst gigs to date and why?

[Danny] Erm, Best would have been T’ In The Park – Their all phenomenal. The worst one – I had some troubles with my voice on the last tour so probably say a gig in Scotland at the end of the last tour. I can’t remember the venue. The day before we’d just done this amazing gig and the day after we were on a high and my voice just went. I don’t think the audience noticed that much but afterward’s I was really upset as it wasn’t as good as I’d have liked it to have been. I hate that – you want it to be good every night. I guess it was the drop from the night before and when you realise you’re not in control of those things – It’s quite frightening.

[Jason] Darren from Leeds asks: Who would you love to support who you haven’t done so yet?

Erm, hmm? So many bands that I love. From a teenage fanboy point of view, U2 were a big one. I know that their fans of the band too (laughter), I’d love to support them, do the old climbing up the stadium thing… (laughter)

[Jason] On the note of tours, you have a few dates coming up yourself this December?

[Danny] yeah yeah. It wasn’t planned, we just enjoyed the Secret Festival so much we were like ‘let’s do a few gigs before the end of the year’. We asked our manager if it was possible, he rang our agent and all these offers came back – we were like ‘yeah that’s great! let’s do it’. There’s no sort of thought behind it really, we just wanted to play. We’re in the studio at the moment, we’re together a lot – we just wanted to get out there and play. 

I love playing Liverpool, on our last tour, Nottingham was the best. Nottingham Rocks City is one hell of a venue. They’re gonna have to try really hard, the audience, to beat those guys! (laughter)

It was great to catch up with Danny. You really could hear the enthusiasm in his voice about what’s to come with this new album and tour. 

It says a lot about a band who have been going for 20 some years and can still get in a room, write, record new music, still be passionate about it and still deliver the goods. Well, I guess the latter part is yet to be heard ,however, Danny’s pretty excited about the new material… and so am I!… Roll on December!

December Dates

Mon 12 NORWICH Waterfront
Tue 13 HULL University
Wed 14 SHEFFIELD Foundry
Thu 15 LIVERPOOL Olympia
Fri 16 PORTSMOUTH Pyramids
Sat 17 COVENTRY Cooper Rooms
Sun 18 EDINBURGH Queens Hall

Buy Tickets here and more info on the band’s website

Huge live music fan, gig go-er & photographer. Can be found in the pits or on other side of the barrier with beer in hand, annoying anyone in close proximity.

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