Photo courtesy of Kris Micallef
MALTA is not a country that should be overlooked…
when it comes to great new music. I have reviewed the likes of Dana McKeown and Chess: two stunning stars that put the island on the map. Airport Impressions are a band with a huge following and incredible sound. Soulful, raw vocals are supported by incredible band performances and a kinetic bond between the players. I am a recent convert to the band (thanks to Richard Hubbard) but was instantly drawn to their memorable, accessible songs- music that gets inside the mind and creates singalong smiles. The boys perform across Scotland in September and provide the U.K. a chance to see one of Malta’s finest acts in action. I was lucky enough to get a chance to quiz the guys on their music and influences; what the future holds for them.
Hi guys. How has your week been? What are you up to at the moment?
Hi Sam. It's been quite a busy week with our last concert at the beer festival on Wednesday. It was a great concert once again and after that that we took some summer chill days as it’s probably been the first off weekend we had. We all have very different pastimes which include movies, gaming; dogs, football etc.- all these are great for chill days. Still, we are not used to taking breaks longer than 2/3 days so right now we're actually gearing up with work-related for our U.K. tour in September.
For anyone new to the work of Airport Impression can you give us some background? How did you chaps meet?
Airport Impressions started officially in 2008 after a songwriting spree in Ireland- during which some of the early tracks were born. With the formation of the full lineup in 2009; the band evolved, releasing 2 studio albums along the way. Following the latest album, the band gained further international recognition and is looking forward to performing various festivals in the coming year
At first, the main plan was for Errol and Johann to just record a couple of songs for personal satisfaction after coming back from Ireland; but, following the successful release of the first single Beside You, everything seemed to point in the direction we are today, and hopefully more.
Sorry to ask an obvious question: where does that band name stem from?
No problem. Essentially, the name does not directly relate to airports. It’s mostly related to what we call free time observing/thinking moments (very imp for an artist) and which many of us experience at airports- hence the metaphoric relationship.
[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/122506757" params="auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true" width="100%" height="450" iframe="true" /]
You have just played The Farsons Beerfest 2016. What was that experience like? Any particularly exciting gigs on the horizon?
It was a great experience once again. The crowd was one with the band from start to finish, which is something that we as a band believe a lot in- i.e., being pushed forward by a highly energetic audience.
Your music was recommended to me by D.J. Richard Hubbard. A lot of people are connecting with your songs. What would you say (hard question) makes your music resonate with so many?
Apart from the lyrical content and melodic attention we give tour music; we believe it's also important to stay true to what you really want to put down on a track. There is no point in trying too hard as, usually, that ends up in something that is not true to what you really are. Nowadays, we are surrounded by copied writing and produced artists which in our opinion are not what music truly deserves.
Malta is not an area many will associate with music or great bands. Do you think it’s unfair the country gets overlooked by a lot of mainstream media?
It's probably understandable considering the size of the country. Still, we believe the scene and level here is of good standard considering the size; could be we are still reaping off some influences we got from the Brit time- as with grassroots probably there is enough music to export to other regions more renowned. With the help of the Internet and accessibility, we believe the time will come where music can be exported to foreign shores when it is of good quality- take Iceland as an example.
In terms of the local bands/acts you are familiar with: which would you recommend to the readers?
No Snow/No Alps. An Indie-Pop/Rock band with some great original ideas they know how to put on record.
I know this year has been eventful and memorable. Are there any gigs or moments that the band particular treasure?
We were invited by MTV for the Isle of MTV (MALTA) where we played live to our biggest crowd to date (over 50k); it was an amazing experience playing on such as a stage and representing local music at such an international level.
There is clearly a tight-knit bond and affection within the group. Is it the chemistry you guys have that keeps you strong and makes the music so exhilarating?
Thanks. Yep, we treat our experience as a brother relationship and it's helped us grow together even through tougher times. No doubt this energy is then expressed in the music both on record and live onstage!
Mariette (their last album released in 2014) contained a mix of uplifting Folk and introspective Rock. Songs like Star Signs and If You Abandon Me stick in the mind. Are there any plans for new music this year?
Thank you :) Sure, songs are still being written and definitely, new releases are in our sights although at the moment we are focusing mainly on the upcoming live performances in festivals and gigs outside of our local area. After the U.K. tour, we will continue consolidating the material for further releases.
When it comes to the writing/creative process; how do Airport Impressions create a new song? Who comes up with the ideas or is a collaborative effort?
We see it as a mix of different scenarios. Errol and Johann tend to like writing songs from start to finish although there are occasions when we join forces- even with Steve and Chris. Most of the songs start off on an acoustic guitar and then we work in our separate studios before we finally take them up to the band room for arrangements- where the entire band’s musical input joins together and this is actually a very important stage of our writing and arrangement process. There are also other songs which are co-written between members and other which are written entirely by the whole band during jam sessions. Still, we tend to give our songs their required time particularly when it comes to lyrical content; we view each song as an artistic project in itself with which we would like to share either a story, concept or any other impressions we might be going through. Also, we believe that Errol’s voice gives us an authentic edge in our song-writing irrespective of which formula we use for the song to be written.
It is hard to pin down clear influences and sound-alikes when it comes to your music. Are there any particular bands or artists that the band hold dear?
Thanks for the interesting observation. Here are some idols/influencers from various styles ranging from Indie to Country-Rock e.g. Nirvana, Pearl Jam; Johnny Cash, U2, Coldplay; Kings of Leon, Counting Crows etc. - and the list goes on and on. Basically, any music that you can relate to melodically and lyrically.
This year in music has seen some highs and lows- deaths of legendary artists and some great albums. What have been your highs and lows from 2016’s music?
The highs probably related to the returns of the Red Chili Peppers and Radiohead- although both albums are a bit too weird at times ;) As for new music; we like a lot some new Indie material such as Banners and Strumbellas; which, although not yet huge are set to make it bigger in a few years. With respect to low: it's anything that's over-produced; including produced artists which is becoming very common these days.
A lot of radio stations and blogs have shared your work. You clearly have a lot of support across social media. How does that make you feel? Does it give you the drive to keep performing and making music?
Thanks again for noting. Sure, this gives us a big boost together with the ongoing support of the fan base built to date.
Finally- and for being a good sport- you can select any song (and I’ll include it here) - why is it special to you?
Silhouettes. It transmits a special mood. It was also the first song played by Richard Hubbard who eventually also got us connected to this interview.
Follow Airport Impressions