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rainfalldown Interview PDF Print E-mail
Written by Andrew Dipper   
18 08 2010
ImageIf you live in the North East, it's rather hard not to have experienced rainfalldown. I am, of course, referring to the pop-folk five-piece from South Shields, not the ridiculous British weather. Consisting of lead Martin Trollope, David Garrick, Richard Milburn and new arrivals Grant Lagan and Glenn Coyne, rainfalldown have gigged just about everywhere and anywhere over the last few years, from Willowman Festival to the Oxfam bookshop in Newcastle. Floatation Suite sent Andrew Dipper to catch up with the band and find out what's new in the life of rainfalldown.

AD: Hello lads, what can you tell us about rainfalldown?

Martin Trollope:
Hello there! We're rainfalldown and we're a band from the lovely South Shields, North East England. We play songs which you may have not heard before with instruments which you may not have seen before.

AD: So how did you all get together to form the band? Didn't it start off as a solo project?

It was a solo project for about 5 years prior to this inception of the band, with a very brief 3-piece period (guitar, bass and drums) that was awful. Hence the "very brief". Then almost 2 years ago Garrick came along and persuaded me we should form a band again. It took quite a lot of persuasion probably, but once he said he'd be playing mandolin instead of bass, it seemed like a good idea. So we got together with some friends and started jammin', did a couple of recordings and realised we really needed some keyboard parts.

This is where Milburn came in. Being the only person we knew with a beard, I mean "keyboard" he seemed like the obvious choice. Started gigging all over Shields, Sunderland and Newcastle and eventually got sick of it. Too many gigs in too many bad venues, so we stripped it back to a three-piece (this time guitar, mandolin and anything Milburn could find) and continued to play too many gigs in too many bad venues... Then I eventually tired of the situation and decided to bring back the rhythm section to add a bit more impact and it's all kicked off again from there really. Think we're a lot happier with it now. Well, I am anyway...

AD: That's some mind-boggling change. I think I've just about got my head around it. Rainfalldown are quite an experimental folk band - who are your musical influences?

They're quite wide ranging really, we claim to be a "folky" band but I don't think any of us actually listen to much actual folk.

Richard Milburn:
I think we only describe ourselves as ‘folk' due to the acoustic nature of our instruments; we've been compared to Mumford & Sons numerous times and, although some of us to listen to them, I don't really think we sound like them. Maybe as an ‘image' kind of comparison but the music is quite different.

MT: All of us seem to be pretty open-minded when it comes to music, unless it's particularly shit. I'd say the actual songwriting is probably mainly influenced by people like Springsteen, Neil Young, Joe Strummer, Johnny Cash, Graham Coxon to name but a few.

David Garrick: Admittedly I did only start listening to most of the folk I know now for research for the band but I did find some awesome bands that I really got stuck in to like Uncle Bob, Johnny Flynn and Show of Hands. I bought their CD because it had a mandolin and a violin on the cover - turns out they are awesome.

RM: I think the more influences the better - if you set out to sound like the one band that you like then you'll end up sounding like all of the generic Arctic Monkeys cover bands... and one band that sounds like that is more than enough...

AD: Very true. You recently played at the Willowman Festival. What was that like?

That was a great weekend. We played at about 2pm on the Friday and were the first band of the weekend. So we arrived at 11-ish, got the tents up and began to get drunk... Then got to the stage and discovered it was at a bizarre angle (the whole festival was on the side of a hill...) which made standing a bit more difficult than normal.

The actual set was pretty well received by the children and older types that made up our audience. There were a few technical problems, i.e. the speakers occasionally making outrageously loud gunshot-like noises and terrifying me... And the fact that the main stage was so close to the acoustic tent meant that you could hear someone sound checking while we were playing. But we did get rid of a few CDs and make a few new friends and get arrows fired at us and get asked for an encore and join in a pagan ritual...

RM: It was really nice having people and families actually coming to see us and having a chat afterwards - one guy who attended actually emailed us prior to the festival showing his appreciation towards our music and couldn't wait to get his hands on a CD. A minor yet somewhat special interaction.

AD: Sounds like yous all had a fun time. What's the best venue you've played then?

For me, it has to be the Cluny 2 [in Newcastle]. I'd been in to see bands twice before and once for a lovely party and always thought it was exactly the kind of venue we should play. Nice and intimate, dark and lots of stairs to wander up and down. It was as part of the NSE (National Society of Epilepsy) weekender that was co-organised by our new drummer. It's not what you know, it's who you know. Really great "home" crowd of friends and well-wishers who seemed to be genuinely enjoying it which made us enjoy it even more I reckon.

RM: A performance can be swayed by the venue; if it's not suited for live music then I personally don't feel comfortable or passionate about playing - which is almost always the case. We played in an Oxfam shop last month which had a really friendly atmosphere to it. The organisers made cakes and I ended up playing next to the ‘Religion' section of books. I took that as a sign. I still don't read books, mind.

DG: For me it has to be Willowman, I love playing open air festivals. They are always a great laugh and I had more fun in a sleeping bag than any man should... but since a field isn't strictly a venue I am torn between, Cluny 2, The Tyne Bar and The Cumberland Arms where we played alongside some amazing actual folk musicians who, for some reason, loved us too. Not to mention they serve some fantastic beers.

AD: What's the strangest thing to happen at a gig?

People applaud...Garrick and Milburn play the right notes...Me being sober...I can't actually think of anything genuinely strange...

It's always surprising when people have enjoyed what you have played. It's always bizarre when people remember who you are and you have to do the whole, ‘I'll Pretend I Remember You' routine. That happens more often that you'd think.

AD: That happens to you more than most though, Milburn. You've got one of those faces. Anyway, who're your favourite bands at the moment? Anyone to look out for?

I've always liked The National for their unique take on music which has made me think deeper about the parts that I play within songs. I always delve into the really obscure bands of the world and bands like Calla and Monahans will always have a place in the ‘inspiration' section of my musical CV.

DG: At the moment, They Might Be Giants. Having had a fleeting fling with them a few years ago, upon hearing them played in RPM in Newcastle I subsequently went and bought as much of them as I could. All I'll say is go and listen to "Flood" and you will understand. Although it was released in 1990, "Bird House In Your Soul" has entered the UK charts recently, but let's ignore that.

AD: Let's. So, what're your plans for the future of rainfalldown?

We're working on a few recordings at the minute which won't see the light of day for a few months at least as this time we're really concentrating on getting everything right and making it sound special. There're already some sneaky bits of trumpet in there so you know it's going to be exciting. Possibly working towards an album or a new EP or several EPs or something. Haven't really actually planned it, just started doing it to keep ourselves entertained really. Hopefully we'll be doing a Big Night Inn every month to help promote bands that we enjoy and maybe raise a little fund for whatever we/other people may need them for. Fingers crossed we'll start playing the better venues more often and just keep plugging away at writing, recording and practicing.

AD: Speaking of your Big Night Inn; what's that all about?

‘rainfalldown's Big Night Inn' is basically an intimate night at Plugged Inn in Sunderland for us and a bunch of guys and girls that we have played with over the last few years. The whole idea behind it was basically, "Let's get our friends together in a nice surrounding, have a nice quiet ‘night in' and not just going to a bar and watching some local bands churn out loud over the top songs that no one can make out". The people who own Plugged Inn are rather impressed with the idea and if all goes well we will be allowed to host a monthly Big Night Inn allowing even more acts to play with their favourite artists from throughout our musical ventures.

AD: Cool. I'll be there. Finally, where can we listen to rainfalldown?

A lot of places. I created a Flash website [link below] which has a treasure map of South Shields on it - look quite snazzy even if I say so myself! All of the links that you'll need if you want to check us out are on there.

Our first release (The Mexico E.P.) and also the radio session we did on SparkFM are available for free download on our Bandcamp page.

AD: Thanks for your time, lads. See you on Friday.

Thanks very much!


rainfalldown's Big Night Inn is this Friday (20th August) at Plugged Inn in Sunderland. Entry is free and The Woven Project, Morris Ford, Ailish Marie, Daniel Versus The World, The Lake Poets and, of course, rainfalldown will all be playing. Get yourself along and support the local music scene.

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