New album: ‘You Are Here’ released 1st July 2019
You Are Here is the brand new album from Manchester progressive rock-influenced band Fine Soft Day. Fine Soft Day are Mark Sweeney (keyboards, vocals); Jeff Gascoyne (bass, guitar, violin, vocals) and Martin Hanbury (guitars, vocals).
Originally formed in 1996, Fine Soft Day were regular performers across the folk rock scene. The band’s live sets featured a mixture of traditional material interspersed with self-penned songs. Their eponymous debut album was released in 1998, picking up local radio play and a memorable live appearance on Sky TV. In subsequent years families and careers forced the music to take a back seat. In the summer of 2018, however, the band reformed with the intention of trying out some new material and to record some of the older songs which had never been committed to the studio. Over the following 12 months, Fine Soft Day’s new album, You Are Here, was written, arranged, recorded and mixed by the band themselves.
The new album incorporates strong influences of progressive rock, containing elements of early Genesis, Yes and Pink Floyd to name a few. The band’s original folk roots were now replaced by soaring guitars, sweeping keyboards, strident bass lines and rich, complex vocal arrangements.
Mark Sweeney (keyboards and vocals): “It was in 1996 that I was invited to join a band with Jeff and Martin. It quickly became clear that we had a musical understanding and we got on famously. It was bizarre that a Celtic rock band consisted of three frustrated prog rock enthusiasts. But we were at that stage in our lives when families and careers meant that our music had to take a back seat. Years passed, children grew and we all simultaneously felt that craving for creativity. So, in 2018, when Martin called and suggested we spend a couple of hours trying out some new material and recording some of the old songs, the spark was reignited. We started on the old folky stuff but it was clear that our new material was very different to the old stuff. I didn’t want to rely on my flute to the extent that we used to. Jeff felt the same about the fiddle. So our new music was much more based on progressive rock and the style was now leaning towards our original influences. Over the following twelve months You Are Here was born.”
You Are Here is a concept album, unashamedly. Built around a themes of hope and humanity stretching across two points in history but connected by a single point on the earth – the weaving together of time and space. The album features lyrical and musical motifs that recur throughout the material, in different guises, leading to the culmination of the 14 minute epic finale, Roll Up The World (Part 2). The band wanted the album to allow listeners to follow on a journey, in a similar way to classic albums such as Dark Side Of The Moon and Close To The Edge had done before. But alongside the progressive influences, there are elements of country rock, lending a flavour of R.E.M and Neil Young amongst others. The band are hugely proud of the album, which will be released on digital platforms worldwide on 1st July 2019.
Jeff Gascoyne (Bass, guitar, violin, vocals): “When my dad bought a cheap violin I jumped at the chance to learn. He always had an eye for a bargain and bought the whole record store at a 1971 school fair. What he didn’t realise was not all the records were classical. So at a young age I enjoyed Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, Motherlight and Two Ounces Of Plastic With A Hole In The Middle. This opened the door to Genesis, Yes and ELP. The violin didn’t lend itself to playing this music but I soon discovered Fairport Convention and Dave Swarbrick. After college a friend said the cricket club band were looking for a fiddle player. I’d never been in a band before but was invited to the next practice and the next. As the line up changed it was clear that, much as we loved the Celtic music, at least three of us were frustrated prog-rockers. As family and career edged out the music I turned to leisurely solo composition without expectation of ever hearing it played. Then came the call from Martin…”
Martin Hanbury (guitars, vocals): “I had a hippy phase, a punkish phase, an Indie phase, and a folky phase. At the end of it, I settled on the folkier side of things because it was home-grown, accessible and invitational. Crucially, it honed the craft because there’s nowhere to hide with a bare, stripped down guitar and your voice. I was writing more and more songs and all I needed was a piece of wood with six strings and the breath in my body. My meeting with Jeff allowed me to expand the sounds I was hearing beyond the confining skills I had and when we teamed up with Mark the possibilities blossomed. So Fine Soft Day was always going to happen in a way; we just didn’t know what way. Now, looking back on those experiences and influences I can trace the tones and textures of my early heroes. Harrison, Hackett and Howe in a relay with Gilmour, Page and Declan Sinnott as each part of my playing steals the baton from one or another of them.”
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