Rising stars Federal Charm have emerged from a cocoon that has seen a number of changes take place since their last release. Back with a new singer, and new drummer, and a new sound, the Manchester four-piece have been re-energised. About to release the harder hitting ‘Passenger’, and with dates with The Bad Flowers looming, it’s exciting times in the Federal camp. We sat down with singer Tom Guyer for a chat about all of the above. Across the divide; Eamon O’Neill.
How are you today Tom?
I’m good. We’ve just arrived at the hotel where we’re doing pre-productions today, and it’s a huge manor house and it’s completely empty! I’ve literally just been exploring it, and I’m just chilling now.
You’re getting ready for the upcoming tour; is today day one of pre-production?
We’ve come down the night before because there’s a place in Kidderminster – Mas Records – we’re using their pre-production rehearsal room, and we’re starting at nine o’clock in the morning and going until six o’clock when we finish. We’ve got our crew here with us. They’re going to load in, set up, we’ll play through the whole set, then they’ll take it down and then we’ll repeat the process over and over until everything is slick!
With so much work going in, you must be hoping to make a big impact this time around?
Yeah, definitely. We all want to make sure everything’s shit hot. The other bands that we’re playing with are cracking as well, so we just want to make sure that we’re all giving them what they want, I guess.
The tour is in support of third album ‘Passenger’; you must be really excited to get this one out.
Yeah, we’re very excited. We’ve had it written and recorded for so long now, I’m just unfathomably excited for everyone else to hear it. The reviews what have been coming back, they’re all gleaming, so I just want to get it out there, and get on the road and play it to everyone and see what everyone else thinks.
You’ve opted to co-produce the album this time around, haven’t you?
Yeah. John Simm, the engineer who recorded it was producing it with us as well, but yeah, we all had a hand in it. We spent a lot of time in the studio just making sure that we got out of it exactly what we wanted it to be, so we’re all really happy with how it turned out.
Was that decision due to wanting to put your own personal stamp on how it sounded?
I think it’s just really important to have something that you’re proud of, so that you can champion it. And I suppose in that sense, if you’ve taken a hands-on approach to it, you can make sure that everything is exactly how you want it, which is, I think, exactly what we’ve got.
There’s been a lot of changes in the band since the last album; was being more hands on driven by the band wanting to take more control in general?
Well, I think it’s probably been pretty difficult for Paul [Bowe, guitarist] and L.D. [Morawski, bassist] thinking that their band had pretty much dissolved, almost. Then they picked up me and Josh [Zahler, drums] and it’s sort of taken on a whole new life. It’s the same band but it’s different; heavier, and a bit more ballsy, I guess.
That heavy side is evident in the single ‘Choke’; does that song give a good indication of what the album sounds like in general?
Yeah; a lot of punchy rock and roll, really, just based in the blues and the Federal Charm way of doing it. Obviously the newer stuff going ahead is a little bit heavier. I’ve got sort of a more rock tonality to my voice seeped in blues, whereas Nick Bowden [former vocalist], he was very, very much blues, so we’ve definitely taken a little bit of a step towards the rock side of things. As we were writing the songs however, we were conscious that we wanted to keep the blues roots.
There’s an unusual start / stop structure to ‘Choke’ that brings to mind Led Zeppelin.
I don’t think we were thinking about it at the time, but having had people draw those comparisons since, it’s put a smile on my face. Led Zeppelin are one of my biggest influences; they’re amazing, so to have people saying that we remind them of that, is definitely a compliment for me.
The band has gained a big fan base over the last few years. One look at your YouTube channel finds a lot of them speaking Spanish; where has that come from?
I’ve absolutely no idea! We posted the video, and the views started going up and up and up, and then we started reading the comments, and seeing where everyone was from, and it was all like, Venezuela and South America and stuff! it was mad! So we are thinking about, if it’s possible to ever do a tour or anything down there, then that would be pretty amazing!
Back to the U.K. dates, and you’re about to head out co-headlining with The Bad Flowers.
We had a set of dates in spring, but this my first bigger venues headline tour. The spring one was quite relaxed, and they were all kind of spaced out, but this is all one after the other, gig after gig. But I’m really looking forward to the challenge, and everyone else is chomping at the bit to get back on the road.
A new line up, a new album, and a big tour; do you feel the pressure riding on your shoulders for this one?
I think I did maybe when the tour was first conceived, but ever since then it’s just been preparation, preparation, more preparation until the point we’re at now where a sort of zen-like calm has descended over the camp. We’re all just eager to get on with it, really, and I think more excited than nervous and not really feeling the pressure any more.
What sort of set list can fans expect?
There’s a lot of ‘Passenger’ in there because obviously we’re really excited to play it to everyone, but we’ll do a few of the old favourites as well. We’ve got a couple of covers that we can chuck in, but we’re going to try and play it a bit free and lose and just see what we’re feeling like, really; how it feels on the night, and what the crowd are like.
Finally, what’s happening going forward?
Well obviously, we don’t want it to stop with this tour. It’s looking so far now like 2019 is going to be really busy. We’ve got quite a lot of stuff in the pipeline, and quite a few offers from a few places, a few festivals and things. So yeah, there’s a lot more to come. It’s going to be a really busy year, and I’m really looking forward to it.
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Federal Charm's U.K. tour with The Bad Flowers kicks off on 19th September 2018. For a full list of dates, see below. 'Passenger' is released on 14th September 2018. To order, and to buy tickets, visit the official Federal Charm site.