And So I Watch You from Afar
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|And So I Watch You From Afar|
|Origin||Belfast, Northern Ireland|
|Genres||Post-rock, instrumental rock, math rock|
|Labels||Smalltown America (2007-2010)
Richter Collective (2011-2012)
|Associated acts||Axis Of
7.5 Tonnes Of Beard
|Past members||Tony Wright|
And So I Watch You From Afar are a four-piece rock band from Belfast, Northern Ireland. The band consists of Rory Friers and Niall Kennedy on guitar, Johnny Adger on bass and Chris Wee on drums. They wrote and released two albums and two EPs as a four-piece with former member Tony Wright. They write largely instrumental music with group vocals in parts; Rory writes a lot of the music, but they arrange and contribute to these songs in the rehearsal room as a three-piece to make them into finished ASIWYFA songs; it is an ever-changing process. They are signed to Richter Collective, and in October 2011 the band announced a deal in North America with management and record label Sargent House, who released Gangs on November 8, 2011.
The band was formed in late 2005 after Johnny and Rory spent a night listening to music at Johnny's parents' house, they had their first jam in July after returning from Oxegen music festival. They played their first show under the name And So I Watch You From Afar in 2006 at a friends birthday party in Portrush. They all moved to Belfast in 2007, Chris Wee left his job in Newcastle upon Tyne and Rory Friers dropped out of second year Music Technology course of that year in Bangor to commit more time to the band and Tony quit his job in Belfasts Auntie Annies for the same reasons. They self recorded and self released a single for Mount Kailash in Rorys home in White Park Bay on the north coast of Antrim in 2006 for their first Belfast headline show in The Black Box as part of that year's BelFEST, it was mixed and mastered by Bo Sheppard and Rory Friers. They self recorded and self released their debut mini-album This Is Our Machine and Nothing Can Stop It in early 2007 on their homemade label Our Machine, this was distributed on [Forte Distribution] and they launched it in Auntie Annies in Belfast. This was followed by a collaboration EP entitled Tonight The City Burns, conceived in 26 Surrey Street in Belfast where Chris, Tony and Rory all lived, and where many of the bands ideologies on music and how they wanted to push ASIWYFA were manifested in late night chats between the three. Released in October 2007 on the same label, Tonight the City Burns featured vocals from Cahir O'Doherty of Fighting with Wire and Jetplane Landing and Johnny Black of LaFaro, Neil Hughes and Geoff Toppley, it was mixed and mastered by Bo Sheppard and Rory Friers and was launched in the Spring and Airbrake in Belfast. The following day the band embarked on their first ever tour with now defunct Leicester band Public Relations Exercise consisting of 5 dates round the UK. 2007 saw ASIWYFA form relationships with their peers in Ireland as a burgeoning scene began to appear they became close friends and played shows with the likes of LaFaro, Adebisi Shank, Fighting with Wire, Panama Kings, We Are Knives, Kowalski, Pocket Billiards (band), General Fiasco, Stand Up Guy, Two Door Cinema Club, Slomatics, Six Star Hotel, Mojo Fury and many more. In 2007 they made their first appearance at Glasgowbury Festival playing the afternoon slot in the Spurs of Rock tent.
The band revealed they would be playing 4 headline shows in Northern Ireland throughout the year entitled "Parts 1 to 4", the first of these was with Fighting with Wire and Panama Kings in the Limelight in Belfast. The band had started to tour the UK with their two EPS as well as playing Belfast support to bands like High on Fire, 65daysofstatic, Russian Circles, These Arms Are Snakes, Holy Fuck, Fuck Buttons and Yourcodenameis:milo. They formed a tight bond and friendship with Leicester band Maybeshewill after touring with them during 2008. They played their second appearance at that year's Glasgowbury Festival, this time playing the main stage and getting a crowd to join them on stage to sing "Don't Waste Time Doing Things You Hate" with them. Other notable performances of the year were at AU Magazines 5th Birthday in Sandinos in Derry, their first headline show in The Stiff Kitten with later to be huge Two Door Cinema Club and they played on that year's Rock Sound Magazine tour with Maybeshewill. That year the band met Rocky O'Reilly who would become their close friend and later record and produce with the band from then on. During that summer ASIWYFA started working on their debut self-titled album. The album was recorded at Start Together studio with Rocky after the band had done a one off session recording the track "A Little Solidarity Goes A Long Way" as part of a compilation CD for Belfast's the Oh Yeah centre earlier that year. They mostly recorded live using large rooms, hallways and even toilets to track their sounds, they added a lot of extra instrumentation and layers afterwards including some strings, glockenspiel and percussion. They also invited a group of 40 friends down to sing on the track "Don't Waste Time Doing Things You Hate" and perform the marching at the beginning of "Set Guitars to Kill". In October that year the band organised A Little Solidarity festival which took place over three days, four shows and three venues, it saw the band playing to their first crowd in the Mandela Hall, this was "Part 3 of 4", the other two parts happened in Derry and in the bands home town Portrush that Christmas in The Retro Bar.
This year would see ASIWYFA release their debut self-titled album on Smalltown America Records, they launched the record on the April 4th in the Mandela Hall. They came out onto stage to "Start a War" by The National as it was a song they had heard at a show in Huddersfield where they played to the support band and the barkeeper. Support that night came from Adebisi Shank, Pocket Billiards (band) and Lowely Knights.They then did their second tour with Belfast friends and Tonys house mates LaFaro for 4 weeks around the UK in February, a tour of UK to promote the album release, 6 weeks with their new buddies Maybeshewill, a UK and European tour with US rockers Clutch, an Irish tour with fellow noise mongerers Adebisi Shank, a UK headline tour, a tour supporting Texan instrumentalists This Will Destroy You, a European tour with Maybeshewill and they would perform their first proper summer of music festivals including Truck Festival, The Great Escape Festival, Nova Rock Festival, Oxegen Festival, Pukkelpop Festival in Belgium opening the festival in front of 4500 people and they would go on to headline that year's Glasgowbury festival. They played over 170 shows in 2009 and would end the year with their biggest headline show to date in their Christmas homecoming gig in the Ulster Hall organised in collaboration with Smalltown America. Their self-titled debut album was named the 6th best album of 2009 by Rock Sound. The album also came out in Japan on Xtal Records
2010 would see the band make their first trips to the USA, into Canada and playing a lot more shows in Europe as well as record a single with Andrew Ferris at Smalltown America studios in Derry. They appeared, in February, at Eurosonic music conference in Groningen in Holland which would lead to the band being booked for festivals. After a UK tour with Oceansize they came home to a short Irish tour and then attended that year's Choice Music Prize in Dublin for which they had been nominated, they band played a secret after party in The Mercantile Hotel in Dublin. They also picked up a nomination for XFM album of the year. They then headed off to New York to play some shows there and then to SXSW Music Conference in Austin, TX where they played 4 shows and to Toronto to play Canadian Music Week. The band did a live session for BBC Radio 1 at Maida Vale studios. Throughout March April and May ASIWYFA went out on their Letters EP tour around Ireland, UK (with LaFaro) and Europe, their biggest headlining tour to date and their first solo headline tour of Europe. They traveled the length and breadth of the continent finishing off in Brighton for that year's The Great Escape Festival. Within hours of arriving home they were told Dave Grohl had personally invited the band out to do main support to super group Them Crooked Vultures. They headed back to Europe to play them and would be asked back to play with the group again for a special one off show in Londons Brixton Academy. Another summer of festival appearances saw them playing main stage at Latvias Posativus Festival, Pukkelpop, Electric Picnic and Sonisphere and between these weekends away the band were recording their follow up second album which would be called Gangs and come out the following year. They recorded again with Rocky O'Reilly at Start Together Studios in Belfast. The band had scrapped an albums worth of material weeks prior to this, opting to re-write what would later become their second record. After a summer of travel and studio the boys left Ireland to embark on a 6 week tour of the USA with Japan's Envy, Trash Talk, Touché Amoré and La Dispute. They travelled in a converted school bus, it would be a tour that would take its toll on the band. The band arrived home at the end of October and one week later left for another 7 weeks on the road, firstly with Jape and Fionn Regan around Ireland, then onto the UK with support from Tubelord, selling out Dingwalls in London and King Tuts in Glasgow, and then onto a final trip around Europe. During this tour they flew to Dingle in Ireland to perform on the TV show Other Voices with The National, Ellie Goulding, Everything Everything and more. They arrived home on 17 December in Belfast and played 3 secret shows in one day, one in an arts space, one on a boat on the river Lagan and the final one in Auntie Annie's in Belfast. After a couple more Irish Christmas shows the band saw in the New Year playing in Whelans in Dublin.
Tony Wright's departure, September 2011
At the end of August 2011 one of the four founding members, Tony Wright, left ASIWYFA and now plays music in his solo project VerseChorusVerse. He played his last show at Electric Picnic Festival but made a one off appearance at the NIMA at the Ulster Hall in Belfast to say his final farewell to the ASIWYFA fans. He said about the night "“I didn’t do it for me or for the boys in the band, but for the people who made And So I Watch You From Afar what they are. Because without the people, believe me, we – and they – are nothing.”
Tony and the band issued this statement
The band: "It's been an honor and a privilege to share the road, studio, stage and world with Tony for the last five years. He's been part of the ASIWYFA family from the start, and he always will be."
"We're excited, proud and in full support of Tony as he embarks on his new adventure. In the words of Richard Bach, "Don't be dismayed at goodbyes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or a lifetime, is certain for those who are friends." Give 'em hell Tony!"
Tony statement: "It is with a heavy heart and leaden feet I announce my decision to leave And So I Watch You From Afar. The past few years have been an unbelievable ride and I'll always remember them with rose tinted spectacles as the incredible times, in the full thrust of reality, they were. Johnny, Rory and Chris as well as the amazing crew that we had around us will continue on the path we forged together, however the time has come for one reason and many others for me to take a different, less trodden road but one with the same ultimate destination, fulfilment. I wish them all the success in the world and I know they will receive it as they are amongst the most driven, talented people I've had the fortune to work, travel, create, learn and grow with. I will continue to make music as that is something that coarses through me as familiarly as the blood that pumps to my heart. Finally, but most certainly not least, I wish to thank all the incredible people I have met on this journey and the people who were into our music. You will remain forever with me in my mind, heart, and soul. Thank you infinitely for the times you gave me. I know one day we will all cross paths again and I hope so much you will support me in this agonising decision. Once more into the breach..." 
In 2011 the band won Best EP at the Digital Socket Awards in Dublin. After a charity show in The Button Factory in Dublin ASIWYFA headed off to play their first tour of Russia, they were told it was the longest tour a western band had done in Russia and that they were the first western band to play in some of the cities they visited. Johnny had to have his leg in a cast for a few days after a fall on the ice there, he later cut his cast off in a hotel so the tour could continue. On the lead up to the release of their second album Gangs they headed to London for a few days to perform with Tim Wheeler of Ash on Channel 4's JD Sessions where they covered songs by The Pixies. Shortly after their return home they launched their new album Gangs, again in Belfast's Mandela Hall, with support from Not Squares, Axis Of and Lantern For A Gale. Throughout April and May they toured Gangs in UK and Ireland with support from Mojo Fury. Another summer of festivals followed, seeing ASIWYFA headline 2000 Trees Festival on the Cave Stage, play 3rd from top on The Festival Republic stage at Reading and Leeds Festival, perform at Benicàssim, Indiependence, Herk-de-Stad Festival, Eurockéennes Festival amongst others. They played their last show with Tony at Electric Picnic. "Gangs" European Tour lasted 10 weeks and saw the guys sell out many shows throughout the tour with support from Antlered Man, Axis Of, LaFaro and the legendary Mike Watt and the Missingmen. Playing guitar on this tour was Niall Kennedy, who had previously written and recorded with Panama Kings. The band played 4 Irish shows at Christmas, including New Year's Eve in Galway.
After spending January working on some other projects ASIWYFA reconvened for rehearsals and a tour of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. They were nominated for The Choice Music Prize for their album Gangs and played this year's SXSW festival in Texas. In April they played shows on a short tour of Spain, Portugal and France. In May, they played alongside the Ulster Orchestra In the Ulster Hall, performing a cover of the song 'Big Time' by Rudi. They also performed their own song, '7 Billion People All Alive At Once'. Following this they did a 6 week tour of the USA with Chicago band Russian Circles and Texan band Zechs Marquise. In August the band embarked on a 5 city China tour organised by Beijing and Shanghai based company Split Works.
|Year||Album details||Peak chart positions|
|2009||And So I Watch You From Afar||—||—|
|2013||All Hail Bright Futures||81||—|
|"—" denotes a title that did not chart.|
|Year||Title||Peak chart position||Album|
|2009||"Set Guitars To Kill"||—||And So I Watch You From Afar|
|"S Is For Salamander"||—||The Letters EP|
|2010||"Straight Through The Sun"||—|
|"—" denotes a title that did not chart.|
|Year||Album details||Peak chart positions|
|2007||This Is Our Machine And Nothing Can Stop It
|Tonight The City Burns
|"—" denotes a title that did not chart.|
- Tony Wright – Guitar
- "Top 75 Albums". Rock Sound (130). Christmas 2009. p. 27. " And So I Watch You From Afar - 'And So I Watch You From Afar'"
- "Big Riffs At Close Quarters: And So I Watch You From Afar Interviewed". The Quietus. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
- "Tony Wright leaves And So I Watch You From Afar". BBC. Retrieved Friday, 23 September 2011.
- "Digital Socket Awards". Digital Socket Awards. Retrieved 2013-06-25.
- "August Rush: And So I Watch You From Afar Are Coming To China_Split Works". Spli-t.com. Retrieved 2013-06-25.
- "Irish Charts > And So I Watch You From Afar". irish-charts.com Hung Medien. Retrieved 2013-04-08.