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The Windmill, Brixton
Good Friday, 14th April 2017
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Dignan Porch: Joe Walsh

Article written by Ged M - May 6, 2011

Dignan Porch, from Tooting, SW London, began life as a bedroom project of Joe Walsh and are now a five-piece band comprising Joe (vocals, guitar) and his younger brother Sam (guitar), plus friends Hayley Akins (keyboards), Ben Goodwin (bass) and Phillippa Bloomfield (drums). They're signed to Brooklyn label Captured Tracks for whom they've recorded the blissed out 90-second lo-fi pop gem 'On A Ride' on 7" and album Tendrils, and most recently the 12" EP 'Deluded' (first 400 copies on blue vinyl), which sees them take some of their songs out of the bedroom and into a studio without surrendering their simple charm and elemental charge. They also released 'Surge' on a now sold out split 7" on Marshall Teller Records with Cheatahs, Colors and Not Cool. They're picking up fans among bloggers as well as gurus of cool like Rough Trade and Pitchfork but they thankfully haven't developed any arsey pop star tendencies (yet). If not before, be sure to catch them at Indietracks this year. We spoke to Joe Walsh in May 2011.

SXP: On the new EP, ‘Deluded’, half of which was recorded in a studio, you’ve broadened your sound and reduced the fuzz. It sounds great but are you consciously now moving away from the lo-fi nature of your early songs?

Joe: No, not really. The 1st record 'Tendrils' was really fuzzy because I recorded the whole thing at home with one or two mics and then pieced it all together. I layered a lot of guitars and vocals until it sounded right to me. If anything we'd like to recapture a similar sound on our next record - but make it bigger. I think we can find a happy middle ground. On 'Deluded' the studio recordings actually sound a bit cleaner because we had less tracks to play around with, so it was just a straight live recording with no overdubs. And when we say ‘studio’ it was still a pretty ramshackle (but awesome) self-built place that our friend Henry was running. So it wasn’t Abbey Road.

SXP: Three of the tracks on ‘Deluded’ have been previously released in other forms: 'Surge' on the 4-way split single and ‘Like It Was Again’ and ‘Footsteps in the Snow’ from the Tendrils album. The titles of the last two make it clear that they’re different to the album versions but why did you return to them?

Joe: We put 'Surge' on the EP as the split single was a limited release and is sold out, plus people in the US wouldn't have had much chance to hear it as it was a UK release. We recorded our whole live set including 'Like it Was' and 'Footsteps' at our friend Henry's studio, we felt the full band versions of those songs expanded on the solo versions on 'Tendrils', so we put them on 'Deluded'. At the time I considered 'Like it Was' to be our strongest song.

SXP: Those early songs were quickly recorded but they have bags of charm and a deceptive simplicity – 'On A Ride' only lasts 90 seconds but it sounds as big as the inside of the Tardis once you get into it. How do you make sure that you don’t lose that immediacy and honesty of those early recordings?

Joe: I agree, the first idea is always the best, and songs are so much more honest sounding when they are written spontaneously. Well it's different now because we are a full band and have other people's parts to consider, so songs need to be figured out before we record them most of the time. But there will be as little editing as possible, I never force songs out, I stop writing when the ideas stop coming, that's often why our songs are so short because when the words and music stop coming to me I literally just end the song. Sam and Ben are both writing songs for the band now too so it’s good to have lots of tunes knocking around.

SXP: You’re from Tooting. Now we know Tooting for some decent South Indian restaurants but it doesn’t strike us as a very rock'n'roll suburb. Are we wrong about the place?

Joe: Yeah it’s not really, but I don’t think we'd want to live in a rock n roll place. We love Tooting Broadway, it's such a busy little place. Everyone is on top of each other. There are some nice pubs too, and most of our close friends are nearby. I sometimes feel a bit out of the loop though, I'd like to go to a lot more gigs in East [London] but even though it's only a tube ride away I often can’t be arsed. That sounds bad! I’d rather have a pint in the Weatherspoons at the end of the road with a couple of mates. That sounds really bleak.

SXP: Though the majority of gig venues in London are north of the Thames, us South Londoners have the legendary Windmill in Brixton. We know that you’re fans of the venue too – as performers, what do you like about it?

Joe: Tim is an awesome promoter and genuine fan of music, there is no bullshit with the Windmill, it's great. And it has a huge dog on the roof. It's a little tucked out of the way but once you're there you're gonna have such a good time you won’t care. Maybe it's got a South London vibe to it that we relate to, I'm not sure. Myself, Sam and our drummer Steve grew up watching live music in a local Irish Club that our parents frequented, it kinda reminds me of that place.

SXP: You have two brothers in the band which, in the case of Oasis, the Jesus and Mary Chain and Right Said Fred, proved a recipe for disaster. How do you get along and do you have any secrets for managing sibling rivalry?

Joe: Sam and I get on really well, we generally only argue if I'm drunk and am messing up my singing or if Sam turns up way too loud and puts loads of feedback over all the songs. We don’t have arrogant attitudes, we are normally the most chilled out people in the room. I think I generally get the most pissed off if we play badly, just because I'm quite paranoid and worry too much sometimes.

SXP: You’re releasing records on the cult Brooklyn label Captured Tracks. Now that its releases are in three figures, do you think there’s still a defined label aesthetic there, and what do you like about them? And do people assume you’re an American band because you’re signed to the label?

Joe: They certainly are prolific, but I think the quality of Captured Tracks output is extremely high. Yes I definitely think there is a Captured Tracks vibe, rather than sound, but that’s how it should be. I think most of the bands on Captured Tracks sound like they are into their own music but also really big fans of music too. They welcome influence but put an original spin on things. Classy stuff. We're very proud to be a part of it. I think in the UK we sometimes get a bit overlooked. A lot of people probably do think Captured Tracks bands are American unless they've read into it. I don’t think we sound very American but people at shows have said, 'oh I love Captured Tracks, I didn’t know they had UK bands on their label'.

SXP: You were praising Cheatahs when you played with them at our gig on Good Friday. Which bands do you rate at the moment?

Joe: Yeah I thought Cheatahs were sounding great. We just did 5 dates with Times New Viking they are awesome and really fun people. They know how to party. Their new album is amazing.

SXP: Captured Tracks seem committed to vinyl releases as well as in other formats. There’s a lot being said right now about the demise of the physical format in music but do you have a preference?

Joe: I like vinyl when I get a chance to put one on. In my room I normally have to dig my record player out from underneath a tonne of pants and books and mess. I might move it into the living room actually. It’s sad, I don’t know what’s gonna happen with bands and music, the industry is so fickle these days, people seem more interested in tweeting shite back and forward all day, we’re headed for hell, but not quite yet.

SXP: Your album and single covers are always striking - who has the artistic eye in the band and who designed the ‘Deluded’ cover?

Joe: Deluded was done by Izabela Wilk. Here is her blog: All of the band are into art and design and so is Mike at Captured Tracks. I think artwork is really important and I’m glad people appreciate it. Again it’s probably something that bands need to keep alive.

SXP: What’s happening next with Dignan Porch – any tour and second album plans?

Joe: We have just finished a short tour, the plan is to take a bit of a break from that to work on new songs and record our next album. We’re gonna take our time over this one and make something we’re really pleased with. We should be doing some festivals later in the year too, like Indietracks and a few others. We are trying to get over to America at some point as well, we’re working on it! Other than that you’ll find us at Weatherspoons in Tooting Broadway.


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