Somerset-based duo The Drystones – Ford Collier and Alex Garden – play Shoreham’s Ropetackle on Saturday, April 27, just a couple of weeks after the release of their new album Apparitions.
The two, who have been performing together for eight years, were last year nominated for the 2018 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award.
“We are 22 now,” says Alex, “and we got into folk music when we were about 14. We started by filling a slot at our local Priddy Folk Festival. Priddy is a beautiful little village on the top of the Mendip Hills in Somerset.
“Ford’s dad is involved in organising the festival and it had a free slot that needed filling a couple of weeks before the festival in 2011 and we were both getting into folk tunes, and we decided to take it up. We just put together a set and we played a set of lively and fast English and Scottish folk music.
“We enjoyed it, and then we started busking. That was the next big step for us, doing a couple of days a week busking and just busking when we could. We were in Wells and Bath and a little bit in Bristol.
“We would go out and play and we would get really hooked on it. That kind of helped to glue together a lot of what we did. It was good because we learnt so much. It was the nice pressure of having to perform something, but your audience is not captive. They are just walking past so you are not too worried about making mistakes and it means that you can take more risks than perhaps you would in a gig, and I think that helped us develop. We did that for quite a long time and also occasional gigs.
“We recorded an EP first. That was 2012 and we were doing a bunch of gigs at the time, and we just thought it would be nice if people could take something home with them. We went into a recording studio in Glastonbury. We were 16 years old at the time and we spent the day recording and mixing, and we were quite pleased with it… but we have come a long way since then!
“The new album is called Apparitions. Apparitions is quite a nice word. The standard dictionary definition is false or strange appearances, things like ghosts and illusions and echoes and myths. We have this Shakespearean theme running through our work. All the album titles are named after Shakespeare lines or expressions he coined.
“The album is almost all original material except for a couple of traditional tunes that we have heavily arranged. We just started writing about the things that were interesting us as a duo at the time. We are both involved in lots of other projects and have opportunities to do other things. But we found that what we were writing was quite spooky and ghost-like and that we were exploring maybe darker themes than we had done before. We really enjoyed working on it.
“This is our third album if you don’t count the first EP, and we have got a good feeling about it. We have had a couple of good reviews so far. When we released the album to our Kickstarter pledgers, we have had really good feedback from them as well.”