Photos | Kate Brady Words | Jane Parsons Film | Kathy Magee
Our reaction the first time we saw ahab was ‘Where have they been hiding’? Their light, CSNY-style 4 part harmonies, blend of guitars and mandolin, recall the 1970s California singer/songwriter scene, not quite country or folk, but all the very best bits of each. Turns out they hadn’t been hiding at all, but blowing away the crowd at Cropredy 2010 and amassing a devoted London fan base with regular pop-up appearances at street markets all over town. We caught up (via email) with band member Dave Burn following their gig at the Lexington last week, which kicked off a string of dates running through to April.
By all reports, ahab went down a storm at Cropredy last year, how did that appearance come about, and for a band known for playing markets, how did it feel playing to 20,000 people?
Playing Cropredy last year was a really big break for us, we did a video of us busking on Brick Lane which fell into the hands of Fairport Convention and the Cropredy festival organiser Gareth Williams. He originally said we could busk around the festival site but he had a cancellation and took a punt on us to play the main stage which we will be forever thankful for, it must have taken a lot of guts to put on a band no one had ever heard of in front of all those people. We got there a day early and walked on stage to look out at the empty field, we kept thinking someone had bought us a “be a rock star for a weekend ” voucher or that we’d sneaked in the back door somehow. I’d be lying if I said we weren’t all crapping ourselves but by the time we took the stage on the Saturday we’d got so used to pretending we were in Guns and Roses that we all felt ready for it.
Just before we went on Rick Wakeman arrived with about 8 trucks worth of keyboards and the roadies were lugging our gear on stage which has never happened to us before, all very surreal. Playing in front of that many people for any musician is the reason you pick up an instrument in the first place and it was everything I’d dreamed it would be. Even if that’s as high as were ever gonna go, it’s a moment I’m sure the whole band will treasure forever.
Do you want to tell us the ‘story behind the story’ of how you all met? Lots of your fans would have read the Nashville bio, but did you know each other before that? Had any of you played in bands before?
The band got together through a string of very unusual and unlikely events, we never put any ads out or planned our sound we were just very lucky to have all met each other at the right time.
In brief Callum and I got offered a residency in Nashville on the strength of our first album a.h.a.b which we did as a duo. We hadn’t even played together for way over six months and the offer came from out of the blue. At the same time we got a publishing pay out from a song we had on a compilation and decided that rather than take the cash we’d get a band together and use the money to take them out with us, this is where Luke, Seebs and Grahame come in.
After three weeks of indulging in the kind of madness that would leave Micky Roth in tears (I fell in love with an actual witch!) we decided we’d bonded enough to make things a little more permanent. Luke and Seebs were songwriters in their own right so it made sense to have four singers instead of one, singers are notoriously difficult people so having four is a sure fire way to guarantee all the things that people love to watch (fighting, egos, Rolls Royces, swimming pools, cult activity) we promise you that you won’t get bored.