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ASIWYFA's Origins, Guilty Pleasures, And Memorable Moments

"The Belfast act's new EP, 'The Letters,' combines influences ranging from Fugazi to System of a Down into a unique amalgam of instrumental music that's as aggressive as it is melodic."

U2 may currently be Ireland's most famous musical export, but not if And So I Watch You From Afar have anything to say about it. "If the apocalypse is televised, these guys will provide the soundtrack," BBC Radio 1 claims. The Belfast act's new EP, 'The Letters', combines influences ranging from Fugazi to System of a Down into a unique amalgam of instrumental music that's as aggressive as it is melodic. Spinner recently caught up with guitarist Rory Friers about the band and their upcoming trip to this side of the pond. How did your band form? Tony [Wright, guitar] and Johnny [Adger, bass] had been playing together since they were kids. Likewise, Chris [Wee, drums] and me had been doing the same, and we kind of merged a few years back after our other efforts disbanded. To begin with it was just four dudes having a laugh. Then it got a bit more serious. What are your musical influences? We're a weird bunch of lads when it comes to what we listen to. It's pretty eclectic. I'm a real nerd for finding new stuff, stuff that's pushing it a little and maybe gives you a sore head the first time you play it. But we all have common ground in our love for punk and that DIY ethic.

Growing up in a small town in Northern Ireland, you had to be pretty self-sustainable to make anything happen. If you wanted to see an awesome show you had to form the band, write the tunes, put on the show and invite everyone you knew there. How did you come up with your band name? Johnny is to blame for that one. It kind of suited the noise we were making to begin with and it stuck. We're all suckers for the Orwellian world of 1984, and [the name] conjured up some cool images for us. But I think most people just presume we're stalker creeps. Which we are. I like to think of the name as a bit of a warning. What's your biggest vice? I guess I smoke too much, but that's because it makes me look cool. Other than that, we're a bit masochistic with the workload we put on ourselves. Instead of touring for two weeks, we'll do seven weeks with no days off, then give ourselves a week to write and record an EP. And our one day off will be spent writing emails all day and repacking all of our merch. We've always been a bit Stalinistic in our approach. I think we watched too many Clash DVDs when the band was forming. What's in your festival survival kit? I pack our drummer, Chris Wee. He's like my career adviser/banter machine. In addition to trusty Chris, it's got to be Wet Wipes, a double-stack boom box and more batteries than you can shake a stick at. There's nothing worse than having a ghetto blaster that doesn't work for three days.

What's your musical guilty pleasure? At the minute it's outrageously hefty dubstep. We recently ended up playing a show with Jazzsteppa, dubstep legends from Germany, and we took to the dance floor in a serious way that night. Tony threw shapes not yet seen on this side of the Atlantic. Beatles or Stones? Beatles, only because of the 'White Album'. What's the craziest thing you've seen or experienced while on tour? I'll include everything in my autobiography, but a few stand-outs of last year would be seeing a guy throw himself off a 14-foot stage during Faith No More and landing teeth-first on the security barrier. You can see it on YouTube still, I think. We also drove 36 hours straight from Leeds to the Hungarian border just to catch a band we liked at a festival, but we missed them and had to sleep in the van for another 10 hours before we could get in the gates. The police came at 6AM and took us to the station and fined us, but then we saw Fred Durst and it was all OK. What's your most memorable show? Probably our performance at Pukkelpop last year. We were first on and had wagered a few bets on attendance, the highest estimate being 500 heads. Half an hour later we walked onstage to the huge roar of 4,500 people, which was amazing. Of course our shows at home were incredible last year, too -- our album launch, then our Christmas show in the Ulster Hall to well over a thousand people. That was a childhood dream right there.

- Jonah Bayer, Spinner Music