Ester Segarra

Galley Beggar definition : “This is an old English ghost, often reported in the North of England and mentioned as far back as 1584, in Reginald Scot’s The Discovery of Witchcraft. This fearsome ghost is described as being almost without flesh and bearing its head under its arm and emitting a deathly scream. The name is derived from the word ‘Gallery’, meaning to terrify. This ghost is likely to be encountered on country roads and deserted lanes.”

Galley Beggar is also a fine folk rock sextet, whose upcoming album ‘Heathen Hymns’ is about to be released through excellent Rise Above. They are also gonna headline for the 2nd Vernal Equinox day, and they were king enough to answer our questions… 

So how did Galley Beggar get into the wonderful folk rock world in the first place?

I think if we were to pin point the moment we wanted to explore this genre, it was listening to Led Zeppelin‘s ‘Battle Of Evermore’ which featured Sandy Denny.  The instrumentation along with her voice on that track made us think – there’s something in this!

What should we expect from your upcoming second full-length album ‘Heathen Hymns’ via Rise Above?

Well, it’s heavier than anything we’ve done before. Ever since recording our last album ‘Silence & Tears‘ with Liam Watson we’ve wanted to try new ideas and techniques that we learned in the studio previously.  We think the tracks are still have the recognisable Galley Beggar stamp on them and we’re still doing more acoustic numbers. We’ve just experimented more with instrumentation.  One track ‘The Lake‘ debuts David on sitar and ‘Moon And Tide‘ introduces cello and viola to the mix to make a full on string section with Celine’s violin.

Most notably though, is the guest lead vocal on the traditional song ‘Let No Man Steal Your Thyme‘ by Celia Drummond, from the legendary acid folk band, Trees.  They only made two albums in the 70s, never reached the huge successes commercially of some of their contemporaries, but have since become celebrated.  I think they are one of the most important electric folk bands of all time so we were really pleased when Celia agreed to work with us.

Which was the writing process for ‘Heathen Hymns’? Is it a band’s thing or are you working on your own and then gather in the studio sharing each one’s ideas?

David or Mat tend to write musical ideas individually or sometimes in pairs and bring those ideas to the rest of the band to work on the finer details and arranging it.  Then I write the lyrics, although Paul is also a dab-handed wordsmith, contributing the lyrics to ‘My Return‘ from the new album and the epic ‘Pay My Body Home‘ from the ‘Silence & Tears‘ album

Before Silence & Tearsyou self-released two albums ‘Galley Beggar’ & ‘Reformation House’. Which would you say are the main differences working with a label to your own?

That’s a great question! With the first two albums, we had complete creative control which was fantastic from a band writing their own material’s point of view.  But it had huge drawbacks – mainly that we had no independent opinions.  We quickly found that we were trying too hard and playing too much, when really we should be creating space in our music to complement the notes! It was a huge eye opener for us working with a producer, especially someone so highly decorated as Liam Watson.

Ester Segarra

Apart from “old sounds” are you into any new music? What about acid folk and psych, genres that have gained significant hype over the last years?

We’ve always loved Circulus, they paved the way for the so-called psych folk resurgence.  To name a couple of others, Purson and Wolf People are doing great things at the moment.

On March 4th, 2nd day of new-born Vernal Equinox, you will be the headline act! What should the audience expect from your performance?

We want to showcase our new album ‘Heathen Hymns‘ so expect quite a few new tracks.  Thrown in will be some personal favourites of ours from previous albums as well.

You have been recently booked to support legendary Curved Air in November. How do you feel about this, playing/supporting your ‘heroes’?

It’s very exciting.  It’s also great for fans that they are still touring after all these years.  Hopefully they’ll share some of the trade secrets with us back stage!

So with the release of your new album, ‘Heathen Hymns’, what are your plans? An extensive tour?

We’re already planning the 2017 tour to promote the album, so we’re trying to cover as much of the country as we can this year.  So far we have the Preston gig, Glastonbury, London, a couple in Kent, Essex and the Midlands.  More will be added as we go so keep an eye out on the website for gig news.

Photo credits: Ester Segarra

Christos Doukakis