Formed at a party a little over three years ago when a guitar was passed across a smoky room, Tiarnan, Will, and Steff (also known as simply TWS) have been turning heads on the Irish music sceneever since with their brand of synchronised acoustic ramblings. Tiarnan Jones, a former member of the band Picksell, recalls the original idea behind the group: “We were just bored with what was going on and wanted to do something different – we never really had a set idea or style we wanted to play, but I think when we heard the Mexican guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela and the whole instrumental rock scene that was blossoming around Dublin, it kind of encouraged us to write more music that didn’t necessarily have a set verse/chorus/verse structure.”
Tiarnan, Will, & Steff
In order to reflect their admittedly diverse tastes (being influenced by everything from 70′s hard rock to electronica), TWS are quite conscious about fusing together as many elements as possible while still maintaining a completely live, instrumental, and unplugged sound: “We all listen to every type of music and try to make that stand out in our own work – the three of us all have a very different style of playing guitar, due to our varied musical up-bringings. Stef used to run a record shop, so he in particular has an absolutely massive collection.” With a spatter of breakdowns in their songs often driven on by heavy, grinding riffs, an appreciation of Metal seemed like a natural thing to inquire about: “There is definitely a Metal influence or appreciation in the stuff we write…the lads (Will and Steff) were in a hardcore Metal band years ago and obviously listened to a lot of it. Although I wasn’t too big into Metal when we formed…I do listen to a lot of it now.”
As for the obvious streak of crazed, freakish folk to their songwriting, I asked whether the group were encouraged by the success of artists such as Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom, and the spate of what’s been lazily dubbed a “new folk revolution” in America at the moment. “I know I am,” Jones replies enthusiastically. “I listen to a lot of that stuff and I know the lads like it when ever they hear it — especially Devandra Banhart’s guitar playing!”
Armed with just three acoustic guitars, combining all these different components in their music is no easy task, but audiences frequently get the impression that there’s a connection between these three lunaticsthat seems to assist the way they read each other as they’re building a bricolage of overlapping solos: “It would be a lot easier if we did have psychic powers, believe me! With a lot of our newer stuff, there are plenty of offbeat timings and that can be very confusing… it can get a bit confusing even listening to it. But if you ever see us jammin’, you’ll see us nodding to each other and we all go off on our own tangents.”
Will & Steff
Although their live performances seem to have an impromptu or spontaneous feel, TWS are surprisingly wary of their own output levels: “The first song we ever wrote is called ’25% of a decade’…because it took us two and a half years for us to be happy to call it a song. Some songs take along time to write, and then when we think we have it the way we want it…Will changes it again!” Yet with seven songs already in the can, the band are hoping to add to that tally by recording a further six tracks of new material, and possibly combining them all into one album. “For the last two months we’ve been taking a break because we’re all really busy with other projects, but we have about six songs we haven’t recorded yet. We wrote these new songs after Will came back from his trip to New Zealand. They’re much shorter but a lot more up tempo. We’re not still really sure if we want to leave the songs that short so we might go back to a few of them and add a little more – until we are happy with them, they won’t be recorded!” And so with one eye on a prolific summer, Tiarnan, Will, and Steff look to keep their instrumental madness rolling out toward as many as possible.