Rag Foundation are a Swansea-based five piece who are as comfortable performing traditional Welsh songs written centuries ago as they are writing contemporary, alternative folk that explores the darker side of humanity. Coming from a folk background, the band have always been fascinated by the dark stories behind certain songs – murder, betrayal, infidelity – essentially all the good things in life. Their latest single ‘Run’ is released 20th April 2015 ahead of their fourth album The Sparrow and The Thief.
Hello Rag Foundation – who are you and where are you from?
Hello Gigslutz! We are Rag Foundation, a five-piece Alt-Folk band from South Wales with a shiny new single called ‘Run’ we’d like to tell you all about!
Would you say your music is classed under ‘folk’? How would you describe your sound?
I don’t know where we class our music. It’s obviously from the folk camp and if that’s what makes it easy for others to picture it then great. We use alt-folk or nu-folk for ease, but don’t expect a very pure Folk album with The Sparrow & the Thief – it’s the seed but not the tree. We are all musicians who have grown up living with traditional music in our lives and who have family roots back to our traditions. It is folk-ish, but it plays with harmonies, beats, words and the darker side of life. It’s dark and it’s light all at the same time. I guess, as Louis Armstrong said, “It’s all folk music: I ain’t heard no horse sing a song yet.”
Is there a story behind your forthcoming single ‘Run’?
‘Run’ is one song from a wider narrative on our next album. That first flush of passion where you want to run away together. What could go wrong?
Is there a theme to your album The Sparrow And The Thief?
Yes, very much so. It’s a narrative told over 11 songs, but not in a linear order. We want people to discover it for themselves and hopefully identify with it.
What’s the music scene like where you’re from?
It’s not as healthy as it used to be. However, there are still great artists working in the Swansea area, such as Andy Tamlin Jones from Boys from the Hill, Dai Godwin from The Caves and Boatbar to Hamburg with young bands like Nineteen Fifty Eight and Prosperina who are just emerging – the future looks bright. You should totally check them out as they’re amazing. There’s a real strong scene at a Wales level though, The Super Furries, Gruff Rhys, Catrin Finch, Cerys Matthews and the Manics obviously. But check out Kizzy Crawford, No Thee No Ess, Georgia Ruth, Richard James, The Gentle Good, Sweet Baboo and Joy Formidable.
I’ve missed out loads, but if you tune into Adam Walton on BBC Radio Wales he’s a great advocate for what’s going on in Wales.
What’s the hardest thing about being in an independent, unsigned band? And what’s the best thing?
They’re both really the same: we have to work harder because we have to do it for ourselves or we have to hire someone to do it for us, but it’s us who foots the bill and sets the targets. We’d like to have the kind of backing that bands used to have but those days have gone and that’s a good thing – it means that instead of having one blockbuster summer album, you have ten equally good and interesting albums coming out every minute and the world is a bit richer for that. And of course it means that if a band does succeed then it’s because it has worked very hard to do stand out from everyone else. But that is the fun of it and the great thing about being independent: we can do what we want, when we want.
Nobody tells us what sound to make for commercial reasons or makes us change stuff to suit their plans. It’s just us in a conversation with the listener, trying to make music that is fresh and not a re-tread of what’s gone before.
What are your plans after the album’s release – festivals or tours?
Yes to both – but right now, because it’s an independent release, we’re aiming on getting the album out and people to hear it. We’re aiming at playing festivals this coming summer and next, and looking at how to start getting the live shows out across the UK.
Finally, tell us a secret about the band.
Danny, our bass player, is reputed to be the Milky Bar Kid number eight.
‘Run’ is out 20th April, ahead of the release of The Rag Foundation’s debut album – The Sparrow And The Theif – in June.