Music as a social commentary

For Strings Inn (Herman Spiteri on vocals and guitars, Ryan Abela on drums, Kim Farrugia on guitar and Aaron Dimech on bass)are back with a new album, Feathers and Stones. This interview first appeared on the Sunday Times of Malta’s Culture section.

What has the band been doing since we heard you guys last?

Herman Spiteri: We were busy writing our upcoming album and we also released three DIY music videos, did a mini-tour in Denmark and France and had three line-up changes.

Mark iz-Zizza quit the band and was replaced by Nick Morales, who was then replaced by Bertram Cachia and, finally, our new bass guru Aaron Dimech joined.

We have been very focused on writing the material for another album. On a personal level, each band member has also been busy doing other projects such as organising gigs and events like the now-infamous yearly School Disco. Our guitarist, Kim, is now a dad; drummer Ryan did a round- the-world trip and as for me… I was in search of inner balance between sky and earth. We’ve certainly come a long way.

How has your music and style evolved since the band came together in 2008?

Ryan Abela: The first recording experience in Temple Studios bettered our songwriting. Obviously, the line-up changes also influenced our musical approach heavily. We are now moving towards a heavier and rawer sound.

You toured abroad soon after releasing your first EP – how did the experience affect the band?

Herman: It definitely improved the relationship between the band members. Meeting at the garage is different to actually living together for a couple of weeks. From a music perspective, we became much tighter in our playing. Playing live every single day really improved the chemistry of the band.

When did work on the new album, Feathers and Stones, start?

Aaron Dimech: We started recording our first track back in 2011 and from there on did about four sessions at Temple Studios to finish the album. Since then, we have continued writing new material and now we have enough material for another album.

The Maltese are more keen on cover bands

How do you describe this album?

Kim Farrugia: Basically, it’s the musical diary of our band for the past few years. In each of the tracks you can clearly hear the diversity in the musical style and track the way that it evolved. The album is very eclectic and includes heavy songs, soft songs, happy songs, nostalgic songs, energetic songs… it is what we went through in the past years.

Feathers and Stones – what is the story behind the name?

Herman: The feathers represent our inner harmony, whereas the stones represent stubbornness. It is a metaphor for the balance between our joys and sorrows.

What has response to the singles been like?

Kim: All three songs received great response from our fans and made it on local radio stations and to the Top 10 of local charts.

The video for Revolution, the last single you released, is different from your usual style. How did this come about?

Ryan: Revolution was always our foundation style. However, until this single we were releasing the more catchy/poppy songs in our repertoire. We were doing this to broaden our fan base. But then we noticed that by getting on the local charts nothing exceptional was happening, so we decided to stay loyal to our roots.

As evidenced by Revolution, your music is also a form of social commentary.

Aaron: Yes, that’s right. Revolution was written a couple of years ago, when it seemed that there was a global revolution. There were huge amounts of protests globally, from Occupy Wall Street to the Arab Spring. We urge this form of behaviour in our songs. People need to wake up and think for themselves.

Do you believe music can make a difference in the world?

Herman: Music is one of the most powerful forms of expression. A simple song can make you feel angry, sad, happy, euphoric… A whole generation can be formed by a genre of music. If used and interpreted right, music can definitely change the world.

How would you like to see the music scene in Malta develop?

Herman: We’ve got mixed feelings. Bands and music are definitely of a higher quality nowadays, but we do feel a bit disappointed by the public. The Maltese are more keen on cover bands. Up to some seven years ago, a would attract crowds of moshing kids who had the music running through their veins.

A gig nowadays will get a few people five metres away from the stage scratching their beards. It’s probably something happening worldwide due to the natural cycles of music entertainment. However, we will not just sit down and watch the scene die.

Feathers and Stones will be launched on December 12 at Razzett l-Aħmar, Mosta.