With a couple of EP’s already under their belt, London four-piece ISLAND have been tweaking away at their debut album Feels Like Air which is due out on April 6th.

Forming as teenagers, frontman Rollo Doherty’s former acoustic project has transformed into a fierce blend of coastal grooves mixed with languid rock that explodes effortlessly with such rugged precision thanks to the aid of guitarist Jack Raeder, bassist James Wolfe and drummer Toby Richards. Their DIY ethic and close-knit approach to the album has paid off and holds testament to a band approaching stardom at breakneck speed. We caught up with drummer Toby Richards to discuss life on the road and inspiration behind their stellar debut.

Let’s talk about your debut album Feels Like Air. Where was it recorded and what was the process like?
Yeah so when we first started writing, we knew we were working towards an album but we didn’t really have a purpose, so when we were touring out and about on the road we’d been listening to a lot of driving inspired records. Bands like War on Drugs, Future Islands, Leif Erikson that sort of stuff and it just got us thinking about kind of putting together a soundtrack to a journey. As soon as that came into place, all the tracks fell together pretty quickly in the space of a couple of months really. We’d always planned to go into the studio with an old friend of ours, a guy called Mike Hill, he’s got a studio just outside Oxford.
It was a comfortable set up there with him, we were all together in one room playing all four of us together and we’d record it to see what works and what doesn’t and keep it very much a live feel really. It took shape really quickly, I think we actually recorded it all in about eleven days so it was pretty quick.

How important is it the album represent a collective body of work as opposed to individual songs?
Yeah, we definitely did look at it as a full body of work and just with the theme of driving and the journey, it definitely brought the songs together as one. Lyrically, Rollo who writes the lyrics definitely drew on the idea of the songs being written from the point of view of a passenger on a journey so that’s what ties it all together. Sonically we didn’t set too many boundaries, we’d just go with whatever felt right.

So it sounds like you enjoy being on the road?
Yeah big time, playing live is a huge part of the sound for us and something we wanted to take into the studio. We wanted to sound like it’s us on stage performing a show. We keep things very DIY, we drive ourselves a lot of the time and Mike who we did the album with does the sound for us, it’s a very small little family that we take on the road with us. As soon as we finish playing a show we’re at the merch stand selling all our merch and chatting to fans. We try and cover as much as possible just between the four of us really.
It’s always awesome being out on the road, we’re heading out again this month in Europe and then UK in May and then we’re excited to be going to America because it’s going to be our first time going over there so yeah lots of touring to be done for this album.

Did you have more creative freedom on this album as opposed to previous EP’s?
In terms of the writing we’ve always tried not to have too much structure to how things evolve, the songs can come from anywhere, a drum beat, guitar riff, vocal line so many different avenues. I think with this album we wanted to keep it as live and rough and ready as possible, production wise we didn’t add too much in the studio, we really wanted to keep it just the four of us playing together. Creatively, I suppose we did try and few new routes but nothing too crazy from what we’ve done before, we always like to experiment with lots of different effects, guitar wise lots of delay, reverb and things like that but yeah nothing too out the box, definitely still within the realms of the ISLAND sound.

Is keeping your signature sound something you’ll consider on your next album?
Interestingly since we got back from Christmas we’ve actually been writing quite a lot. We don’t know whether it’s going to be an EP or an album we haven’t talked about that yet but just in terms of what’s coming out it is a progression from the album already it’s got a bit of a darker vibe without giving too much away.

What’s your FAULT?
I would say I have quite bad OCD, especially on tour. I get a bit funny about cleanliness on the road in the van, small little things like socks being on the seats or something. I’m also obsessed with driving whilst the others are resting up for the show. I like to take the wheel and love driving through the mountains in Europe but probably a bit too much that I end up knackered just before a show.