Sound Of The Sirens Embark Upon A National Tour To Promote Their New Album, ‘Damage Control’ 

Abbe Martin and Hannah Wood together are Sound of the Sirens and their prowess as one of the UK’s most exciting acoustic duos is built on the foundations of their live performances as well as their insightful and honest song writing. Their music finds focus on things that affect us all; past relationships, life experiences, mental health awareness and homelessness. Equally at home with songs of lament or joy, their brilliance caught the attention of Chris Evans when he brought back TGI Friday for one last hurrah and he featured their live performance on his show and asked why they were not signed by a major record label. This year may prove to be the year they find the widespread commercial success they deserve to accompany the widespread critical acclaim they already enjoy. Working with Saul Davies from the rock band James, they have recently released the brilliant ‘Damage Control’ album and are in the middle of a national tour to promote it.

Their music is impossible to pigeon hole and their musicality and instrumentation vast and varied. With Abbe playing acoustic guitar, high strung guitar (Nashville tuning), mandolin and bass drum and Hannah playing acoustic and electric guitar, tambourine, snare drum and piano, they bring huge technical know-how as well as superb creativity to the party and the chance to catch them live is not one to be missed. I was lucky enough to catch up with Hannah and ask a few questions about the album and the tour. I hope her answers encourage you to look them up and take a listen and hopefully try to see them; you really won’t be disappointed.

EP:  It’s joyfully difficult to pin you down to any one style. Your songs are powerful whether they are emotive, heartfelt ballads or more anthemic toe tapping singalongs. Is it a conscious effort, as songwriters and artists, to make sure you cannot be pigeon holed and to defy genre? I’m a big fan of making it difficult to be put in any particular box as I think successful artists are able to be a constantly evolving, and therefore interesting, force of nature.

H: Well thank you very much!! We are so glad that you feel this as this is how we see us too. No one wants to be stuck in any box and we both believe that a good song is a good song, no matter what the genre. We tend to have our sound, but test out all sorts of different styles with that sound! We tend to be put into the folk box quite a lot, but are constantly trying to wangle our way out of it, because we don’t want to disappoint the folk folk!!

EP:  I have spent some time listening to your records and I love them but, and that’s not a negative but, live you guys are amazing. The live stuff I’ve tracked down has great vitality and it’s something you clearly enjoy. Is it important to you both that your live performances have this extra gear?

H: Yeah, I think that as soon as we have a live audience, we perform it with more emotion and angst. I think as well, we have been performing for so many years, and started out singing in pubs where you had to really work to get the attention of people. It is probably instilled in us to just go for it! We love recording and making albums, but people do always seem to comment that our live performances are very different. We have to make up for the lack of production somehow! 

EP:  You have worked very hard since winning Exeter’s prestigious Battle of the Bands competition, who have been and who are your main musical inspirations?

H: Wow, that takes me back!! I think our influences are very far and wide. We have had many obsessions over the years. Some being Will Varley, First Aid Kit, Lana Del Rey, Mumford and Sons; the list goes on! 

EP:  Your new album ‘Damage Control’ is out and it seems to be quite an evolution from your excellent ‘A Long Way to Fall’ debut. How do you think you have evolved as musicians since your debut and how do you hope this album is received by fans of your music, and of course music lovers new to your music?

H: It has been wonderful to work with a producer who had such a vision for these songs. ‘A Long Way To Fall’ was recorded live in two days, because that was the competition we won. It is raw and stripped back and sounds more like us live. We seem to be getting very lovely feedback so far on this new album ‘Damage Control’, and I think it is a way more accessible sound, and one that could reach further to wider audiences. We love how Saul (the producer) has shaped these songs and hopefully people do too!!

EP:  I remember seeing you play TFI Friday when it returned for a final season in 2015 with Chris Evans, who was quite the fan, giving you a national platform on his show. You sang the brilliant ‘Together Alone’ which as it turned out was almost prophetic with the time some people spent alone during the pandemic and the line “we are all in this together” and the message that we must make real use of the time we have available to us. How did the pandemic and the lockdown affect your music? I have spoken to several musicians who seem to have taken real directional changes in their music and seem to have taken the time to examine their art without the pressure of expectation. It’s almost been a silver lining, what do you think?

H: Yes, that song sounds like it was written post Pandemic!! Lock down definitely made us have to work harder in some areas and less in others. To not be on the road gave us space to really work on our online presence. We had to learn how to record ourselves, and find ways to stay present and keep connected with people out there. I feel that our Siren family became closer and we definitely appreciated the power of music when life turned upside down. It was such a crazy time for everyone and now feels like one big weird dream! For us, we gained a manager and a new booking agent during this time and we will be forever grateful for that. 

EP:  Chris Evans asked what was wrong with the music industry when two artists like yourselves were unsigned in 2015. Has that changed and did Chris use his considerable influence to help you, especially as he seemed a big fan?

H: We had some major labels interested at this time, but nothing materialised. We will always stay none the wiser, but don’t have any regrets that it didn’t. Chris was absolutely amazing for helping us like that. We were so lucky that our paths crossed, and that whole experience was totally surreal. Its the kind of story we will tell our grandkids and they won’t believe us! 

EP:  You are obviously hard working and enjoy touring your music. How hard has it been to lose that during the last couple of years and how excited are you to hit the road with new music?

H: It has been okay to be honest. We always remained grateful for our situations and counted ourselves lucky for not being worse off. The fact that we found ways to still sing and write together was a godsend. It is great to get back out there now, especially to play these songs that we are so excited to play. Plus, we have really missed the service stations…. Genuinely! 

EP:  For new fans, who might be discovering you for the first time, how did you guys meet and what brought you together artistically?

H: We met working together in Exeter’s best night club! We would drunkenly sing walking home from nights out together and convince ourselves that we were good. We sang in a functions band together, singing covers until we decided to write our own music and play our own instruments. The rest is history!

EP:  Finally, what’s the best way to keep up to date with your music and live performances?

H: Probably Facebook, Instagram, or join our mailing list.

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Sound of the Sirens are touring the UK this May. Find details on their official website.

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