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ahab

 

For the first five years of their existence, the Gavin Rossdale-led British rock act Bush had to be referred to in Canada as Bushx.  This wasn’t simply an act of grunge tomfoolery meant to poke fun at the inhabitants of the Great White North. Instead, the name Bush was a matter of intellectual property, as Domenic Troiano led a Toronto-based jazzed-up rock outfit in the ‘70s called Bush and still retained rights in Canada to the name. Eventually, after a hefty donation from Rossdale and co. to a few Canadian charities, Troiano relented. Bush were now the sole proprietors of the name. 

It’s a story Callum Adamson knows all too well. As the guitarist/lead singer in the harmony-heavy folkers ahab, another London-based outfit, Adamson fronts a band that has also had some issues with the name of their band. Somewhere in the hills of Germany, funeral metal act AHAB is constructing their latest full-length, but Adamson remains confident that there won’t be too much confusion between the two.

 

"That question has been asked more than ever lately. Maybe we're getting more attention. People are Googling us and they're finding them. We've talked to them about it, and we agreed they'd use all upper case and we'd use all lower case records."

 

Crisis averted.

 

Still, it’s tough to imagine the dudes in ahab getting that busted up about it. One spin of their 2011 EP, kmvt reveals a band so in tune with each other that they present a remarkably progressive yet aesthetically relaxed ethos. Though it lacks aggressive tendencies, it’s no less poignant. Adamson insists that the key to their harmony-based tracks stems from how close the band is as people.

 

"We've spent more time together as just four guys than any four guys ever should. The only time that guys spend more time together is when they're in the army. It wouldn’t work if we didn't get on so well. It's become something beyond friends. We treat each other the way you would a family member; the language we use with each other is appalling,” he laughs.  “We're able to work so intuitively because we're as close as we are, and it certainly helps with the harmonies."

 

ahab was originally the brainchild of Adamson and guitarist Dave Burn, who after releasing their 2009 EP a.h.a.b, were invited to play a residency at Tootsie’s Orchard Lounge in Nashville as part of the Country Music Awards. It was in Nashville that the band cut their teeth and got in touch with their Americana roots. Yet it was when the band recruited Seebs Llewellyn and Luke Price when ahab became who they are today. That, and a fortuitous run-in with the police in their native Lodnon.

 

"We sort of just went around each other's houses to work on new material. Put songs together and see what we could do with the four of us instead of just he two of us, Dave and I. We were on Brick Lane one afternoon. We just started messing about, playing some songs. We were obviously drunk. All these people kept stopping, checking us out, and smiling. It felt like it was working. We ended up going to a party, playing some more. And we realised how much people just enjoyed us playing music, without all that big production. We grabbed a few guitars and did the same thing on Brick Lane again. We kept doing it, and the crowds kept getting bigger and bigger. We decided to film it and throw it on YouTube. So we did, and that's when the right people saw us, and we've been on the road ever since."

 

"The smartest thing we actually did was to just film it,” continues Adamson. “It just so happened that the time we started filming was when the police showed up; they said to us, 'You've got to stop playing, nobody can get through here.'”

 

Subsequent releases later, the band have found their voice. Yet their relaxed, countrified groove isn’t exactly what outsiders normally hear coming out of London. When asked if he prefers the big city or if he’s a country boy at heart, Adamson defers to the greats before him.

 

"When I was 11, I moved down to the States. I spent a few years there being exposed to country music. I loved it. Listening to the radio on car trips and such. Then you go to Top 40 stations, and I couldn't stand it. I just went deeper into Americana and country. When we both moved into Hackney, London, we realised that every musician, when they hang out with each other, the first thing they do is put on a Neil Young record. Being a musician, you gravitate towards it because that's where real song-craft is."  

 

With an appreciation for quality song-writing in tow, the boys in ahab plan on continuing the good thing they’ve started. They’re not ones to let confusion with band names bog them down. In the spirit of true Americana, Adamson and ahab simply have to keep on truckin’.

 

"For me I'm all about the next thing. I love playing live, I love being on the road. But the huge buzz that I get is when writing and recording new songs. It's all about where we can take these songs in the future."

 

BY JOSHUA KLOKE

ahab hit up the Toff in Town on Thursday March 15 and the One Perfect Day music festival in Mossvale on Saturday March 17