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Keywest at Olympia Theatre in March 2019 ©Glen Bollard

Keywest ‘can’t wait’ for the Hanwell Hootie

Keywest is a multi-award-winning band from the UK and Ireland. They will be performing at this year’s Hanwell Hootie music festival as part of a sell-out European tour, but they took some time out to talk to us.

You can read our preview of the seventh Hootie here. It will be taking place across multiple venues in the town on Saturday, 11 May.

Keywest began by busking their infusion of rock, pop and folk on the streets of Dublin just to pay the rent. But the band started pulling in crowds and blocking up streets everywhere they played.

From their humble beginnings, Keywest have gone on to sell-out tours and are now mainstage acts for Ireland’s largest festival, Electric Picnic, as well as Independence and Longitude.

A new album True North is out now on Marshall Records and was mixed at the legendary Abbey Road Studios.

The band are in the middle of their largest ever UK and European tour, including selling out the O2 Academy Liverpool. But lead singer Andrew Kavanagh took some time away from the tour bus to answer some of our questions.

Lead singer of Keywest Andrew Kavanagh ©Glen Bollard

His bandmates are Andy Glover (rhythm guitarist and vocals), Jimi Locke (lead guitarist) and Harry Sullivan (drummer).

You’re famed as having honed your style through busking in Dublin. What should people expect from seeing you live?

Andrew: Performing on the streets has a different vibe to anything. Firstly, people don’t have to be there so getting them to stop is job number one. Plus, they are right there with you, a matter of feet away, so engaging is also key. On the streets you’re limited to a small set up and collection of instruments too. All of these factors have enriched our sound and us as performers. Our music is upbeat, lively; with an element of Irish folk in there. It gets people going and dancing. As a frontman, street performance helps me to connect with an audience, the banter is so much fun and keeps every show unique.

How would you describe your sound, and what inspires it?

Andrew: Its largely upbeat, folksy with elements of Irish music, new and old. Old acoustic rhythms with modern U2-esque delay guitars at times. We’re storytellers and we love a sing along.

With your third album out recently, would you say your sound has changed over time?

Andrew: It has in the respect that we are surer of our identity now more than ever. Performing on streets gives you so much. Besides giving you the 10,000 hours required to become tight, it also gives an audience to test new songs out on and, with that, comes knowledge.

When it comes to your lyrics, what are your influences?

Andrew: I draw on personal experiences, the experiences of others and what my empathy tells me something will feel like. Sometimes I just pretend I’m someone else, in a different place, at a different stage in life and try walk in their shoes. It’s a very cathartic experience.

You’ve been touring Europe but The Hootie is presumably going to be your first festival gig of the summer?

Andrew: Can’t wait, festival vibes are just so much fun. My only complaint is that I never get to hang around after the show to really enjoy!

Does it feel different to play an event like this to, say, one of the more traditional central London venues like The Borderline that you played recently?

Andrew: Very different, venues are a different entity. The atmosphere is normally very chilled out and that makes the experience so nice.

The Hootie is pretty unusual as festivals go, being free to attend and with more than a dozen different venues and buses ferrying people to and fro. What do you think of the concept?

Andrew: More of this please, if nothing else it gives new acts opportunities.

Will you intend to check out the other bands before or after you go on? And, in true festival style, soak up a bit of the atmosphere?

Andrew: I definitely hope to be able to hang around for this one. Take part and just simply enjoy!

Want more information?

For full details of the line-up, timings and the list of venues go to www.hanwellhootie.co.uk

For other updates, visit www.facebook.com/TheHanwellHootie or follow @HanwellHootie on Twitter.

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