Ham Sandwich (photo by Dara Munnis)

NOW LONG-ESTABLISHED as one of the most desirable suites amongst the Irish indie scene’s popular furnishings, Kells band Ham Sandwich have started taking life at a different pace.

With their boisterous live reputation established and a firm fanbase in tow, there’s no particular need for Niamh Farrell and her band to keep on churning out the tracks. Instead, they’re taking time to explore other interests, hopping in and out of their lives as musicians as the mood strikes them. There are songs being structured, gigs being planned and touchpapers being lit. It’s all just a little more casual, a little more confident than before.

“We’ve just taken a step back, taken a chance to enjoy other sides of our lives for a while,” Farrell explains. “We’re still writing stuff in the background, and working towards releasing an album. We’re not putting too much pressure on ourselves, but we’re keeping the Ham Sandwich train going.”

“The people who generally come to our shows, it’s because they love the live experience, the party atmosphere that we try to bring to every gig. It’s a good thing when we go back to gigging, it’s really exciting when we haven’t done one in a while, like now.”

Ham Sandwich will be breaking their time-out with a debut 2019 show at Leopardstown Live in early June, at a venue Farrell has fond memories of. “It’s really good fun, sort of a fun early-afternoon evening thing,” she says. “You get a race named after you. It’s really good craic, and it’s the kind of gig where you might get a few people who haven’t seen us before.”

“Last time I had to stand there while the horses walked around me in a circle and pick out my favourite. I put a €2 bet on and it won, so that was good fun.”

There have been some fun moments in the last few months in general, in fact. “We did some covers for Slane Whiskey, and one of those was Eminem’s Stan, which Podge (guitar, vocals) suggested. We hadn’t rehearsed it at all, but there was a man fully rapping the whole thing right in front of me, really into it. We love doing stuff like that, a little bit left of centre.”

Farrell has also been off working on her own during the quiet period, taking on a growing range of solo projects. “I don’t know about going off doing proper solo stuff,” she says. “I’ve loved singing with other people, doing the Mix Tape gig on New Year’s Eve, stuff like that. It’s a really fun set up, just to sing and do different things.”

“I’m doing the Carpenters cover thing at Lost Lane, too. If it wasn’t for Ham Sandwich I wouldn’t have got to do these things, and they’re great fun. It’s just a pleasure.”

“From a Ham Sandwich point of view, we have a couple on the backburner, but we won’t be rushing ourselves, releasing stuff for the sake of it. It takes a while to prepare for live gigs, so we’re getting ourselves all fresh and ready to go again.”

Ham Sandwich’s live set often features confetti cannons and oversized balloons, while Podge is particularly notorious for his slightly messy stage-antics alongside Farrell’s soaring, mesmerising vocals.

“We have two big shows supporting Hermitage Green at Limerick Castle in the summer, then we’ll hopefully be doing a tour with new music towards the end of the year, too, so we’ll get back to things in full flow then.” At full flow, Ham Sandwich are quite the tour de force.

This article is one of my weekly music columns for the Dublin Gazette, reproduced here with permission. Note: this column is published in the Dublin Gazette several days ahead of on this website. The Gazette is a freesheet paper available across Dublin, published on a Thursday. Pick up copies at these locations

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