(The following article was written for ARTROCKER MAGAZINE issue# 115, November 2011)
In 1980 John Lennon, celebrating his return to recording after a five-year hiatus, appropriately released the single ‘(Just Like) Starting Over’ – which is pretty much the way Glasgow based For Abel must be feeling right now.
Initially formed in 2007 as Nacional, they released two Limited Edition 7” singles through the Art Goes Pop label, garnered much positive press and cultivated a decent following. Their debut album was penned and all this was topped off with an appearance at the 2010 SXSW Festival. It couldn’t get much better – and in fact, it didn’t! Vocalist Robert Armstrong takes up the story:
“When I formed Nacional, I wasn’t aware of them, but after SXSW when people were talking about us in America there was a lot of comment on the similarity of our name to The National.”
“I don’t want to name names because I’m now a huge fan of theirs, but yeah – we did receive an e-mail from their management saying that they’d consider legal action if we didn’t change. We obviously had a think about it and by that point I was really getting into their music and had a great respect for them (still do) so we thought it the best thing to do. We never had anything from the band themselves, but subsequently it was arranged for us to play at an after-show party for them and a couple came up and said they enjoyed what we were doing, so that was nice.”
Combined with the band being ‘locked away’ for six months recording their debut album, the name-change last summer resulted in a loss of momentum.
“Because we weren’t gigging, we weren’t getting any press and it was going a bit slow. It wasn’t until the album (‘Greater Inventions’) came out mid-May that people realised we used to be Nacional and things have started to pick up again.”
And haven’t they just! The track ‘On TV’ has already been used by Sky Sports for a Champions League match, and the album has benefited from some great reviews. But how does Robert react when comparisons are made of For Abel’s sound to the likes of The Wedding Present, Joy Division and others?
“I’m from Leeds originally and this is the music I grew up with. I’d say our early stuff reflected that sound more than now, but yeah – I’m proud to be compared to bands like that.”
(By downoading the band’s FREE track from Original Penguin, you can help secure them an exclusive London gig.)