Music Bugle Exclusive – Q & A – Fern McNulty Of Foxpalmer

Artwork for ‘Forever.’ Courtesy of ScreamLite Records.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

When you powerfully combine sentiments of anger, love, sadness, denial and heartbreak and add in rock, indie and some folk influence, you get what ended up as Foxpalmer’s latest single “Forever,” taken from their new EP ‘Dark Tides.’

Written after a dark time in lead singer/guitarist Fern McNulty’s life after a breakup, “Forever” embodies the relatable endless feeling when time stops still and the future seems bleak without what once was a deep connection between two people. It was recorded with producer and sound engineer Greg Chandler at The Priory Recording Studios in Canwell, Midlands.

Foxpalmer have proven to be a live stage mainstay as well, as they’ve appeared at several United Kingdom festivals, which include Godiva and Celtic Connections Festival at Glasgow City Hall.

Besides McNulty, Foxpalmer also includes bassist Andy Payne, guitarist Mat Dal Pos and drummer William Morris.

The Music Bugle had the chance to talk to McNulty about “Forever” and more.

Music Bugle – What was it like making your new EP ‘Dark Tides’? 

Fern McNulty – Well, the initial beginning of writing ‘Dark Tides’ was with the first song in which I recently released titled “Forever,” which was written about 18 months ago and is about a relationship breakdown, which I felt very upset about at the time. Most of the other songs on this EP – “Dead,” “Tides” and “Victim” are also about my breakup. I went through many emotions that year – pain, angry, sadness and maybe eventually peace/acceptance, so the songs, I guess, were me expressing and releasing my thoughts and feelings going through the difficult emotional journey of a breakup. Even some of the later songs like “Taunt,” which was written much more recently, still relate to those lonely dark moments, but perhaps it took me a while to understand how I felt well enough to write it down and make it a song. Hence, the title ‘Dark Tides.’ So in short, I guess making this EP was beautiful as although I was going through a bad time, it was a massive release and healer for me to be able to reflect on how I felt and make my thoughts into something which I was proud of and felt connected to.

Music Bugle – What made you want to put out “Forever” as a single? 

Fern McNulty – It was the first song I wrote for this EP and with a few different transformations with band members, etc.. It felt like kind of like a new beginning for me, which is why I wanted to release this one first. The song represents the first stage of a breakup, in my case anyway, before the anger steps in, when all I felt was sadness and heartache, feeling I would never be able to or want to move on, hence the title “Forever” and lyrics.

Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music? 

Fern McNulty – Well, I have probably wrongfully never thought too much into the type of music I actually write or what genre it fits into. It’s changed over the years. It used to be a lot heavier, so for me, I just write it and it comes out how it comes out. I enjoy playing with the musicians in my band, bassist Andy Payne and guitarist Mat Dal Pos, as we all have different backgrounds, acoustic, rock, metal, punk and it kind of creates this “riffy” folk rock, not sure what you would call it, really, but I really like it. I also love sad music, though as depressing as that sounds, so I think this is what I get enthused about the most, as I can really relate to it!

Music Bugle – Of the shows you’ve played, which ones are the most memorable? 

Fern McNulty – I have two favorite shows and they both happened to be in Scotland! We played at Celtic Connections Festival 2020 in Glasgow City Hall. It was the first ever time my new lineup – Matt Dal Pos, Andy Payne and myself – played together. We’d all had about two hours sleep, as it took us about 9 hours to drive there from London and it was the most amazing experience ever. The vibe and crowd were just incredible and it was just one of those shows when everything and all the frustration that you sometimes feel as a musician trying to do well with your band, all seemed worth it. The other favorite was Bute Festival 2019. Bute is an island off the West Scottish Coast near Glasgow. We were on quite late, about 11 PM and the crowd were just insane, so full of energy! It was so much fun. We all loved it.

Music Bugle – Which of your newest songs were the hardest to write? 

Fern McNulty – Well from a few bits of polite and constructive feedback from a few close friends, I promised myself and them I wouldn’t write my next few songs in Dm or Em! So, the most recent one “Taunt,” probably took the most planning. I usually just strum away on my guitar. Some ideas come out and then it becomes a song, all happens quite quickly, but with this one, I put a kind of more organized approach to it, sat down almost like at an office job and wrote lyrics and rewrote them, then went back to the music until I thought it was firstly not just good enough, but also different as well! I think this approach worked, so I will try this with other new songs too, but not all the time. It’s good to have a mix, I think.

Music Bugle – What do you miss the most about live performances? 

Fern McNulty – The energy, adrenaline and most of all, the people.

Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Fern McNulty – Well, we got affected by it quite badly, really. It was disappointing, as we were due to play some awesome shows and festivals last year, like the Boardmasters Festival in Cornwall along with Kings of Leon and they all inevitably got cancelled. It also delayed the production of this EP, ‘Dark Tides’. Having started the year with probably one of the best shows we have ever done at Celtic Connections Festival, it was really disappointing we had to temporarily pause our journey, but we made sure we did all we could to keep momentum between us, as well as doing whatever else we could do which allowed us to stick to the Covid rules.

Music Bugle – What has been your biggest challenge lately? 

Fern McNulty – Patience! I am rather an impatient musician, which is hard enough in normal times, but with the pandemic and only being able to do probably one-third of what you would normally do to try and progress your career and get your music heard, yeah, it’s been a little frustrating.

Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need an escape? 

Fern McNulty – I like to go for walks and runs in the countryside and take a book to read sometimes too. I love reading horror novels. I also like to go the cinema on my own sometimes, as it’s the only place I can’t get distracted.

Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise? 

Fern McNulty – I listen to lots of different music of all genres, so at the moment, I am actually listening to Waveform Records and BT, electronic chill out music, very different from my stuff!

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