Interview with... Port Isla

We've been a fan of Port Isla for a while now, and when the opportunity came up to interview them we couldn't resist, we chat to their drummer (Henry) about their début album, touring and festivals. See Port Isla at Barn on the Farm Festival, Gloucestershire, 3rd - 5th July. For more information please visit

Hello, if you had to introduce yourselves to a new listener what would you describe Port Isla as?
It's difficult, but I'd say we are 4 misfits who collectively aspire to make catchy, melodic, guitar orientated pop/rock songs.

When I first heard you guys it was the very early days, how important was it to you to release free music back then?
It was, and still is really important. When we first started out, we wanted to show that we could write well, but also prolifically. We also wanted people to hear the range that the band had in terms of writing and influences. We would put out a new demo on soundcloud every other week as a free download and people really liked it. Giving away something for free is a great way of making new fans. We still give out a free CD at gigs, so people can take a few, give them to friends/ family and help spread the word!

Since your humble beginnings in Norfolk, when you first started out, would you ever think of supporting such well known acts?
We always hoped we would have the opportunity to support some great artists and we've been incredibly lucky so far. The tour with Kodaline was amazing, we got to see a really big band in action every night and learned a lot about their whole operation. It was also great to get experience of playing to such a massive crowd.

The best thing about touring with George Ezra and James Bay is that we've known them for a long time now. They're both so enthusiastic and genuinely still amazed at how many people are coming to see them.We know how hard they've worked to get to where they are and it gives us a great incentive to work just as hard.

All this as well as playing some of the most prestigious venues in this country is a pretty amazing combination.

If you could choose your perfect tour supports who would it be?
Tough question! We've been listening to Will Smith every night before we go on stage recently, he'd definitely get the crowd going!

What does it mean to you to be playing such festivals like Glastonbury and Barn On The Farm?
We love festivals, they're such an important part of peoples summers so getting asked to play them is a pleasure for us, especially when they're some of the best around. Glastonbury is extra special as it carries such history. I'll never forget the first day we got there, the vastness of the site blew our minds. It was also the first time any of our songs got played on Radio 1, so all in all it was a pretty memorable weekend!

When you signed to Parlophone how did you feel?
Finally signing on the dotted line was genuinely one of the best days of my life. Again like playing at Glastonbury, it felt like we were a part of a significant piece of English music history. All of us are massive Beatles fans, so we’ve known about the Parlophone logo for a long long time. The people there have been great to us so far, that feeling has never gone away!

Every year you release a Christmas track, have you already started thinking of one yet? I know it's April but still!
We'll definitely release another one, but we've not started writing it just yet! The beauty of it is that you never know when you could write a christmas song. It could be the middle of summer, but if it sounds like Christmas, it just does!

With the huge anthems in your back catalouge, will you be treating your fans to new music when your album comes out or will it be re-recorded versions?
We're yet to finalise any kind of track-listing for the album, but it all depends on whether the older songs fit into the album we're trying to make. Obviously we still love songs like Sinking Ship and Steamroller, but we also never know what material we could write in the coming months. Bands like Foals only put new songs on their début and it didn't seem to harm their progress, but we'll have to wait and see!

Before getting signed to Parlophone, how much did it mean to be played on Radio 1?
It's always been a massive deal, even after we were signed! You can't take away the excitement of hearing someone like a Greg James or Zane Lowe introducing your song, knowing that thousands of people are listening to your music.

What are you listening to right now?
The new Staves record is unbelievable, as is the acoustic version of Alex Vargas's song 'Solid Ground'. Its been out for a while but I keep on listening to it at the moment. Muse's new song just came out too, I've been a massive fan for ages and have seen them live a number of times, so I can't wait for their new album. In the dressing room we've been doing karaoke to S Club 7 and Five for some reason!

Everyone has a tour story to tell, care to share any interesting stories with us?
We were playing at a pub in London once and put all our gear into the basement area. After a while the basement started to flood! We got there just in time to move the gear out of the way before it got too damaged. We were stood on beer crates passing stuff from one side of the room to the other like on some kind of game show! We even went back to save the beer on our rider.

Have you got any tips for any aspiring musicians?
Just be confident in what you're doing, and play the music that really moves you. Also take your music to your local BBC station, they've been so helpful to us over the years, getting us radio play and slots at Glastonbury and Latitude. They can do the same for you too.

And finally... do you have any EPs or even an album coming out this year?
Our next E.P 'A.L.I.V.E' is coming out in May and we can't wait for it. We might have another E.P out before the end of the year, with an album to follow in 2016

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