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“Bloke folk” trio Faustus are preparing to tour their third album, with gigs lined up in Sheffield, Lincoln and Hull in October. Here Paul Sartin tells Big Issue North how the band takes inspiration from Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix.

Tell us a bit about your sound and your influences.
We’re rooted in English traditional music, both song and dance, but we listen to and play folk music from all over the British Isles and further afield. That being said, you’re as likely to hear influences from Hendrix, Led Zep, ZZ Top or the Band as you are from Percy Grainger or Fairport Convention.

How have you evolved as a band over the years?
We’re certainly freer with our treatment of the tradition than we were when we started out. Knowing that our music is in safe hands and that the torch is being kept aflame by the younger generations has enabled us to be more confident. It’s taken some years for the Faustus sound to truly crystallise, but we try to keep moving on and constantly evolve, and avoid complacency – and boredom!

Were there any alternative band names before you arrived at this one?
We started out as a quartet in the late 1990s, called Dr Faustus after a folk text. Two members left in the mid-2000s, and were replaced by trained chemist Saul Rose. We lost the Dr and gained a pharmacist.

What are you up to at the moment artistically?
Our album Death and Other Animals is to be released and toured in October. Currently mixing, but the other creating has been done, so it’s on to admin and paperwork for the album and tour.

How do you stand out from the crowd in a saturated industry?
Traditional folk music is a niche, has a grassroots and faithful following of its own, and seems to some extent to run parallel with the more conventional industry. Within that scene, we focus on delivering the raw, unpasteurised elements of English music, and communicating it to the “folk” as well as aficionados.

What’s on your rider?
A hot meal, a little bit of beer and wine, lots of water, and a bed for the night. Plus Benji loves his crisps.

Tell us about your worst live show.
The one where we only had one front of house speaker (which had a broken cone), no monitors, and two microphones between the three of us. Good audience though!

Antonia Charlesworth

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