Throughout Andrew Weatherall’s illustrious career, a phrase accompanied him: Fail We May, Sail We Must. The words became a track title on his debut album, they were written onto zines he edited, he had them tattooed onto his arms, and inspired a great deal more ink and art on people, prints and walls around the world.
A new short film Sail We Must tells the origin story of how The Guv’nor first came to hear the phrase and took it on as a personal mantra, influencing creatives all around the world. It is premiering online here on Mixmag.net today on the two year anniversary of Andrew Weatherall’s passing.
Produced by Irish creative agency The Tenth Man and directed by Trevor Whelan and Rua Meegan of Grizzly, the 11-minute film journeys from London across the Irish Sea to Galway and West Cork as the backstory gradually unravels.
Andrew’s close friend and collaborator in A Love From Outer Space, Sean Johnston, recalls their first meeting in the peak of the acid house area. Irish DJ and broadcaster Cian Ó Cíobháin remembers a gig in Galway that Andrew described as “one of the most amazing experiences” and his hunt for the origins of Fail We May, Sail We Must after Andrew’s passing.
And finally we meet Gerard Sheehy, the fisherman who innocently shared the phrase “Fail she may but go she must” with Andrew Weatherall at the age of 21 in a discussion about finding the motivation to take a trawler out to sea in gale force winds, with no idea about the cultural inspiration he was kickstarting.
The film also features typically straight-talking archival interview segments from The Guv’nor, and beautiful drone shots of London’s cityscape and Irish scenery.
Speaking about the film, Grizzly directors Trevor Whelan and Rua Meegan say: “Sail We Must is a tribute to the iconic Andrew Weatherall and his loyal followers. When Richard Seabrooke and Eric Davidson (The Tenth Man) first approached us with the concept we immediately knew this would fit our style and were excited to tell the story of this inspiring chance encounter and pay tribute on the two year anniversary [of Andrew’s passing].
“We are so thankful to Andrew’s estate for helping us acquire some of his stunning tracks to score the film, this set the tone and style of our approach.
“It was our pleasure to work with the absolute gentlemen Cian Ó Cíobháin, Sean Johnston and Gerard Sheehy. Each a warm and genuine character who offered a different perspective on Andrew and the story of a powerful mantra and ethos that has inspired so many. Ultimately this film shows us the power our words can have on each other.”
Co-director Trever Whelan adds: “My brother Eric who is a music producer held Andrew as a hero since he began making music. He had told me the legendary ‘Fail we may, Sail we must’ story after Andrew’s death in 2020. He also gave me a warning before I started the project about the responsibility that was on us to get this right as Andrew has such a loyal and protective fanbase.
“We gave it everything and are very proud of the film we created in collaboration with a great group of people who all hold Andrew in such high regard.”
Watch Sail We Must below.
Lead photo by Aidan Kelly, purchase a print here
Patrick Hinton is Mixmag's Digital Editor, follow him on Twitter