I’m Scared of Vinyl

Stereophonics

Posted in Interviews by Catriona on December 3, 2009

Here’s an interview that I did with the Stereophonics AGES ago (i.e. October 2007). I’m trying to delete everything from my old laptop, and thought I’d rescue this one from the dreaded Recycling Bin…

Death, Will and Wardrobes

The Stereophonics get serious…

It is a grey October afternoon and the Stereophonics are sitting in a hotel room. The Welsh trio have just released their new album Pull the Pin, after taking a bit of a break for the last two years. The Stereophonics are no strangers to Ireland as they have frequently played here over the eight intensive years between 1997 and 2005, which saw them release five albums, score twenty Top 20 hits, rack up multimillion sales and tour the world. Kelly Jones said that “headlining Slane Castle was probably the biggest and the best, most ridiculous gig of all time, although I quite like playing in bars like Whelans, and shit like that, small places”

Their new album was recorded in only ten days, quite an achievement when you consider that the band have no regular rehearsal times. Kelly Jones, the singer, says “It’s quite hard to rehearse when you’re in a band. You’re always doing gigs and always travelling round and you really only have time to rehearse just before a show. The songs are written on the road or written at home and they’re inspired by where I’m at or what I’m going through in my life. Nine times out of ten it’s about something I’ve experienced first hand.” The bassist, Richard Jones adds, “It’s an immense amount of time hanging about doing nothing, really, being in a band.” Kelly agrees: “You have a lot of time to think… sitting on a plane…sitting in a hotel room”

It is at this point that the interview begins to disintegrate. All three band members have now veered into a level of surreal conversation, presumably occasioned by too much time sitting in yet another hotel room. The surroundings are a bit depressing actually. Richard looks around appraisingly. “I think it’s the dark wood” he comments. Javier Weyler, the drummer, begins on the difficulties of spending so much time away from home “it’s the stuff you miss, your wardrobe, your own bed”. Richard sits up. “Do you have a wardrobe?” he asks Javier. “Yeah” he replies, nonchalantly. “I built mine” he adds, with the air of one presenting a winning hand at cards. “Do you want to build one for me?” asks Kelly. “I’ve just got a slidey door with a rail behind it” he adds glumly.

When I mention that I prefer to just throw my clothes on the floor, Richard looks slightly shocked and promptly starts talking about ironing. “I never seem to iron anything. I’ve got a big pile of clothes in the washroom and I never iron them.” Kelly Jones asks me whether I iron bedsheets.

“No” I reply, slightly bemused.

“That’s what I said” he replies. “My mother came round my house the other day and she brought me an ironing board and an iron, just for the craic (“My mum did that” interjects Javier) and I came back in and my mother was ironing my bedsheets and I was like ‘What the fuck are you doing?’. Then, when I saw them on the bed after she did them they actually looked pretty good.”

“I can’t iron” announces Richard. “When you get a crease and you can’t get round it, it’s like..(energetically mimes ironing creased clothing) ‘you bastard THING!’, so I just leave it to my maid.” They all smirk, knowingly. “It’s called his wife.” Kelly Jones tells me.

The interview has, by now, descended into the realms of the ridiculous. It progresses into a heated debate as to what celebrities the Stereophonics want to see. “I’m working my way around” says Kelly. “Ideally we’ll see them before they’re dead” says Richard. “Yeah” agrees Javier. “Well we have seen a few after the date. We went to Elvis’s house” says Kelly. “He was dead” interjects Richard, helpfully. “Jim Morrisson. He was dead too. Oscar Wilde. Dead…. Marx’s grave… Lenin…Lennon….”

When asked whether they get any particular kick at of looking at gravestones, Kelly replies “Yeah. Some are lovely.” He then asks Richard what will be engraved on his gravestone. “I’m not having one” he replies. “No fucking room. My ashes are going to be put into petrol and then distributed over a couple of vehicles and just blown up into wherever” I tell him that he’s not being very environmentally friendly. “He likes his cars” says Javier. “Anyway, I’m dead now, why would I fucking care?” asks Richard. “I don’t want to get buried” volunteers Javier. “Good job, or the worms will have you” Kelly Jones dourly replies.

“I want to have a Tibetan burial” announces Richard, changing his former plan. “which is basically when you get taken up to the top of a mountain, get chopped up into pieces, then fed to the birds” “Fuck that” says Javier, indignantly. “Yeah. What the fuck is that all about?” rejoins Kelly, before announcing that he has recently made a will. I tell him that that’s not very rock and roll. “No, trust me, it is, otherwise it all goes to the government…. There’s not a lot of rock and roll that goes on in rock and roll” Kelly tells me, in a jaded manner. This is contradicted, immediately, by Richard “there’s a lot of rock ‘n’roll going on in rock ‘n’ roll- that’s why you die, and the reality is that you have to leave a will behind so that some fucking bastard in a suit doesn’t take your house.” Wise words indeed.

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Kitsune Maison 8

Posted in Albums, News by Catriona on December 2, 2009

I’ve been wildly curious about the latest Kitsune Maison compilation (Vol. 8 ) that’s just been released and have been trawling the internet in the hopes of being able to listen to it somewhere. So far, I’ve been thwarted, but that could just be due to my limited google-searching abilities. What I did discover, much to my amazement, was how scarily upmarket the Kitsune myspace page has become. It extensively advertises the rather classy looking Kitsune shop in Paris, and I spent a good few minutes admiring their clothing line before realising that I was actually on a Myspace music page. What with Ed Banger’s (i.e. Busy P’s) collaboration with Colette, it seems that the French electro scene is certainly becoming part of the Parisian establishment.

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Annie – Don’t Stop

Posted in Albums by Catriona on November 30, 2009

It’s been five years since Annie’s debut album Anniemal, and with the recent flux of female electro artists, it looks like her time to finally make a breakthrough to a more mainstream audience may be at hand. Why the Norwegian electropop artist remains in so much in the genre of alternative music is a bit of a puzzle – she seems to have everything necessary to get more widespread acclaim – catchy pop-hooks, tonnes of attitude and music you can dance to. This album’s been a long time in the pipeline – and it’s well worth the wait – though the finished product is definitely a testament to the talent of producers Paul Epworth, Tino Kaukolampi and Xenomania, as well as to Annie herself.

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Autumn Owls – On the Trail of the Disappearing

Posted in Albums by Catriona on November 15, 2009

Autumn Owls

“On the Trail of the Disappearing”

With influences such as Sparklehorse and Radiohead I knew there was a huge likelihood that I’d enjoy listening to the Dublin based band, Autumn Owls and I wasn’t wrong. Their second EP, “On The Trail Of The Disappearing” was released in December 12th 2008 and even though it is almost a year old, it is still as relevant and absorbing as ever. Autumn Owls have had a great reception, with golden reviews from the Irish Times, State.ie and Amplifier Magazine just to name a few. Their five song long EP is twenty minutes of moody, atmospheric rock. Listening to it, it is hard to believe the band is homegrown, their sound is quite unlike the usual Irish rock band. Autumn Owls are currently working on their debut album. For now though, I advise you to download “The Trail Of The Disappearing” from iTunes today.

We Have Band

Posted in Gigs by Catriona on November 7, 2009

We Have Band are playing in Crawdaddy on the 13th November, and I’m pretty excited. I first came across them on the most recent Kitsune Maison compilation (Vol. 7 ) which included their song “Time After Time”. I always try and track down the Kitsune compilations, but to be honest, I always shy away from the really hard house/techno tracks and invariably gravitate towards the more electro elements of the compilations. We Have Band are a three-piece from Manchester who have a brilliantly pared-down synthpop sound – if you do get a chance to see them live, it should be interesting.

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Mail Order Messiahs

Posted in Interviews by Catriona on November 5, 2009

Another interview that was originally done for http://www.inkywrists.ie during the HWCH festival:

We caught up with Mail Order Messiahs to have a quick chat about the release of their long-awaited debut album, “Plain”.

So tell us about the new album

We brought it out on our own label, it’s called Ambulance Chaser records, because that’s how we thought we’d have to fund the album, by fake lawsuits! We got a small grant from North Tipperary Arts Council towards the cost of it which was really good.

So do you both live in Dublin now?

Mike: No – this is the whole nature of how we work, the whole reason why our music sounds the way it does. We post each other the songs as they’re being written. We were originally living in Galway, in the same place, and we were in a standard indie-rock band, but we sort of got tired of it.

Dar: So we bought a computer and learnt how to use it…

Mike: well Dar did…

Dar: Then Mike decided that he’d get certified how to use it, so he came here [Trinity] and he learnt how to use a computer also, then we started to send mixes across the country to each other and then we realized that it was a really good way of pushing each other, because we were kind of in a competition to out-wow each other with each rip of an envelope, so that’s pretty much why the songs sound as they do.

It took us a long time to find out what sort of sound we wanted – how electronic, how acoustic, how many vocals, who was going to sing what –  so it was about 2005 when it began to gather pace.Then we brought in Jimmy Eadie and we got him to mix it. We’d gotten as far as we could, so we needed a fresh pair of ears to say ‘I think you should do this’. So we spent about six months on and off with him –like a day a week here and there – and he did great work. It was like an apprenticeship for both of us as well.

Have you been doing any touring recently?

Mike: We did a tour in July and August… until I got mumps. Pre-that, we did a tour – we played Whelans, Mullingar, Galway, a good few places, we hit the main spots. That went well, that was our first kind of proper national tour. We’re hoping to do another one soon.

Dar: The music world is a bit different now – even back in 2005 you could have hit the road and got almost an instant collegiate following in different cities around the country. Now, you seem to have to build it up a lot slower, a lot more work. The good thing about it is that we’re developing the live sound each time we go out, so it’s going to get bigger. But I think it’s always going to be just the two of us – I don’t think we could work with anyone else.

What instruments do each of you play?

Mike: We both play pretty much everything – it depends…

Dar: Mike is an amazing guitarist. If he’d sold his soul he’d probably be a big guitar player in some rock band, but I’ve completely wrecked his chances. Oh well.

Mike: Live, it’s just a laptop, then Dar sings and plays synths on a few songs, then I play guitar and sing pretty much the backing most of the time, and play synth on one song, which is usually a bit hairy.

Dar: No, Mike plays the synths very well, he’s downplaying it. If I wasn’t here it would be the big story. But tonight there’s no synths, we’re very relaxed.

Do either of you play drums live, or do you rely on a drum machine instead?

No, we use Ableton Live– there’s various loops that we can mess about with live, but we usually keep it simple. We have to have reliability – the more complicated you make the setup, the more angry the sound engineer gets and you need to always have the sound engineer on your side. So if you can present them with a left and a right, theoretically you’re going to get a good sound every night. And to get our ideas across to the people, we’ve got to have a good sound every time.

At the minute, we’re a low maintenance band – we’re in the position where we can just turn up and play. Whereas if we had a full band we’d be really restricted in what we could do. In terms of touring, we can just turn up with a laptop and our stuff and play – it’s very compact.

What’s been your best gig to date?

Mike: I think the first gig we ever did in the Roisin Dubh was really good, but that was with a few other bands. We played the Roisin again in August, that was the first time we’d been back since it was changed. We’re kind of a Galway band, I suppose…

Dar: Oh, I’d definitely say that. I want to keep saying that until we get the freedom of the city.

Mike: They don’t claim us though. But we are – when we started we were both in NUIG so we consider ourselves a Galway band so that gig was a kind of homecoming, I suppose. We played Dolan’s Warehouse in Limerick and that was really nice as well – it’s a beautiful venue and the sound was fantastic.

Dar: It’s kind of funny because we judge our best gigs by the technical performance that we deliver rather than audience interaction, crowd participation or crowd presence, so the gigs that Mike has mentioned would be the ones that would have technically the best mix of sound and the best sound on stage. Whether the people enjoyed it or not…it’s hard to say.

We reckon Mail Order Messiahs were just being modest – their album “Plain” is pretty fantastic and very original. You can download their song “Buddy” here.

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Subplots

Posted in Interviews by Catriona on October 30, 2009

An interview with Subplots in West Coast Coffee, shortly before their gig in Andrew’s Lane…

So how did Subplots form?

For many years we were drummerless playing really bad music in my parents’ front room. Then we formed a band called Envelope, did that for a couple of years, then our drummer decided to leave and we were threatened by a lawsuit thing to change our name, so it was a good opportunity to get somwbody else involved, change the name and Mick came into the fray.

We robbed Mick. We kind of half-stole him from another band [the Star Department], though he’s still in the other band…

So what happened with the lawsuit? Was there another band called Envelope?

Yes, well there was a band called Envelopes and they’re just greedy, they want all the envelope-related names there is. We thought we’d be safe if we put a full stop after ‘envelope’. But we weren’t safe at all, so we had to change our name.

What was your best ever gig?

Our album launch was really good, that was a good laugh. We did a nice little gig in the Odessa, they have an old Georgian room up on the fourth floor, you can get 60 or 70 people in there, that was really fun. We set up weirdly that night too, so we were all in a line, that was fun as well.

If you could have a famous person join your band, who would you pick?

Dougal from Father Ted, to play the triangle.

Or, ideally, we’d like to get a second guitarist, Steven Seagal. But there’d have to be a strict rule to enforce his ponytail at all times. And he’d have to play shirtless at all times as well.

So what are you up to in the next few months?

We’re leaving for New York tomorrow morning to do CMJ, so we’re at the airport for about half seven…. I don’t think we’ve even thought past CMJ to be honest, it’s going to be the end of a chapter I guess, because we’ve been dealing with the first album. It’s been pretty mental for the past year, because it been like ‘get the album done, release the album’ and then we found out literally three or four weeks later that we were playing the CMJ. I think we’re probably going to start recording when we come back. We’re going to work on changing the live set a bit, we’re going to try to involve lighting a bit more, make it a bit different, that’s our goal for next year. We were also talking about releasing some songs online before releasing the second album, but it’s just an idea. We’ll see what happens.

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Jack White

Posted in Interviews by Catriona on October 25, 2009

Jack White paid a very low-key visit to Dublin last week, to give a talk at the University Philosophical Society. For those of you who weren’t lucky enough to see it, which is probably most people – since the talk was on a Sunday and there was a handful of seats – here’s the transcript of the full interview.

Jack White speaking at Trinity College, Dublin. 18/10/09.

Upon receiving the honorary patrons medal:

Well I’ve been patronized in a lot of different ways, but this is the nicest.

Did you have literary heroes?

I had a lot: Shakespeare was probably the first one that was out of childhood years that spoke to me in a different sort of way and opened up a new life. Everything else was sort of children’s stories until then. It’s funny what you said [about Oscar Wilde], because there’s a quote from Oscar Wilde in the airport when we walked in this morning, saying that the only thing he had to declare was his genius at Customs.

And who did you have on your wall poster-wise as a kid?

Oscar Wilde and Shakespeare.

What was it like filming It Might Get Loud with Jimmy Page and The Edge?

It was a pretty incredible experience to work with those two guys. I liked that there was no real idea what the movie was about: it was two sentences that said ‘this is about guitars and guitar players, let’s talk to each other and see what happens.’ Some people have a huge five page summary of what they think something is going to be about: a movie, or a video, or a project or an album or whatever, and it seems to get less and less interesting as you read. And when the door is open to be creative and let things happen in the moment, that interests me, so that was incredible and of course they’re just incredible musicians.

Was Jimmy Page the first to launch into a song?

He was the first to pick up a guitar and start playing. At the time it was striking because we were caught off guard thinking ‘I didn’t expect that to happen so soon, so it was a pretty funny moment.

Did you get performance anxiety in front of Page?

I was reading in the last couple of days about the philosophy of anxiety, and it’s such an interesting notion to me, because the word seems to mean about 16 different things to me. Sometimes I think it means nervousness – I don’t really have much nervousness, I’ve always wondered why I don’t have more and maybe it’s to do with anxiety being synonymous with the word dread – I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately too, because the definition which I have of anxiety in my brain is energy which can be turned to something good, sort of like kinetic energy. (more…)

Miracle Bell

Posted in Interviews by Catriona on October 17, 2009

A quick chat with Miracle Bell in Filmbase on Friday afternoon of the HWCH festival:

So how did the band get together?

We were all friends in school. Three of us jammed together for years throughout school and stuff and we only started to take it seriously a few years ago when John my cousin joined on guitar. We’ve been playing with John for about three and half years.

Any plans for an album?

We’re working on that. We were away for three months in Monastrevin in the middle of nowhere – we wanted to get away from everyone. We rented a huge house down there and set up a studio, and then we wrote the album over the three months. We’re recording it next week, in the Nutshed, down in Clara in Co Offaly.

So what was it like living in a house together in the middle of nowhere for three months?

It wasn’t too bad…. it was actually deadly. We got up first thing in the morning and the first thing you did was start writing or work on an idea you had, so we didn’t have time to get on each other’s nerves.

Any touring?

The dates are all in April, the album’s not going to be released until then so all our tour dates are after that. The launch is in Whelans, so we’ve just got a few scattered gigs until then so we can road test the new stuff.

Best gig?

Our last single launch was in Crawdaddy and that was brilliant, the place was packed. Or else YSI, did you ever hear of that? It’s this Transition Year student convention thing. Basically it’s just three or four hundred screaming 15 and 16 year olds, mainly girls, who just go mental when they hear loud music. The teachers are telling them to sit down and they’re up on the chairs and jumping around. It was in some four star hotel somewhere.

So you were chased by a load of fifteen year olds?

Yeah, it was pretty good, we were signing autographs!

Who else are you going to see this weekend?

The Villagers, they’re from our neck of the woods, from Clane. We’ll watch the Yes Cadets too, and we’ll probably wander around just seeing bands.

You can download a free Miracle Bells track, ‘Into the Trees’ from their website by clicking here.

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Hard Working Class Heroes

Posted in News by Catriona on October 16, 2009

I can’t believe it’s been an entire year since the last Hard Working Class Heroes festival and this year, I’ve been running around like a crazy person, doing lots of interviews for www.inkywrists.ie. I’m going to post a couple of the band interviews up here, but you can find the rest of them (and believe me there are a LOT) on Inky Wrists.  For the full list of bands and line up, check out the HWCH website.