I’m Scared of Vinyl

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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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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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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