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A Burials Retrospective:

I’ve been thinking to write this post ever since we put our album out for free.The feelings in my mind concerning what it meant to do that have been wide ranging and vast.And I guess to make some sort of sense of them and to try and reach some conclusion I’m going to try and put it into words.

Both Marc and I have full-time jobs that although are extremely flexible, still take up alot of our lives.We spent the vast majority of our annual leave/days off either in the studio or writing/rehearsing for the album.This to me is completely understandable and nobody forced us to let the band take up so much of our free time.However, I guess i’m trying to put some perspective on how much of our lives went into the record and how much of ourselves did.It was alarming/amazing how many people went and downloaded the album for free. I mean, we gave away as many downloads in the first 24 hours than we managed to sell in the previous year.We were overwhelmed with the response from journalists and our fans alike.But it is still such a hard thing for me to accept as a songwriter.I’m wondering if the profession I’ve chosen really is the right one, and if talent is becoming less and less of a valid excuse to continue this pursuit.
I mean, without CSI there would have been no ‘Burials’ and even if there was, it would have left us so financially crippled that we probably would have disbanded by now.
In the same breath I must remind ourselves that we have indeed been incredibly lucky to even get this far.See how conflicting this is?
Mark (Bluestack Records) asked me the other day should we have released Burials for free from the offset and my gut reaction was ‘no’.He has never believed that music should be given away for free and hearing him ask that really showed me how much of an eye opener this was for all of us.
In my view, it’s a record that I feel deserves to be paid for due to all the work we put into it and that’s why we set a price on it.This may sound like somewhat unjustified entitlement on my part but those of you who who have listened to it can hopefully see why I feel this way.
Allowing people to have it for free was designed to let those who didn’t give it a chance/missed it first time around to try it and perhaps see what we were trying to do when we made it.There is so much music going around these days, the world is brimful of it.Whilst knowing that we decided to put out a record that genuinely needs time to unravel itself.The truth is, people don’t have the time to do that.And if they do, they spend it on an already established artist.Someone said to us that Burials was like a record that a band would put out as their third record.This is pretty accurate, but I love the record even more for this.
The hope is; that after our third/fourth record, (should we get that far) people will realise how stupid/brave it was to do that.We hadn’t forgotten how to write a ‘Devil In The ‘Detail’ or ‘Vacant Hearts’, we just wanted to push the boundaries of what a two-piece record could be.People that are close to us can hopefully see what we’re trying to do.
Adding Yvonne to our band was initially born out of an inability to preform the songs we wrote in the studio live, but it became quickly apparent that she had come for a specific purpose – to push us forward musically and make us the band we had somewhat deviated from on the record.
Next month we head into the studio again to begin work on our next record and I’m excited.This past week has made me wonder what value is attached to recorded music these days but each time we finish a song or play a great show, my desire to achieve as a musician is renewed again.
Thanks for reading.

-Jamie

Hibernation

So I guess it’s time for us to knuckle down and continue to write the follow up to ‘Burials’. I think this’ll be my last post for a while because there’s not going to be much more to say until we’ve got to a place where I feel the album has come together.This thing can prove to be useful, acting as an outlet for the thoughts in my head, but I’m very aware that I could just sit down at my computer a dozen times and start writing about the direction we’re taking and/or how that makes me feel.I think if I was reading it I would be thinking ‘Jesus, just record the damn thing already’.

Which is what we intend on doing.Before the end of the year, we aim to have whittled down enough material to go into the studio and work on our second record, (and significantly) our first as a three-piece.It’s hugely important that we get it done before the end of the year. I feel a large gap between albums could stunt our musical growth and on a personal level, I’ve just got so many ideas burning holes in my head that I need to get them recorded.I’m going through a phase at the moment where I’m extremely lucky to be stumbling across ideas that are sticking and evolving the way I want them to, taking them to the band and crafting songs out of them.It doesn’t always flow like this.

Perhaps this is part of the reason why I want to take a break from the blog.I’m in a creative patch and feel like just going into musical hibernation away from the internet and all it’s evils, only to probably have to retreat back to it to write about how difficult our way of songwriting actually is.Only time will tell I suppose.

I’ve no idea how many people actually read these anyway but the response to them has been really positive.I did not set out to ‘spill my guts’ on this thing, just hoped that I could write about what it’s like to be in a band, in an honest way.I don’t believe people should be under any illusions as to how difficult it can be or how crazy we probably are to be writing original sounding songs when most of what is consumed at the moment is a version of something else.But in the exact same breath, it needs to be remembered how lucky we actually are to be able to do it in the first place. We’ll continue to plug away at this.Not in a quest to find new fans, but to try and pay back all those of you who are currently listening to our music by writing better songs.

I can’t really finish without mentioning the last tour we did.Reading back on the blog I wrote after the album tour in October, I’m beginning to get a new sense of perspective on what my expectations were.I was so focused on how many people came and what that meant in the great scheme of things, that it took away from what the songs meant to me and my ability to play them in front of people.

This last tour, I began to focus on why I write the lyrics I do and why the songs mean so much to me and how good it felt to play them with the guys.Everything else seemed rather irrelevant. People came, they listened, bought our record, (which I’m very grateful for) and I don’t know why but it all seemed much easier. It was the best we’ve played as a band and getting to play a couple of new songs was great.Hearing them beam out of venues PA’s and seeing peoples reactions gave me much more confidence in the direction we’re taking.

I’m trying to reach some grand conclusion but I guess it always doesn’t have to end that way.I said to a promoter on the last tour that our journey with this thing  is a ‘long game’ and he just laughed, agreed and said that it was the best way to look at it.

Thanks for reading and continuing to support us.

 

-Jamie

 

 

 

 

Listen Up, Zone out

It’s around this time where I try and put myself under unnecessary pressure after thinking of something that would work really well if incorporated to our live show.Of course I’ve only given myself a week to hammer it out, but it may actually work.Only time will tell.

I’m really looking forward to this tour.I think it’ll be our last here for a while and will serve as an indicator of how how far we have come as a live band as well as seeing how many people we can move to come see us play.We’re going to then get our heads down for the remainder of the year to finish writing and recording our second album.Ideally we’d like to have it out in the next 12 months, and when we have a target, we usually stick to it.

Every summer, a lot of people ask us if we will be playing any festivals , and I guess it’s not something that has always come our way for whatever reason.It’s definitely something that we would like to do ( I think we’ve gone down well in the past as a two-piece), but we’re not going to break our backs trying to achieve something that may not end up actually being rewarding at all.I’d much prefer us to write and record, as I’m getting more and more excited with the possibilities for our second album. I’ll probably blab on about the processes involved and the sounds we’re getting in future posts.

I’m getting fascinated about abandoning everything and going into a house in the middle of nowhere to write for a while, but I can’t get out of my head that the act itself has been transformed into a giant musicians cliche at this point.I mean, I’m not even sure if it would work, or if my songwriting would benefit from it.Maybe I too am becoming a cliche.

When friends talk to me about the band, many of them are hearing me say that we intend the next album to be an easier record for people to digest, and they all think that this means we’re going to pander to the masses and create some stadium rock drivel.I’ve heard a lot of  ’do what feels right to you’, and I guess this is exactly it.We can only go one way, and that is to simplify some elements of our songwriting.

In writing this post, I’m also realising how susceptible  I can be to other peoples ideas and thoughts on the band.It’s quite  hard, as you’ve a lot of people who care about your output trying to advise you in the best way they can. I think there are two main ways that musicians can see their work deteriorate over time . You can either walk around completely distanced from reality, living in a musicians bubble, or you can begin to have your head turned by others and let them influence your creative decisions. I think that there is a middle ground which exists.Taking advice from people you trust whilst being able to shut everyone out when you’re writing.This is the ground we’re trying to walk on.

It all seems so easy in theory.See you on the tour hopefully.

 

-Jamie

Spring Tour (Poster)

Here’s the poster I put together for our upcoming Spring tour. We’re really looking forward to playing these shows and getting out of the practice room for a while (and maybe road-testing a new song or two..!).

- Yvonne

the year ahead:

So we’re heading into 2012 with a lot of work done and many milestones achieved and I guess it’s our aim to keep the ball rolling on our album for the next while anyway.

We’re in this weird transition phase where we’ve had months of building up to this defining moment when our album was released, and rather than sink into oblivion, like many others before, we’re trying to unearth as many new fans of our music as we can. I’ve talked before about how  I think our record has a certain depth to it, and I believe that it’s something that lends itself to lasting longer and continuing to sound fresh.

It definitely was not intentional.Though we wanted it to sound big and textured, we spent a hell of a long time getting instruments to produce the noises we wanted.The marxophone at the beginning of Fragile Things being a prime example of this.I guess because we had the means to do so, we just wanted to spend every available penny on recording the best album we could.

I hope that you continue to discover the little replications we put in there to try and tie up the songs as a whole piece, and that it’s an album that is actually worth revisiting.It was weird sticking it up on Bandamp and streaming it online, because it kind of went against how I thought it would be best consumed.But hey, it got out there and we let the people decide how they wanted to, which is definitely more important than what I think.

As well as unearthing the new fans, we’re going to try and bridge the gap between ‘burials’ and whatever happens next.We did the Metronomy cover for the Quompilation with the idea that it would give people a taste of what may be to come from our songs as a three piece.To me, we’re beginning to definitely sound more like a conventional band but with our uniqueness still prevalent throughout.Listening to tonnes of Yo La Tengo has made me appreciate the joy in sparseness and that’s something we’re definitely going to focus on going forward.To me, epic and grandiose meant throwing the kitchen sink at it before but I’m learning that three instruments can achieve as much when combined together in the right way.Actually knowing how to play an electric guitar and when to use effects is proving to be a revelation. I only had my electric 6 months before we went into the studio and considering ‘weeds’ ‘the fallen’, ‘war weary’ and a couple others were written in that time, it was crazy how much electric ended up being on the record.

We’ve got plenty of genuinely exciting things lined up for the next few months and we’ll be informing you of them in due course.Until then.

-Jamie

 

 

So since my last disheartened post, we’ve had a couple of pieces of good news.

We’re delighted to be joining Lisa Hannigan on tour around Ireland next month.We’ve really enjoyed the couple of shows we’ve played with her before and the whole band are a lovely bunch of people.On a personal level, it’ll be great to be back in Limerick (where I studied in college) and playing Dolans’ Warehouse. I went to watch many gigs there in the past, and to be performing on stage will mean a lot to me.We’re definitely going to raise our performances up a couple of notches for the rather daunting venues we’ll be playing!

We’ve also been asked to play Other Voices this year and in the list of ‘things I want to do before I stop writing songs’, that’s definitely up there.We’ve seen so many amazing bands over the years travel down to Dingle and to think we were all about 14/15 the first time it aired says a lot about its sticking power.We hope to make enough of an impression to perhaps be one of the bands asked back to play the church.After much consideration, I think we may have settled on a song to play for the show, but you’ll have to wait until it airs to see what it is!It’ll be our television debut also, so that adds to the amount of  milestones that we have reached since the album was released.

Hopefully we’ll gain a few more fans from the show and the support slots.They’re great opportunities to be given and we intend on making the most of them.

 

-Jamie

 

A (final) introspective

So the dust has settled on the tour, and I’ve had time to digest all we’ve achieved and the many lessons we’ve learned in the process.

There are aspects of it which I’m extremely happy with.Having a whole team on board was something which provided us with a new spirit going into each show.Every person involved is pulling in the same direction as you and it makes the mentality of achieving what you set out to much easier.From Adrian, a friend of ours who offered to roadie and became irreplaceable as a result – to Hector, whose visuals provided our live performance with a new and added depth, we had a team in which each member was as important as the other.

Having our own sound engineer on board was something we knew we wanted from the off and in Ber Quinn, we really lucked out.He was simply a great sound man, making us feel incredibly comfortable and confident on stage.A special mention must go out to Mark Willis of Bluestack Records, who I know will stick with us until we get what we want out of this.He has been a revelation to me personally, taking all my fears on board and as well as nullifying them, turns them into something positive.Everyone that was there knew they had a job to do, and there were no ego’s (apart from my questionable own!) flying around which might have hampered the spirit of things.

I went into the tour thinking that if we made an album we were proud of and well rehearsed a tight set list, then the shows would look after themselves.I didn’t listen to all the naysayers (and still don’t) that predicted ultimately how difficult a financial climate we were operating in, and how that would affect our shows.I now know that this is going to take a little longer than I had originally/naively thought, but we are prepared for the long haul and  are setting out plans for the next 6-8 months.

This is probably the last introspective post I will write, as what has happened in the past serves little use been written about here.We’ll be looking onwards and upwards once again in the renewed belief in ourselves and our songs.

 

 

-Jamie

 

 

Fourth one

Hello all,

 

I’ve been asked quite a lot recently about how the album title came about, and here is where I try and explain it’s origins.

Most people have told us that it’s quite a morose title, which out of context I guess it can be.The whole ‘burials’ title derives from a line in an excellent Justin Vernon song.

‘I have buried you, in every place I’ve been.You keep ending up, in my shaking hands’.

The album had been almost completely recorded, and I found this theme running throughout my lyrics.I was listening to this record a lot and everything seemed to fit in place.The songs are mainly about someone trying to bury the past, in whatever manifestation it takes.And also struggling with the fact that you probably can’t bury anything forever.The resulting frustration due to the subsequent surfacing of the past, comes out in other songs on the album.

I have to say, the response to the album streaming has been great so far.It’ll disappear tomorrow, only to immediately resurface in physical form in 5 music shops across the land.

They are-

  • Tower Records, Dublin
  • The Secret Book and Record Store, Dublin
  • Elastic Witch, Dublin
  • The Bell Book & Candle, Galway
  • Pluggd Records, Cork

I just deleted the long paragraph detailing the importance of record stores, I just felt like I’d read it many times before.

Thanks again for reading,

 

-Jamie

 

‘The Fallen’ Video

From the offset, we wanted to be much more involved with our videos.Previously, we’d give the http://www.souljacker.ie/ lads a song and ask them to come up with an idea for it and that would be that.They’d go off and shoot and ‘presto’ we had a music video!

This time around, we met nearly every week for a few months, discussing the video and its themes and banging out the idea which we now know as the piece.We’re imennsely proud of the outcome, and hope that it sets the tone for when you listen to the album.From the videos to the artwork to the lyrics to the music, we wanted a complete identity for this album.To put an image in peoples head of what we’re about and for them to associate that image with us and ultimately, good songs.

I hope we’re achieving that with what we’ve given you so far.

We have to thank everyone involved in making that video, Brian and Sean of Souljacker always, always give us insanely well put together music videos and have maintained the high quality of output they set out for in ‘Vacant Hearts’.They were a dream to work with, always upbeat and helpful and 100% focused on making it as good as it could be. As you can see from the content, Sophie was amazing.She acted superbly well, and really encapsulated what we wanted from a lead in our videos.We knew from the beginning that it would be too easy to have  a guy play the lead (as all the songs are written from the male perspective).So we flipped it on it’s head and tried to let the lead in the video go through the apparent suffering that the male goes through in the lyrics.

 

The next puzzle in the piece is the album and I really, really can’t wait for you all to hear it (and to post an unnecessarily long post about it upon its release!).

 

-Jamie

Behind the Scenes on The Fallen

Here are some behind-the-scenes photos from the video shoot for The Fallen, which was shot in Dublin and Wicklow by Souljacker. You might know them as the makers of the video for Devil in the Detail, which won the IMTV award for Best Music Video last year and also a Digital Socket Award in the same category.

- Yvonne

Directed by – Souljacker  http://www.souljacker.ie

Featuring – Sophie Merry http://www.krop.com/sophiemerry/

Camera Assistant – Damien Dunne

Makeup Artist – Emma Farrell http://www.emmafarrellmakeup.com

Special thanks to Lauren Murphy, Julia Davin-Power, Donnacha Coffey