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.
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.
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..!).
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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,
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!).
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.
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
So it’s been a little while since we released ‘the fallen’ into the world and we’ve been really blown away with the response.On a personal level, it’s a song that i’m really proud of.I remember coming up with the weird guitar intro thing and then just fitting that bass line around it.I then played it to Marc and he instantly liked it, claiming that the intro was ‘a bit Steve Reich-ey’ (which I disagreed with!) and the drum pattern soon followed.
We then had the idea to put this guitar riff which appeared near the end of the song at the start, which would then in turn kick off the main part of the song.It’s kind of the first time we let a song evolve, and not just bash it out from start to finish and it’s something which we’re trying to do a lot more of.
It’s really an odd first few seconds as a single, I mean in context of the album (which you will hear soon) it fits perfectly as two songs are bled into each other. Having said that, I was against the idea of having a ‘radio-edit’ for the song. I just don’t think we’re a ‘radio-edit’ kind of band!
Anyway, hopefully this has given you a little insight into how the song came about and it’s origins.
Thanks for reading.
This is the cover I made for Burials, and here’s a little blog on where it came from.
I get worried when I hear an artist like Chelsea Wolfe just rip through a 5 note guitar riff over and over and I’m there, in my room, trying to create these intricate melodies and counter melodies when her simplicity beats the shit out of whatever I am attempting.
It’s funny, when we designed our old MySpace page I’d put our genre as Indie/Acoustic/Minimalist.As we’ve progressed, we’ve become alot less like two-thirds of that description and I guess it’s some sort of natural evolution.
Back in the day, I feared under-complicating things because I thought that the listener would loose interest if I wasn’t always constantly doing something instead of standing around looking angry/upset.It was that insecurity which set the tone for the earlier works, and I feel I have learned a huge amount since then.
When recording the album, I really wanted to convey a sense of confidence in our songs.Partly because we very much have that confidence, and partly because I really admire debut albums that do that.From the moment I pressed play, I loved feeling part of an experience where a band were playing loud and together and you knew it didn’t matter to them who listened.I listened to albums from the likes of Franz Ferdinand, The Strokes etc and really loved the confidence they exuded.
Hopefully, we’ve succeeded in doing that.
There’s a fine line between having confidence in your sound and using that confidence to become ego-driven and narcissistic.I hope we never fall down that path as there’s nothing worse than seeing a band who think they are better than everyone else.
I know we have a lot to hone in on, songwriting wise.There are so many styles I want to explore and having Yvonne a part of the band, really has opened up alot of musical doors for me.Also, actually knowing how to use effects and play electric guitar when writing songs now makes me realise exactly where I was at when recording the album towards the end of last year. However, I really enjoyed limiting myself to 4 and 8 bar loops for it.It’s almost a concept album in itself, though that term has many negative connotations.The repetitive nature of the loops should hopefully never be realised, and it should just flow rather than repeat.
In case you haven’t realised, I’m the member of the band who constantly analyses pretty much every aspect of what it means to be in a band and how all outside factors determine everything about it.
This is probably unhealthy, but I am glad to have a place to document these words so you all know the point where I begin to go mad from over-thought.
So I have been enlisted to post the first (of many) official word gatherings on our brand new blog.
I can start by saying that I’m currently super-super excited about our album coming out in 2 months (or whatever time it is to you when this gets published).
I’ve been going back and forth on being excited and frustrated, and then excited again but we have not long to go now and we’ve so much planned that I hope will excite you too.
We finished recording in February, and what we have discovered is that it takes a long time to put out your first record when you want everything to be perfect.I’m happy with the recording still (thank God).Oh I’ve tried to poke hole after hole in it, but I came to the realisation that there’s not much point in doing that, and that the band I am in now, is a very different one to the one which recorded the album.The addition of Yvonne on bass has proved to be somewhat of a turning point in terms of musicality and the band dynamic Marc and myself had.Everything has changed in such a short space of time, and the album is effectively the last piece in our work as a duo.
Having said that, we will be playing it all as a three-piece and part of the reason Yvonne was asked to join, was that the parts I was writing for bass were becoming increasingly too complicated for me to play live when looping everything else.
This should result in the songs being given new life when you see them being preformed.We are a tight-knit three piece band now, and that will give our songs a completely different energy.Hopefully a positive one.
These ramblings will hopefully document how I think about the band far too much, and how I should probably just pick up my guitar and try and write again.
Thanks for reading,