At the start of the 2011 I decided to do a monthly, year long Q and A with some of NI’s most promising bands for the Big List. Here’s one with the Beat Poets that ran a month or so ago. Expect more of these to be posted up in the weeks ahead!
The Beat Poets
This month we continue our year-long Q and A section with some of NI’s brightest hopes by catching up with one of the hardest working acts on the scene today-the Beat Poets. Enjoy.
First off, it’s just been announced you’re playing at this year’s Lark in the Park. The initial line-up already looks fantastic, how do you feel about being booked to perform on the bill?
John Dinsmore (vocals/guitar): “It’s fantastic. Last year the bill was made up of local acts, so it’s a massive step this year booking headliners such as Athlete, Razorlight and Divine Comedy over three days. However, I think with local artists such as Cashier No.9 and Foy Vance on the bill the festival also promotes the best of what N.I has to offer too. It’s being held in a great location, so let’s hope the sun comes out that weekend and we kick off the festival season in style.”
You guys played the festival last year too, right?
John: “Yeah with General Fiasco headlining. It was a fantastic event and we really enjoyed the gig, atmosphere, location…so I really hope the big jump this year in size just adds to this.”
Do you have any other festival slots coming up in the pipe-line?
John: “We have the Temple House Music Festival coming up in October, which we played also last year with Damien Dempsey, The Stunning, Reef etc. It just won best new European Festival at the European Festival Awards and again is another fantastic new rising festival based in Sligo. We have a few more in Ireland provisionally sorted, but will be announcing them next month as our main aim this year is to get the band abroad for touring so we’re just seeing if we can be available to do them.”
John, you’re off to SXSW in Texas soon. How important is it for a band from NI to make the trip over?
John: “It depends on the act, sound and what you want from it. We feel our sound is well suited to the US and that’s why we keep pushing in this direction, but it’s a tough area to crack. Over the last few years our trips to SXSW have landed us placements on US shows such as the Hills and the Hard Times of RJ Berger, as well as endorsements with Sonicbids, Tascam and Mobile Roadie and now several other possible adventures are on the horizon too. We use it to push forward possibilities internationally (especially in US and Canada) and have been lucky enough to always come away with positive results. But months of preparation go into it (and years of effort) to really get the contacts in place to make things happen across the Atlantic. I’m hoping this year we can take it one more step further.”
We’ve read you’re planning on releasing a new EP down south. Can you tell us a little about that?
John: “In 2010 the releases did really well up North, but we felt that in the South we hadn’t the chance to properly push the same campaigns, so we are going to release an E.P with the tracks from 2010 (including ‘One By One’) to give the same songs a better push in the Republic. The musical landscape is extremely weird here for such a small island, with bands who are massive in the South virtually unknown in the North and visa versa. We found this something we too have to overcome being a Northern band pushing in the South and hope that releasing an EP targeted specifically for the South will help us breakdown this strange Irish music barrier.”
In terms of radio-play the last two singles have had a great reaction. How important do you think it is for your band to get the music out there on mainstream shows?
John: “I think all bands-no matter their sound-want as much exposure as possible. For us, day time radio is key and the massive exposure we had on Cool Fm, City Beat, U105 etc up North was fantastic and did so much to expand our fan base. This, added with the exposure on mainstream TV shows internationally, has been a major bonus to raising our profile as well as open doors to new possibilities. These days, with so many bands out there working so hard to get mainstream placements, our success has made us feel that we’re at least doing something right. With no major label pushing us we constantly find the odds for show placement, good gigs, international showcases are stacked heavily against us, but the old working class fight inside means we never give up and when we do get the breaks it means so much more to us.”
We loved the video for ‘Gravity.’ Can you tell us a little bit about the filming?
John: “Yeah we were delighted with it too! It was directed and written by Marty Stalker of Scattered Images with Rick Trainor from Red Sky Photography adding his director of photography touches. I think it captured the essence of the tune brilliantly and the footage of the band playing on the roof looked fantastic. We shot it just before the release and it was bloody freezing the day we recorded the roof scenes, but it wouldn’t be art if you didn’t suffer for it!”
Finally, how’s the album coming along and what’s the plans for the year ahead? Can you give us any exclusives?
John: “The album or the holy grail?! It’s definitely been a long road for us in getting together the album. I feel like Brian Wilson somedays when talking about it! It’s been tough because we have went through several sound changes in the space of a few years and are only now happy with what we feel is the sound we want. We also want to make sure we have a good selection of tracks to choose from with this style of sound, so we will be recording again over the next few months and we’re about half way through finishing the whole thing. At the minute we have provisional plans to release and tour in South East Asia, Australia and Canada. We feel that we really need to hit new territories that would fit in with our sound. It’s all coming together nicely but as you can imagine being an independent act on our own self-release label, an incredible amount of planning as well as long hours are currently being spent shaping this, so hopefully we’ll confirm some positive news in early March before SXSW.”