Flogging Molly Interview

9 09 2011

Here’s a reprint of my interview with Flogging Molly that ran in Hot Press a while back.It’s always a pleasure talking to Dave and they’re a great band so check them out.

Return Of The King

Celtic-punk innovators Flogging Molly talk to Edwin McFee about their homecoming shows, their new album Speed Of Darkness and reveal why the Mighty Stef made them want to quit music for good.

They say a prophet is never recognized in his own land and in a way that phrase could be true for Dave King, Dublin-born frontman for folk-punks Flogging Molly. You see while the musician’s band may have sold over two million copies of their fourth record Float in the U.S. alone, the group have never really cracked the mainstream in Ireland despite boasting a sound which drips with Celtic influences and imagery. This year, King and Co. attempt to put all that right though when they release their fifth effort, the rebel rousing American protest song themed Speed Of Darkness.

Speed Of Darkness is a record that’s essentially inspired by the resiliency of humanity in the face of recession and cut backs,” offers the frontman. “It was written in a basement in Detroit and it all came together really quickly. Thankfully we didn’t feel like we were under pressure to measure up to the success of Float. We just wanted to continue evolving our sound and pushing things forward.”

As optimistic as it is angry, the record showcases the band at its most assured, with each of the seven musicians comfortable with their roles within the tight-knit outfit.

“It’s so weird, but the older we get, the closer we become,” laughs Dave. “We all genuinely miss each other when we’re not on tour and we’re always in constant contact with one other-which, as you probably know, is a bizarre situation for a band. Everyone usually hates each other’s guts!”

Recorded in what used to be an old church in Asheville, North Carolina (the studio they wanted to use in Detroit was already occupied by Eminem) Flogging Molly’s marriage of Irish and American influences has never been as strong as it is now and while Dave admits that the band (now in their 14th year) are getting older, they’re still having a blast.

“I think this record shows that musically the group have grown up, but we’re still having fun,” considers the musician, who spends his time living in both Detroit and Wexford with his wife and bandmate Bridget Regan. “The studio was amazing, but it was weird for this ex-altar boy singing what some would regard as blasphemous lyrics surrounded by stained glass windows, I’ll tell you that!”

With Flogging Molly about to hit the road for performances at the likes of Coachella, Glastonbury, Lollapalooza and more this summer, there are two Irish dates at the end of August which the singer is especially looking forward to and Dave is hoping that his band’s profile at home will hopefully catch up with the rest of the world.

“I definitely think there’s room for an act like Flogging Molly back at home in Ireland,” he says. “I’d love to play more often at home and tour more there at some stage too, but I’m also grateful for the following we already have. I remember playing at Oxegen a few years ago and everyone knew who we were, which was great, and we sold out the Ambassador in Dublin which was pretty special for us too. We’re growing things in Ireland at the moment and it’s a case of so far, so good.

 “We also like to keep up with what’s happening in the Irish music scene,” he concludes. “I remember when I first heard the Mighty Stef (who I absolutely love). I just thought-‘Fuck this, I’m giving up.’ People like him inspire me to make better music and hopefully we can bring him to the States with us someday. Artists like him deserve to be heard around the world.”





Don’t Judge The Judge

8 09 2011

I’m judging this tonight-

If you see me out and about this evening, come up and say ‘ello.





Backstage With The Batman

6 09 2011

Yes, this actually happened-

Here we are meeting the Dark Knight backstage at the o2 in London after the Batman Live show.Needless to say it was suitably awesome.

The Batman Live World Arena Tour comes to Ireland for a string of dates in a few weeks (the O2 in Dublin on Sep 28,29,30 and Oct 1 and the Odyssey, Belfast on October 5,6,7 and 8th) and it’s well worth checking out if you get the chance.I’ll post up a review of the show soon, but for now click on www.batmanlive.com for more details.





Comply Or Die Interview

5 09 2011

Here’s a reprint of an interview I did with Comply Or Die for the Big List. Their new album  ‘Depths’ is out today. Check it out.

Comply Or Die

Continuing our year-long catch-up with some of NI’s latest and greatest bands, this month we meet Michael Smyth, singer/guitarist for local noise rock anti-heroes Comply Or Die. Enjoy.

Hi Michael and welcome to the Big List. First off, your new single ‘Shanghaied’ is currently out and about in the realm of the interweb. Can you tell us a little about this virtual slab of wax?

“‘Shanghaied’ is taken from our forthcoming album ‘Depths,’ which was recorded at Einstein Studios with Mr. Frankie McClay. We put it out ahead of the album to wet people’s appetite and generate some buzz around the band. It’s a pretty straight ahead track for us compared to say ‘Nyl’ off our ‘Invocation’ EP. I guess its pretty hooky and maybe even catchy, but don’t expect any bubblegum pop from us!”

 

Why did you decide to offer it up as a free download?
“For a consumer, free is the best price! We really just wanted to reach as many people as possible with it. Again, it helps to generate a buzz around us and the album and since we are marketing gurus, our research showed that this was the best way to generate revenue for our end product…Bill Hicks is probably spinning in his grave…”

 

Your previous release before that was a split cassette-only single with Slomatics, which in many respects couldn’t be any more different to an MP3. Why did you choose to put out an ep on this format?

“It was really just an opportunity to do a split with our friends in Slomatics, I think it was really Matt [Crothers, drums] from our band and Dave from Slomatics that liked the idea of a tape and they just ran with it. It features ‘Vermin’ from the album ‘Depths,’ which is one of the heavier songs of the album and we thought it would sit well alongside the Slomatics’ songs. Putting it out on tape makes it a bit special as well. In saying that, we did include a free digital download code so people could put it on their MP3 player, see there’s that marketing genius again.”

 

We understand you’ve finished recording your second album ‘Depths.’ How’s it sound?

“It’s been done since October or November last year, we’re just getting the printing and duplication done now. It sounds loud and vicious and huge. Frankie did a great job with it. We had worked with him before on the ‘Invocation’ EP, so he had an idea of our sound already and he was able to build upon the work we did together on the EP and just step it all up for the album. It jumps out of the speakers at you, like an angry mountain lion.”

 

Can you give us any exclusive news on it? 

“There are 8 songs on the album and its ordered as though it were a vinyl record-so it’s split into two sets of four songs. Each ‘side’ ends with a long song, the first side ends with ‘Vermin,’ and the second side ends with a 15 minute long instrumental song named ‘DMT.’ If you’ve heard ‘Shanghaied’ and ‘Vermin,’ you know how different those songs are from each other and that continues throughout the album. There are no two songs that are the same. They all touch on different ideas and sounds, so hopefully it’ll keep people interested. The album is 45 minutes, which might seem long for eight songs, but it bounds along so it never gets dull or stale. The art was done by Glyn Smyth. He did an amazing job with it. It’s a really strong aesthetic to compliment the music. Turning the art over to someone else was a huge thing for us, as up until now we’ve done all the artwork within the band. We basically gave the album and the lyrics to Glyn and just said ‘go for it.’ We wanted to see what someone else’s take on it would be and we’re all very happy with the outcome. The album should hopefully be out in August, but that’s not set in stone…”

 

Finally, do you think this will be the album that helps the band book bigger dates? (Personally we can’t understand why you guys haven’t been included on the line-ups of some of the larger local festivals).

“You and me both! It would be great to get some festival slots or even just some bigger gigs around Northern Ireland. We’re in a difficult position in that the music we play doesn’t necessarily slot nicely alongside most bands. We’re not punk and we’re not metal, but there are elements of both in our music and that seems to be difficult for people to get their head’s around. Hopefully the album is as well received as the single and people pick up on it. We’re constantly sending stuff out to promoters and it’d be good to see some of them come back on it. We play probably more often than most bands in order to help sustain ourselves and reach more people, but it would be great to get out of the smaller bars and into a big gig setting.”

For more information on Comply Or Die check out www.diecomply.com.





From The Bogs Of Aughiska Metal Hammer Interview+Review

2 09 2011

Here’s a reprint of my interview with Conchuir O’Drona (the mastermind behind From The Bogs Of Aughiska) that ran in Metal Hammer alongside its accompanying review.The self-titled mini-album is well worth checking out.

Fresh Meat

From The Bogs of Aughiska

From The Bogs Of Aughiska is a chilling dark ambient project which aims to recreate the bleak surroundings of the west coast of Ireland. Created by the fertile mind of County Clare native Conchuir O’Drona, the self-titled debut opus is an arresting experience from start to finish and his use of spoken word passages and elemental samples paints a decidedly dark picture of his homeland.

 “When you think about Ireland’s history and the blackness of winter in Co. Clare (where I grew up) the music couldn’t be anything but dark,” he begins. “I wanted to express musically what it’s like to grow up in Ireland’s wild west. From The Bogs Of Aughiska is my take on creating the musical equivalent of standing on top of the Cliffs of Moher with a gale force wind in your face.”

 An album that’s tailor-made to be listened to in a darkened room with your headphones on, the extremely eerie track ‘Aos Si’ is a particular highlight and uses samples from an old documentary to tell a tale of banshees that succeeds in being genuinely creepy rather than cartoonish.

“The sample for Aos Si is taken from the documentary Glenafooka: Glen Of The Ghost,” explains Conchuir. “This song is a reminder that despite the changes the country has gone through since the Celtic Tiger and all the rubbish that followed, we shouldn’t lose our legends and stories. It’s a very important part of what makes us Irish. I think real horror comes from mundane elements and that’s why the track sounds so creepy as it’s basically a 10 minute interview of various normal people taking about their experiences with the Banshee. Aos Si is a track that puts a chill down my spine no matter how many times I listen to it.”

 While essentially From The Bogs Of Aughiska is a studio project, the recent critical acclaim for the debut has meant that O’Drona has received offers to perform the opus live and he is now currently putting together a show that will do justice to his spine-tingling sounds.

“I recently shot some footage to accompany the music around Co. Clare in bleak weather with Simon Lucas, who is camera man on [Living TV’s] Most Haunted as well as drummer in Winterfylleth and Atavist. I’m planning on the FTBOA  live performance being a full on audio/visual experience.”

And though he admits that he’s surprised his album has captured people’s imaginations, he’s pleased that his rather personal record has found its way onto people’s stereos.

 “I created this music for myself first and foremost, but I have been overwhelmed by the response,” he confesses. “I didn’t expect so many different people from all walks of life to be into what I’m doing.”

 

WHO ARE THEY?

LINE-UP: Conchuir O’Drona (keyboards, samples, loops)

SOUND LIKE: The soundtrack to a spine-tingling night in the west of Ireland.

CURRENT RELEASE: From The Bogs Of Aughiska (Lone Vigil, 2011)

WEBSITE: www.myspace.com/fromthebogsofaughiska

 

FROM THE BOGS OF AUGHISKA

FROM THE BOGS OF AUGHISKA

(LONE VIGIL)

Created by Conchuir O’Drona, this five track debut is full of dark ambient sounds that are inspired by the battered and bleak surroundings of the west coast of Ireland. An eerie and evocative effort, his experiments with elemental samples and subtle synths make the release an arresting experience and Aos Si especially is a bewitching piece of measured melancholy that features some genuinely creepy spoken word pieces about banshees. Only Of Gods And Fighting Men lets the side down a little and it isn’t quite as inventive as the brooding Leabhar Gabhala Eireann and the spine-tingling trance of album opener The Great Sea Stack At The Cliffs Of Moher, but the ragged final track Crosswinds ensures that he signs off the opus in style. [7]

EDWIN McFEE