Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Interview: Jamie Hughes from Zombie Cops

Zombie Cops are one of the most exciting live bands on the circuit today. We caught up with one of the bands front-men Jamie Hughes, ahead of the release of their third single "You Do"

AIMR: Who are the Zombie Cops?

JH: We are a bunch of sinister yet lovable rascals.

AIMR: How did you form?

JH: Myself and Dylan met whilst being part of a failed bank heist crew back in 1992, we were both 6 so it's probably why it failed. Whilst on the lam we met Nelius an over friendly petrol attendant who gave us the keys to the station toilet without purchase... Kev was locked inside and we realized that it was the birth of something very special!

AIMR: Where did the name come from?

JH: Band names are a nightmare to come up with as a general rule... I'm pretty sure we had about 40 of them before we settle on this one. We were out together for a meal of food and Nelius said something like "They should just combine two cool movie genres together like Zombies and Cops... Zombie Cops" and we were like "Yes... that'll do nicely"

AIMR: How would you describe the Zombie Cops sound?

JH: I think we described it recently as "Dark blistering Pieces of Pop" which sums it up a treat but it's funnier to say like 'Enya being attacked by wolves while Lemmy fits Price with a pair of purple velvet trousers...'

AIMR: What were your first musical influences?

JH: East17

AIMR: Was there a specific moment that initially inspired you to create music?

JH: Seeing East17 in concert... and wanting to make sure it never happened again!

AIMR: You have two lead singers and lead guitar players an unusual combination in a band how did this come about?

JH: As two singer songwriters that came together it was important for both of us to both have our voices for it to work and it did! I think we're incredibly lucky to have both to be honest. It gives us an added dynamic and I like to think it keeps it interesting.

AIMR: You also have one of Ireland's most respected DJ's on drums How did you hook up with "Irate Soundsystem" and has it opened many doors for you having a ready-made cult figure in the band ? 

JH: Dylan is awesome whilst DJing but he actually had to go through 8 different Crystal Maze type challenges in order to drum for us. He failed one of them but I vouched for him so he got to stay...

AIMR: So far you have released two free singles Taking Lives and Win Some Lose Some. Why did you take the decision to go down the give away alley and do you think it has been beneficial to the band to do so?

JH: I think that at this stage it's important for bands to understand how this all works at this stage... Realistically at the stage we're at we most certainly aren't in it for the money! What's important for all of us is the thought of someone out there listening to our music and enjoying it. On the occasion that someone you don't know comes along and says "I love Taking Lives" it's totally what it's all about. We have people in America getting in touch with us on Twitter saying they love the band and it's all down to having Music Videos and getting the Tracks out there for free. It's mad to think someone on the other side of the world has listened to our music and it has affected them in some way... It's awesome to be honest!

AIMR: Tell us about recording the singles. How did you find the process?

JH: We recorded up North in Manor Park Studios and it was great. With recording the tracks there's always a shit load of prep work and the actual recording seems to just pass you by. It's always an actual joy to do it and if I could I would gladly spend a month doing it. We are currently looking for a suitable producer as it has just been ourselves producing the tracks up to this point and we want new ears!

AIMR: Eoin Heaney who stared in the Ambiance Affair video that won best video at the recent Digital Socket Awards directed the video for both singles How did you find making the videos and how did you feel about entrusting your songs to an outside element?

JH: Eoin (Heaney) is a full blown genius when it comes to cinematography and that's what he has brought to the table with us... It's a lot of fun making the videos but the excitement of seeing it for the first time is where it's at. Eoin has given us short segments of Cinema to accompany our music and we gave him creative control over what he develops for us. I honestly can't speak a bad word about the whole set up and we will be working more with Highly Stimulating Productions going forward.

AIMR: You have built a reputation as being a great live band. What can people expect from a Zombie Cops live show?

JH: A serious amount of energy and some cracking rock music with dual melody and harmony. Also, occasionally Sean Connery shows up and reenacts Highlander with Nelius.

AIMR: Your Cover of Human League's "Don't You Want Me Baby" has become a mini legend. Can we expect to see an official release at some stage?
JH: Ha ha, it's unlikely. We are far too neurotic to keep one cover going. We love arriving in practice and going, "Oh we should do a version of..." some of them we act on, some we don't, most sound shite... we may play it again or we may hit the nail on the head with something else.

AIMR: What music is inspiring you these days?

JH: The thing about ourselves is that we all have fairly varying tastes but there's always common denominators. Dylan is mad into "The Heavy" at the moment but always brings elements of Disco and Electro to his drumming. Nelius loves his Americana and his 90's rock. Myself and Kev have similar tastes and were pulled together by Jimmy Eat World (Bleed American and Futures), Bloc Party and Queens Of The Stone Age. Deftones would also be a huge inspiration with the band overall.

AIMR: How do you rate the Irish music scene at the moment?

JH: It's really interesting. There is a real underground movement where Un-Pop is Pop. Adebisi Shank and ASIWYFA are real "musicians bands"and are two of the biggest Irish bands at the moment. It's showing that Irish people in general have a serious understanding and appreciation for intelligent music and it's exciting. On the other hand there is still only a handful of radio shows playing and representing Irish talent. The ones that do are great but I feel there is still a massive gap on the airwaves for it.

AIMR: Whats next for the Zombie Cops

JH: We have a shed load of gigs in the pipeline. Supporting the Coronas next Thursday in The Button Factory, playing The Mercantile the following Thursday @ The Townhouse Club and then there's a few surprises which we can't talk about just yet. (wink)

AIME: Where did you record the EP

JH: We recorded a few tracks in Manor Park and got to spend some time in Grouse Lodge ( Muse, REM, Bellx1)

AIMR: How did you find the big studio atmosphere compared to your previous recording sessions?

JH: Grouse Lodge is on another level... it's the height of luxury. Luxury which you don't get much spare time to enjoy but still... Playing Marco Polo in the swimming pool at 4 in the morning hammered on Polish beer while listening to 'Jump in the pool' by Friendly Fires was without a doubt one of the highlights of my year.

AIMR: Who produced the EP?

JH: Pretty much ourselves and the engineers we worked with. We really enjoy producing the tracks but we are scouting for someone who suits our style. We're completely open to new ideas in the band and we're all very vocal about when something sounds right or wrong so it would be even better to have a fifth set of ears on it.

AIMR: Can we expect a video to accompany the release of the EP?

JH: Zombie Cops are all about the Videos... we will be releasing the third free single 'You Do' in about a month and there's a video in the can for that bad boy and it's is very awesome if we do say so ourselves. We are also working with Highly Stimulating Productions for them to create cinematic releases to compliment what we do... OOOOH EXCITING!

Go to  http://www.zombiecopswilleatyourbabies.com/ to download tracks for free.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Solar Bears "Cub" remix by Keep Shelly in Athens

We might have slightly missed the boat with this one, but thats no reason not to spread our love for Keep Shelly in Athens remix of the Solar Bears track "Cub"

  Solar Bears - Cub (Keep Shelly in Athens remix) by Keep Shelly in Athens

Interview with Fran King aka "Paul" from Get Back! The Story of The Beatles

Following a sold out mini residency last August, Get Back! The Story of The Beatles returns to Dublin's Olympia Theatre, on Friday March 25th, for one night only. We caught up with Fran King aka "Paul McCartney" to find out what audiences can expect, and the level of dedication required to become, Sir. George Martin's favourite Beatles, tribute band.

AIMR How and why did Get Back! The Story of The Beatles, form?

FK. We (Myself, Scott and Rob) got together in September 1990. I’d been in “The Beatless” from 1989 and had tired of that set up. I wanted to get together a band that performed (exclusively) Beatles songs in their original keys. Scott and Rob used to busk on Grafton Street, as did I with the other band. I got to know Rob as he used to work in Musician Inc. On Drury Street. We struck up a conversation one day, and the band began there. As for why we formed that band.  We are all Beatle fanatics, and relished the challenge of doing note perfect interpretations.

AIMR. How long did it take to get the four perfect people together?

FK. In the early days we didn’t “wig up” etc.. We were going for the sound-a-like more than the look-a-like angle.  It wasn’t until 1999, having worked with Sir George Martin, that we decided to go the full hog, so to speak. Up ‘til then we shared the vocal duties, so we didn’t assign all the Paul songs to me etc... In fact I used to do “Strawberry fields forever” etc.. When we became “The Classic Beatles”, we had to re-haul the set, and assign each Beatle their individual songs. It was quite a task and challenge, But we had a genuine affection for the material, and the passion to do it all the correct way. I guess 1999 was a ground breaking year for us, it was also the year we got our definitive “Ringo” also, in Binzer.

AIMR. Did many people come and go before the line-up was settled?

FK. Let’s see, Our Original drummer (The Quarrymen years) was Dermot Kelly, he was with us from 1991 through 1993. Seamus Greene replaced him from ’93-94. “Guggenheim Grotto” drummer Shane Power was our “Ringo” from 1994 through 1999, when he was replaced by current & definitive “Ringo”, Paul “Binzer” Brennan. So quite the few sticks men.

AIMR. How much rehearsal initially went into learning the songs and perfecting the sound?

FK. In the early days we spent up to 5 days a week in rehearsals, as much time as we could physically allot really.  We were (and are.) very passionate about getting the nuances, inflections and harmonies bang on. The mannerism mimicry was born out of us being big fans, and messing around to amuse each other to begin. It wasn’t ‘til years later that we decided to really make conscious efforts to get the “Johnisms and Paulisms” etc. But to answer your initial question, A hell of a lot of time, probably years!

AIMR. Was there a long set up period before the first gig?

FK. Having got our “John, Paul & George” in September 1990, we got our first “Ringo” in January of 1991, our first gig was in Feb’ 1991.

AIMR. Were there many hours spent in front of the mirror perfecting the moves and mannerisms?

FK. As I was saying, it was a gradual slow perfecting process, but without doubt, a fair amount of video watching and Mirror mimicry, until we got comfortable enough to be each Beatle with each other.

AIMR. Did you each have to learn how to sound like your individual Beatle? Who struggled the most?

FK. There was a fair amount of re-learning and perfecting involved after we’d decided to be the full Monty Beatle tribute. I had to get to grips with singing like Paul whilst playing the Bass, and with certain tracks that was a tall enough order. We all had our individual struggles, but having played the songs for so many years, it stood us in good ground for perfecting it. Some re-learning harmony parts as their individual Beatle etc. lets just say it’s not as easy as it may look or sound.

AIMR. Was it an expensive band to set up in terms of acquiring the vintage amps and guitars and clothes etc?

FK. We acquired the complete authentic instrument line up over a number of years (up ‘til then we used replica look-a-like and sound-a-like copies). My Hofner Bass is from 1966. The wigs are from the UK and we have mop top ones and longer ones for the later period. They were expensive. The velvet collared suits we use in the “Ed Sullivan” section were tailored from one of the originals. Those and the Shea Stadium and “Pepper” suits all came from the U.S. I guess if you priced it all out, yeah it’s quite an expensive band to kit out authentically.

AIMR. Did you initially focus on one era of the Beatles and expand your repertoire as you went along? If so why did you choose that era?

FK. No, we’ve always delved into the various periods from the get go. Perfecting it is another thing altogether. We’ve spent literally years developing / perfecting all the little details from each given period.

AIMR. Can you now play every Beatles song or is that an ongoing learning process?

FK. We’re certainly capable of each song, but for purely practical purposes we’ve perfected various eras and the pivotal songs therein. We’ve learnt through the years, which songs work better with a given audience. But with The Beatles back catalogue, it’s an on-going education.

AIMR. One of the things that sets the Classic Beatles apart from other tribute bands is the visuals and the set design How much research went into collecting the news clippings etc for the on stage visuals?

FK. We’re big fans of documentaries like “The Beatles Complete”, and the Anthology series, so we based our show on pivotal periods & settings from Beatle live shows & rare footage. So a lot of work has gone into getting it all as close as possible. The news clippings we’ve re-created featuring us instead of the real fabs, all of which we’ve totally fabricated from scratch.

AIMR. The recreating of interviews etc acted out by the band is another thing, which sets the band apart from other tribute acts in general. How did these recreations come about?

FK. Again that was down to singling out our favorite defining Beatle interviews, for example we re-created the Press conference at JFK, and the impromptu press conference at Bangor when the news broke of Brian’s death. Chris Nugent’s “Brian Epstein” segments turned out particularly well I think. Again we featured ourselves at all times as The Beatles to maintain continuity.

AIMR. Did you have to get permission for the Ed Sullivan parts?

FK. We didn’t use any original footage from the Sullivan shows; we went to great lengths to recreate it.

AIMR. Have you had any reaction from the Epstein family?

FK. We were very careful to paraphrase Brian’s famous interviews, in other words get the essence of what he was saying, but have Chris relating it in “Brian-isms” so to speak. With attention afforded to his inflections and mannerisms. I think Chris pulled it off with wonderful attention to detail, and genuine affection. We’ve had no contact with the Epstein estate.

AIMR. The attention to detail in your live shows is amazing. Is there a person in charge of continuity or is it a collective effort?

FK. It is generally a collective effort, although great praise and appreciation must be afforded to Ian Smith, our Co-Producer / VT supervisor. Ian has worked on many shows and keeps us all on the straight and narrow.

AIMR. You are George Martin's preferred Beatles tribute band, a great honor. How did that come about?

FK. We had the pleasure of working with Sir George Martin in 1999, and again in 2004. Both Scott and I were hugely honored to be asked by promoter Pat Egan, to perform some of the greatest songs ever composed, with the Man who Produced them, conducting live for three nights in Dublin’s National Concert Hall, with a 70 piece Orchestra. It doesn’t get much better than that. It was Sir George’s final few live shows before his retirement from live work. During the rehearsals and after the shows, he commended our attention to detail and our “Uncanny vocal resemblance”. He wrote to us individually after the shows, and again thanked us for our hands-on knowledge of the material. We played a set before his speech in UCD in 2004, when he was awarded the Joyce award, and it was wonderful to hang out with him once again after those initial shows. We worked extensively in London with his son Giles in 2001, a definite “chip off the ole block”.

AIMR. Have you any other famous fans?

FK. We’ve played intimate and private shows for: Queen Elizabeth II, Ryan Tubridy, Sharon Corr,
To name-drop only a tad.

AIMR. What are the biggest and best gigs the band have played?

FK. The aforementioned Sir George Martin shows were a personal high. We also played to in excess of 60,000 people in the Phoenix Park, when the Ireland Soccer team returned from the World Cup with Jack Charlton at the helm. Last year we played an open-air show in Kaunas, Lithuania, with a 60 piece National symphony Orchestra on National Television to over 12,000. We have enjoyed some sweaty intimate shows at various venues around Ireland, though Dublin’s Olympia Theatre is a favorite also.

AIMR. You get to do something the Beatles never got to do with many of their songs, play them to an audience. How do people react, to those later songs in particular? The songs played as they were written on the piano with out the massive string arrangements behind them?

FK. We take great pleasure in doing the later stuff in all the original keys etc. I’ve seen people become emotional during “All you need is love”, & even during songs like “Penny Lane”. When possible we use real live strings too, other than that we use Keyboard /sample sounds to recreate the intricate arrangements. Songs like “Hello Goodbye” and “Hey Jude” allow for great audience participation. It’s amazing how people react across the age spectrum.

AIMR. Are you all pursuing real life musical careers?

FK. Yes, we always have. Years ago all of us were members of “Beach”, from about 1997-’99. We all went solo in intervening years. My third solo Album “My Sweet Elixir” is currently on release on Renaissance Records, (all can be found on itunes, I’m demoing my fourth album later this Spring). Scott has two solo albums out, and is currently enjoying success with the band “The Shoos”. Binzer has played with many artists including Gemma Hayes, Mundy, The Waterboys, Ollie Cole, not to mention his time with The Frames. Rob left Beach in 1998 and pursues a successful career in web design.

AIMR. How has Beatles helped or hindered these careers?

FK. I don’t think it’s hindered me personally. I cut my musical teeth on the writing of Lennon-McCartney, and I don’t think there’s a more formidable musical bar to be raised. I’m happy to admit they’re a big influence on my own writing, but not an obsession. I think you have to be very careful there. I know writers who’d like to sound just like The Beatles, and that’s their business, However, I think there’s a fine line between influence and plagiarism. I’d be equally or perhaps even more influenced by Beatles influenced artists, post Beatle era. I think their catalogue has helped develop my appreciation of a good melody. I can’t speak for the other songwriters in the band; you’d have to ask them.

AIMR. What’s next for the Classic Beatles your Get Back show has been hailed as the best Beatles tribute show ever how can you improve it?

FK. Good question. I guess now we have to tour it comprehensively. We’ve only just scratched the surface. We need to take it abroad and expand our growing fan base. We’re really happy with the reaction thus far. Touring will improve the show, nothing like a live audience to refine things.

AIMR. What songs get the best crowd reaction?

FK. It honestly changes from show to show. The obvious ones are “Hey Jude”, “All you need is love”, “Strawberry fields forever”, “Yesterday”, “Get Back”, but you’d be surprised how enthusiastically people receive the likes of “Magical Mystery Tour”, “Sgt. Peppers” & “Here comes the sun”.

AIMR. Have you been surprised that some "smaller" songs get a bigger reaction than some of the more famous ones?

FK. I’m never surprised by the reaction to any of the Beatles catalogue. One man’s “All my loving” is another mans “Hey Jude”.

AIMR. Which songs is the most fun for the band to play?

FK. “A day in the life” is always a challenge, but equally rewarding to do. “Twist ‘n’ shout” & “Long Tall Sally” never fail to bring the house down, so you can’t help but have fun in those.

Check out www.ticketmaster.ie for more details

Review: Padraig McCauley and The P Affection free album download

It’s hard not to get swept along by the infectious up tempo genre splitting groves of Padraig McCauley and The P Affection. They out thrill The Thrills, with banjo’s and summer harmonies on opening track “Worries of the World” A happy/sad lyric and stop start chords make this track an alt-country gem.  “Almost in Greece” on the other hand is built on Pavement style distorted guitars riffs, while the brass section mimics the bass-line 

Echoes of 2-Tone continue on“Trouble in Paradise” as infectious melodies are interwoven between brass, bass and guitar with seaside harmonies thrown in for good measure.  The Phantom friendly “Lingo” is a top notch Cribs meets Weezer indie offering. “Freedom or boredom whats the difference, I see none” rages the chorus

The quality dips slightly with “Daisy” a Jack Johnson style acoustic led shuffle.  Things are back on track however, for pure pleasure sing along “I’m Fuck-in Amazing” A tongue in cheek party song, for egoists the world over.  Its one line chorus of “I’m fuck-in Amazing” burrows its way into your brain and refuses to leave. Expect to hear this song in a frat house movie near you soon.

“The Flood” is a downtrodden mid tempo alt country song with a somber fiddle line. It is one of the least impressive songs on the album. The verses glide by without grabbing your attention. The Chorus however is worth the wait offering a vision of a coming apocalypse ” The flood will take us all”

Things return to their uptempo best on “Rose Marie” where the band have given a witty re-imagining of cult classic movie Rosemary’s Baby. “Rose Marie” See’s a return to the albums earlier Weezer stylings. Only this time the influence of The Zutons is apparent, especially on the stop start verses. The pre-choruses “oh oh” vocals are top notch while the chorus of “Rose Marie it’s a baby it’s a baby” pays homage to the movie and Rivers Cuomo with its delivery.

“Beggars and Cannibals” closes the album with a trip to Acapulco . What starts out as an acapella song becomes a beach holiday, as vibes quickly join the vocals in a bizarre but wonderful move. The song slowly builds to a crescendo before returning to an acapella section on the outro.

Padraig McCauley and The P Affection is surely one of the best Irish music giveaways of all time. Download the album for free from http://www.thepaffection.com/music.php

Monday, March 14, 2011

Review Sacred Animals Workman's Club

It is an exciting time for Sacred Animals, with Darragh Nolan’s recent solo performance on RTE’s Other Voices, bringing them firmly into the public eye. The band are gearing up for 12 shows in America, including appearances at the 25th anniversary of the infamous, SXSW festival.

The band have also been bedding in new member “Dek” on keyboards, ahead of their mission to America. Tonight is Dek’s first gig. A baptism of fire, in front of some of Ireland’s top music writers (and me) Dek needn’t worry though. He’s obviously a quick study, as his work on “Wired, Islands” and “Chosen Seed” showed.

The immense emotional quotient of Darragh Nolan’s voice, can make the hairs on the back of your neck, stand vigorously to attention. Especially when he delivers haunting refrains like “Are you scared of what you said. Well you’re not the only one” on Chosen Seed.  While the pin-point delivery of Twin Shadow’s “Castles in the Snow” shows that Sacred Animals, are already surpassing their idols.  As a band; still only in its infancy.

The trio only get stronger as the night progresses. The interplay between instruments seems more organic than on the recordings. Especially on “Still Removed” and “Welcome Home” This is even more apparent when Nolan, ditches the guitar to finish the night, doubling the beat on a stage centre snare drum, Johnny Greenwood style.  No doubt Radiohead comparisons will pester Sacred Animals for some time to come. Creating as they do large cinematic, yet claustrophobic soundscapes mixed with otherworldly voicings.  Perhaps they are Ireland’s answer to Radiohead, but that can hardly be a bad thing can it? Without a doubt the best gig I’ve been to this year.

Sacred animals new “Welcome Home remix EP” featuring Kowi, Holy Roman Empire, and the amazing remix of “Chosen Seed” by Keep Shelly in Athens, is available from http://www.delphilabel.com/the-artist/sacred-animals

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Interview with Ray Nolan, from The Rambleers

We caught up with former "Yokes" and "Blue-Sun" stick-man Ray Nolan, to talk about his new band The Rambleers, and his incessant need to hit things.

AIMR: What attracted you to the drums in the first place?

RN: They seemed like the most fun instrument to play and my older brother played them for a while too, I was fairly young when he had them but I do remember being given out to for playing with them.

AIMR: How old where you when you first picked up the sticks?

RN: I was 15 when I bought my first kit. I was working in a pub and I saved up the money for my first kit after a few months, it was around £300. The drums were good but it had these really shitty cymbals and they bent the first time I hit them.

AIMR: Did it come naturally to you?

RN: Yes I picked it up fairly quick. Although I did play them for at least 2-3 hours a day for the first 2 years. But I decided to get lessons, so I could learn quicker and learn as many different styles as I could, and to read music. In school we used to get an hour for lunch and I lived close to the school, so I would be home in 5 minutes. I would scoff my lunch and head straight out to the shed and play the drums and then end up being late back to school.

AIMR: Who were your original influences?

RN: Guns N Roses. I think "Coma" was the song that convinced me to play the drums.Then later after hearing Led Zeppelin II and seeing "The Song remains the Same" It was John Bonham. I was blown away by the way he played, from the "Moby Dick" solo to the delicate percussion on "Rain Song" No one comes close to him in my opinion. Other favourites would be Levon Helm (The Band) and Brian Downey (Thin Lizzy) They are both fantastic drummers with great feel.

AIMR: What was the first album/song you bought was it purely for the drumming?

RN: The first CD I bought with my own money was "The Man Who" by Travis, that kind of music was big a the time and I listened to a lot of indie music after that like Blur and The Verve. Then I moved on to Metal and heavy rock for a while. After hearing "Live and Dangerous" by Thin Lizzy. I bought it, just to learn the drumming for those songs. The drumming on "Massacre and Emerald" is brilliant and I think Brian Downey is a very under-rated drummer.

AIMR: What was the first gig you attended?

RN: It was a metal band called Raging Speedhorn in the Temple bar music centre when I was about 14. It was an over 18s gig. We had met the band in a cafe/bar before the gig and they got us in. Most of us did look over 18 at that stage anyway. It was the first time I had seen a proper mosh pit and I got beat around the place, but it was brilliant.

AIMR: What was the name of your first band and were you any good?

RN: First band was called the Yokes, we were together for about 3 years and then it just faded away. The music was described as "Psychedelic punk rock"  It was a 3 piece band, and I loved playing with them, because there was no restrictions to what I could play. On some songs, we all played completely different things, but they came together great. We released one album called "Sound" It got album of the month in "Connected" (magazine).  http://www.myspace.com/theyokesound/music

AIMR: When and where did you play your first gig?

RN: It was in the Voodoo Lounge in Dublin in 2003. I was 17 and a lot of my friends from school came to the gig and it was a great night. It was before the smoking ban came in so I tried to be cool like Slash or Keith Richards and play with a smoke in my mouth but I couldn't pull it off and just ended up nearly choking myself and blinding myself with smoke. It was still brilliant though and we were all hungover to-bits in school, the next day.

AIMR: Was there a eureka moment when you said this is what I want to do for a living?

RN: After the first gig, I knew I would play music for the rest of my life. I haven't made a living from it but that doesn't bother me. Its the buzz of playing live and the drunken antics that go on, when touring around the country.

AIMR: How many bands have you been in before and how many are you currently in?

RN: I have played in 4 bands in total. I currently play in a cover band Guns N Roses tribute band User Illusion and an original band The Rambleers. I am with User Illusion about 3 years now. G'N'R, would be my favourite band, and I just saw an ad for it one day and said, I 'd give it a shot. I am playing with the Rambleers, just over 6 months now and am loving it. They are amazing musicians and it is great to play with people with such skill and commitment, as they have.

AIMR: Are you a drum whore then?

RN: No I have never played in more than two bands at once, and the two I am in at the moment are both very different.

AIMR: What did you learn from each of the experiences?

RN: I've learned many different styles and timbres. How to adapt to other musicians styles, and feel for playing.

AIMR: Do you drum in your sleep or have drumming dreams?

RN: I don't know if I drum in my sleep, but I have had many dreams about drumming in a big stadium with Bon Jovi!, even though I don't particularly like Bon Jovi. But maybe it's just what I relate to. Stadium rock.

AIMR: What is your favourite drum beat and why?

RN: My favourite to play would be "Rocket Queen" by GNR. I love the funky groove between the bass and the drums. "Fool in the Rain" by Led Zeppelin would be another one, the carnival drum break in the middle is a bit cheesy, but I love it!

AIMR: Who is your favourite drummer and why?

RN: Obvious one but John Bonham because he played great grooves, beats, fills and didn't try to show off or have a huge kit, with loads of different drums. He could get more out of a basic 5 piece kit, then Keith moon or Neil Peart could, with their 20 -30 piece kits

AIMR: Do you play and other instruments?

RN: No. I did do violin lessons for a while, but never kept it up. I've never been fully committed to learning another instrument.  I'm happy enough with the drums.

AIMR: Are you a frustrated songwriter? 

RN: No not really. I know I would not be strong at writing lyrics, so I stay away from that. Obviously as a drummer, I am responsible for the pace and tempo of a song, so I make my mark on a song that way, and try to be involved in the arrangements, as much as I can.

AIMR: Will we ever see you do a Dave Grohl and front a band or solo project?

RN: No I have no desire to be a front man. I know my own limitations. I do help with backing vocals a lot, but my voice would not be strong enough to carry a band on its own.

AIMR: Why is drumming dismissed by the mass media when it is one of most important components in popular music?

RN: It can go unnoticed because you don't always see the drummer or the drums are not always high in a songs mix, but you can't dance without a solid drum beat. I think its a case of you don't know what you got till its gone.

AIMR: Have you done much session work and are you available for session work?

RN: Never done session work. I won't play music, that I don't like.

AIMR: Who would you like to work with then?

RN:  Can't think of many who around today really. Maybe Slash or AC/DC.  I'm sure that would be fun.

AIMR: What advice would you give any budding drummers?

RN: Keep practicing and practice with a metronome, because timing is the most important thing a drummer needs. You may be able to play fast and do great solos, but if your timing is bad. Then you're not a good drummer.

AIMR: What's next for your band?

RN: We have just set up a website www.therambleers.com and we are releasing our debut album in April called "Roots". The album launch is in the Grand Social (formally Pravda) on April 2nd and we are currently booking gigs for an Irish Tour for May, June and July. So we are very busy at the moment!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Review: Kowalski at The Grand Social

Bangor’s finest Kowalski returned to Dublin to perform at the opening night of Communion (the UK’s fastest growing club night) at the Grand Social. Their d├ębut EP Take Care, Take Flight has received rave reviews, both here and in the US, where “Letters from the Height of Summer (Dear Bird)” recently featured in the MTV remake of Skins. Based on tonight’s performance it’s easy to see why network television is taking notice. Their songs are flush with memorable choruses and sweet and somber summer harmonies.

Although visibly sick singer Louis Price’s voice is impeccable on song’s like “Dear Bird” and the catchy disco synth pop of“Take Care, Take Flight”. Paddy Baird’s top class, snare and hi-hat combo’s propel the band while Tom O’Hara’s catchy bass groves and whig-out stage antics, offer visual and musical stimulus to the crowd.

A moment of disaster almost befell singer Louis Price halfway through the set, as he wobbled on the edge of the stage, almost falling off. Much to the amusement of the rest of the band.

With wobbly keys and disco beats, last song “Get Back” is the highlight of the set. Its chorus of “Get back to the place that you know” is instantly pleasing.  Bigger and better venues surely await in 2011 as momentum, inevitably builds for Kowalski.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Interview with Liz Is Evil's Jay Bagnall

Jay Bagnall is fast becoming one of the most respected drummers in Ireland.  Best known for his part in Punk rockers Liz Is Evil, and for reclaiming the drum solo. We caught with him to talk about all things Evil and all things drum.

AIMR: What attracted you to the drums in the first place?

JB: "When I was younger, I was just attracted to the idea of hitting things, didn't matter what it was. Chairs, tables, trees....I just hit them. When I saw a drum kit for the first time, I was just astounded at how big they were, I didn't even know what each drum was called......I was just allowed to hit them. From then on, I knew I wanted to play drums."

AIMR: How old where you when you first picked up the sticks?

JB: "I was probably 6, or 7 when I got my first drum kit for Christmas. I remember before I had my first kit, being allowed into a friends' house to play drums after school every so often. It was great, I couldn't even reach the kick pedal at the time! I'm glad I got to start young, it helped immensely."

AIMR: Did it come naturally to you?

JB: "I remember being able to play the intro to "Paradise City" fairly good when I picked up sticks for the first time. As I said, I used to hit and tap things all the time, so rhythm came naturally to me. I used to dance alot when I was a kid too, so that probably helped my overall sense of timing, and rhythm in general. My Mam and Dad got me a bigger kit two weeks after they got me my first one, so I must have been doing something right!"

AIMR: Who were your original influences?

JB: "When I was younger, my Mam and Dad used to play all sorts of music in the house. From pop, to rock, to punk, to dance music. So musically, I had a mixed bag of influences to start off with. The first drummer I remember being truly inspired by was Animal from The Muppets. I remember watching an episode, and just being awestruck that a puppet could play drums! Seriously though, the first drummer that inspired me would probably have been Steven Adler from G'n'R. I loved the sound of the drums on Appetite, even as a kid who hadn't a clue about sound, or drumming in general. I remember just drumming along to anything I could when I was younger. I used to do a lot of air drumming too, which helped. Later influences when I got a little older would have been John Otto, Chad Smith, Dave Silveria and most of the rock and metal drummers of the 90's. Now that I'm a little older, I listen to all sorts of music, so drummers like Buddy Rich, Steve Smith, Tony Williams, and Neil Peart have really opened my eyes to a lot of things."

AIMR: What was the first album/song you bought was it purely for the drumming?

JB: "I remember buying Limp Bizkit's Chocolate Starfish album when I started getting pocket money....I was blown away by their drummer John Otto and what he could do. That was the first album I'd bought, and owned, when I was around 13 or 14. I didn't really need to buy a lot of music when I was younger, my folks had tonnes of music in the house for me to listen to. I'd just go through what they had, pop it on, and drum all day."

AIMR: What was the first gig you attended?

JB: "My Mam used to sing in a band when she was younger. I used to get to go to her gigs, which was great, because I was allowed to mess around on the drums when they weren't playing. But the first gig I attended, on my own, was Ozzfest back in '02. It was such an amazing experience, to see all of my favourite bands and drummers in one huge, big festival. That gig showed me how loud, and proud you could play drums."

AIMR: What was the name of your first band and were you any good?

JB: "Wow....The first band I formed was a band called Alloy'd when I was around 12. It was a metal band. It was me, and my friend Chris on guitar. We thought we were amazing, I remember having decent chops back then, but not enough to play really heavy metal, which is what I was beginning to get into at that age. We eventually let my brother Lee in to play. We got progressively better once we started jamming more frequently. I still play in that band to this day. We've come a long way since rehearsing in my bedroom all those years ago."

AIMR: When and where did you play your first gig?

JB: "I was asked by a friend of mine's older brother to join a band with him. They used to do cover songs, and a few originals. My first gig with them was when I was maybe.....13 or 14, in Eamonn Dorans. That was around 11 years ago now. I started gigging when I was younger, I was lucky to be asked to join bands that had musicians that were older than me. I remember doing a drum solo at one of my Mams gigs' when I was really young too. Can't remember how old I was though."

AIMR: Was there a eureka moment when you said this is what I want to do for a living?

JB: "When I used to rehearse in my bedroom as a kid, I used to play as loud as I could so everyone on the road could hear me. I used to hope that someone would hear me and think I was good enough to join a band, so there was never really a eureka moment. The desire has always been there, ever since I had my first kit. I wanted to be a drummer, making a living from it or not, I knew I just wanted to do it."

AIMR: How many bands have you been in before and how many are you currently in?

JB: "I honestly can't put a number on how many bands I've been in. I've been very lucky in that so many people have asked me to play in bands with them. I've always been juggling bands since I started gigging, I prefer it that way. If you're not busy, you're bored, as far as I'm concerned. Currently, I'm playing in 5 bands, Liz Is Evil, IAmACarCrash, Alloy'd, The Nom Nom Noms, and one unnamed covers band. Some rehearse and gig more than others, so it's not too bad juggling between them. I enjoy drumming, so any chance I get to play, I'm all over it."

AIMR: Are you a drum whore then?

JB: "That's something I've been called many, many times, among other things......"

AIMR: What did you learn from each of the experiences?

JB: "In each band I've been in, I've taken something from it. Whether it's how to play odd time signatures, how to hit harder (or softer....), or even the business side of the music industry, I've taken something away from each and every gig, rehearsal, and experience with a band. I'm like a sponge, I just soak up as much information as I possibly can when I'm drumming, or watching another drummer, or musician, play."

AIMR: Do you drum in your sleep or have drumming dreams?

JB: "People always tell me to stop drumming, or tapping when I'm not behind a kit....it's infectious. It's a serious problem that I have, I can't help it. I have had some weird drumming dreams, and woken up saying 'Damn......I need help!'. Drumming is such a huge part of my life, that I'd be a little worried if I didn't have dreams about it now and then."

AIMR: What is your favourite drum beat and why?

JB: "I absolutely love the simplicity of Come Together by The Beatles, but then again love the ferociousness and complexity of Danny Carey's drum solo in Forty Six and Two, by Tool. My favourite though, would have to be John Otto's drumming on Re-Arranged by Limp Bizkit. His feel, and pocket on that song are unparallelled in my opinion. He throws ghost notes all over the place, displaces the beat here and there. To this day I'm still awestruck by it. There are plenty of other beats that I love, but I would honestly be all day talking about them."

AIMR: Who is your favourite drummer and why?

JB: "John Otto, without a doubt. He's been a huge inspiration on me. I love other drummers like Gavin Harrison, Joey Jordison, Stewart Copeland......I listen to any drummer who can play well, and knows what they're doing, even if I don't particularly like the song."

AIMR: Do you play and other instruments?

JB: "I'm learning how to play guitar, and bass at the moment. I can play a tiny bit of keyboard too. I have a good understanding of chords, and scales, I just haven't been able to put them into practice yet. I do a little singing too."

AIMR: Are you a frustrated songwriter?

JB: "Absolutely. I have so many ideas in my head, but can't quite communicate them just yet. Someday, I'll be able to write, and perform my own song."

AIMR: Will we ever see you do a Dave Grohl and front a band or solo project?

JB: "That is something I'd be very interested in doing. I love Dave Grohl, and his approach to music, and drumming. He's fantastic. One of my biggest inspirations, also."

AIMR: Why is drumming dismissed by the mass media when it is one of most important components in popular music?

JB: "I think drummers get a bad wrap because in some regards we're still considered 'just the drummer'. I'm very lucky, in that I rarely get treated that way. If you think about it, songs like Sunday, Bloody Sunday, or Give It Away Now wouldn't be the songs they are without those memorable drum intro's. I think the drums in a song are just as important as the melody. You dance, and tap along to a song just as much as you would hum, or sing it. I hate the idea that good drumming doesn't get as much respect as a really catchy hook. I love catchy lyrics, and great melodies, but when people tell me that the drums in a song aren't nearly as important as everything else, it gets on my nerves. Drummers don't get treated as bad now though, I guess. There's plenty of drummers out there fronting bands now, I love knowing that the front man of a band is a drummer, or that the drummer is the focus of a band. That being said, I don't think drumming is the only part of music I love, I just don't like when people disregard it as something that can be done by a machine, or that anyone can play drums."

AIMR: Have you done much session work and are you available for session work?

JB: "I've done a few sessions here and there, and I most certainly am available for work. I get called on to do live gigs, or reherse with bands, and help with arrangements of songs. I'd love to do more recording work though."

AIMR: Who would you like to work with then?

JB: "Anyone who'll have me. That's the honest to God's truth."

AIMR: What advice would you give any budding drummers?

JB: "Stay fit is one priority I can't stress enough, especially if you're a rock drummer. If you don't have the stamina to play then you're leaving yourself short, because you can't devote your full energy into the music. Practice, practice, practice! The great thing about drumming is that you can literally practice anywhere, anytime. Don't listen when people tell you to stop tapping. Build your drumming repertoire by listening to as much music as you can, and bring it into your style. Just be yourself when you play, don't try and play like anyone else, because you aren't them, you're you. Don't get frustrated if you can't play a particular song, or beat, always know that you will eventually be able to do it, it just takes time. I could go on all day talking about this, but one thing that I'd say to anyone who wants to play drums - LISTEN to the musicians around you, and don't let your ego get in the way of the music. Oh, and look after your ears, believe me......"

AIMR: Whats happening next with Liz is Evil? 

JB: "At the moment, we're promoting our album 'Failed Philosophy' which is available in stores, and on iTunes now. We have a few gigs lined up for March, and April. Check out our Facebook page for dates, and venues. Hope to see you there!" 
http://breakingtunes.com/lizisevil for further details

Review Matt Corby @ The Grand Social

Sometimes it's hard not to judge a book by its cover and when you see Matt Corby, jovially chatting to strangers, his Aussie accent merrily exchanging pleasantries to all in sundry. You would be forgiven for assuming that, when he takes to the stage, an evening of happy-go-lucky surf folk would follow. But nothing could be further from the truth. A minute into Matt Corby's performance in The Grand Social I felt I was listening to a musical genius. His voice descending from the stage like the hollowed spectre of Jeff Buckley dueting with Nick Drake, on one of their more sullen days. 

Many have tried and failed to mimic the sound of both of these legendary artists. Corby however falls in neither category The struggle for Corby is not held in either the playing or the vocal delivery but rather the lyrical content of his life as an Australian child-star appearing on their version of "Idol" and the pressures that brought him. Which led him to flea Australia for Europe dismissing countless offers of Major label deals along the way, before finding his home in the UK with the Communion label. Communion is the brainchild of Mumford and Son's "Ben Lovett", which has quickly become a magnetic pole for musicians.

Corby's set is split into two an acoustic section and an electric blues section. He uses a loop station to build up layers of backing vocals and guitar in tracks such as "Coloured Stone and Walls" singing a higher harmony over the looped bedrock, bending unbelievable notes for fun. Corby also sings off mic which creates a Southern Prison-Gospel style effect. The only qualm  I would have with his opening section was that the lengthy medley style jump from song to song, although astounding it had seemingly become too much to absorb for many in the audience.

The shorter electric section proved Corby more than proficient at the blues. Fans of "Songs for My Sweetheart the Drunk" era Buckley would surely recognise and enjoy the sparse soundscape of crunchy jazz tinged chords and modernised "My baby don left me" lyrics.

However despite his awe inspiring raw talent you are left feeling Corby needs to refine his arrangements slightly, with some songs perhaps containing one chorus too many. Corby may need to be paired with a producer whose knowledge of sound equals Corby's imagination, Matt Corby however is definitely one to watch.

Kowalski on US version of Skins

Letters From The Height Of Summer (Dear Bird) by AIMR favourites Kowalski appears in US version of Skins on MTV

Kasette at Communion The Grand Social

We were unexpectedly captivated by the sweeping bowing and sincerity of Kasette, on Friday night. The Grand Social, was the perfect setting for the Dublin 3 piece, consisting primarily of Piano, Viola, and Vocals. Creating an unusual and absorbing set of sunken-heart pop.. The vocals are heartfelt, delivering tales of love lost and barren-hearts held out for rekindling. With elements of Feist, Goulding and a sprinkle of Bjork on display. Musically Kasette are led by fast paced and memorable "Lead Viola" riffs, interchanged with picked staccato phrases. The piano acts as the rhythm section, whist also delivering more than its fair share of melody. At times the Viola is replaced by the Harmonium and the piano by the Glockenspiel, both of these instruments are utilised perfectly, adding great weight and texture to the compositions. It was pin drop quiet during their emotion laden performance of songs from their EP " A Mixed Tape" highlights on the night included "Fall Into Me" "You Were More" and "The Same" We highly recommend an unusual evening with Kasette.

Kasette - A Mixed Tape EP by Entertainment.ie