Waterford’s finest purveyor’s of alternative rock O Emperor have emerged from their self imposed exile in studio and are playing a series of live dates around the country ahead of the release of their as yet untitled new long player. I caught up with frontman Paul Savage for a few words about their new single(s), Krautrock and setting fire to the studio….
Hi Paul, The new album is due out in the new year, how is it progressing?
It’s going really well at the moment, it’s always uncertain to say, but I think we’re nearly over the finishing line with tracking stuff. We’ve been working out of our own studio in Cork for the last 4 months, so it’s been great to have so much freedom to experiment with sounds, try different versions or go back to the drawing board with songs. I think it’s contributed to these songs sounding a lot more spontaneous, slightly weirder and broader in sounds (we’ve embraced a lot of synths this time round..)
You’re playing a series of live gigs around the country at the moment, is it good to be back playing to an Irish audience after a series of European dates?
Ya the gigs are going great at the moment, we got a good chance to test out a lot of the new songs on tour in Europe, so coming back to Ireland now the show is definitely tighter and there’s a great buzz about playing the new stuff. We’ve been getting some great reaction to them too which has been amazing.
You’re bringing the double A-Side back into fashion with the excellent Erman Gou/Electric Tongues. There’s a lovely German era Bowie/Neu vibe to the tracks ,respectively. What influenced the sound of both tracks?
We are big fans of Bowie and especially some of the 80s stuff. I guess there was a good bit of that early German Electro/Krautrock sound that we were listening to at the time that filtered into Electric tongues. I liked how on a lot of that music the vocal can be very monotone but with the music pulsing around it, can create a really strong atmosphere. For Erman Gou, it was a song that Richie (Bass) had that we pretty much recorded straight away with drums, bass and acoustic guitar. We used the second take from start to finish as it was really relaxed and had a nice spontaneous kick to it. Afterwards we stuck on some synth touches and a leslie sounding guitar. I think it reminds me of some of the really chilled T Rex stuff, which has also filtered into the album in places.
You’ve not rushed the release of the new record and the double a-side offers a nice teaser of what is to come. Do you think that there’s a lot of pressure on acts nowadays to hurry new releases?
There definitely is. I think no matter how popular you get, people are very quick to get their fix of whoever and then move on, so in that regard you are only as popular as you’re current release. We could have put out an album much earlier to try and catch the tail end of whatever hype was around the first record but we didn’t feel we had enough good stuff and some recording sessions felt rushed. What’s most important for us, is to put out something that we can look back on and be really happy with. For this album we felt better doing it on our own so we had to build our own studio, that was a large part of the delay in actually recording, but now that that is set up I think future releases will be more current and as of when we feel we have something good to put out.
Now for an obvious one, what’s been the highlight of the year so far?
Not burning down our studio…we’ve had some near misses..
Do you think that your sound has changed much since from when ye started out?
It definitely has, it’s always naturally evolving, as all members listen to and get into different musical tastes. The sound has also changed by writing a lot of the music in the studio as we record it. We used to write songs, practice them, then tour them and then finally record them, which I think can sometimes take the freshness and excitement out of a recording. It’s funny how four or five years ago we would have scoffed at the mention of a synth etc but now were really into the amazing scope it has and color it can bring to a song, that said, our next album maybe the cliche, “striped down, back to basics” album….something with a bluesy rootsy twist : )
Lastly, world domination and new records aside what does the future hold in store for O Emperor?
Buy a fire extinguisher….
“Electric Tongues/Erman Gou” is out now http://oemperor.bandcamp.com
Tour DatesNov 9th – Dolans, Limerick. Nov 10th – McGarrigles, Sligo.Nov 15th – Wexford Arts Centre, Wexford Town.Nov 17th – Cleeres Theatre, Kilkenny.Nov 22nd – Roisin Dubh, Galway.Nov 23rd – Whelans, Dublin.Nov 24th- Cyprus Avenue, Cork