Dream Guitar Pop::: An interview with Echo Lake

Dreamy pop merchants Echolake have been charming the bejaysis out of fans and critics alike. Their debut long player Wild Peace has been garnering rave reviews across the board.The band are on the cusp of a wave and seem destined for big things. The five piece are on the road at the moment, I caught up with guitarist/songwriter  Thom Hill for a few quick words between gigs.

Hi Thom, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions.
So for those that still havn’t heard of Echolake how would you describe your sound?
Dreamy, textured, noisy guitar pop? It’s hard to describe because we want it to be so many things but I think that pretty much sums us up. 

 The story of how you got signed is quite amazing( the band were contacted an hour after they’d first uploaded material on myspace). Was it a shock to the system to find yourself in a signed outfit so quickly?
It was great to be offered the chance to release material so quickly and yes it was a bit of a shock because it happened so fast. But I think we’ve done it the right way by taking our time and working closely with 2 great indie labels, no pain in pop and slumberland. For a record with such a small team of people working on it I think it couldn’t have gone better. 

Congratulations on the new Album, its a peach of a record.How was the recording process?
Thank you. It was long but that was because we went at our own pace until the songs were fully formed enough. The recording process was great because thats when your experimenting and having the most fun with the songs. The toughest part was the mixing stages. I’ll be aiming to take a different approach on the next record, it worked well this time but it was pretty stressful. 

What can your fans expect from the Echolake live experience?
It’s quite different to the record. Obviously it’s slightly more stripped down but we play the songs heavier and faster live. There’s a lot of energy, hopefully they’ll love it and appreciate the difference of the live sound and the record. 

  Who would you describe as your musical influences?
Personally the Beach Boys, that whole Phil Spector sound, Radiohead, The Smiths. I grew up on a lot of guitar bands like Sonic Youth and The Pixies. I’m a big Bruce Springsteen fan, but to be honest there’s so many to pin down at different times so I just round it up to those lot. 

  Lastly what else in store for 2012?
Finish this tour and start planning for next year. I’m working on the next record at the moment so when I’m home I’ll be aiming to finish that as soon as possible. 
Many thanks to Thom for taking time on the road to have a quick word.
Echo Lake play The workman’s club, Dublin on Wednesday, 10th October
Wild Peace is available from all good record stores

On the Turn:::An Interview with Kerbdog

Kerbdog were that rarest of things a hip Irish act who had songs that actually rocked. They first made their impact as Britpop held sway and carved out their own particular rock niche thats stayed long in the ears of their fans and critics alike.Veterans of the Irish music scene, the Kilkenny rockers made a serious dent in the Irish music landscape back in the 90s before spliting in 1998, going on to form Wilt, and then reforming for a number of live shows since 2005. It’s 15 years since the release of their seminal album ‘On the Turn’ and they’re playing a series of Irish dates. I spoke to Darragh Butler about the band, getting back together and what the future holds for Kerbdog

Fans are suitably delighted with the upcoming shows. How did the new gigs come about?

We are asked every day to do stuff, sometimes the stars align and it makes sense. Long story short, we love playing, love catching up, but we individually lead very different, very busy lives at the moment so hence the small number of gigs we do these days. We will play whenever we can. We’re also aware that we cannot play the two albums for ever so unfortunately turn down 10 times more than we accept.

Is it a strange experience to be playing together again?

It can be. We get on great, we were close friends before the band, and still are. I spent pretty much everyday with Battle and Billy since we were nine years old, then getting to know Colin through indie cover bands before Kerbdog. That will always be there. Through Kerbdog relationships took a battering but its like the early days again, doing it for nothing more than a party with your buddies, creating havoc and blowing as many people away as we can:)
When we play the first tune at rehearsal, normally we are looking at each other laughing, remembering various incidents or shenanigans the song became linked to or associated with, or the fact we’re in a remote studio on the middle of nowhere, not playing with Helmet, Therapy, living in LA or wherever. Then, the tunes take over, and its all about that. Certain Kerbdog tunes are fun, like Sally, they make us smile for all the right reasons. Some tunes are darker, like severed or end of green, I when hearing and playing these, and I know the boys, even though we never talk about it feel a little sad for different reasons. We were all affected by what happened to some extent. Its good to feel something from your songs, we always had the fear that would have dissipated. That would be a depressing empty experience. Ultimately, playing as we have done over the last few years have put a lot of the demons in their box and fun has raised its welcome head, again. Bristol earlier this year was possibly the happiest gig we ever did. We enjoy it again, a lot!

It’s hard to believe that it’s fifteen years since ‘On the turn’. It’s a really popular record. What do you think has been the key to it’s longevity?

Its a great record. Its got some huge tunes on there, lots of energy and recorded by the best rock engineer/producer on the planet, Gggarth Richardson mixed by an equally talented Joe Bareisi. I remember an Interview back then, when we know we had gone way over budget recording it in Los Angeles. We were asked what we wanted from the record.
The response is something we can be proud of in 15 years. Job done. Commercially it didn’t get what it deserved as it took so long to write and record, the team at the label pushing for Kerbdog had in the waiting left, been fired etc. Bar the UK rock press we got pretty much no coverage, especially on national Radio. Being Irish was always a hindrance there with radio. Naturally UK stations will play UK bands. (Wilt got b listed until they found out who were were). My only regret is we didn’t spend enough time in the US, we were making big waves there, and there was a proper rock scene with all our peers involved, people got us, then we came back. “Oi, who do you prefer, Oasis or Blur” and that was pretty much that….

Because of all the above, there has always been a big admiration for the record, people believe its better than a lot of “big” albums, its never got any support and we never got the chance to tour it properly. We never got the chance turn crap and destroy it like most bands do which also helped. On The Turn was ahead of its time in the UK. Both albums have just been re-issued, maybe the penny will drop this time haha:)

What can we expect from the Kerbdog live experience in 2012?

We will be playing a bunch of tracks from both albums, the Dublin show will be the entire On The Turn album played in reverse. Looking forward to this as there’s a few tracks we haven’t played since ’96. Most shows are sold out or selling out so its going to be buzzing with energy. We’ll have the rocking Zero Pilot from Bristol on board for both Dublin and London. Also I’ll have the bizarre role of supporting Kerbdog, playing with Souls, which also features Billy from Kerbdog. Think I’ll resort to my powerbar vodka combo for that! Billy will be joining us on stage during the Kerbdog set too. It feels amazing that we can turn up 15 years later and sell out venues. There will be an additional 3 shows early 2013. Its purely down to our hardcore fans that we can take time out and do this every once in a while. Some vindication right there.

As veterans of the Irish scene what advice would you have for any bands starting off?

Write good tunes, be super critical, opinions outside the band are wrong. Dump the mediocrity, practice hard. Do what you do well, don’t try be someone else. Don’t feel you are owed anything, your not. If you are on the dole you are NOT a professional musician, get in the van. Get off Facebook, your group of friends telling you how great you are doesn’t matter, go convince the strangers. Don’t do it for money. Value your family and friends at home. There’s no “I” in band. Split everything evenly. Go see Therapy or Metallica, that’s how a live show works. Enjoy every minute of it.

Go to America.

Lastly , I have to ask this, any plans to record any new material together?

We have a live album due out pretty soon, recorded by Dave Draper at our Bristol show earlier in the year. It sounds HUGE and a few labels are after it. I cannot wait for that, the 3rd official Kerbdog album.
One show last year was intended to be a live unplugged album with a new track. But, we got an hour to practice which was spent looking at how broken Colin’s amp was. We decided to kick that can down the road!
Gggarth and Simon from Biffy Clyro want to re-record On The Turn, so we might do that and add something. We would all love to do more, we feel there is unfinished business there but we are rarely in one country at the same time, never mind town. We’ll see…

Many thanks to Darragh for taking the time to talk to me.The albums “Kerbdog” and “On The Turn” are re-released on East World Records You can catch Kerbdog live at Cyprus Avenue, Cork Sat 10 Nov & The Acadamy, Dublin on the 8th of December

Galaxie Quest::: An interview with Le Galaxie

Purveyors of synth based good times Le Galaxie are coming to town.  Over the past 12 odd months, they have had an amazing run of form that’s seen them develop themselves as a formidable live act who have rocked the bejaysis out of the festival circuit whilst releasing quality tunes to boot. I had a few words with them ahead of their gig in The Pav.

It’s been a pretty hectic year for Le Galaxie? What would you say the highlight has been so far?

The festival shows, probably. They’ve always been pretty special to us but this years lot (Forbidden Fruit, Vantastival, Indiependance, Castlepalooza and Electric Picnic) were off-the-scale bananas. Releasing ‘Fade 2 Forever’ was special too. 

How would you describe the band’s sound to the uninitiated?

Dancefloor tearjerkers. You’ll dance, you’ll have emotions, you might just text your childhood sweetheart and tell her she’s a bitch.

 Congrats on the fade to forever EP, really enjoying it. How was the recording process?

Quicker than our album! Things were a lot easier this time around. The songs were written so it was just a case of finding a nice space for the drums to be recorded and a nice space for everything else to fit in. But it was Laura and Elaine that completely defined were we were headed, production wise. They brought an A-Game to our usual C-Game. So that averaged us out at a B. B is good!

 The band are quickly establishing a reputation as one of the best live act’s around. What can the Cork crowd expect from ye this time out?

We’re breaking out the second drumkit for the Cork show. Usually we reserve that for festival shows but the Pavilion is an awesome little venue and I think she can handle it. Also, we bring an hours worth of tunes. 

 What have ye been listening to lately?

Totally Enourmous Extinct Dinosaurs, Grimes, Hot Toddy, Fred Falke, m83 (always), College, The Presets, Giorgio Morodor, Fletch OST, Zombi. 

 Thanks for taking the time to talk to me, lastly what else in store for 2012?

After Hard Working Class Heroes we’ll be away writing our 2nd album, then it’s two sold-out shows in Dublin’s Workman’s Club for xmas and the Roisin Dubh for New Year’s Eve! Then we’re splitting up…

Deadly serious as always the Le Galaxie lads bring their unique brand of uptempo electro fused pop to The Pavillion tonight. It’s free in and support comes from Bantum. They play Hard Working Class Heroes in Dublin on October 5 at 11.30pm in the Meeting House Square. ‘Fade 2 Forever’ is out now on the Delphi Label and available to stream and buy at www.legalaxie.net


Jesca Hoop Interview

The exceptionally talented  Jesca Hoop has released her latest album, entitled The House That Jack Built. The Manchester dwelling, Californian born singer songwriter has seen her reputation growing over the last few years. Jesca has toured with the likes of Tom Waits, Polyphonic Spree, Elbow, Andrew Bird, Eels and Peter Gabriel. Jesca is currently touring and was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions.

Firstly  congratulations on the new album ‘The House that Jack
Built’. Can you tell me a little about how it came about?

Thank you. Well…. it was a pretty intense writing process
and I was quite isolated the whole while writing it. I wrote the songs
here in Manchester, England and they represent the very first of my
writings since my move from Los Angeles to Manchester. I brought the
rain-soaked songs to Zeitgeist Studio in LA and more specifically the
studio owner and producer of my first two full length records, Tony
Berg. Tony (his studio) comes equipped with a genius sound engineer
named Shawn Everett. Also regularly working at Zeitgeist is guitar
playing wonder Blake Mills. All three of these fellows worked with me
on my past two records in their respective roles. With “Jack” we
decided to divide the producer role between all four of ourselves
evenly. This made for a very exciting creative process. All that you
hear on the record is generated by the four of us.

How did you find the recording process?

The recording process was intense, very exciting at first with all
of the ideas whirling around and the initial rush. Then the reality
of the work set in and the weight of the task at hand given the
timeframe we were working within. It would feel heavy at times.
Very long long days. Songs can wear any arrangement… some
arrangements could classify as fashion crimes. With some of the
songs we had to try out different looks… different arrangements
before the song was “funky fresh dressed to impress ready to
party”. Other songs came together seamlessly and without any
negotiation. The recording process was fun and emotional, tense at
times but true. It was a real exploration and learning process.

You’ve toured with some big names in the last while. What was it
like to go on tour with Peter Gabriel?

Touring with Peter was a real delight. It was a real honour to sing
these songs that I have been humming along to for years. Musically
it was a very rich experience. His voice is very rich and to support him vocally and duet with him was like enjoying the most  delicious wholesome meal. A wonderful tactile experience in other
words. The New Blood Orchestra as well… what a set of immensely skilled players. That was my first time ever singing with an orchestra and I hope it’s not my last. The crew was lovely as well
and touring through South America with the Gabriel camp was a real  pleasure.

What have you been listening to lately?

Queens of the Stone Age and the Beatles…. we have been driving
from city to city and gig to gig and this is very ‘keep you awake’
driving music.

What would you say distinguishes the new album from your
previous work?

I would say the writing style. I chose to speak more directly in
these songs. They come with all the blood, sweat and tears from
where they were sourced. There is no hesitation or apology in these

The new album is a particularly personal affair. DNR and the
titular track are written about your father, were they difficult
songs to write?

They were the easiest (although painful ) to write. I had more than
enough experience to draw from and enormous amounts of emotional
fuel to deliver what i think are two of my best songs.

Thanks for your time Jesca, one last question. What else in store
for 2012?

I am touring till the end of 2012 as you may expect… amidst  the   travel I am writing my next record and keeping fit. In order to write I must enjoy life so there will be plenty of adventures and
trouble to get up to.

Thanks a million Jesca, her new album ‘The House That Jack Built’ is now available on i-tunes and from all good record stores. Tour dates are available on her website http://www.jescahoop.com/news

Fear Stalks The Land::: Interview

I spoke to Darragh from Fear Stalks The Land who was kind enough to tell me a little about the band/

How would you best describe Fear Stalks The Land’s sound?
Somewhere between electronic/ laptop music and “post-rock” bands like Mogwai. We really like making beats and using synths as well as guitar and bass.

Congrats on the new EP. What music were you influenced by while writing it?

The main influences were probably bands like Efterklang and Sigur Rós, who helped shape how we developed the songs, particularly with regards to instrumentation. We tried a lot of things like vibraphone, accordion, glockenspiel and double bass as well as brass and string sections that we might not have otherwise used.

Was it a difficult recording process?

It was a little bit tough. We were both very busy for the past year, mainly with college work, so it was quite a drawn out process. The songs started to really take shape 12 months ago when we went to Darragh’s house in Bantry to work on them. But there were just too many breaks in between the sessions to let us build up momentum and get everything done quickly. In a way I suppose we benefited from that, because the songs changed a lot and they’re better now than they were at the start, but there were definitely times where we got a bit sick of it. We did all of the recording and mixing ourselves with some help from some friends and we learned a lot that will definitely stand to us for future projects.

How would you describe the FSTL live experience for the uninitiated?
Well we’re mostly an instrumental band. I think there’s a pretty big variety in terms of how heavy our material is and we like to maintain that contrast in our live sets. We project cut up old movies and videos to accompany our live performances and we think this enhances the experience for the audience. Since we don’t have as many versions of ourselves as we do when we’re recording we have to put some stuff through backing tracks but we’re conscious to preserve a live feel in our performances and we have different live arrangements for many of the songs. Often these can work out better than the “studio” versions. It’s nice to have multiple version of the same song in any case.

Do you think it’s become more difficult for new acts to establish themselves with the advent of downloading, etc?
There are two sides to it really. The main positive is that it’s so simple to get your music out there and reach an audience you might not otherwise be able to. It is more difficult to actually sell music though; once it’s online then it can easily be downloaded illegally, but I suppose if somebody really likes what you do then the chances are they’ll throw a few bob your way if that’s what you want. We might not have started playing FSTL! music live if it hadn’t been so easy to get it to an audience; Ross Gillanders of Horsemen Pass By sent Shaun an e-mail having listened to the first EPs on bandcamp asking him if he’d like to play gigs with them some time. Playing live wasn’t really part of the immediate plan before that.

Thanks a million for taking the time to talk to me and the best of luck with everything, now Lastly what else is in store for FSTL in 2012?

Thanks very much for asking us to do the interview. We’d probably be making music if no one was listening but it’s nice to have people interested in what we’re doing. We’re going to be making a music video for the EP version of Myra on Spike Island as part of the First Cut! Youth film project and festival in Cobh. We have some songs left over from the Myra sessions that we just didn’t have the time to get done. Hopefully we can get a couple finished and throw out a single or something. Apart from that it’d be nice to play more gigs than we have done, it’s always nice going to new places and playing to different people.

Fear Stalks The Land’s New EP- Myra::: Out Now!!


Inni-K Interview


Inni-K is a singer, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter. Originally hailing from Co. Kildare, Inni-K now lives in An Daingean, Co. Kerry. She was kind enough to have a few words with me ahead of her turn supporting Efterklang in the Cork Opera House saturday night.


How would you best describe your sound to the uninitiated?
‘A strangely evocative voice over delicate and quirky melodies’ – I had to ask a friend to help me out with this one cause I could spend all day at it and not get anywhere! The voice and the song is always the core of it for me, the instruments I use are fairly traditional – piano, fiddle but I like to add in something a little different with other unusual instruments and sounds – kalimba, ukelele, percussion, vocables. I use a loop pedal too so that allows me to create soundscapes to sing over.

You featured in 2012’s Other Voices. How did you find the whole experience of performing on the show?
Great! I didn’t know I’d be performing on Other Voices till about 2 weeks before so you can imagine the excitement! It all came about really from this little video I did with filmmaker Ben Dowden on a rainy day in the woods in Gort, Galway and it ended up on the homepage of youtube and exploded to 80,000 views!! I was living literally 50m away from McCarthy’s Bar in Dingle when the show was filmed last December, so I only had to stroll down the road – kinda surreal! I saw Aidan Gillen outside the pub doing some links and introductions for the show and I went in to do my bit. There’s a fantastic crew involved inOther Voices so it was a treat really. People really know about the show so it was a great honour to be part of it, and it helped me gain some more gigs and festival opportunities.

I really enjoyed your Gentle Star EP. It’s a lovely stripped back sound. ‘Find your beat’ is a great track. ‘Precipitate’ as well I really enjoyed. How did you find the recording process and what inspired the tracks?
Thanks very much! I absolutely loved the recording process. Jason Boshoff, the producer was just the right man for the job, and having someone there looking after everything was a new experience for me, something that really gave me the freedom to focus on my performance each day when I went into record. I went to London where Jason lives, so it was also quite nice to be away for my usual environment.

I remember the day we finished; I ran to catch the train to Stansted (we were working right up to 10 mins before train departure!!), I got on the train and burst into tears, cause the whole project meant so much to me and I felt so satisfied with it.

The EP Gentle Star is dedicated to my Dad who died in June of last year. ‘Gentle Star’ and ‘Precipitate’ were both inspired by Dad himself or by the experience of his illness and us all learning that the cancer was incurable. It was an extremely special time, sad and so hard but extremely special. Writing songs was a soothing balm for me during that time. Other inspirations for the songs on the EP would be books I’ve read and ‘Find your Beat’ was inspired by a river in Ventry, Dingle that flows into the sea, and changes its course every day depending on the weather. And dancing, dancing and moving. I’ve been recently working with contemporary dancers so that’s become part of my music too.

Who would you describe as your influences?
So many, and so many I’m not even aware of I’m sure! I listen to all sorts of music. I like singers who have something different, something special in their voices – Feist, Emiliana Torrini, Regina Spektor, Laura Marling. Of course, the greats – Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen…they’d always be there in the background. I also listen to traditional music from around the world; Irish, Malian, African, Indian. At the moment I like Sufjan Stevens, Sigur Ros, Elbow….and the list goes on…

What’s been the highlight of the year so far for you?
This year, I’d have to say recording my EP with Jason Boshoff in London and the excitement of releasing it at Vantastival Festival and Camden Crawl Dublin.

You’re supporting Efterklang on Saturday and playing the Hard Working Class Heroes Festival in October. What else is in store for Inni-K in 2012?
Yes, I can’t wait till Saturday! It’ll be an honour to support Efterklang! I love Cork Opera House as a venue, and I love Cork for eating! It seems I’m drawn to Cork a lot these days. I’ll be supporting Wallis Bird in The Triskel Arts Centre on 18 Oct, so that’ll be another one to look forward to too. I was delighted to be selected for the Hard Working Class Heroes Festival in Dublin in October, I’ll be playing on Friday the 5th in The Mercantile. It’s a great opportunity. And the rest of 2012?…as many gigs as I can shake a mic at!! And also I’ll be gearing up for recording the album as soon as I feel the songs are ready, and the bobs are gathered, but a Spring 2013 release is on the cards.

Inni-K plays support to Efterklang, Cork Opera House, Sat Sept 15th & Hard Working Class Heroes Festival in Dublin in October. Her EP ‘Gentle Star’ is now available.


Efterklang Interview


Majestic musical pioneers Efterklang  are making a welcome return to Irish shores for two performances as part of a special collaboration between Cork Opera House and ABSOLUT Fringe.

The band who are known for live performances that offer audiences a truly unique musical experience will be joined by the Major Lift Orchestra, conducted by Matthew Coorey, in what promises to be an unforgettable musical event. They will be performing music from their forthcoming and much anticipated album Piramida, you can catch Copenhagen’s finest in Dublin at Meeting House Square for Fringe Festival on Friday the 14th and in the Cork Opera house on Saturday the fifteenth.

Bass player Rasmus Stolberg was kind enough to have a quick word with me ahead of the Indie outfit’s Irish dates

Niallofcork: You’ve quite a long tour coming up. What can Irish fans expect this time around from the two dates ye will be playing?

Rasmus: Well these concerts will be extra special as we are playing with The Major Lift Orchestra. 

We will be performing our new album Piramida live and with us on stage we also have Peter Broderick on piano and choir, Budgie from Siouxsie and The Banshees on drums and Katinka Fogh Vindelev on vocal. She is a trained opera singer and experienced Efterklang collaborator and her singing is incredible.

Niallofcork: The new album Piramida is out at the end of the month. Congratulations. Really like what I’m hearing so far , ‘Apples’ is a great track. What kind of sound were ye trying to go for with this new release and how does it differ from ‘Magic Chairs’?

Rasmus: it differs from Magic Chairs in many ways. It is darker, it is more honest, it is more direct and the sound and songs have much more space in them. We have tried to condense and get into the core of the compositions. 

Earl Harvin from Tindersticks plays the drums on the album and Nils Frahm plays the piano. 

We have also used a ton of sounds from an audio expedition to this abandoned ghost town in the arctic called Piramida. We went there in August 2011 and collected sounds which we afterwards turned into beats, ambiences and instruments. 

Niallofcork: Lastly,  who would you describe as your influences on this album?

Rasmus: Most prominent ones must be Einstürzende Neubauten & Talk Talk. 

Bill Callahan also played a role as Casper who sings and writes the lyrics has been raving about him for a looooong time now!

Many thanks Rasmus and looking forward to catching the band’s amazing sound on the Saturday night(support from Inni-K). There’s still tickets available for this and if you want an unforgettable night out with one of the most interesting live acts around at the moment then you should definitely pick yourself up one!

Tickets are available on Fringe Festival website for Dublin gig priced €27,50 and Cork Opera House website from €15.