Interview and track from our Bulmers Berry 'Music' winners.
The Bulmers Berry ‘Who’s Hiding In The Undergrowth?’ competition gave bands across Ireland the opportunity to get their voices (and music) heard. Upon spying his chance on hotpress.com, Swords drummer Ian Frawley didn’t hesitate, quickly submitting ‘Chasm’, a ridiculously up-tempo affair that sports psychedelic synth work, disco beats and some deceptively caustic vocals. It’s the kind of song that refuses to leave your head for hours, almost smug at just how damn hooky it is. The judging panel was suitably impressed.
“When you get down to the final two acts and realise that people who are really into their music have judged you, it’s brilliant,” Ian enthuses. “Then when you get on to your supporters, friends and fans and get a massive reaction then it’s brilliant on two levels.”
One determined “social networking onslaught” later and the Dublin-based band were crowned deserving champions. While there is a subtle darkness to their music, it is undeniably infectious. Do they consider themselves a pop band?
“In some cases we’re ultra-pop,” offers Ian, to the brief bemusement of his bandmates. “I guess because of the vocals, there’s an element that joins all the songs together and keeps it the same band. You can only be labelled by what you put out, though. We’ve put out three electro pop songs and even if we are at our most indie/heavy kind of stuff, there is an element of trying to put effects in there and make it more hook-driven, so there is a common thread of pop but sometimes it can be a lot darker. Our minds are a lot darker, certainly.”
“The songs that you’re still singing after your first listen, just around your house… they’re pop songs, right?” ventures vocalist and keyboard player Diane Anglim. “They’re in your head, they’re popular. If the lyrics are shit in a pop song then I don’t have any regard for it. Bruno Mars, I think his songwriting is amazing, really, but some of his songs are crap because his lyrics are crap.”
“It’s not for us to decide what we sound like,” offers Ian. “I don’t consider myself to originally be into electro music. I started off with indie and grunge and just playing rock. Radiohead are my favourite band, but somehow we’ve ended up with this sound and we’ve really embraced it. To have all the effects and synths we have at our disposal is really exciting, and you get inspired by all these mad sounds.”
Originally formed as a two-piece by Ian and vocalist Diane, the recording of their cutely-titled Demo EP led to the recruitment of bassist Jarlath Canning to fill the necessary void created by laying down bass lines on the three-track effort. The result is a band with a slightly more aggressive edge and a renewed focus. “It was like Desperately Seeking Jarlath,” recalls Ian.
Midway through our conversation, Ian spots my copy of the new Morrissey book, a collection of academic essays about the Smiths supremo. Given that the band is partly named after Moz, are they fans?
“We’re big fans of The Smiths, probably more so than Morrissey,” says Ian.
Not fond of his outspoken behaviour then?
“Oh no, I’m definitely a fan of all of that kind of stuff. The world would be really boring if it wasn’t for the likes of Roy Keane and Morrissey...”
It’s at this point that an incredulous Jarlath interrupts, evidently shocked by such a pairing.
“I can’t believe you’ve put them in the same sentence!” he laughs. “You’ve got to work Gorbachev or someone in now, quick!”
Nonetheless, the drummer stands firm.
“Dark minds who say what they think and who don’t give a shit about what anyone else says, that’s what I like! I’ve got some friends like that…”
Back to the name though, are the trio aware that their moniker seems a more natural fit for a particularly specialist brand of heavy metal?
“That’s why the cover of our demo is yellow with stars on it!” laughs Diane.
“The name was a conscious decision,” adds Jarlath. “With certain bands you hear the name and think, ‘That’s terrible’, but by the time you’ve listened to the music, they’ve almost changed your perception, and I think that’s a nice idea, that maybe at some stage people won’t think of us as some town on the edge of Dublin.”
Ian chimes in – “I think the town should have to change its name!”
Someone alert Fingal County Council, because if this threesome have their way, there’ll be a few signposts needing a fresh lick of paint in the not too distant future…
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