From Foxrock via Big Sur to Top Of The Pops - The inside story of the boys of summer as told by Eamon Sweeney.
Conor Deasy and Daniel Ryan grew up next door to each other in Foxrock, Co. Dublin. The musically-obsessed neighbours started jamming with classical guitars and alarm clocks, before graduating to basic electric guitars. In December 1993, Conor was given a phaser pedal for Christmas.
A few days after Christmas, in Dublin’s Shed Studios, they recorded a track called ‘Bells’ which, according to Daniel, was absolutely dreadful. “The track almost entirely consisted of guitars played through a phaser pedal and you couldn’t hear the vocals,” he remembers. “We asked the guy in the studio what he thought of it and he said it was good. He had to be lying.”
Daniel and Conor jammed with another guitarist and keyboard player and called themselves The Legal Eagles. Conor met Ben Carrigan at school (Gonzaga College in Ranelagh) and on hearing that he was a drummer and the vital missing link, he was immediately invited into the fold. Also at this time Daniel was told by Padraig McMahon’s sister that he really wanted to be in a band, so he was drafted in on bass.
The fledgling band played their first gigs in Slattery’s of Capel Street and the Blue Room. They also managed to score a support slot to Rob Strong (father of Commitments star Andrew strong) in the Kingston Hotel in Dun Laoghaire. Around this time Kevin Horan entered the fray, and the first incarnation of The Thrills you know and love today was born.
When they were around 17, and using the name Freelance they entered a Bank of Ireland Young Band Competition, which ran on several consecutive Saturdays in the Bank of Ireland Arts Centre.
“When it came to the judging at the end, the band we thought were the best were this band Freelance,” Dave Fanning recalls. “There were three prizes – best song, best band and best something else. We gave best song and the other one to Freelance, and because we gave them those two, the best overall prize went to this other band Shallow from Lucan. It’s the same thing with any band who goes on to become big. There is always another band who is at least as good as them.”
After finishing school, the boys played a gig in the now deceased Funnel venue on the quays to five people. After another disastrous gig in Barney Murphy’s, a disillusioned Freelance chose to retreat to the bedroom and try and dream it all up again. They believed that for the time being, playing gigs was a complete waste of time. In hindsight, this can now be perceived as a fairly important turning point for the band, accounting at least in part for their virtual absence from the Dublin live scene in subsequent years. It became about nailing the song, not getting the gig.
The Thrills’ epiphany came in the summer of 1999, when they spent a summer in San Diego. As soon as they came home, the rejuvenated outfit demoed completely new songs as The Cheating Housewives. Just after Christmas 2000, they completed it and sent it Philip Cartin of Supremo Records, who signed them. As Conor and Daniel state in the interview with Olaf, it didn’t quite work out. Only one Cheating Housewives gig ever happened in the Isacc Butt and nothing got released. They were given the option of leaving the label, or as Daniel more bluntly puts it, they were dropped.
A disillusioned and dejected band sat around the Central Hotel on Exchequer Street, asking each other if it was worth it anymore. Close to packing in, they resolved to go for it and launched into five or six days of rehearsing and writing a week. Slowly but surely things began to gather some kind of momentum.
During a trip to San Francisco, they finally decided on the name The Thrills. Back home they went into Sun Studios in Temple Bar to record two tracks, ‘Old Friends, New Lovers’ and ‘Santa Cruz (You’re Not That Far)’. In August, they received a call from Alan Culivan who was working for Lakota Records at the time. At the end of October they recorded a Fanning Session which included ‘Plans’ (secret track on So Much for the City), ‘No One Likes to be Upstaged (b-side of ‘One Horse Town’), ‘Car Crash’ (‘Santa Cruz’ EP) and ‘Don’t Play it Cool’. They also played their first gig as The Thrills at the Temple Bar Music Centre supporting Turn. Another support in Whelan’s followed. And around this time, Alan Culivan left Lakota and decided to give it his all as The Thrills’ manager.
A second demo consisting of the by now ubiquitous singles ‘Big Sur’ and ‘One Horse Town’ was recorded by Marc Carolan. “We did it in two overnight sessions in Apollo, which were mad in how well they went,” Marc recalls. “The lads went out for a while for a walk and when they came back I’d got it done and it was smiles all round. It was probably the easiest recording session I’d ever done with a minimum of people killing each other.”
Johnny Davis of Bright Star Recordings and BMG Publishing took a shine to this demo and agreed to get involved with the band. A copy was also sent to James Endeacott, A+R man for Rough Trade Records. Endeacott flew over for a showcase in the Temple Bar Music Centre. Impressed with what he saw, he brought Rough Trade boss Geoff Travis over for the next showcase. Rough Trade agreed to give the band money to record a demo and draft a contract, but by now a virtual A+R feeding frenzy was in full flight.
The next Music Centre showcase was alleged to have been attended by over thirty A+R men and record personnel. Marc Carolan also recorded the Rough Trade demo, which included ‘Old Friends, New Lovers’ and ‘Your Love is Like Las Vegas’, inducing even more Thrills industry fervour. In September 2002, Nick Burgess signed them to Virgin.
It is probably only at this point that most readers first heard of The Thrills. The NME Brats Tour and the release of a limited edition run of ‘Santa Cruz (You’re Not that Far)’ induced a flurry of publicity, especially in the UK. When ‘One Horse Town’ went in at number 18 in the UK Top 40 and they played on Top of the Pops, you could tell that The Thrills would crossover to a certain degree. But nobody could have predicted what was to come.
‘Big Sur’ broke the UK Top 10, leading the charge for the album release. At the time of writing, So Much for the City is enjoying its sixth week on top of the Irish charts, having already gone double platinum and sold in excess of 30,000 copies. No other artist has topped the album charts for longer in 2003 or boasted higher first week sales.
“There are lots sociological things you could read into this,” opines Johnny Davis. “In a way they represent the new breed of Irish youth. It’s almost like someone like Damien Duff – not arrogant, not brash, but aware of their worth and their value in the market place, so they work very hard at it, train very hard at it and are prepared to do whatever needs to be done to make it work. I think The Thrills are a real parallel to that.”
Have a sneaky peek at the cover of the new album by The Thrills.Read More
After confirming their return to action with a new album and Irish tour, The Thrills have stepped up another gear with news of a festival appearance.Read More
Now that the finer points of their third album Teenager are all confirmed, The Thrills have announced their return to the live scene.Read More
Fans of The Thrills can now exhale as the Dublin five-piece reveal the launch of their delayed third album.Read More
A rockumentary with an edge, The End Of Innocence unflinchingly tracks sun-kissed Dublin popsters The Thrills from early success to difficult second album syndrome.Read More
The Thrills have confirmed that they’re putting back the release of their new album until the summer.Read More
Dublin’s Olympia Theatre is the venue on March 31 as FM 104 stage an exceedingly tasty Help A Dublin Child benefit.Read More
Dublin's The Thrills have announced that they're close to wrapping up their follow-up to 2004's Let's Bottle Bohemia.Read More
Conor and the boys are ready to begin recording the follow up to Let's Bottle Bohemia, and there's a few changes this time around.Read More
The Thrills are reuniting with So Much For The City man Tony Hoffer on their third album, which is now at the demo stage and likely to hit the racks in late autumn.Read More
The Thrills are coming home for Christmas.Read More
The Thrills were involved in a hi-tech disappearing act last week.Read More
The Thrills are offering a reward for the return of a stolen laptop that has new material on itRead More
I am generally wary of national clichés, but I have to say the Swedish really are a frosty lot. I am excited beyond belief at the prospect of seeing the Thrills play in this exquisite, small venue and curious as to how they will do far away from adoring home audiences.Read More
Taking place tonight in the Dublin Point, the Meteor Ireland Music Awards will feature performances by Paddy Casey, Bell X1 and The Thrills among othersRead More
Let’s Bottle Bohemia was an unimaginative and deeply uninteresting follow up to The Thrills’ summery debut. This, the second single to be lifted from the album, is terrible, though still one of the finer moments on the record. Deasy’s vocals continue to verge on the irritable and the excellent title has little to do with the record.Read More
The Secret Machines and Republic of Loose have been invited to join The Thrills when they play Dublin's Point Theatre next week [updated]Read More
The Thrills blamed for after-match riot, the word 'me' has been banned from songtitles that will be played on RTE, and who'd win a fight between Paddy Casey and Glen Hansard.Read More
The last 18 months have been a hell of a ride for The Thrills, catapulted from the relative obscurity of the south dublin suburbs to the top of the uk charts, rubbing shoulders with Van Dyke Parks and Peter Buck along the way. But are the band suffering from diver’s bends? is that laid-back california-in-my-mind facade starting to crumble? We put on our therapist’s hats and endeavour to find out, if something’s gotta give, what gives?Read More
Opinion is largely divided on the new album from The Thrills – the follow up to last year’s hugely successful So Much For The City. Two of Hot Press’ leading critics join the fray. Prosecution: Niall Crumlish Defence: Tanya SweeneyRead More
“They’re this year’s Toploader,” argued a colleague upon the release of The Thrills’ debut album last year. He was wrong, but he was typical, The Thrills have had more than their fair share of detractors.Read More
According to Conor Deasy, the inspiration for ‘What Ever Happened to Corey Haim’, the lead single from Let’s Bottle Bohemia, is this: “We live in a time when popular culture has reached an all time low. It’s a culture of good fortune and gloating, where really vacant people with nothing to say are idolised.”Read More
Not content with getting ready for their Hot Press cover shoot The Thrills are set to bring their feel-good vibes back to London…all in the name of charity.Read More
Coming soon in HMV Grafton St: Mark Geary, The Thrills and (a rumoured) Mr. Weller...Read More
The Thrills have announced a pre-Christmas date at Dublin's Point TheatreRead More
The thrilling low down on what fans can expect to see and hear from Let's Bottle BohemiaRead More
Riding high on the success of their recent US tour, The Thrills are poised to release their second album, Let's Bottle BohemiaRead More
Speculation abounds Lollapalooza's poor ticket sales, with some American sources citing a possible backlash against headliner Morrissey...Read More
Thrills fans will have to wait 'til August for the release of their new single 'Whatever Happened To Corey Haim?'Read More
The Thills will play a DJ support slot for The Lily's in Whelan's next monthRead More
The Thrills have been added to Bob Dylan's Stormont Castle stormer, which takes place in Belfast on June 26.Read More
The Thrills will be joining the likes of Morrissey, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Flaming Lips and Sonic Youth and many, many more for the Lollapalooza festivitiesRead More
The Thrills will be playing alongside the Chili Peppers and the Pixies, with further details announced of the Pixies' reunion releasesRead More
The Thrills in LA: Conor Deasy enthuses about their fast evolving work-in-progressRead More
The Thrills in LA: Conor Deasy enthuses about their fast evolving work-in-progressRead More
Talent will always be the most important prerequisite for a career in music, but you’ll find the going a lot easier if you understand what makes the industry tick. Colm O’Hare looks at the specialist music courses which have helped the likes of Sinéad Lohan, The Thrills and Mundy to steal a march on the competition.Read More
Congratulations to Deasy and co. for EU-endorsed accoladeRead More
The sunny sounds of The Thrills are sure to go down well in the sunny setting of California's Coachella festivalRead More
Thrills fans can tune in to Today FM on Sunday night for an autobiographical radio documentaryRead More
It’s been a hell of a year for The Thrills, propelled from rehearsal rooms in rainy Dublin to a number one album, sell-out shows and limo-driven tours of L.A. at night. Hotpress catches up with the band as they kick off an irish homecoming trek with an exclusive Dublin fan club gig.Read More
Gerry Ryan will welcome HP Annual coverboys, The Thrills, onto his show on Monday morningRead More
Deasy and his crew had the crowd well-entertained with their gravity-defying set last night at Whelan'sRead More
No matter, with such relentlessly high spirited music it was impossible for the West Hollywood crowd to hold back the love.Read More
Still turning out some highly impressive and original singles.Read More
With the recent US release of their So Much For The City album, the Dubliners have racked up some rave reviews across the AtlanticRead More
The Thrills will re-release their debut album with a special bonus discRead More
The Dublin lads are up for nomination in the MTV Europe Music Awards and have extended their December tourRead More
It's Christmas come early for Thrills fans when they take over the Olympia this DecemberRead More
The band has confirmed another date at the Olympia following their first show selling outRead More
The Thrills announce Olympia dateRead More
It sounds like the stuff of hype and overnight success – from struggling garage band to next big thing and accolades from noel gallagher, morrissey and bono – but even at an average age of 23 The Thrills have paid their dues. Olaf Tyaransen hears how the summer’s hottest band went from worshipping whipping boy to having beck’s da play on their debut album.Read More
The band will play their first headlining gig since the release of their platinum-selling albumRead More
Their debut album So Much For The City has been nominated for this year's prizeRead More
Danielle Brigham checks in with The ThrillsRead More
The Thrills hit the number one spot with So Much For The CityRead More
The Dublin quintet gear up for the Point show this AugustRead More
As their bid to conquer the world (or at least this island and the one beside it!) continues The Thrills step it up a gear.Read More
Fortunately for The Thrills, the good news is that they have lived up to the hype and managed to bear the weight of expectation to deliver one of the finest, most delightfully crafted albums I’ve heard in a long time.Read More
This one trick pony’s party piece is getting kind of old.Read More
So Much For The City is out on June 30Read More
Despite a somewhat understated stage presence, they quickly find their feet with slice after slice of infinitely catchy pop, complete with five part harmonies, lazy, moseying rhythms and shimmering, sunny melodics.Read More
The Thrills' 'One Horse Town' enters the UK singles chart at number 18Read More
The Thrills get cherrypicked to feature alongside Moloko, The Cardigans and Blur on MTV's Brand Spanking New Music WeekRead More
Hot on the heels of their Ambassador stormer last week, The Thrills announce a return visit to Dublin in February. Also: read on for album detailsRead More
The sudden bolt out of obscurity title of 2002 undoubtably belongs to The Thrills, a band that Morrissey and many more have fallen for.Read More
Listen to tracks from Dublin-via-San Francisco next big things The Thrills, from their utterly rare debut EP, Santa CruzRead More
The Thrills join the NME Brat tourRead More
The Thrills embark on UK/Ireland tourRead More