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At home with... Ollie Cole
Home-recording buff, culinary wizard and fully paid-up member of the local indie cognoscenti – welcome to the cultured residence of turn singer Ollie Cole.
Tanya Sweeney, 26 May 2004
Here’s a question – what do you think happens when two musicians live together? If Turn frontman Ollie Cole and his girlfriend, ex-Skindive singer Danielle Harrison, are anything to go by, domestic bliss ensues. Kind of.
When it comes to household chores, one suspects that Danielle has drawn the short straw. ‘
“To answer that question fairly on who does the housework, I’d have to say it was mostly Danielle,” concedes Cole. “When we started living together it was equal, but it’s at the stage where I do the cooking and Danielle does everything else… but only because she does it better. We eat a lot of salads… with Danielle being a Californian girl, she didn’t grow up like us Paddies so she eats really healthily, lots of pasta and salads and fruit. When she’s out of the house the odd time though, I’ll try to sneak in a sausage sandwich... I’m like the bloke out of the Pot Noodle ads.”
Culinary excellence aside, Ollie’s other obsession is home recording, and it’s easy to see from his Smithfield apartment’s set up that it’s a musician’s den. “The place is full of instruments,” he explains. “I have two pianos and ten guitars. The piano is the most important possession I have. If there was a fire, I’d have to go down in flames with it! I’m always recording something or another, so there are microphones in the bathroom, kitchen, everywhere.”
He did, however, manage to make some (slightly questionable) home improvements since he arrived there.
“It’s embarrassing, but I have a massive Turn poster up on the wall, but only because there’s a massive stain there! There’s also a hand-painted Elliott Smith poster on the wall that a guy brought me back from Australia. An artist called Justin Hampton did these individual posters from Elliott Smith’s tour. My friend bought it a few years ago for €200, and now it’s worth a fortune.”
Needless to say, Ollie has quite a covetable CD collection too.
“It’s pretty big, about 500 CDs in all,” he estimates. “There are piles of CDs on the floor, because I have a recording device set up on the table where they used to live. Now though, I use iTunes all the time and I play everything off the computer. At the moment I’m listening to Led Zeppelin and the like, and I love Rufus Wainwright and Elliott Smith, the soft, melodic, nice stuff. I get enough rock music when I go out, really.”
When it comes to going out, Cole is perfectly placed for musical shenanigans, as Smithfield has become the neighbourhood of choice for many local artists.
“I’ve got some nice neighbours,” concedes Cole. “Paul Noonan (Bell X1) is across the road and we meet in the Cobblestones quite often. Whenever the Bell X1 crowd are home there’s usually a gathering in the Cobblestone and it almost always ends up at someone’s house for the sing song, that’s a given. Alison Curtis (Today FM) and John Walshe (FM 104) live nearby too. When they come round I always make them play Scrabble,” he explains. “Rock stars should definitely play more board games. In fact, myself and Ian love to play chess on tour while everyone is loading the gear.”
As if the choice neighbours aren’t enough of an incentive, the Smithfield apartment has a location that many musicians would gladly trade their Fenders for.
“The best thing about my flat is that we live over a pub,” he laughs. “It allows me to play the piano all night if I want. People in the actual pub just think it’s someone in the pub below singing ‘Delilah’. I get away with murder… I record until 5 in the morning sometimes. It’s an old apartment with solid walls, so I’ve never heard the neighbours above me. We have people around a lot in the evenings and everyone will be singing.”
Indeed, get-togethers in the Cole household have become the stuff of local indie-rock legend.
“The last time we had people around, Gavin (Fox, of Idlewild), his girlfriend and a few others were there,” recalls Cole. “They totally wrecked the place! I had just bought this really expensive piano, and at one stage, Gavin was holding a beer with one hand and playing the piano with his arse. That was it… I was like ‘Right! Everybody out… now!’ It was like they’d been picking spuds before they came, there was muck everywhere.”
At least they didn’t get their hands on the video/DVD collection, which is something that holds pride of place in the Cole household.
“I’ve loads of films on the go, many of them are music documentaries, but I also have the essentials like Blade Runner and Pulp Fiction.”
Ollie’s daughter Kiva also has an impressive choice of films within the collection.
“My daughter is a real film buff. She’s only 13, but she loves American Beauty, and the horrors like Jeepers Creepers. She loves (screenwriter) Charlie Kaufman, her favourite film is Being John Malkovich. We even had to smuggle her into (Kaufman’s new film) The Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind last week.”
Sounds like he has a potential film director on his hands there.
“No… she wants to be an interior designer, I don’t know why. I could definitely do with an interior designer in the family… she could do a job on my place for starters!”
Photos by Cathal Dawson