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Risky Business

They celebrate their tenth birthday in 2013, by which time we’ll have heard a whopping seven new albums from Limerick’s favourite DIY label. Celina Murphy meets the man behind Out On A Limb Records.

Celina Murphy, 13 Sep 2012

After Derry’s Smalltown America, which celebrated its tenth anniversary last year, Limerick’s Out On A Limb is Ireland’s longest-established independent record label.

They’ve survived a recession, an 18-month hiatus and an online revolution that’s changed the way we access music – pardon our French, but how in the name of Adele’s unborn child did they manage it?

“Pure stubbornness!” laughs Ciarán Ryan, who takes care of 50% of the chores at OOAL. “We nearly ended the label two or three times, once we came very close. In 2009 we met with all the bands in Limerick and we were like, ‘First order of business; Do we keep this label working or not?’ In fairness to them, they were really enthusiastic and came up with a lot of suggestions as to how the label could be run better. They also came up with suggestions of bands we should look at signing and that’s great. If we didn’t have the bands collaborating with us in that way, I don’t think we’d be able to do it all.”

Established in July 2003 by Albert Twomey (now of Plugd Records in Cork) and Richard Burke, OOAL welcomed Ciarán Ryan aboard that Christmas and he and Burke have been co-captaining the ship since Twomey left in 2009.

But back to 2003, when releasing Is It OK To Be Loud, Jesus?, the debut album from gone-but-not-forgotten duo Giveamanakick, was the first – and only – order of business.

“There wasn’t a huge plan per se,” Ryan explains, “just get the album out and see what happens.

“There’s a gazillion independent labels in Ireland now,” he adds, although the real number is closer to 35, “but at the time, we didn’t have anyone to go to and say, ‘How do you actually do this?’ In fairness to Richard and Albert, it was basically going and taking money out of the bank and getting this thing going.”

Fast-forward to 2012 and Out On A Limb are preparing their longest release schedule to date.

“It’s weird, we’ve kind of hit our busiest-ever period,” Ryan enthuses. “It looks like we’ll have four LPs out by the end of the year and three out in the first half of next year, so I’d say by the time our tenth birthday comes around, we’ll be pretty exhausted!”

Due in the next six months are albums from Crayonsmith, Owensie, Windings and brand new signing Jogging.

“That was a no-brainer for us,” Ryan says of the latter, who released their debut under the Richter Collective umbrella, “particularly when we started hearing the mixes back. It sounds brilliant, they’re taking it up a notch so to speak; we’re just delighted to do that record.”

2013 will see albums from Rest, Hidden Highways and Elk.

“It’s not fun at times,” Ryan admits with a laugh. “We’re not working nine to five with the label, but we kind of are in a way, we’re putting in as many hours a week as a full-time job at times. But hey, if we didn’t like it, we wouldn’t still be doing it.”

Jogging’s second LP Take Courage is out now. See for more.

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