- 06 Nov 07
Electro wizards Dark Room Notes might just be about to shoot for the stars.
Seated in the depths of Dublin’s famous Library Bar with two members of Ireland’s most promising act (says we), Dark Room Notes, all is quiet but for the low hum of chatter and the radio on in the background.
“Hey,” interrupts their frontman Ronnie Gaughan suddenly. “That’s us!”
Indeed, his cat-like hearing has just picked up on an ad for the band’s new EP Dead Start Program. He and keyboardist Arran Murphy listen intently but uncomfortably, unsure of how to react.
They’d better get used to the experience because it’s not going to stop any time soon. With their dark, electro sound, the Dublin-based foursome have impressed all those who have entered their realm. That includes the legendary producer Flood, who’s worked on genre-defining albums with U2, Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins and PJ Harvey among others.
“Our manager approached a few people with rough demos, and Flood came back saying he was interested in remixing ‘Love Like Nicotine’,” explains Ronnie, as if it were akin to calling a cab.
“It was one of those things that evolved. It was only when he had it that we believed it was going to happen.”
Arran continues the story, recalling when they first heard the remix.
“It was so exciting to hear what he did to the song we sent him – it came back completely different.
“We were in rehearsals when we first played it, which meant that we got to listen to it really loudly through this high quality PA. And it was amazing. We listened to every single note, and it sounded so fucking cool.”
The band – completed by guitarist/keyboardist Ruairi Ferrie and drummer Camera Shanahan – even met the man himself when he came over with his Irish wife.
Ronnie grins excitedly: “I couldn’t even speak to him properly. I wanted to ask him things like what it was like to record with Depeche Mode, but I was sure he’d been asked that a million times before and just wanted to chat.”
Flood's interest in the band was piqued, and he looks set to be at the helm for their debut album, pencilled in for early next year. The plans for it also include heading across the Irish Sea.
“We’re hoping to release it through a bigger label in the UK,” explains Ronnie. “We’ve had a bit of interest from Columbia and Rough Trade, but it’s very much up in the air.”
DRN formed after Ronnie and Ruairi moved from Dublin to Galway. They had previously been in a band called Obskure, whose claim to fame was that they came third in a national band competition, after The Thrills’ first incarnation Freelance came second, and Shallow from Limerick walked away triumphant. (“You could see that The Thrills had something, but the winners were so boring and crap,” recalls Ronnie).
In the absence of a bass player, keyboards were brought in and the sound evolved to its present-day form: less pop songs than four-minute definitions of intense moods, layered with intelligent melodies. Yet when their body of work is fully displayed live, one can’t help but notice a more than passing resemblance to the Joy Division/New Order crew.
“We didn’t set out to sound like that,” Gaughan assures. “I used to like New Order but I only have one album by them, and none from Joy Division.”
“Maybe it’s just the sound that’s come back around,” offers Arran.
Their style is concocted from the Drumcondra house of Ronnie and Ruairi.
Ronnie explains: “We start in Ruairi’s room with a computer, then we move to my room with the keyboards, then we move to the studio with everything.”
“And we go back into the bedroom again the next day!” adds Arran. “We’ve been touring so much that we find it hard to have the time to write. We managed to get together for a while yesterday, sitting around the computer.” Ronnie’s unenthusiastic manner implies this session didn’t go all too well.
“No, it wasn’t working last night,” he grins. “But we’ll turn it into a hit next week.”