- 14 Oct 19
Talking funk with Dave Geraghty, Bell X1 guitarist and frontman of Join Me In The Pines.
Bell X1's Dave Geraghty has just released the funkiest Irish album of the year in the shape of Monomania, his second record under the Join Me In The Pines moniker and a vast departure from the dark folk of 2014's Inherit. The new album tips its hat to Prince, Nile Rodgers and even David Bowie amid the synths, beats and infectious tunes. According to Geraghty, he had "almost fallen out of love with music", when he started working on Monomania: "I was working on some new material and I found myself staring down the old familiar road and I thought, 'I know where this is going.'"
"Music can be a very lonesome process and I didn't want that," Geraghty insists. "I wanted it to be collaborative. I wanted it to be social. I wanted to learn stuff."
So instead of treading those familiar musical hallways, he enlisted the help of old friend Mick Major, who he had played music with since their schooldays. "Music was always the glue to our friendship and we've always been in each other's lives over the years. He was working on his own Bon Ton Rouler album and I was working on mine, so we had this symbiotic relationship where we'd help each other. Mick got really excited about the clutch of songs I had."
"It was so amazing, not to be told what's right or wrong but to have someone else to buzz off, and for someone else to have an idea for your voice was so refreshing. His energy filled my sail."
He credits Major with spurring him on with the new sound, the two friends sitting up late in Geraghty's home studio, sharing beers and ideas. Major also taught him to record in a different way, "I always fell flat on my face when I went to record a song before it was fully finished, because I got caught up in the recording process. With Mick by my side, we took the same approach as David Bowie, where he would work the song up and wouldn't start his final vocal takes until the music was realised to such an extent that he went, 'Holy shit, this sounds amazing.' He would create a world for his vocal to inhabit."
They spent lots of time listening to music and figuring out why certain songs worked so well: "We had so much fun referencing stuff and trying to recreate particular sounds. It was a real mish-mash of applying the things that turned us on over the years."
So, was there a 'eureka' moment when he realised this new approach was bearing fruit? "I remember doing the vocals for 'Friends' and 'They Must Never Know' and feeling really silly, that this wasn't me. But the morning after, pretty hungover, I listened back with Mick to what we had done. I remember thinking, 'Am I still drunk? This is the bomb!' That was the moment when we set the bar."
Geraghty is delighted with the resulting album, "not just in terms of it being the fruits of two-plus years of work, but also in terms of having fallen back in love with music. It has given me the goo for having fun with music like that again. I'm already looking forward to making new music and playing these songs live." To that end, he has put together a stellar band including Major, as well as old muckers Tim O'Donovan on drums (Neosupervital, Bell X1), and Mark Aubele on keyboards (Nanu Nanu, Bell X1). The collective have already opened for Hall & Oates and David Gray, and also played Electric Picnic.
"There were a few confused faces in the crowd at the first couple of gigs, because it wasn't what people expected, but that was over a year ago. This year, we've embraced the funk, and it's been cool. It's so much fun to play these songs live; it makes me feel light. I find it such a buzz to be up front and centre, creating that inclusive party music. It's definitely the more raucous end of funk compared to the studio version, so it's refreshing and exciting to hear the different places these songs can also occupy."
Join Me In The Pines head out on a short Irish tour in October, on their quest to "conjure dirty, sleazy provocative dance moves from a crowd of people." We can't wait!