- 13 May 08
Limerick thrashmeisters Giveamanakick's third album Welcome To The Cusp is the product of ten days of cabin fever in Donegal. No wonder it sounds wet 'n' wild.
It’s not completely absurd to assume that Giveamanakick are older than their vernal years. Since their inception in 2001, the twentysomething thrash rock duo have become one of the most respected acts on the Irish independent scene (a suggestion that singer/guitarist Steve Ryan becomes visibly abashed by, good-humouredly tugging his baseball cap further down his face), gaining a repute that’s usually reserved for territory-breakers and warhorses.
The Limerick band’s recently-released third album Welcome To The Cusp is made of similar mettle as their previous efforts, 2002’s Is It OK To Be Loud, Jesus, and 2005’s We Are The Way Forward – a potent force of heavy guitar and drums that incorporates elements of metal, rock, and, for the first time, the use of an acoustic guitar on the track ‘Brittle Bones’.
“I think this album is how we’ve always sounded to ourselves in our own heads – we’ve just managed to nail it this time,” says Ryan. “‘Brittle Bones’ is our attempt at being menacing, really, as opposed to huggable. There are other songs on there that are quite old – ‘Horses For Courses’, for example, has been around since the first album, but I think we didn’t have it in us to record it back then. We were only young fellas.”
“And there’s a song on there that’s one of our hardest and fastest yet,” adds drummer Keith Lawler in mock-defiance. “So we are tough, right?!”
Welcome To The Cusp may have had a long gestation period, but like its predecessors, it was recorded in a matter of days.
“We were in a studio in the middle of nowhere in Donegal, so there were no distractions,” Lawler explains. “We just lived the record for ten days. We were so immersed that I was having ideas in my dreams about drumming.”
Tight recording deadlines must help to capture the kind of intensity and energy that GAMAK live shows are renowned for, I suggest.
“Definitely,” affirms Ryan. “Generally, we play the songs a lot before we go into the studio, so we know what we want going in and we don’t give ourselves very long to do it. It was eight days for WATWF, and ten days to record and mix this album. When we’re under that kind of pressure, I feel that it brings out the best in us. If we recorded it over a period of months, we’d probably still be putting finishing touches to it.”
It’s also the first GAMAK album not to be released on Out On A Limb Records, the Limerick label that was jump-started by their debut – instead, it’s appearing on Ryan and Lawler’s own Monkey Heart Recordings.
“The lads are and were invaluable to us,” Ryan states. “They brought us this far and we’re very grateful to them for that. But the two of us decided that we wanted to put 100% of ourselves into whatever we’re doing – releasing this album, touring it, promoting it, playing as much as possible and even down to contacting the plant to make sure it’s being pressed. We thought it was time that we just did it ourselves, really.”
I ask the affable double act – so obviously in tune with each other that they describe their friendship as ‘instinctive’ – if they think that this album will be the one to break them outside Ireland, having previously toured the UK with The Undertones, and performed at various European festivals.
“We‘re definitely going to push it,” nods Ryan. “It’s not even a case of whether people like us or not, it’s just that they know we exist and they’ve no other option but to accept it. Five years ago, we were thinking, ‘Imagine if we played with Dinosaur Jr. or Deftones, hahaha,’ and now we have.”
Having shared a bill with such luminaries, I attempt to goad a scintillating rock ‘n’ roll story from them.
“Seeing Aslan naked was definitely a low point,” Ryan deadpans. “We shared a dressing-room with them in Cork two years ago, and we walked in after our gig, towelling our fully-clothed bodies, to see them all naked. They just didn’t care.”
Welcome To The Cusp is out now on Monkey Heart Recordings