Loaded: Villagers create almighty buzz
I can't remember when there has been such a buzz for an Irish album than the forthcoming debut from Villagers. Sure, it would be dwarfed into inconsequential irrelevance by the likes of a U2 record, but there is a palpable sense of genuine excitement ahead of its red-letter day on May 14.
Last weekend, Conor O'Brien (below) paid his dues to the tiny Dublin cottage label Any Other City, who released his first 7in single On A Sunlit Stage, with a surprise late night appearance at their showcase upstairs in Whelan's. The first fruits of his Domino Records career will be revealed with the release of Villagers' debut single on Record Store Day on April 17, while Any Other City will release a four-track sampler featuring New Amusement, Hired Hands, Hello Moon and Feed the Bears.
Thirteen Irish stores will be taking part in the festivities, which hopefully is a sign of a fairly resilient over-the-counter industry in this country. Meanwhile, none other than Jack White has thrown his weight behind Record Store Day. "I think it's high time the mentors, big brothers, big sisters, parents, guardians, and neighbourhood ne'er do wells started taking younger people that look up to them to a real record store and show them what an important part of life music really is," he states. "I trust no one who hasn't time for music."
- Jimmy Eadie, producer of acclaimed albums by David Kitt, Valerie Francis and Jape, has been turning his attentions to re-locating Asylum Studios to Bow Lane in Dublin 2. Eadie and studio partner Liam Mulvaney have spent the past few months kitting out stage one of the project and the fruits of their labours can be viewed at asylumstudios.org.
The studio is owned by Ian Stanley of Tears for Fears, whose production CV includes Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, a-ha, The Pretenders, The Human League, Tori Amos and Natalie Imbruglia. Eadie sees the new-look Asylum Studios as an opportunity for bands and artists to use a bigger space to get into the mindset of making more ambitious, bigger and better-sounding records in an age of home production.
- The Libertines are rumoured to be receiving a whopping £1.5m pay cheque for turning up at the Reading and Leeds festivals and playing a couple of songs, which could be something of an achievement considering that at one stage the band were barely capable of standing up straight.
"We're going to get together and play songs which have been collecting dust in the garage," says Carl Barat. "People want to hear them, so we're going to give them a run. We'll be playing them like we're playing them for the last ever time." For £1.5m, they'd want to be at least a little bit special.
I attempted to interview the Libertines long before Pete Doherty's antics became tabloid fodder and the prospect of dating Kate Moss would have been nothing more than a far-fetched fantasy. He arrived late, spent a few minutes staring at me and spoke about sailing the good ship Albion with absolute earnestness. His band mates were fascinated to learn about Patrick Kavanagh's seat, which was within spitting distance of the hotel we were in. Bassist John Hassall thanked me for one of the best interviews they'd ever done. Upon listening back to the tape, I quickly realised that the whole conversation was complete, utter nonsense.
- Speaking of interviews, after reading Morrissey's fascinating discussion with artist Linder Sterling in Interview Magazine, I don't think I can ever again tolerate another over-hyped band peddling the hubristic notion that the world should give a toss about their boring new album.
Mozza's line of questioning is stunning. For example, he asks, "Isn't it a fact that eccentricity is something we consider to be a great strength in people we admire, yet a revolting weakness in those we do not like?"
Sterling delivers a wonderful reply. "Being a bit of a nutter is included in the job description of any artist worth the price of admission," she says. "Most of the artists whose work I really love were completely bonkers -- or, rather, had to appear to be completely bonkers and enter the realms of the truly mad in order to make an iota of impact on a generally obese and indifferent world. Think of Sun Ra. Even the ambulance crew who picked him up believed he was from Saturn."