Friday 2 December 2016

Q&A: Fred's Joe O'Leary

Published 22/04/2011 | 05:00

Fred's album Leaving My Empire is out now
Fred's album Leaving My Empire is out now

On being wacky, arcade fire and chips and curry

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Hello Fred -- the latest wacky band from Cork!

We don't want to lose our sense of humour. At the same time, we don't want to be called wacky. A lot of bands are easy to label quirky because they show a sense of humour. But humour is a massive part of music. Look at The Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Beach Boys.

And don't forget Leonard Cohen.

Yeah, he has a manky humour.

You recorded your latest album in Montreal. Did you partake of the local specialty Poutine [defined by Wikipedia as "French fries topped with fresh cheese curds, covered with brown gravy"]?

Poutine is gross, man. We didn't have it at all. It's difficult to get good one. They have it at McDonald's but you don't want to be eating it there. It's basically like curry chips.

The producer was Howard Bilerman. Didn't he drum on the first Arcade Fire record?

He ended up in the band by fluke. He was recording them. They had gone through a line-up change and lost a drummer just at the start of the sessions. He offered to drum instead. They were sceptical but let him try it out. And of course he's a brilliant drummer. He only toured with them a little while and recorded that album. Then retired to his studio.

From what we're told it wasn't exactly an amicable parting.

Where did you hear that?

Another band who worked with him.

We were there for three weeks and it was one of the questions we wanted to ask. He never went into any great stories or anything. I was on my own one night in the studio with him. I said, 'come on now Howard, what's the crack -- what are they like?' He just smiled and said, 'ah, they're very ambitious'. I got the impression they weren't going to let anything stand in their way.

Just like Foo Fighters, you recorded your new album on old-fashioned analogue tape. Who's copying who?

Foo Fighters are always copying Fred! The beauty of recording on tape is that it sounds warmer and you can get away with more. If you overindulge with volume levels on digital it sounds shit. Whereas on tape a bit of distortion is cool.

You must have been chuffed to have Damn You Hollywood on the Gossip Girl soundtrack?

It all happened very quickly. They said, 'oh, can we use your song?' We thought it would be out six months later. It was more like six weeks later. It's mad -- you never know with songs. You have your favourites, your singles. We wouldn't have put that as a single. Then it did the business for us. It's kind of cool.

The album Leaving My Empire is out now

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