Wednesday 17 January 2018

To cut a Long story short: David's back!

It's the comeback that fans of late 1980s/early 1990s Irish indie rock thought they'd never see. I'm not talking about the resurrection of My Bloody Valentine, but the Lazarus-like return of former Into Paradise singer David Long.

More than two decades ago, Into Paradise were one of the brightest lights in the alternative music scene in Dublin. Taking their cue from the likes of Joy Division and Echo & The Bunnymen, the four-piece honed a languid, downbeat sound that seemed to perfectly distil the angst and ennui of suburban life (sample lyric: "Sometimes when you lie beside me/Our love goes cold").

Their first album, Under The Water, was released by the fledgling London-Irish label Setanta in 1990, which led to a major deal with Chrysalis imprint Ensign, who released Churchtown (named for the south Dublin suburb they grew up in) in 1991.

The next year the band re-signed to Setanta, who released a few EPs, including the excellent Down All The Days in 1992, before the group disbanded in the mid-1990s.

What does David remember of those heady days?

"We did so many things wrong. We were naive," he said. "We'd been in different bands since the age of 17 until we got signed, when I was 26. We were a long time doing rehearsals and playing small gigs and getting nowhere, so when the chance did come we were more shocked that anyone had an interest."

That interest came from a London-based Dubliner who was looking for Irish bands to sign to his new independent record label.

David says: "Keith Cullen from Setanta went into Comet Records in Dublin and bought a DIY cassette of our music. The cover had a photo of a girl and a building. He rang me up to say he was interested in signing us to this new label called Setanta. Then he rang back two weeks later to say he was going to get Adrian Borland from The Sound to produce it. I couldn't believe it.

"We were so lucky. I don't think we would have got anywhere if Keith hadn't bought that cassette. At that time we were called Backwards Into Paradise – I think it was Keith who suggested we shorten the name."

David has fond memories of the period in Dublin in the late 1980s when so many good new bands emerged.

"When I was 17 or 18, me and Shane O'Neill from Blue In Heaven used to go to a place called The Magnet Bar on Pearse Street," he said. "They used to have The Bodice Gigs where The Blades, Microdisney, Nun Attax, Chant Chant Chant all played. It was a brilliant scene.

"You had Rollerskate Skinny, Power Of Dreams, A House, Something Happens. The Stars Of Heaven were another great band. Nobody had any money. There was nothing happening in Dublin. It was simpler. No one was into music as a career; it was just a bit of fun."

Into Paradise then found themselves courted by major labels in the UK and received good reviews in the UK. "We were signed by the same guy who signed Thin Lizzy," said David. "The label, Ensign, had put out the first Waterboys album, A Pagan Place, and they had The Bible. They were cool guys.

"Our first album had a lot of sad songs. Then we tried to make a rock album with Churchtown. I think it could have sounded better. We got Al Clay, who had engineered the Pixies. He got the original sound, and then we got it remixed."

After a hiatus of 20 years, David has just released his debut solo album Water Has Memory. A self-financed, self-released project, it sees the now Kerry-based singer return to those languorous, hypnotic grooves in the company of guest musicians including Bren Tallon (ex-Revelino and currently of Second Captains) and ex-Into Paradise keyboard player Jimmy Eadie.

"I expected the new record to die a death because it's been so many years since I did anything, and there's so many bands out there – the whole music industry has totally changed," said David. "But I've been pleasantly surprised by the response so far – 2fm's Dan Hegarty gave it album of the week and Dave Fanning played it."

Indeed, David recently recorded a session for Dave Fanning's show which features an intriguing acoustic cover of U2's 'Out Of Control' which is accessible on www.fanningsessions/wordpress.com.

"What I was going to do – and this will sound big-headed – was record an acoustic-based album of songs from Irish bands that I really like. I wanted to do 'Sometimes' by My Bloody Valentine in the style of Johnny Cash. I always wanted to do 'Sacred Heart Hotel' by the Stars Of Heaven. And Brian's 'Planes Stacking Up'. Then I heard that Brian McFadden has an album of acoustic Irish songs, so I've put that on the back burner!"

Water Has Memory is available from Tower Records and will be for sale on iTunes later this month.

nkelly@independent.ie

Irish Independent

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