Q&A: Oliver cole
On his new solo album and the demise of turn
It has been years since Turn split. And you're only getting around to a solo album now? Seems a bit tardy.
When Turn ended, I didn't know where to put my foot next. I knew I wanted to make a solo record, but I didn't have any money. I had songs, but I couldn't figure out a path forward.
So what did you do instead? Mooch around the house?
Maybe subconsciously I gave myself a year off. I didn't really try that hard to talk to record companies. I was quite happy to stay in and watch telly for a while.
What persuaded you to get off your behind?
A girl in Germany asked me to send her a Turn album because she couldn't get it there. She sent me chocolates in return and we stayed in touch on MySpace. She asked what was I doing next and I said I wanted to make an album but I didn't know how to go about it. She was friends with a guy in a band in Germany. He let me use his studio.
Of course, you still didn't have any money.
Shortly before I went, a friend of mine who is quite a successful musician wrote me a cheque for five grand. And said, 'give it back whenever'.
Who was the mystery benefactor?
I better not say. He might have loads of people turning up at his house looking for money.
So it was all plain sailing after that?
Just when it was all starting to come together, the relationship I'd been in for 10 years fell apart.
I was about to put out my first solo record, I really needed to believe in myself and the fact this person I'd been with my whole life doesn't even believe in me... Well, that was a tough pill to swallow. It knocked the wind out of my sails for another year.
In hindsight , do you think Turn fulfilled their potential?
I look back fondly on Turn. I think we had a couple of good opportunities... some lucky and unlucky breaks. As many bands do.
Of course, it hardly helped when your bassist, Gavin Fox, abandoned you for Idlewild as you were about to put out your second album. Did you wish him luck with his new venture?
Eh, no. We'd worked so hard to bring Turn to the stage where we were selling out the Temple Bar Music Centre on a regular basis and were about to launch our new album in Vicar Street. I went from being a stoner living in a bedsit to someone who was down at the bank getting everything sorted out, getting VAT registered... all of that. I worked really hard to take us to that point and then he told me he was leaving! I could have killed him.
You couldn't have been that mad. He's back playing with you.
It was one of those things. We're friends again now.
Like many Irish artists, you seemed doomed to play endless support slots for touring artists. Useful exposure or a bit heartbreaking?
It's a weird one. Sometimes I don't mind. It depends. For instance, I got booked to open for Mika at The Olympia.
Rock and roll!
I was in the studio around the corner, I had my guitar. I thought 'you know what, I'll do it'. I got there and it was all kids and parents. It was like a pantomime. I thought, 'they are going to fucking hate me'. And I went on and they loved me. In some ways it's easier to play to an audience like that. They haven't got that cool, credible thing. If you went and played in front of The Strokes, you'd be crucified because everyone's so hip.
We Albatri is reviewed on page 15