Even recession can't keep local band Director down
MALAHIDE FOUR-PIECE PUSH FORWARD AFTER RELEASE OF SECOND ALBUM
THE global recession has hit every facet of life and the music industry has not escaped the cutbacks. Malahide band, Director, were one of a wave of Irish bands to find themselves without a record label, following Atlantic's decision to part company with the four-piece.
Undeterred, the band got to work on their new album, 'I'll Wait For Sound', which was finally released on Friday, fittingly, on their own Crapshoot Economics label.
It's been one of the most widely-anticipated records of recent years, following the success of their platinum-selling debut, 'We Thrive On Big Cities', which charted at number 2 in Ireland.
Hits such as 'Reconnect' quickly established Director as a household name, further helped by appearances at the Oxegen festival and various plaudits, including winning the Best New Act at the 2007 Meteor Awards and a nomination for the Choice Music Prize Album of the Year.
After more than two years off the scene, Eoin Aherne, Rowan Averill, Shea Lawlor and frontman Michael Moloney are back and raring to go.
Describe life growing up in Malahide.
It was pretty ordinary. I used to walk to school ever morning. The school I was in, Malahide Community School, was a good place for things like music and arty people, that kind of thing.
The year we were in, there were a lot of people in bands and I went to school with Ronan ( Yourell) from Delorentos. We actually played together in a band for a while and at school shows. There was a healthy musical atmosphere. My family played music so it was a very natural thing for me to get into. How did you all meet? I grew up with Eoin and Rowan, they were my friends in school. I went on to do music in DIT and I met Shea. At that stage, we were looking for a drummer and he fitted the bill.
Were you surprised at the success of the first album?
Yeah, definitely. We had no idea what to expect. We all hoped for the best and it was great, but we weren’t expecting it.
It may have come across as happening fast, but for us, it all happened slowly.
We got together for the satisfaction of playing and we still have that ethos. That sort of sense of fun and being passionate about it never really left us.
What has been the real highlight so far?
God, I don’t know. Recording the first album. We produced it ourselves and it was a great opportunity. We were very young and had a lot to learn.
We were thrown in at the deep end and came out good and it was a very close experience. We were given a lot of freedom and were left to our own devices, so it’s a great boost to your confidence when someone lets you do that. The band were one of the victims of the economic downturn, losing a record deal.
What effect did that have on you?
Not that much of an effect in a lot of ways. We spent a long time after the first album came out here trying to get it released in the UK.
It became clear that Atlantic weren’t going to put it out, as they figured it would cost so much and we weren’t going to sell a million copies.
We kind of just saw how far it was going and just got started on a second album. We work slowly. We moved into a house in Leitrim last year for about four months and it paid off.
It was a small, secluded cottage, with no neighbours and we were rehearsing every day. There were only three bedrooms, so one of us had to sleep on the floor in the living area, which was fun. We put our heads down and came out with something we’re very proud of. We went straight from Leitrim to LA and worked with Brad Wood, who has worked with Smashing Pumpkins and Placebo.
We spoke to a few producers and he was the one who was the most enthusiastic about the songs. Everything was demoed and ready to go and he really liked the stuff. His studio was right beside his house, so his family would waltz in and out and it was a really relaxed environment. It reminded me of the demoing in Leitrim - very focussed, but casual at the same time. But with better equipment. And four beds!
Is it fair to say the new album is a change in direction?
It’s a natural progression and we’ve changed ourselves as musicians. The first album was very clean, antiseptic and very dry. We’ve gotten more adventurous musically, in our ways of recording. We wanted to make a bigger sound and a lot of the songs on the album were recorded live, with the four of us playing in the room at the same time.
The last track in the album was done totally live, with no overdubs. The whole album was written with the four of us playing in the room.
It’s where we were at and it’s something that paid off. Some of it is a bit rockier and some of it is a lot quieter, with piano and organ.
A lot of the approach is the same, but a little more fleshed out. We established the way we wanted to approach the songs on the first album and on this, we build on that.
Was it a notorious ‘difficult second album’ to make?
Sure, it was difficult. The thing with a lot of bands is they come off touring and go back in the studio for six weeks and record and it can be difficult.
For us, there was a long time between the two albums. Whatever momentum we had after abut a year and half wasn’t going to go any lower.
We decide ‘let’s not rush this’ and it’s something we’re all glad of, that we took that approach.
What Irish acts have impressed you recently?
The Jape album was quite good. It won the Choice Prize - sometimes the winner can cause a little bit of controversy or head-scratching, but when that won everyone went ‘that was fair enough’.
Delorentos have a new album I’m excited about. They did some shows with us before Christmas, where they roadtested their new material and it sounded pretty good.
What’s next on the agenda?
We released the album a bit late for the festivals, so we might try and shimmy onto some bills if we can.
Distribution has been set up for Europe in September, so we’re trying to aim towards that, maybe doing some shows in Spain or a couple of other countries.
We haven’t really done much in Europe so we’re itching to get over there. We played a Spanish festival a few years ago and it was amazing, we got a great reception.
The first album is not released there at the moment, but there are a couple of blogs that talk about it and we’ve had a bit of radio play.
We have to see about the UK. It’s a tricky place to get into, so fingers crossed.