MU­SIC

Fight Like Apes love their new al­bum, they tell Lau­ren Mur­phy,

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Front Page -

AS REV­O­LU­TIONS go, it was a fairly brief one – 27 min­utes long, to be pre­cise. I’m at the top of the newly opened Dublin Wheel – in the VIP cap­sule, no less – with three mem­bers of Fight Like Apes. Tinted win­dows, leather seats and, bizarrely, a flatscreen tele­vi­sion and tele­phone, it’s the only way to see the Dublin sky­line in its en­tirety. No, lit­er­ally. It re­ally is the only way.

But the elec­tro-thrash-pop-rock­ers have big­ger things to be ex­cited about to­day. About a month ago, they fin­ished record­ing their sec­ond al­bum – os­ten­ta­tiously ti­tled The Body of Christ and the Legs of Tina Turner – and are very ea­ger to present it to the mu­sic-buy­ing pub­lic. Key­boardist and vo­cal­ist Jamie Fox says that al­though those who have al­ready heard the al­bum have de­scribed it as “darker”, it doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean that Fight Like Apes have lost the key in­gre­di­ent of their mu­sic: some good old-fash­ioned fun.

“It’s not some­thing that we re­ally think our­selves, but ev­ery­body keeps say­ing ‘It’s darker, it’s a pro­gres­sion, you’ve re­ally changed,’ ” he says, as gan­gly bassist Tom Ryan glee­fully points out that the floor of the cap­sule is seethrough. “ ‘We’ve ma­tured’ is an­other one, but we don’t feel like that at all. You’re ob­vi­ously gonna be dif­fer­ent peo­ple a few years on from your first record. For us, this time it was about get­ting back to ba­sics. We felt like we’d maybe . . . not lost, but for­got­ten what it was all about, and why we were do­ing this in the first place.”

Vo­cal­ist Mary-Kate (“May-Kay”) Ger­aghty agrees. “I think we were play­ing the songs on the first al­bum for about three years be­fore we recorded them, so by the time we went into the stu­dio, any no­tion of a new sound, or a new key­board ef­fect or what­ever, was like ‘Oooh, that sounds dif­fer­ent, let’s do that,’ ” she says. “This time, the pe­riod be­tween record­ing and the writ­ing was so much shorter that we were still in­cred­i­bly con­tent with how it sounded.”

The new al­bum is per­haps not as in­stan­ta­neous as its pre­de­ces­sor; songs such as Thank God You Weren’t Thirsty (Light­bulb) ben­e­fit from the same lan­guid pace as tracks such as Tie Me Up With Jack­ets did on their 2008 de­but Fight Like Apes and the Mys­tery of the Golden Medal­lion, while Cap­tain A-Bomb’s al­most Afrobeat rhythm also treads new ter­ri­tory for the four­some.

“Yeah, we didn’t kick down the door this time, def­i­nitely,” says Fox. “I think one of the

“I think there’s a mas­sive pos­si­bil­ity that peo­ple won’t like this al­bum, but we love it”

big things we had with this one was ‘Let’s not bandy about the term ‘Fight Like Apes-ish.’ We just wrote songs this time, and we were like, what­ever we write, as long as it’s good, we’re happy with it. We didn’t worry about any­body’s ex­pec­ta­tions of it, be­cause we just re­ally wanted to be proud of the record and stand up be­side it.”

“I think we were very aware that we weren’t kick­ing the door down, too, but not un­til we’d recorded it. I like the fact that we have two dif­fer­ent al­bums in that re­spect, though – where one is a real ‘Ooh!’ and one is a ‘Hm­m­m­m­mmm’. It’s a think-piece,” says Ger­aghty jok­ingly.

Their new­found song­writ­ing ex­per­tise came partly through ex­pe­ri­ence, but also through work­ing with a pro­ducer finely tuned to their de­mands. Their de­but was recorded in the US with renowned knob-twid­dler John Good­man­son, but this time they chose to work closer to home, in the London stu­dio of Gang of Four gui­tarist Andy Gill – a name which had also been bandied about for their de­but.

“We gen­uinely felt like lit­tle kids mak­ing the first record. We just dropped out of col­lege, left our jobs and went for it – and sud­denly, we were in Seat­tle with a pro­ducer that had made records that we’d lis­tened to as kids. There’s a naivety to that, of course there is,” shrugs Fox. “If some­body says that to you, ‘Well, what if we try this?’, you think ‘Well, of course he knows best – he recorded Sleater-Kin­ney, he must have bet­ter ideas than me!’. This time, it was about not com­pro­mis­ing.

“We’re happy with how the songs sound, the way we’re play­ing them live. When we were talk­ing to Andy, or any of the pro­duc­ers we talked to, we told them that we wanted to record it com­pletely live, that we didn’t want any frills, ef­fects. We wanted to play the songs a few times, a few takes, and that’s it. We went for en­er­getic takes over per­fect ones, and that’s what we got. But at the same time, I wouldn’t dis­count work­ing with John the next time, ei­ther, be­cause I think he’s an un­be­liev­able pro­ducer. It’s just that maybe we were a lit­tle naive the first time, and maybe we did him a dis­ser­vice, in a way.”

Gill was highly com­pli­men­tary of their ses­sions to­gether, say­ing that the quar­tet “may be the best band I have pro­duced in years”.

“Ev­ery­thing about him was per­fect for it. We talked to a few peo­ple and thought ‘Yeah, this guy could work . . . ’, but Andy con­ducted his en­tire phone call from the bath, af­ter he’d gone for a run,” Ger­aghty laughs.

An­other ma­jor change to their sys­tem over the past six months has seen orig­i­nal drum­mer Adrian Mul­lan de­part, his role be­ing taken by Lee Boy­lan, who owns the west Dublin stu­dio that the band recorded their first two EPs in. Al­though they’re re­luc­tant to di­vulge de­tails of Mul­lan’s exit, they’re en­thused by

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