Here come the girls

Dublin’s Girl Band took a while to find their sound. It’s all about mak­ing it more‘orange’, they tell Jim Car­roll

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC -

TRACKOFTHEWEEK Fire­proof by The phrase “mid-tempo bal­lad” never sets the heart aflame, but this of­fer­ing from 1D is sim­ple and sweet. With touches of soft rock and a re­ally lovely hook in the verses (“and I can’t give up”) it’s in­of­fen­sive – try hold­ing hands to it at a bon­fire.

One Di­rec­tion

UN­LIKELY HERO OF THE WEEK is who helped out Lady Gaga after a tough year. Gaga told CBS that after Artpop didn’t sell as many as her pre­vi­ous records she “felt like peo­ple were . . . hold­ing me to a very high stan­dard.”

She went on: “Every­body’s hoot­ing and hol­ler­ing be­cause I didn’t sell 20 mil­lion records this time . . . I don’t have a for­mula . . . and I crashed some­time in the mid­dle of last year. I just didn’t want to make mu­sic any­more.” Luck­ily, Ben­nett stepped in and told Gaga: “Don’t ever let any­body take down the qual­ity or in­tel­li­gence of any­thing you do.” And now they’re re­leas­ing jazz stan­dards to­gether. As you do.

Tony Ben­nett,

ZERO OF THE WEEK goes to for med­dling with the youth­ful hi­jinks of 5 seconds of sum­mer. Drum­mer Ash­ton Ir­win com­plained to Young Hol­ly­wood: “We up­loaded a pic­ture once of Michael record­ing naked in the booth. Our Face­book page got taken down. We had to plead . . . to put it back up. It was rough.”

Life is rough, boys.



still isn’t over the Girls Aloud split. She told the Daily Mir­ror: “I didn’t want the band to end . . . on the very last night of the tour, our man­age­ment and pub­li­cist . . . said the girls wanted to split up the band. I was think­ing, ‘What?!’ I was al­ready in hair and make-up . . . and the show was start­ing in 20 min­utes. I was shocked.” Poor Nadine.



The slow, steady ap­proach for bands has a lot go­ing for it. In the case of Dublin’s Girl Band, the road from school­boy­ty­ros sound­ing like their favourite bands to throw­ing eclec­tic, ex­cit­ing and of­ten in­com­pa­ra­ble shapes in their cur­rent guise has been long and fas­ci­nat­ing. All those ex­pe­ri­ences along the way have stood them in good stead .

When singer Dara Kiely and gui­tarist Alan Dug­gan rewind the last six or seven years, you can see Girl Band com­ing to­gether. They spent two years play­ing Strokes-style in­die rock along with fel­low fu­ture Girl Band-mate Daniel Fox in a group called Har­rows (“We didn’t know what we were do­ing,” says Dug­gan) be­fore that fell apart.

Then, they resur­faced sound­ing “re­ally emo” as Sur­face (“We have a thing for shit band names,” ad­mits Kiely). A change of per­son­nel (the ar­rival of drum­mer Adam Faulkner), Kiely tak­ing over as singer, another name-change and a big tran­si­tional mu­si­cal phase led to Girl Band.


For Kiely, the move from the drum­stoolhe oc­cu­pied inthe other bands to the mi­cro­phone was kind of weird. “I didn’t have a clue what I was do­ing as a front­man and less of a clue when I was singing. The only live per­for­mance I had done be­fore that out front was as Scrooge in a play when I was in sixth class, and I cried on­stage and no one has talked about it since. I used to be in­cred­i­bly ner­vous, but the idea was a lot worse than the re­al­ity.”

The other change came in terms of sound. Dug­gan re­calls how hear­ing The Fall for the first time was a “holy shit” mo­ment. “Sud­denly, it was a case that we didn’t have to sound like th­ese other bands; we could sound like th­ese older bands that no one knew about.”

A grow­ing ap­pre­ci­a­tion for techno also had an im­pact on their sound. “The songs be­came way more groove-ori­en­tated,” says Dug­gan. “That’s very much a live thing, in that you have an idea for a groove and you build on that. For me, that was the huge techno in­flu­ence. You’re just sucked in.”

Grad­u­ally, their sound be­gan to morph and be­come fas­ci­nat­ing. Over time and many shows, that mish-mash of grooves, hard­core thump­ing and short, sharp “It’samat­ter ofnot­get­ting­toore­liant on­the­p­laceor ex­pect­ing­toomuch,” saysAlan Dug­gan.“It’slikeJosh Hom­me­once­said­i­nan­in­ter­view: ‘Oncey­ouex­pectany­thingfromthe mu­sicin­dus­try, you’reinthewrong in­dus­try’.”

“When­peo­ple start­bandsin Dublin,they­ex­pec­talot,”adds Dara Kiely,“but­theyend up­get­ting dis­il­lu­sioned. Ifyou play­itright, it­can be­re­al­ly­good.” punk rock slaps grew into some­thing rather spe­cial.

“We be­gan to get more com­fort­able as a band and write all kinds of stuff,” says Kiely. “Some tracks would take months and months to get right, which is why we have so many short, punky songs be­cause we’d go mad if we had to wait around.”

“It’s a bit like the way The Beastie Boys al­ways had hip-hop tracks and punk rock tracks,” adds Dug­gan. “It makes so much sense to break up the grooves with some­thing that works as well as that.”


What also marked Girl Band apart from their peers from the get-go was a de­ter­mi­na­tion to not con­fine them­selves to play­ing Ire­land. All acts talk about want­ing to tour else­where, but Girl Band made a point of do­ing more than just talk about it.

“It was al­ways a mas­sive in­ten­tion not to be an Ir­ish band in that sense,” says Dug­gan. “There are so many bands who seem to get a buzz go­ing here and they have amaz­ing songs, but they don’t put the work be­hind it, so it just seems to ex­ist in Ire­land and doesn’t go fur­ther. They don’t tour, they don’t play live enough.”

Dug­gan knows many acts are con­strained by fi­nances. “It’s very hard be­cause you’re go­ing to lose money, your own money, when you first tour. It’s way eas­ier and cheaper to go from Manch­ester to London than from Dublin to Manch­ester.

“We were very lucky to get our book­ing agent (Sarah Bes­nard) so early – we got her be­fore we got a man­ager – so our first UK trip was a week-long tour rather a one-off gig, which could crip­ple a band when it costs ¤600 for the ferry and you might be lucky to get 50 quid for the show. It’s a lot of money to invest.”

While the ini­tial in­ten­tion was to try to do ev­ery­thing them­selves, they soon found it was eas­ier to get things done with other peo­ple in­volved. “Be­fore we got a book­ing agent, I emailed 50 venues in the UK and no one got back to me,” re­mem­bers Dug­gan. “But when Sarah got us a tour, it was in all th­ese venues that I had emailed al­ready. It’s all so con­nected like that. When you have peo­ple around you like that, it all clicks and you re­alise that’s what a book­ing agent does.”


After a rake of re­leases to date, the­biggest to-doitem nowis anal­bum. With Kiely back in col­lege and the oth­ers work­ing in dif­fer­ent jobs, the plan is to record this early next sum­mer with a view to a re­lease in late 2015.

“We want to take our time with it, even though I know we’ve prob­a­bly al­ready taken our time over it,” says Kiely.

“We’ll record it our­selves and try to make it as live as pos­si­ble so we can play the songs live,” adds Dug­gan. “There won’t be any string sec­tions. We’ve learned a lot from record­ing stuff our­selves, from our first demos to now. Daniel and Jamie (Hy­land) do the record­ing and we all sit down to do the mix­ing.”

“Tech­ni­cally, we don’t know what we’re do­ing,” says Kiely, “so we just go ‘make that sound more orange’.” Girl Band play Kas­bah Club, Lim­er­ick tonight, But­ton Fac­tory, Dublin to­mor­row , Róisín Dubh, Gal­way Oct 9 and Spirit Store, Dun­dalk Oct 10

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