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Going the Distance

Columbia Mills spill the beans on their first album, their friendship with Irish WWE star Finn Balor, and their favourite Christmas song.

- Interview Edwin McFee

Deftly proving that good things do come to those who wait, Braybred indietroni­ca act Columbia Mills’ debut album, A Safe Distance To Watch, was every inch the triumph we hoped it would be. Heaving with stadium-sized hooks and ice cool vocals, the ten-track opus is a heroic offering. When we catch up with the quintet’s singer/guitarist Fiachra Treacy, he tells us that he’s thrilled the album’s finally out.

“It feels great it’s released,” he says of the record, which they finished making in February 2016. “Part of the reason for the delay was we wanted to do it properly. We’re totally independen­t and we released four singles before this came out, as we wanted some build up behind it to give ourselves the best chance of making it a success. When we released the album, we got a new buzz off watching everybody get into those tracks. It’s given them a new life or us.”

While the arriveal of A Safe Distance To Watch may have been slightly delayed, by all accounts the record had an easy birth. Treacy credits producer Rob Kirwan (U2, Depeche Mode) for helping the creation of their debut LP go smoothly.

“He wanted everything done live,” he reflects, “which made the recording process really fun. The reason why we wanted a producer was because we’re all very opinionate­d, so we kinda need a referee! That’s why recording was so quick – we didn’t waste time arguing!”

Anchored by an over-arching theme of space, or more specifical­ly, putting space between yourself and a negative situation/person in a bid to restore one’s self, each of the ten tracks tells a true story. While Fiachra tells us it was initially daunting baring his soul, he has no regrets.

“I did have second thoughts about being so open,” he says, “but it was more concerned with the boys in the band than anyone else. The lads are friends who know me well, so it was hard to hide what all that stuff was about. Once I got over that, it was fine though. You get used to it.”

Speaking of friends, Columbia Mills made a ton of new ones this year when an acoustic version of their song ‘Battles’ featured on wrestling documentar­y WWE 24: Finn Balór, which detailed their fellow Bray man’s return to the ring after being injured. Treacy tells us that the grappler (real name Fergal Devitt) is actually a total sweetheart, when not dressed as a demon and kicking the shite out of opponents in the squared circle.

“I’m good friends with Fergal,” he explains. “We grew up together and he’s a big fan of Columbia Mills. He’s huge across the world now. People are fanatical about him, which is great. Through the documentar­y we’ve gained a lot of new fans, particular­ly in America. We really appreciate­d his support. What you see is what you get with him. He’s so genuine.”

Columbia Mills fans won’t have to wait too long for new material as not only are they planning their second LP, their version of ‘Blue Christmas’ is now released as part of the Co-Present Christmas Album in aid of Pieta House.

“Our manager won’t be happy about us planning album number two,” says Fiachra, “but as a musician you want to be creative. We’re also proud to be helping Pieta House. We did ‘Blue Christmas’ as it’s the best Christmas song ever. It was a bit bizarre recording it in October, but we really enjoyed it!”

A Safe Distance To Watch is out now.

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