Al­ways Keep The Re­ceipts

Hot Press - - Best Of Ireland 2019 -

Fol­low­ing a 30-year wait and a rather ex­tended break on the way, Dublin band The Re­ceipts have fi­nally re­leased their de­but al­bum. With an up­com­ing launch gig in The Blue Light, along with pro­ducer Gavin Ralston, the band sit down to talk about the ir­re­sistible lure of rock’n’roll, how fate played its hand – and mak­ing youth­ful dreams a re­al­ity. In­ter­view: Pe­ter McGo­ran Photo: Glen Bol­lard

The Blue Light Pub, just over ve min­utes from Sandy­ford, sits at the foothills of the Dublin Moun­tains and of­fers a stun­ning panorama of Dun Laoghaire har­bour, the Pool­beg Chim­neys and the broad sweep of south Dublin. No­table for good pints and warm ser­vice, the pub’s ex­ten­sive food menu con­sists of ‘Ham and Cheese sand­wiches’, ‘Cheese and Onion Crisps’, ‘Dry Roasted Peanuts’, and vari­a­tions of these sump­tu­ous dishes! De­pend­ing on who you’re chat­ting to, The Blue Light is a for­mer out­post for rebel sol­diers dur­ing the War of In­de­pen­dence, a sanc­tu­ary for hik­ers re­turn­ing from walks up the Dublin Moun­tains Way, or a haven for lo­cal mu­si­cians.

Best Of Ire­land is here for the lat­ter rea­son.

THE RE­CEIPTS

It’s a Fri­day af­ter­noon, and we’re in the com­pany of lo­cal band The Re­ceipts. Formed in the late ’80s as a no-non­sense rock/power pop band, The Re­ceipts had a string of suc­cess­ful live per­for­mances and sup­port slots over the years, and had penned a few al­bums worth of ma­te­rial be­tween the years 1989-1991, be­fore real life took over from the mu­sic and forced them to dis­solve in the early ‘90s.

“We were school friends from Ballinteer,” says Karl Mc­Der­mott, lead singer of the band. “We were just lo­cal lads get­ting to­gether. We weren’t very good at the start, but we played a few lo­cal gigs. My next-door neigh­bour had told me about this bloke up the road from me. He said, ‘He’s a drum­mer. Why don’t you head up to him and bring your gui­tar?’ So my­self and James Brady – the drum­mer – we sort of hit it off. Then Ro­nan [who joins us at the bar] came onboard.

“We knew of an­other lo­cal lad from Broad­ford, Paul McDon­ald, who played in a band in Ballinteer House,” Ro­nan rem­i­nisces. “We nabbed him from them and he joined us. It was just lo­cal lads from two or three lo­cal hous­ing es­tates.”

Un­usu­ally for bands look­ing to get on the gig­ging cir­cuit at that time, The Re­ceipts steered clear of do­ing cov­ers and stuck to writ­ing their own lyrics.

“It was all our orig­i­nal stuff, right from the get-go,” Karl nods. “We didn’t do any cov­ers. When I met James he was writ­ing good songs, so I said, ‘Ah, I’ll have to do bet­ter than that!’ I thought, ‘Well, if I’m gonna sing, I might as well sing my own.’ So we’d write songs, the two of us. This al­bum that we have out now is a col­lec­tion of songs that we’d writ­ten from that time.”

De­spite be­ing a promis­ing band (they gave a mem­o­rable per­for­mance on RTE’s Jo Maxi show all the way back in 1992), their teenage dreams gave way to re­al­ity be­fore they could even think of prop­erly re­leas­ing any­thing. THE RE­U­NION Re­al­ity meant not do­ing mu­sic. Not be­ing in bands. Karl spent a large part of the ’90s in Amer­ica where he didn’t play a note, while Ro­nan went back to col­lege and set off on a ca­reer. But in a round­about way, mu­si­cal stag­na­tion even­tu­ally gave way to a sem­blance of nan­cial sta­bil­ity, and, as it hap­pened, the four mem­bers of The Re­ceipts have found them­selves liv­ing in close prox­im­ity to each other in re­cent years.

“A few years ago we re­alised we were all in the same place,” Ro­nan ex­plains. “We were all liv­ing close by, so we thought,

‘We have to play mu­sic.’ It was that feel­ing – you know when you meet an old friend and it feels like you’re pick­ing up on a con­ver­sa­tion you had yes­ter­day?”

Able to gift them­selves with bet­ter equip­ment and with the time to iron out a few of their old songs, The Re­ceipts found that, af­ter a few re­hearsals, they didn’t sound half bad…

“It was like hear­ing our­selves playing in tune for the rst time!” Karl says.

Ro­nan laughs. “Think­ing to our­selves, ‘Jay­sus, we’re not as bad as we thought.’”

“We re­ally thought, ‘We have to give these old songs a run,” Karl says earnestly. “Be­cause not ev­ery­one sur­vived the last, what, 25 years or so? Peo­ple we knew had moved on. Some had stopped playing mu­sic. Peo­ple we’d known had passed on. And yet there we were, still sound­ing as tight as ever, so we knew we had to do this.”

THE RECORD­ING

The band have cur­rently taken up a Thurs­day night res­i­dency at The Blue Light for a se­ries of gigs which are al­ways blis­ter­ing af­fairs. But there was an in­sa­tiable dream that they’d had for over 30 years – that of mak­ing an ac­tual, phys­i­cal record. – which they needed to bring to ex­u­ber­ant life.

Thank­fully, they had a friend in the multi-in­stru­men­tal­ist and pro­ducer Gavin Ralston, a man whose glit­ter­ing ca­reer has seen him work­ing and per­form­ing with ev­ery­one from

The Water­boys and Clan­nad, to Vanessa Wil­liams and Michael Flat­ley.

“I grew up right be­side the band,” says Gavin, join­ing us in the bar with an arm wrapped around his proud young daugh­ter. “I would’ve known The Re­ceipts grow­ing up. When I heard they were do­ing a record, I was in­ter­ested. And the amaz­ing thing is that we’re all in our late for­ties, but the pas­sion they have is the same as they had in the ’90s.”

That qual­ity shines through on the al­bum, which was ac­corded a rave re­view in Hot Press, penned by Pat Carty. It is a ery, pas­sion­ate and hugely im­pres­sive thing in­deed. Tak­ing its cue from the likes of The Bea­tles, it has ’60s rock and power pop at its heart. There’s no gui­tar he­roes here, just 10 songs with se­ri­ous riffs, bound­less en­ergy, sharp lyrics – and all put to­gether by four mu­si­cians who gelled in the stu­dio like they’ve never been apart.

“We set it up live,” Gavin ex­plains. “There was none of this ‘click track’ thing. Every­body played live. Within the rst day we had about ve or six songs down. I’ve been a pro­ducer for that many years, I’m think­ing, ‘This is great! This never hap­pens.’”

The Re­ceipts ul­ti­mately sounds like the dreams of young men com­ing scream­ing into the present. The band are im­mensely proud of it, as is their pro­ducer.

They’ve also made the col­lec­tive de­ci­sion not to go down the Spo­tify route with this one. Thirty years of mu­sic has led the band to see what can hap­pen when streaming sites and the big wheels of the mu­sic busi­ness set up their stall in a way that works against the in­ter­ests of mu­si­cians and bands. They’re also not shy about ask­ing fans of their mu­sic to pay to hear them live, or pur­chase phys­i­cal copies of their vinyl. What­ever way you slice it, they’ve done some­thing right.

The Re­ceipts de­buted at No. 1 on iTunes on the day of its re­lease…

“There we were, still sound­ing as tight as ever, so we knew we had to do this.”

THE GIG FOR GAV

So, there was no record com­pany A&R man­ager to an­swer to. No time-lines ex­cept their own. Af­ter twenty ve years of wait­ing, this felt like free­dom. But life has a way of throw­ing grit into the ma­chine. The jour­ney to the band’s de­but al­bum had its own bumps, with Gavin Ralston hav­ing to stop pro­duc­tion at one point to un­der­take se­ri­ous treat­ment for bowel can­cer.

“I was in hos­pi­tal for four months,” says Gavin. “I re­mem­ber tex­ting the guys say­ing, ‘I pre­sume you want to do this with some­one else now?’ But they said, ‘No chance of that, we’ll wait un­til you’re ready.’”

Ro­nan smiles. “It was al­ways said, ‘We started it with Gav, we’re nish­ing it with Gav.’ We knew about Gav’s ill­ness, we knew it would be a start-stop process, but that’s how we wanted to do it.”

Best Of Ire­land is in dan­ger of get­ting a bit glassy-eyed at the gen­uine ca­ma­raderie on dis­play here. But be­com­ing sen­ti­men­tal would be in sharp con­trast to Gavin’s im­pres­sively buoy­ant en­ergy. He re­fuses to let the ill­ness af­fect him. Both Gavin and the band are now more fo­cused on their al­bum launch gig, which is tak­ing place at The Blue Light, in Rath­farn­ham on March 29. While their res­i­dency at the bar is still a rm xture, this unique show is set to be their big­gest gig in over 25 years.

“The Blue Light are us­ing to show­case what is ef­fec­tively a new venue,” Ro­nan ex­plains. “So for the 29th, we want to have ev­ery­one to­gether to launch our al­bum. We were go­ing to do a mini-tour af­ter its re­lease, but try­ing to man­age diaries proved to be very chal­leng­ing. So we just said, ‘We’ll have some­thing big here. A cel­e­bra­tion of our mu­sic.’”

That par­tic­u­lar gig will run just be­fore a sold-out ‘Gig For

Gav’ at Vicar Street on April 1, which will see the likes of The Water­boys, Mundy and Pic­tureHouse come to­gether to raise funds for the signi cant med­i­cal costs Gavin has been lum­bered with.

“This gig on March 29 was sort of un­re­lated,” says Ro­nan, “but be­cause of the tim­ing we thought to our­selves, ‘Let’s make this the gig be­fore the Gig for Gav.’ The other one’s sold out, but be­cause this is a spe­cial night for us – we’re say­ing, ‘Come to the gig at The Blue Light as well.’”

On the night, The Re­ceipts will play with sup­port from two Dublin bands, Sil­ver Fox and SP Mullen & the Feel. It will mark a high-point in their ca­reer to date. All that’s left to ask is – what’s the next step for the band af­ter this?

“There’s a few ideas that we’ve dis­cussed,” says Ro­nan. “If we can ar­range the tim­ing, we would like to go back to Abbey Road. It was a phe­nom­e­nal ex­pe­ri­ence. We didn’t get into any of the stu­dios while we were there be­cause there was peo­ple work­ing in them, so we thought – the only way to get in is by book­ing time there, so that’s what we did! And now we might as well use it.”

Kyle nods, say­ing sim­ply: “I gen­uinely think we’ve got it in us to make a great sec­ond al­bum.”

One thing’s for sure: there’s no point in stop­ping the train now!

• The Re­ceipts play The Blue Light on March 29. To buy their al­bum go to there­ceipts.ie. For more in­for­ma­tion on The Blue Light Pub go to blue­light.ie

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