Back in black

Life took over for The Magic Num­bers, but the band are back af­ter a hia­tus, and em­brac­ing a darker, heav­ier sound, Romeo Sto­dart tells Lau­ren Mur­phy

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

It’s been four years since the last al­bum – an age in to­day’s mu­sic busi­ness.

Well, my sis­ter [Michele] made a solo al­bum in 2012. It was some­thing that we’d been try­ing to make her do for ages, so I’m glad she re­leased it. And we built a new stu­dio, which took a lit­tle time – but most im­por­tantly, I be­came a dad. It’s the most amaz­ing thing, so I’m over the moon with him. So ba­si­cally, life kind of took over. I think it’s im­por­tant to step away from the cy­cle of be­ing in a band, too. When we first came out, we went im­me­di­ately into the sec­ond al­bum, and there was pres­sure. I think it was good at the end of [the last] tour cy­cle for us to stop, be­cause you don’t want to feel like you’re re­peat­ing your­self; you have to live life to bring new things into it.

Do you find your­self in­ad­ver­tently writ­ing songs for Romeo Jr?

Yeah, there’s been a few lit­tle ones for him, for sure. I think it’s kind of the big­gest thing that can hap­pen to some­one. It’s been re­ally in­spi­ra­tional. It’s made me look at life com­pletely dif­fer­ently; lis­ten­ing to mu­sic, even. When I play him things, or hear things, I see things in com­pletely a new light. A lot of the songs on Alias were writ­ten just be­fore [he was borm], and some af­ter – so it’s re­ally a strange one for me, in terms of con­sis­tency. But there were no prob­lems with song­writ­ing this time around. I’m always writ­ing, but I’m also always wait­ing for that mo­ment where I re­ally be­lieve that the song is good, and re­ally strong, and say­ing some­thing.

Did you ever think there wouldn’t be an­other Magic Num­bers al­bum?

We were lucky to have a suc­cess­ful first record, and a some­what suc­cess­ful sec­ond one – but the third one [2010’s The Ru­n­away] didn’t re­ally get the push from the la­bel. No one felt it was com­mer­cial. Even though we loved that record, it was a case of ‘What do we wanna do now?’ [Break­ing up] was never re­ally on the cards, but I was fear­ful when we got into the stu­dio to­gether with the new songs I’d writ­ten – I re­ally didn’t want to re­peat my­self. But ev­ery­one was on the same page with that; it needed to feel like a new band again. If I felt like we were treading wa­ter, we would have prob­a­bly kept work­ing on stuff, and maybe it wouldn’t have come out for an­other cou­ple of years. When we went in with th­ese songs, we were re­ally play­ing the best we’d played in a long time – and it was quite a lot heav­ier and had more con­vic­tion through­out, I think.

There are some dark mo­ments on this al­bum – do you think The Magic Num­bers are mis­un­der­stood by some peo­ple be­cause of songs such as Love Me Like You?

We’ve def­i­nitely been mis­un­der­stood in the sense that peo­ple have fo­cused on cer­tain el­e­ments of what we do – and yeah, I’m hop­ing that this one will change the per­cep­tion of peo­ple who might have seen us as some­thing we weren’t: twee, or soft, or what­ever. I would like peo­ple to hear this and re­ally re­spond to it as an al­bum, with­out even think­ing about what we’ve done be­fore. At the same time, there’s some­thing about a band like The Cure, for ex­am­ple: I’ve always loved that they can ex­ist in this pop realm and put out songs like Fri­day I’m In Love, yet there’s this whole other ‘dark Cure’ side to them, which is al­most the po­lar op­po­site. I still love that we can have a song like The End, the disco-type up­tempo one on the record, but then also have a dark one like Enough.

Speak­ing of other in­flu­ences, you’ve been tour­ing with Neil Young and Crazy Horse lately . . .

He’s been a con­stant in my life since I was a teenager. When I was try­ing to learn gui­tar, I’d try to play his songs. He just lives it – whether he’s do­ing a coun­try record, or an al­bum with Crazy Horse, or a Crosby, Stills & Nash al­bum, or a sound­track, or a rock al­bum. I re­ally love that ver­sa­til­ity, so in some ways, he’s been some­one that I’ve always as­pired to. Even watch­ing him play: he’s 68 years old and he goes out and does Down By the River, and he opens up with it and plays it for 25 min­utes (laughs). I find him so in­spir­ing, be­cause he’s ac­tu­ally just do­ing what he wants to do and hop­ing that peo­ple will go with it – but he knows, at the same time, that not ev­ery­one will. That’s what we’re try­ing to do as a band.

What’s your hope for this al­bum, in that case?

Well, I feel like we’ve made the best record we’ve ever done, in terms of how we’re play­ing, the sound and the songs. We’ll never be able to get back that in­no­cence of the first al­bum – and I know that, be­cause my whole life was build­ing up to that al­bum. There’s some­thing in those songs . . . even when we play some­thing like I See You, You See Me’ live, you think ‘Shit, man, there’s some­thing in this song!’ But I feel like this could be a new ‘first al­bum’ for the band, in some respects. I’d like to win over more peo­ple, and I’d be ly­ing if I didn’t want the songs that we put out as sin­gles to get air­play, and for us to go on Jools Hol­land, or what­ever. For me, that’s just a way of get­ting more peo­ple into our mu­sic.

Alias is out now. The Magic Num­bers play The Academy on Septem­ber 27th and Belfast’s Man­dela Hall on Septem­ber 28th

Re­group­ing: Romeo Sto­dart, An­gela Gan­non, Michele Sto­dart and Sean Gan­non

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.