Just in time for their latest album – The Rooks Have Returned – we had a quick chat with Ireland’s Land Lovers about Dublin, botched piercings and great music. We even briefly discussed the album.
Hello, how are you?
I'm grand, a bit hungry and dissatisfied with the prospect of a salad for dinner.
What have you been up to lately?
Ah here, what haven't I been up to? Going to the gym, going to work, getting annoyed, preparing for my wedding (not related to previous list item) and trying to flog an album.
Tell us a bit about the Dublin guitar pop scene
Apologies to anyone else in Dublin who plays what they'd term guitar pop, but I would say that Popical Island, the collective of which we are a part, is associated with most of the good stuff in this field over the last 5 or 6 years. There are peaks and troughs of excitement around the whole thing. You won't be disappointed if you investigate records by Lie Ins, the Yeh Deadlies, Squarehead, Ginnels, Grand Pocket Orchestra, No Monster Club or possibly even Skelocrats.
What’s a song that changed your life?
No song could have that kind of impact on me, being as I am unflappable. I got into music when I was 14 in 1995, and that coincided with Britpop, so I could possibly list some very embarrassing songs but I won't. That's honestly the only time in my life where I could point to songs as changing how I lived, because some of them encouraged me to start reading books seriously. If you are somehow fascinated, you can work out a mystery song or two based on my previous statement and your knowledge of hit records from the mid nineties.
How do you describe your sound in conversation?
I call it melodic and lyrical pop music without knowing how helpful that is. I don't think we ever write with a clear intention to imitate anything, and there's rarely any conscious influences, but in retrospect there's elements of Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, Orange Juice, Television, Lionel Bart, Carole King, David Bowie and Richard Rodgers in there. That's today's list. Elvis Costello is always on the list, whether I like it or not.
What was it like making your new album, The Rooks Have Returned?
Efficient! We spent 3 days in Orphan Studios in Dublin putting down live tracks and whatever overdubs we could fit in, then in a couple more days at our rehearsal space, The Pop Inn, it was done. Orphan is a fabulous wonderland of vintage gear, we did very well to focus our attention on getting as much proper work done as we could before messing with the old organs and tape delays and what not.
What instruments were involved in the making of the new album?
Guitar, bass, drums and keyboards - we are a simple band of simpletons.
There seem to be many narratives woven into the new album…would you agree and if so, can you explain any?
I write the odd narrative song, the odd character study, the odd polemic, the odd flight of fancy and the occasional personal song that directly tries to express feelings. I think this album has some of them all on there. I think, whichever it is, you have to fully commit to it. If after a while I find that I'm writing as some character, or that a verse has suggested a story, it's my inclination to see it through to the end rather than worry if it represents me personally, or if it's what I want to say. As a result, I decided to write very few of my songs... they are worryingly in control of me. Luckily, they're completely harmless. I'll explain Springtime for the Mystics, the first song: it's about a veteran Irish-born British politician in perhaps the 1970s who was involved in the 1916 Rising as a child, which he kept a secret after being packed off to England and news of which the papers and elements in his own party have gotten a hold of.
What are you listening to right now?
Podcasts of Melvyn Bragg's In Our Time. I'm haunted by the prospect of running out of episodes: I'm already down to some of the dregs, like Merlin and the Continental/Analytic Split.
What’s next for Land Lovers?
As many gigs as we can possibly get our hands on in 2016, with a view to selling all copies of our new album. Listen to us, people of England! We want to play for you.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
When I was 18, I worked in a trinkets shop on a beachfront in New Hampshire, and part of the job was to pierce kids' ears with a gun, after half an hour's 'training' on a piece of cardboard. I made some hungover shaky-handed mistakes, and one led to a girl fainting. Luckily, there was a nurse coincidentally browsing in the shop, and doubly luckily I was faster than the girl's dad.
Are you more rock and roll or more stay at home?
I'm one of the most thorough rock and rollers of my generation.
What are you most looking forward to right now?
If you could have a swimming pool full of anything, what would it be?
Noodles (Super or Koka) with a layer of crisps halfway down and a layer of money at the bottom.