An interview with NUIG’s Jailbreak students, Aaron Molloy and Shane Tierney (March 2014).

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Last month, local NUIG students, Aaron Molloy and Shane Tierney, took part in Jailbreak 2014. They raised over €1000 for their selected charities. 

They recently answered some questions about their experience.

What is Jailbreak?

“Jailbreak is a national student charity weekend, where students from Ireland’s Universities have 36 hours to get as far away as possible from their starting point in Kilmainham Gaol, without using any of their own money on travel. Teams were allowed to seek sponsorship from companies and businesses before the weekend began. Money was raised for the charities before and after the adventure started”.

And why did you decide to get involved?

“We thought it was a great opportunity to fundraise for charity and see the world at the same time”.

Had you decided on a destination before the trip?

“No, we had no set plan, but we intended on heading in the direction of Istanbul or Dubai. We had a small amount of money raised, which was donated by multiple sponsors so we knew we would be able to get out of Dublin. We decided to just check how much flights would be to the States last minute and to our surprise we found a flight to New York within our budget. We had 45 minutes to book our tickets, register for the visas and make it to the check in. We legged it, got to the gate with minutes to spare and got on our way to the USA. First stop was Heathrow, then Newark”.

Did you get a lot of support from people, both in the community and further abroad?

“The amount of support we got from the local community, from the generous strangers we encountered and from the lovely staff of British Airways was unbelievable. At Dublin airport itself people were so generous. United Airlines staff gathered together €50 between them and another random woman donated the last €20. We couldn’t believe it”.

“A coffee morning was also organised prior to the trip and a huge amount of money was raised for the charities. We are so grateful to Dermot, Lin and Staff in Breathnach’s Bar for hosting the coffee morning and for their continued support on our adventure. We would also like to thank all the people who came along and supported the coffee morning. The charities were St Vincent de Paul, Amnesty International and Draiocht. Also the support from our friends both in Oughterard and in college was phenomenal and we are very grateful”.

Was there any ‘standout’ moment from the trip?

“It was an amazing experience, but the highlight was probably the top of the Empire State Building. We just about managed to make it there for the deadline. We were proud and delighted to have gotten as far as we did. By then, Jailbreak was over, and having come 2nd place in NUIG, we were delighted. We had some time to explore New York and we certainly packed a 5 day holiday into 36 hours!”.

Any advice for students thinking of getting involved next year?

“If we were to give any advice to students participating in Jailbreak next year, we’d say, don’t think about it any further and just do it. It was an unbelievable experience. We would also advise that the participants enjoy the whole experience and don’t make plans. Just go with it”.

Flashback: An interview with Heathers (July, 2013).

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Yesterday, I had the chance to speak with the lovely Ellie and Louise Macnamara, the twin sisters who make up the band Heathers. They were in Galway ahead of their Galway Arts Festival performance at the Roisin Dubh last night.

Their music is great, and they’re great. Have a read below of the interview which covered the duo’s musical journey from family gatherings, to sleeping on floors, to the Oscars! And, of course, Maltesers.

Katy: Have you always played music together?

Ellie: When we were younger we’d have family gatherings and we’d be forced to sing together. And then we kind of got to the teenage years, and we were really, really, shy, and wouldn’t sing at all. Then when we were in secondary school we joined the school choir and that kind of taught us to harmonize and gave us that little bit of confidence we needed to maybe try and sing again. And then in 2007 we formed Heathers, and that was really the start of us writing our own music and performing together.

K: Is there music in your family?

Louise: Yeah, both our parents are great singers, and our brother is in so many different bands, and grew up being in so many different bands. I think that encouraged us to start playing music, and to start a band together. Our younger sister also has an amazing voice, so we’re all pretty musical. We’ve been playing the piano since the age of five or six. And then I started guitar at seventeen.

E: Yeah, I guess we are pretty musical. We listen to a lot of music as well!

K: When did you have your first gig?

L: The first ever gig we played, wasn’t so much a gig… We played at a gathering up in Killiney Hill. That was the first time we ever played together…

E: In front of people. Our own music.

L: Then the second time was our friend Alex’s 18th birthday. We played in a venue called The Lower Deck in Dublin. It’s a venue we played a lot at when we started out. Yeah, that was just the two of us. I think that was one of the only gigs we’ve ever played sitting down. Since then it’s standing up the whole time. And then after that…

E: Was it supporting Nine Lives?..

L: ... in the Voodoo Lounge.

E: And we weren’t eighteen, so we weren’t actually allowed in. I remember hiding in the toilets until we played because the bouncers were going to throw us out!

K: Then your debut album was released in 2008.. An exciting time?

L: Yeah, like, when we started Heathers we didn’t even have plans of releasing anything. We were putting on gigs, kind of DIY pub gigs, and then I wrote a song. I went into Ellie’s room, Ellie put some harmonies to it, and it kind of took off from there! We had around four, maybe five songs, by the summer of fifth year in 2007. And it was maybe our fourth gig, the one after the Voodoo Lounge, we played with an American band who were touring over here, who we were big fans of, called Ghost Mice. We played with them in an old abandoned tea house on Killiney beach, and Chris from Ghost Mice who runs a record label called Plan-It-X Records in the States, really liked our music and said I want you to write enough songs so that I can release a record of yours on my label and then maybe we can tour together! And that’s what we did! We wrote enough songs for an album. Eleven songs altogether. We recorded it during our Mocks, so that was maybe January/February 2008. Then we released it the week before our Leaving Cert. It was crazy!

E: And our parents said that if we worked hard at our Leaving Cert that they’d let us go to America.

L: Yeah, so then we went on tour with Ghost Mice that summer. 34 gigs in 30 days. It was so hectic, but an absolutely amazing experience. Since then, a lot of things have happened… In 2010 we re-released Here, Not There when we got Remember When, the first single on the album, on the Discover Ireland ad. We set up our own record label – Aunthill Records.

K: Did a lot change with that Discover Ireland ad?  

E: I think it really opened a lot of doors for us, because it got our music out there for so many more people who otherwise may never have heard our songs. I think a lot of the things that happened after that were slightly as a result of that ad. It ran for three years, which is incredible. I’m sure some people are sick of it. But It really boosted our career.  We ended up writing our second album, and who knows, maybe we wouldn’t have written a second album… I don’t know. Maybe we would… But it was wonderful for us.

K: And then you released the second album last year. And now you’re playing at the Galway Arts Festival… What has been the ‘stand-out’ moment for you?

L: Definitely those tours of the States that we did. I’ll never forget them. They were the kind of tours that we’ll never do again. We were traveling around in a mini van, no air conditioning, staying on people’s floors… Getting to see the whole country, and experiencing it in a different way. Now when we go touring in the States or Canada we have a band and it’s more so playing in venues and staying in hotels. It’s a completely different experience.

E: I think my biggest standout moment was in February, when we played at a pre-Oscars party in LA. There was a moment where we were playing and Stephen Spielberg and J.J. Abrams were sitting where you are right now – that close. It’s one of those moments where you’re singing your song and you’re kind of making eye contact with people in the audience then you’re like, “What the HELL!!?”.

L: All I could think was, “E.T.”

E: And even just recording and releasing our second album. I can’t believe we’ve written and released two albums!  I never thought we’d do one album! It’s pretty amazing, and we’ve got to see so many amazing places and meet so many wonderful people. There’s been a lot of highlights.

K: You’re involved with social media a lot between Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook. Do you think that’s important to keep in contact with fans?

L: Definitely.

E: I think it kind of personalizes everything a little bit. Personally, with bands and artists I like, I love going on Twitter and seeing them say something about what they’re doing, or what they’re up to, it makes it all a little bit more intimate. I love it! It’s important to have that little bit of a connection with people who like your music, and buy your music, and want to see you play. It’s cool, because you can control it, and let out as much as you want to. And also just for staying in touch with people, and getting information out there about gigs or if we’re releasing something. It’s a wonderful way to just get everything out to everyone.

K: What’s next for Heathers?

E: Well, we‘re really excited about tonight. Then we’re going to head off to Germany at the end of July because we’re releasing our album in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Poland!

L: And I think we’re going to have an Irish tour in September/October time, so we’re going to be releasing dates for that soon.. in the coming weeks. And then we’re writing a lot, constantly writing. When we’re not touring, we’re writing. So hopefully, maybe a release of something in the coming months or year or so. We’ll see!

K: Finally…. My quick questions! 

Favorite song or album right now? Or ever… if you can answer that. 

L: Can I answer right now?

E: Graceland!

L: You’re saying Graceland.. I would say Haim. Don’t Save Me, or FallingHaim altogether. I’ve been listening to them nonstop recently.

K: Advice for aspiring musicians?

L: Just go for it! There’s so many different ways of getting music out there now, with the internet especially. It’s so easy to record anything, there are so many different programmes for recording… YouTube.. Anything!

E: Be confident.

L: Yeah, have confidence in yourself and just go for it.

E: And don’t give up.

K: A favorite line from a song.. 

L: Do you know what’s funny actually? ….

E: Are we both the same? Yeah. We’re both the same.

L:  … When I listen to music, it would take me maybe, and I’m not joking, fifteen listens or so to actually hear the lyrics. When I listen to a song I always hear the melodies or the beats first. I’m really bad at lyrics.

E: And I’m exactly the same. I’m really really bad with lyrics!

L: I can’t even think…

K: It’s tough. Some people like to email me later..

L: Can we email you?

E: Because the thing is, I’m going to be walking around later…

K: Cat or Dog?

L & E (In unison): CAT.

E: Oh no! Am… We both have a cat, but recently i’ve got more into dogs.. We have a family cat so…

L: Are you a cat or a dog person?

K: Dog. But we never had a cat..

E: And we never had a dog! But I’m kind of slowly moving over…

L: Yeah! I love dogs!

K: And finally… Maltesers or Minstrels?

L: That’s a tough one.

E: I’m going to say Maltesers. Because I love Maltesers and popcorn together. It’s like the best combination!

L: You know, I think I’d go for Minstrels..

E: Louise!

L: I love Maltesers, but sometimes I feel them not chocolate-ly enough.

K: That’s what I like!

E: Yeah, I like how you’ve got your little outer shell of chocolate…

*laughter*

E: Great question.

And that’s it! Keep up to date with everything Heathers via:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HeathersTunes  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HeathersMusic  

Tumblr: http://heathersmusic.tumblr.com

Flashback : An interview with author Fiona O’Malley (June, 2013).

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Fiona O’Malley is the author of What Would Kate Do? The Diary of a Walking Disaster (which launched on Saturday night!).

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Fiona and ask her a few questions! Apart from this new book, Fiona writes for magazines including Vogue and also wrote The Daily Fail: The Musical! All while doing a Masters in Journalism. You can find her blog at this address: http://alliwanttodoiswritesally.blogspot.ie or visit her website at: http://www.fionaomalley.co.uk

The Interview.. 

Q1: What can you tell me about the book? 

What Would Kate Do: The Diary of a Walking Disaster! is a story about a girl who idolizes The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, and tries to follow her footsteps in life but fails miserably. She is in her 30’s and is terrified of being left on the shelf while she is maid of honour for her two best friends’ weddings. Instead of ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ her motto in life is ‘What Would Kate Do?’ It’s a chick-flick novel: think Bridget Jones meets The Devil Wears Prada! It’s a chick-lit comedy.

I hope people like it. I’d like to think I’m funny. If I’m not, I guess the joke will be the book! Here’s a joke for you: my life! I spend every spare second I can hunched over my laptop in my tiny studio apartment in London, wrapped up in woollens because it’s so cold with drafts and I’m too poor to afford the heating. I live off a diet of watered-down porridge. I don’t mind it though. I made the choice of becoming a writer and, coming from a single-parent background, I wasn’t raised with luxury. I work really hard to create art and the struggle years will make the end result (which I hope is success) all the more worth it. Pain is temporary. Rejection is temporary. If I give up, it’s forever.

Q2: What kind of creative process do you use? Did it take you long to write the book?

Although I was playing around with the plot idea in my head and on paper for a while, I wrote it in two months. Writing things fast is never a problem, I guess being trained as a journalist with a pressure to make deadlines and being very organised means I’m very disciplined with my time, however, the re-drafting was the most tedious part. That took a year.

Q3: You’re self-publishing this book. Is that a difficult road to take? 

It has its positives and negatives. The positives are that I own all of the rights so if there are any future progressions, like if the book is turned into a film or if it is released in paper back form in the future, I’ll be in a better position to negotiate my cut etc. It’s also a cheaper and more efficient way to get copies of the book around. The hugely negative thing was that a lot of people in the older generation don’t know how to use kindles, iPods, iPads or their laptops to download the book. I am so bad with technology too though. The last time I came home my auntie asked me, “As a writer, do you use the kringle or do you prefer paperback books?”, which explains where I get my aptitude for technology from. In the future, I’ll ask my grandchildren, “What is this complex device children?” They’ll give me an overly kind smile and say “That, granny, is a doorbell!”

Although I wouldn’t recommend self-publishing for people who don’t know much about marketing or the press, I have the advantage of A) The book was inspired by one of the most photographed women in the world so I am hoping there will be a lot of interest in it B) Having worked at VogueThe Sunday Times and The Irish Times with a few ‘aul columns myself, I have media contacts in Ireland and the UK which I’m taking advantage of in terms of publicity for the book. I’m playing to my strengths.

Q4: You’ve also written The Daily Fail: The Musical! which was successfully funded through Kickstarter (and endorsed by Andrew Llyod Webber!) How does it feel to see that all coming together? Are you all set for the show’s premiere in July? 

Although it’s flattering that a lot of people are enthusiastic about the musical, it takes an immense amount of work. It’s very emotional seeing it all come together. When I see UTC’s (The Untold Theatre Company, which Fiona co-founded) work evolving before my eyes, I know that working myself into the ground is worth it. I am confident that the show in July will be a success. The four creators of the musical (me: the writer & co-producer; Adam Wollerton: the director & co-producer; Joseph Alexander: the composer; and Rachel Kelly: the choreographer) all have the same work ethic with a commitment to excellence so it works well. If people like it, we’ll take it to the West End this autumn.

Q5: You’re a busy lady! Where do you get the drive from? 

I am very proud of what I have achieved so far, but it didn’t come easy (I applied to Vogue 106 times before I got in, which means I got rejected 105 times) but I really must emphasise that I am, by no means, superior to the average person in intelligence or talent. I couldn’t be plainer if I tried! That’s not false modesty or anything, I just don’t want the pressure of people building me up to something I’m not. Like every girl, I have moments where I’m webbed with self-doubt and riddled with insecurities. Whatever I lack in intelligence or natural ability I make up for in hard work and a sense of humour. In school, I was a below average student. I worked really hard to get really mediocre results. The only things I was good at were music, art and languages – all of the creative subjects. I didn’t know what I wanted to do so I stuck with my strengths and did languages under the BA International at NUIG. I followed what I liked and was good at. To me, that’s the secret to success: working your ass off at what you like and what you’re good at. Where do I get the drive from? I’m not sure entirely. I just strive for progress, learning, growing and always moving forward, no matter what.

Q6: I’m guessing that this is only the beginning for you… What’s next?

I definitely want to continue writing – books, plays, musicals, sitcoms and movies.

I am so lucky to be able to do what I love and although more often than not it’s financially crippling, I know that long-term, I wouldn’t be happy in any other field than the arts. Poverty is stressful, degrading and strips you of your self-esteem but if it is the cost of doing what I love, so be it. I would rather be happy and deprived than spoiled and miserable.

I am certain that I would go insane if I stopped writing. I can no more stop writing than a musician can stop playing. It is my warmth, passion and mind stretched out for others to read and experience, with the hope that I can provide laughter, thoughts and an emotional journey for others who have felt the same or who simply want to laugh at someone else’s struggle, comforted in the notion that every single person in life goes through a struggle because the struggle is life – what a depressing, terrifying, liberating, wonderful thought! My next book is called Memoirs of a Basset Hound and it’s about my journey to Vogue. That will be released in 2014. I also plan to write two more What Would Kate Do? books as I have enough ideas for a trilogy.

Q7: You’ve chosen to launch your book in Galway… Why Galway?

I am launching the book in Galway because it’s where my family live and because it’s one of my favourite places in the world. Being a true sun goddess, I hope to top-up on my tan when I’m home on the sun-drenched beaches of the West of Ireland. Snort. I burn in the rain. I will always have a grá for Galway. When you have a love affair with a place, it’s very hard to let it go.

Q8: Any advice for aspiring writers/playwrights?  

For anyone who wants to be an artist – any type of artist – I’d say to accept that it’s going to be tough, very tough, but if you’re willing to put in the work without getting paid or credit, if you’re willing to live like a pauper and walk like a king, if you’re willing to commit yourself to excellence without the disability of an ego, then you will succeed!

FOUR QUICK ONES! 

 – Favorite book?

The Harry Potter collection (I’m a huge nerd!)

 – Favorite musical?

Wicked or The Daily Fail!

 – Biggest inspiration?

Biggest inspiration is easily my mother. She’s a kind, warm, powerhouse woman who is proof that success is not about status, pay or popularity. It’s about turning negative situations into positive ones. If I’m half the person she is someday, I’ll be happy with that!

 – Maltesers or Minstrels?

Minstrels.

What Would Kate Do? The Diary of a Walking Disaster is available to buy on Amazon now: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Would-Diary-Walking-Disaster-ebook/dp/B00DNE2IGO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1372706197&sr=8-1&keywords=what+would+kate+do+diary+of+a+walking+disaster

Flashback: An interview with Royseven’s Paul Walsh (January, 2011).

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Royseven recently played in NUIG as part of the SU Sessions.
The guys arrived from Dublin where they were doing interviews ahead of their
new album release for “You Say We Say”. Unfortunately two members were
delayed in traffic but the others in the band adapted very well to being a
four piece and played a really enjoyable gig. The album looks set to be a
winner.

After their set, I got a few minutes with Paul Walsh to talk about the band.

Katy: First off, how did you all get involved in Royseven?
Paul Walsh: We were in a band called Jove together and the bass player left.
We took on another bass player, plus a guitar player, and decided it was time
to change the name, change the sound a little bit, and that’s how Royseven
came to be. How the name came to be is another bloody story!

K: Where did the name come from?
P: Well we wanted to call the band Roy after the first song we wrote
together, but there were four other bands called Roy around the world, so
for copyright reasons we couldn’t go there. Then we thought, well there are
six of us in the band, we could call it Roysix but that doesn’t work,
doesn’t sound phonetically nice, in any way pleasant. I heard an interview
with David Bowie, and he said “a song is never complete until somebody
outside the writing process has heard it”, so we thought there’re six in the
band plus the listener.  So that’s Royseven.  We think it’s a sweet little
idea.

K: You’ve had great success, including meteor awards. Does that make it
easier for the band?
P:  No. Not really. People expect more, and then you have hiccups like
today and people go “Oh my God, they won what? They shouldn’t have won
anything!” So, no, it doesn’t make it any easier, no. I mean it’s probably
easier from a PR perspective because it’s something to talk about, but that
was three or four years ago now, so we don’t really use it you know? We
wouldn’t use it.

K: After your debut album, “The Art of Insincerity” you went on tour for
quite a bit.
P: We didn’t intentionally take a break. We changed record companies, and
we were waiting for a particular producer. So all in all, with signing the
new deal, which took a year to negotiate, and waiting for this producer,
which took a year, we starting recording in November ’09 and finished in
July 2010. So time just flies! The main thing is for us is we’re happy with the
product we have, we’re really happy with the album. The response so far has
been really good, and positive from people.

K: As your first album was received so well, was it nerve-wracking to go
back to the drawing board and start all over again?
P: No, because I think we’d learned so many lessons from the first
record, so many things we could have done a lot better and we toured Europe
with the first record, which is quite difficult because a lot of songs on
the first album were quite mid tempo, and with this record we wanted to have
songs that we could play live, that would get people moving, and more
involved, and maybe more accessible to sing along, maybe not so heavy and
introspective. So we kind of geared the album towards that. We were looking
forward to a chance to prove ourselves, that we could do something slightly
different without completely reinventing the wheel, you know?

K: The first released single from this is “Killer”. What was the
inspiration for it?
P: Quite honestly, my manager joked with me one day and said. “Why can’t
you write a song like the Killers?” and I thought, “Well we’re not the
fucking Killers” and then actually, the word ‘killer’ seemed appealing and I
liked that, and we’d be touring so I was watching Criminal Minds back to
back a LOT. So I thought well I never usually do any narrative lyric, so I
thought I’d just write a story about a guy. Yeah, it’s really weird, the way
it came about, but it worked out and we like it so.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUvlRWskhVM

K: Great. Now a few questions so people can get to know you better!
Favorite You Tube video right now?
P: I was looking at one today from American guys coming back from a
bachelor party, and one of the guys is asleep in the passenger seat? So the
others in the seven-seater car decide to all scream frantically like they’re
about to crash, to wake this guy up. So they have the camera on him, and all
you can hear is the guys going “AHHHHH!!”.  So the passenger guy wakes up
and automatically starts screaming as well because he’s taken up by this
emotion you know? So that’s what I looked at today, that was really funny so
I put that on my Facebook page.

K: Cat or Dog?
P:  You see, traditionally, I’m a cat person, but we have a dog at home
the last few years and I really love the dog, so the dog’s kind of taken
over now. You seem pleased about that. You don’t like cats at all, no? Cats
don’t give a shit. Cats are smart. I like the independence of a cat, I like
that they’re sort of like “fuck you, I’m gonna do this on my own and if you
want to throw me out, that’s fine, I’ll be fine!” whereas as a dog would be
like, ‘Oh my God! Don’t throw me out!”

K: Maltesers of Minstrels?
P: Maltesers. It’s the lighter way to enjoy chocolate. I love Maltesers.
They’re lovely!

K: A line of a song that means something to you.
P: “Before you slip into unconsciousness I’d like to have another kiss,
another flashing chance at bliss, another kiss, another kiss”. “Crystal
Ship” by The Doors. The first line, it’s a beautiful line.

K: Finally, what’s up next for Royseven?
P: Rehearse! No, what’s up for Royseven next is, we’re off to Germany on
Thursday because… I can’t tell you why we’re off to Germany but there’s
a press conference on Friday morning for something that’s happening for the
band now, we’re really happy about it*. So then we’re over to Germany again,
we’re doing the Ruby Sessions in Dublin next Tuesday, another acoustic
thing. I promise it’ll be better than this. Then we’re back to Germany the
weekend of the 11th and 12th of February to do two shows in Hanover. The
album release then, and gigs associated with that, so TV shows and all that
kind of stuff. Then back to Germany, Austria, Switzerland and try to make a
go of it. Now if that all goes pear shaped, back to college!

*It was announced on Friday that Royseven are the newcomer for Rock at this
year’s VW Sound Foundation. They were chosen over 150 applicants.

Flashback : An interview with Keywest’s Andy Kavanagh (March, 2011).

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Keywest recently played in NUIG as part of the SU Sessions.
After the gig, I got a chance to speak with lead singer and co-songwriter of
the band, Andrew (Andy) Kavanagh.

Katy: This is not Keywest’s first time playing in NUIG.
Andy: No, it isn’t. We were down in Galway one day for a gig, a year and a
half ago I’d say, and while we were there two of the lads in the band went
busking. They didn’t do very well on their own, and so we started playing
with them that day and got a great response. That’s why we’ve been asked to
NUIG so many times I guess, just from busking.

K: You seem to have a very loyal (and large) fan base here in Galway too.
A: Certainly. We were absolutely shocked to see anybody here. We’ve
played in NUIG three times in total, the first time it was pretty empty, the
second one was moderately full, and then today it was amazing! It’s
brilliant. We’re delighted.

K: To go back to the Keywest roots for a minute, was music a big deal in
your families growing up?
A: Yeah, with everyone in the band. I’m from an entire family of singers,
my grandmother and her seven sisters. They were all kind of somewhat famous
on the cabaret scene back in the day so I’m the first one to sort of take
that up as the male in the family. With the rest of the boys it’s the same
thing. I’ve been to Performing Arts and Glover (Andrew Glover) was one of
the top classical piano players in the country so we kind of stole him! For
a long time his mother actually hated me, it’s a true story, for taking him
away from classical piano. He was the number one guy, he finished all his
piano grades at twelve and he had started at six years old. He’s a monster
of a musician! It’s absolutely staggering what he can do. But yeah, his mom
for a very long time, until she kind of came around to the idea, really
didn’t like me. She saw us on The Late Late Show and that won her over.

K: To go from practicing music as a child, to having a producer like Mark
Needham, who is responsible for The Killers’ ‘Mr. Brightside’, taking an
interest in working with the band. It must have been quite the change for all
of you!
A: It’s phenomenal, yeah. You know, Mark does that, he develops bands.
There’s a new band out at the moment called Neon Trees, and they have a
massive song on the radio called ‘Animal’ right now. He set them up the same
way he did with us. They went to him, he helped develop them, he helped
get them working with people. So we spent the last two years developing,
taking trips over, and recording this album. This particular album we’re
putting out here is only going to be put out in Ireland. It’s not going to
see the light of day anywhere else because it’s what we’ve been writing over
the course of the last two years. The album in the US is a bunch of
co-writes so that will be album two in Ireland. We’re excited about this
first one because we’ve written it for so long and we feel it’s brilliant.
It’s a real personal expression of what we had to do, so we’re putting it out
anyway.

K: And it was after meeting Mark that you released your first single,
‘Miss You Most’.
A: Yeah, we were a completely different band back then. We had R ‘n’ B
elements and because we were songwriters first, we didn’t know what we
wanted to do. We’re from very different backgrounds in music and we had this
one song ‘Miss You Most’. Mark said that he loved that and that he didn’t
really like the other avenue so his input started to develop us and re-route
our direction. I started listening to U2 and Snow Patrol and Kings of Leon
because I’ve always traditionally listened to soul and R’ n ‘B acts and
because myself and Glover would be the primary writers in the band, I had to
get out and make some different kind of music. So now the album has that,
it’s a mixture of all those bands!

K: And the busking, where does that come in?
A: It was a necessity initially. Sam (Marder) and James (Lock) had moved
over from England and at that time everything was pretty bad. We were trying
to just get by and pay the rent while still devoting enough time to keep the
momentum of the band going. They were trying to busk as a two piece in
Dublin and, as I said, we just happened to busk one day in Galway and we got
such a good response that we’ve been busking ever since. Gigging as well. We
don’t want to do pub gigs and become known as a cover band, so we’re trying
to limit that down. That’s why on the street we get to tell our side of the
story and explain we’re not a cover band, but we don’t mind playing them for
your entertainment.

K: So then what was it like to go from busking on the street to making an
album in an L.A. studio?
A: It was ridiculous, such a contrast. Mind-blowing. We were taking limos
and we had a house with a Jacuzzi and a pool. Mind you, all those kind of
extras weren’t paid by the busking, obviously, that was all to do with the
publishing companies and the labels we were dealing with. Busking paid for
the flights, living expenses and that kind of stuff for the month. It was
absolutely amazing. And the people we got to meet and work with too. One
particular time I found myself out at a party, and we were amongst all these
people and I was chatting away to this guy called Quentin or something like
that. Then, as I got drunker I was like, “Are you Taio Cruz?” And the man
was like, “Yeah”. Embarrassing. I think he’s great so I was like, “Oh.
Howya!” That happened more than once! The lads got to rehearse with all
sorts of bands in the rehearsal studios and you know, got to jam with them.
Some being the big rock stars of our days like Bon Jovi and New York Dolls.
It was just amazing.

K: On the subject of famous musicians, you recently met Paulo Nutini.
A: He’s a bit mad. He’s just wired from the moment you meet him to the
moment he leaves. He arrived singing, that’s no joke. In the back area he
was just mad, just ready for action! He’s great craic.

K: To focus on Keywest again, your upcoming album is called ‘The Message’
and is out in September (2011),
A: We’re going to open it with our first big headline act in Dublin.
K: Any spoilers you can give me?
A: There are twelve, possibly thirteen songs on it. We’re still debating
one. We’re definitely thinking quality, not quantity. As I’ve said, we’ve
written it for two years and have a ton of songs to choose from. There’s
sort of a religious theme going through it but it’s not about religion. It’s
more about our own personal experiences so there’s a song on there called
‘Absolute’ and one called ‘Road To Damnation’. So that runs through it. It’s
great, I’m delighted with how it’s turned out and as I said it’s the perfect
expression of the experiences we’ve had over the many years we’ve known each
other.  So please God other people will see it that way!

K: Great. Now, a few quick questions! First CD/Tape you ever bought.
A: This is going to be embarrassing. I think the first CD I bought was
Boys II Men and I think the album was called ‘Two’. I was a huge Boys II Men
fan and they released ‘End of the Road’ over the film Boomerang in 1990 and
I was just a nipper at that point. My auntie was a big fan and it was her
influence that put me on to soul music so that was my first. I think I was
about three or four or something like that?

K: Your favorite song on the radio right now?
A: I’m trying to think what’s on the radio right now. I’d probably say
‘Animal’ by Neon Trees. I like that song, or Adele’s new song is very good.
She’s a great story, to see her talent coming through despite all the
critics initially.

K: You were writing songs yourself at a very young age. Would you have
any advice for people who want to start writing their own songs?
A: You have to start young and you have to just keep on writing. It takes
such a long time to get good at it, it really does. You look back on your
old songs and go, “What were you thinking? How did that happen?” You just
have to keep writing song after song after song and don’t expect each song
to be your hit. Just write it for the sake of writing it and then hopefully
one day you will write something that will get you where you want to go.

K: Maltesers or Minstrels?
A: Minstrels. I like dark chocolate.

K: Finally, is there anything you’d like to say to all your Galway fans?
A: Well the single’s out soon and we have the support of i102, as far as
I know, so if they want to help us out they can inundate them with requests.
That would certainly move things along!

I'm Katy.