Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Interview with Red Eskimo

See below for interview with local band Red Eskimo from last week's paper. Very impressed with the gig (and the album, review here) in Dolan's Warehouse last Friday night. The trio played the album right through from start to finish, something I don't think I've seen before and wouldn't have recommended, but it worked really well in this case. Anyway, read the interview and look out for these guys playing soon.
See this weekend's paper for an interview with Delorentos about their recent issues.

FOR MANY bands, going the DIY-route is a matter of necessity, the cost of recording in a studio too prohibitive. For others, eschewing the mainstream, studio-process is a matter of pride - a philosophical approach that determines the style of the material produced.

Red Eskimo are such a band. A softly-spoken triumvirate of local musicians - brothers Neil and Peter Delaney and Robert Carey - they are set to release their much-anticipated debut album this Friday night, the fruits of much labour on their part.

The ‘Grey Death Billow’ is a lovingly crafted album of nine ambient, understated electro-acoustic offerings - drawing from a wide range of influences and bursting with soundscapes and texture. Think elements of Midlake and The Shins with a smattering of Sigur Ros and Dublin band Halfset and you’re not far off the mark.

One of the key aspects of the album is the noticeable and, as it turns out, deliberate feeling of restraint, a band clearly not afraid to craft some delightful music that doesn’t mean to force itself to be heard above a crowd. Tellingly, the well-known local band don’t tend to use a live drummer when they play, preferring the pre-programmed beats recorded for them by sometime-member Dave Carroll.

“We like using that sound as opposed to an acoustic kit - drums can tend to take over and when we play live, we don't necessarily tend to play loud,” smiles singer Neil Delaney. “Over time we have realised playing a little lower than usual is better and suits us. When everything is turned up to ten, it just doesn't work.”

Red Eskimo emerged from the ashes of local outfit New Land Jester, Neil’s brother Peter joining in time to feature on the band’s debut recording.

“We started out as New Land Jester but that was a long time ago at this stage,” explains Neil, as Rob notes that it will be ten years ago next January that they released the album. “You can hear it too on that album, it sounds ten years old,” laughs Neil. Peter, the quietest of the trio, nods to himself.

It was literally back to basics after the dissolution of this group, the trio simply using a “really naff four-four beat” from Rob’s bass pedal when they played live.

“We thought there was something good naff about it,” laughs Neil. “Someone tagged us as lo-fi and we liked that, making simple music, but it developed on top of that. That was the basic groundwork.” Rob adds: “It has been a collaboration going on over the last couple of years, getting a set together and working out what songs to keep. We are doing things ourselves and trying to find the best way to do that - without going into a studio. This was a project we really wanted to take onto ourselves and have full control over and not be tied down to set deadlines.”

Recording was completed in a Kilmallock location, before being scrapped and started again. They talk about the three of them, huddled over a computer, working out the songs, adding to them, buying better software and adding again.

“The cost of going into a studio is obviously a factor and when you are in there you are under pressure cause you know you only have so much to spend,” explains Neil. “You start skipping things and don't give it the attention it needs. When you start doing the DIY thing - which we are into - basically you can take as much time as you like to record, until we were absolutely happy with it.”

That care is apparent on the album, there is no sense of the process being anything but slow-paced and careful. They have taken this DIY-ethos beyond the recording, uninterested in record companies and keen to handle themselves.

“In theory there is no real reason why you would spend all your time going out to woo record companies, or management and these types of people - there is nothing that says you need to do that,” says Neil. “The thing is there is total freedom for us - we put down these songs that we are playing at this moment in time, but the next recording we do, there is no-one to say what we have to do, we don't have to duplicate it.”

He adds, drawing laughter from all three band members: “If we want to become a dance band tomorrow, we can do that”. You get the sense that these guys could do exactly that. In the meantime go and see them perform these songs live. You won’t be disappointed.

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