SOMETHING FOR THE WEEKEND?
GETTING TO KNOW: ‘COSMIC EMBERS’
IRISH psychedelic rock band COSMIC EMBERS caused more than a stir last month with the release of debut single, ’Apocalypse in Metropolis,’ a song we’re already hailing as 2022’s ‘Single of the Year.’
The group consists of Paddy O’Keeffe (guitars/vocals), Adam Walsh (bass) and Anto Walsh (drums) who began playing together in the summer of 2021.
They fuse genres effortlessly, taking blues, hardcore experimental, and traditional songwriting in their stride, a family band that have found the generation gap and the differing musical tastes between them, clearly work in their favour.
“My influences are varied,” said vocalist O’Keeffe, “But the main ones would be Blur and Radiohead, especially the albums ‘Blur,’ ‘13’ and ‘OK Computer.’
“Both of those bands always intrigued me on how they were always looking to progress and always appeared that there were no rule books went they went into the studio. Damon Albarn would be my greatest influence as a songwriter just the way he effortlessly jumped from one project to another of the past 30 years from Blur to The Gorrilaz and the Good The Bad and The Queen to name a few.
“As a guitarist and ‘soundscapist,’ Graham Coxon is probably the main reason I ever wanted to be a guitarist, to me ‘Beetlebum’ is the perfect pop song and from the first time I heard that rift I forever wanted to be a guitarist, he was never worried about put in big, long guitar solos or showboating, he just always made sure his parts suited the song perfectly.
“My love of guitar pedals and effects came from him and Johnny Greenwood. I am just crazy for guitar tones that set the scenes for songs like Jefferson Airplane’s ‘White Rabbit,’ Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Albatross,’ and The Doors, ‘People are Strange.’
“I remember hearing these songs when I was a kid and they blew my mind. Bowie and Kinks would be big influences as well as Tame Impala, he seems to come up with some interesting sounds on his records.
“Adam (Walsh, bass) is still only 16 so it’s only in the past three years he has really gotten into music but he has fully immersed himself in it , the first thing he started playing on his bass was Iron Maiden, I think he pretty much learned all the bass lines to their first couple of albums, he’s also a big fan of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and that kind of funky playing I think really suits my more languid and sparse approach to the guitar as he and Anto (Walsh, drums) have plenty of space to fill. He’s also into Victor Wootan and Polyphia. He’s at the age where he’s opening up to all styles of music and it shows in his playing already.
“Anto is from a heavy Metal background, he’s a big Iron Maiden fan but because we’re the same age and he’s just a music nut like myself, he’s also into many different genres.
TRUST THE PROCESS
“As far as our songwriting process is involved, it usually starts with me messing around with some beats on my drum machine as I write nearly every day. It’s a form of therapy to me in many ways as I was diagnosed with ADHD five years ago and as I was already aware of the difficulties that come with it, I stared to learn about the positive aspects which are creativity and a completely different way of looking at things.
“It was around this time I started to immerse myself into playing the guitar. I’ll keep playing different beats and timings on the drum machine and then keep playing different chord progressions and patterns with different guitar pedals and effects until I hear something that grabs my attention.
“Once I have idea of where I’m going, I’ll keep recording different guitar synth, piano or even melodica parts and stack the different tracks together. The main thing I’m looking for is something that excites my ears and somehow sounds a little bit different. I’m a moody player or a reactive player, not an overly technical one. I’ve got to feel I kind of have a landscape and an atmospheric background set with sounds to tell the story with my lyrics.
“I’ll do a few of these a week and then Adam will come down to see what he thinks and as soon as he puts a bass line on them then immediately the song or demo seems to come alive. He has such an amazing ear and will always come with a bass part that compliments my parts so perfectly.
“At our full band jams/practice the three of us try to make the demos have more dynamics and Anto is crucial to this part as he has been playing drums for 30 years and is the most experienced musician of us.
“Well kick things around for a few weeks, and when we’re happy we’ll get the drums and bass recorded, I’ll go back and start from scratch layering different guitar parts with different effects and add some sparse piano and synth and melodica parts with reverbs and delays – all hoping the end result is something we’re all proud of.”
But with such a tight knit, hardworking trio, how long does it take before those all too familiar rock and roll tensions begin to break through the surface?
“There haven’t been any yet thankfully, we try to have a mantra between us that we’re making music without egos,” adds O’Keeffe.
“What we try to do while recording the first three singles is give everybody the freedom to do and play what they believe is the best for the song and their respective instruments and the parts they play in those songs.
“It’s all about respecting each other’s musicality and trusting each other to do what’s best, because at the end of day that’s what’s most important to us. I’m sure some tensions may pop up as we progress but there is a huge respect between us and we have been given a very rare chance in the first place to have this opportunity and it’s not and won’t be, taken for granted.”
Having made such a huge impression with ’Apocalypse in Metropolis,’ the band have ambitious plans for the future, but their collective feet remain firmly on the ground.
“We’re going to see how far we can take this, we’re dreaming big, but you have to don’t you. We promise the songs will come regardless and that they will evolve as we will, after that you need a bit of luck and a strong support network from people who feel passionately about the music we’re trying to create, after that anything is possible.
“But I suppose for the rest of the year we’re going to jam and practise and get a strong and interesting body of work built up. We’re still pretty much learning on the job and not really knowing what our sound or vibe is yet, but I think that’s half the fun and probably what makes us sound a bit different.
“There’s a kaleidoscope of musical interests between us. We plan on releasing two more singles before the end of the year and start gigging early in 2023 and maybe deciding on whether we might need to add an extra guitarist or keys player to the do the songs justice in a live setting. An EP or album next summer would be top of the wish list and hopefully get added to some small festivals.
“However, it’s only been a few weeks since we released our debut single but the feedback we’ve got back has been really great and positive, the message appears to be that we’re hard to pigeonhole which in 2022 I suppose is one of the best compliments you get.”
I’ve said before I’ve not been as excited about an Irish band since The Undertones released ‘Teenage Kicks,’ only to belatedly discover a link – however tenuous – exists between the two bands.
“I know it’s an obvious choice, but ‘Teenage Kicks’ would be my favourite song of The Undertones,” said O’Keeffe.
“The late great John Peel is probably the reason for that. He championed Blur in the early days and in the mid 1990’s often had them over to his house to do the ‘Peel Acre Sessions’ and I know he had the song played twice at his funeral.
“After he died Damon Albarn and few others organised a gig in his memory and Damon played ‘Strange News’ from Another Star that night – and that was what I was going to call our band, first so there’s a correlation there alright.
“The world moves in mysterious ways.”
T W O
OUT now from Lancashire’s indie-pop outfit THE FORENSICS, their fresh, upbeat, and joyous summer anthem, ‘Change My Mind.’
The four-piece, consisting of Liam Reilly (lead vocals/guitar,) Jordan King (lead guitar,) Jamie Smith (bass) and Dan Lewis (drums), cite their inspirations as The Smiths, The Stone Roses and The Verve, and aim to create a fresh twist on the sing-along indie anthems they grew up listening to.
The band was born out of the solo project of lead singer Liam Reilly (‘Reilly James’). As a solo artist he gained supports with The Snuts, Deco and Thomas Headon but felt the live performances were lacking something.
“During the summer of 2021 the band got together to be the backing band for ‘Reilly James,’” said Liam Reilly.
“However, as we wrote more and more songs together it became clear the best course of action was to have a change of direction and head out as a band under the new name, ‘The Forensics.’
“The song writing process usually begins with an acoustic demo from myself that the band then begin to jam around until a structure and direction forms naturally. We try not to overthink the writing process and let our natural instincts take over in order to create songs that are as original as possible.”
T H R E E
THE UNDERCLASS ACADEMY is multi-artist Hans Gustavsson’s way of describing his own and others’ existence in text and tones.
After striving for most of his adult life not to feel alienated, Gustavsson altered his perspective and instead embraced what had previously been an enemy and adversary.
As a result, his texts are occasionally written from a socially critical perspective with a focus on the tribulations and failures of the ‘little person,’ and those who steal, exploit and rule only for the purpose of self-improvement without any consideration of the impact it leaves on others.
As a musician, he creates a mixture of singer-songwriter/rock tunes, with a variety of influences seasoned with impressions and different perspectives.
“’When It All Falls Down (Good Bye Valley Bay Road)’ is an alternative rock tune about the place my friends and I grew up in,” he said.
“It started out as usual as a singer-songwriter tune, but then developed in to something else in the studio where I used my Fender and also a modified Epiphone.
“On ‘Rain (Violet Talks To White Walls),’ I used acoustic nd electric guitars along with my new audient soundcard. I’d class it as an indie, alternative rock tune, and it’s about a girl called Violet and her struggles with mental illness and psychosis.”
F O U R
‘Llygredd Gweledol’ is the title of South Wales three-piece CHROMA‘s latest EP.
Recorded live by producer Kris Jenkins (Cate Le Bon, SFA, Gruff Rhys), ‘Llygredd Gweledol’ songs – ‘Llygredd Gweledol, Caru.Cyffuriau, Meindia’r Gap, Weithiau’ – capture the versatile and energetic sound Chroma have made their own – a sound that has cemented the band’s reputation as a must see live experience.
The fearless intertwined drums and bass riffs of Zac and Liam create a thunderstorm on which vocalist and lyricist Katie spins her melodic unbridled truth, honest and bone deep.
‘Llygredd Gweledol’ is a collection of song that leave the listener eager for what comes next, it’s a turning of the page, empty with the creative possibilities of where Chroma go next.
F I V E
IRISH singer-songwriter GAVIN FOX has just released his debut album, ‘Awakened.’
Fox embarked upon his liberating process of self-discovery at the age of 40 and in doing so awakened creativity for music and song he never knew existed. Hearing his work today makes it difficult to believe he only began writing music two years ago.
“I realised I had created an image I portrayed to the outside world, but it wasn’t the real me,” he said.
“I was constantly comparing myself to others, trying to live up to this persona, and it was exhausting.
“Sometimes the most painful thing you can do is look deep within yourself. If it’s dark, you don’t want to go there again. But it was the best thing I ever did. I now know it is truly amazing what you can find when you awaken your soul.”
The album took 40 years to write. It is a collection of stories, some personal, some inspired by the stories of others. The music style spans alternative folk, Americana and rock, with acoustic guitar at its heart. And for those looking for more depth, there is meaning in every lyric.
“I’m proud of this album, and I want to share it, but it’s not about me trying to be a superstar,” added Fox. “It’s about me sharing my story and perhaps inspiring somebody else to awaken their soul, to connect with their true self and unlock undiscovered creativity they might have inside themselves.”
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