Given that Foals cite Irish act Redneck Manifesto as one of their biggest influences, The Raconteurs covered a song by Jape and a super group, Tvvins, made up of members of Cast of Cheers and Adebsi Shank, generates excitement with every move, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Irish rock that’s slightly left of the dial is going through a boom period, even if it is slightly understated. Set to add to this are Limerick band Fox Jaw, who released their second album, Ghost’s Parade, last Wednesday. A tour de force in the type of madness and darkness one would expect on a vintage Tom Waits album, big things should certainly be expected. We recently sat down with vocalist Ronan Mitchell and drummer Shane Serrano.
So your second LP comes out soon, so would you say your more excited or anxious about it?
Ronan: Definitely excited about it, we started making it about two years ago, so it’s great to finally get it done, get it out.
I notice it’s a self released album, does that add to the excitement?
Shane: It’s all we know I guess. We’ve never worked with a label before; we’ve never had management before. We do everything ourselves, do our own music videos, everything in the craft and design, the website, photography, everything. It’s what we know and its what we do. Of course it’s exciting because its another release, you know, and every time that happens we try and up the ante, do something bigger and better.
Is that something you’d like to always do, keep self releasing?
R. As long as we have to, I suppose.
S. Absolutely, we’d love to get some help, a management or a label. Anybody that’s interested, we always chat to them and try and get a relationship there, but we’re never going to not do something because we lack that. We’re not going to sit and twiddle our thumbs. I mean who wants to help you if you don’t help yourself? We have to keep soldiering on.
Is that DIY feeling strong in the Irish scene, or do you stand out in that regard?
S. I don’t think people really realize how much a big part that is of the Irish scene, that a lot of bands that are making a name, are very independent, like they don’t have a label standing over them. Delorentos, I think they have an album out with universal, but before that it was all they. They even set up their own label, Delo Records., so you know its their own thing. I guess the trick is to not be so DIY that it looks unmade, give it a veneer of professionalism, which is maybe why so many people don’t realize how DIY and self contained a lot of Irish bands are.
Listened to the album yesterday, it’s very good. I felt it was very atmospheric, a lot of the songs might start with guitar, but it then switches to being very piano or organ driven, was this always the intention?
R. I wouldn’t say it was always the intention; it depends on how the song comes together. One song I wrote on the piano, and I intended it to be very piano based, I think we called it Eden’s piano, but it ended up have no piano on it at all, because once we got into production we realised piano just didn’t work. You know it worked as a guitar based song. Other tracks, the producing really just came down to what the song needed, you know as they where built in production, you know we need some organ, or a harmonium or a theremin, going on some tracks. I just worked out that way. As far as atmosphere goes, we just took it track by track and then tried to make it work as best we could.
What we’re the major influences in the making of the album?
S. I do remember a lot of, even percussive wise, that rather then just a clean rock sound I wanted a bit of grit there. Percussive wise I was looking at Tom Waits, you know interesting sounds. We worked in this huge house, an old Bishop’s mansion that the Bishop of Limerick used to live in. The catholic church sold if off privately and this developer owned it, but he wasn’t doing anything with but he was friends with Noel Hogan, the guitarist from the Cranberries, so he built a studio with a friend of ours there, so we recorded it there. Down in the basement, it has a lot of echoey rooms, it was very moody and there was very little electricity in the house. We recorded a lot of separate percussive parts down there.
R. We recorded a lot of acoustic guitars down there, added a nice creepy vibe to it.
S. With the percussion it was firing things off the floor, hitting metal bars, we just wanted all these really gritty weird sounds, and they got added in. That was the percussive vibe, a very tom waits like approach.
R. I remember when I was writing Hijack, I was listening to Beck, you know that song he has, E-Pro. The chorus is just this heavy riff, and it alternated between just that a verse. I liked the idea of doing something like that, with a more bluesy tint. Kerosene was more of a Beatles vibe, you know that free as a bird song?
Oh yeah, sort of 60s pyschedelia?
R. Yeah, I really liked that idea. It was honestly just track by track, like the last song just came out of nowhere, I wrote it in about twenty minutes. I demoed it and showed it to the lads and they all said “this is weird, you know we don’t have to use it”, but I had demoed it so, I thought we may as well. it was so quirky and weird that we had to use it, it was so left field to what we normally would have done, so I felt we had to use it. It was a great way to finish the album.
You said it took two years to make?
S. Well it took about four weeks!
R. We wrote it over the summer of 2012, and recorded it around August and September and we’ve just been really trying to get it finished. We added another track a couple of months ago, so I suppouse in that regard it has taken about two years.
S. I suppose, getting it mastered and all the tweaks.
R. And then planning the release of it.
S. With an album, it’s never just the music; it’s everything else behind it. Because we’re DIY, it’s the administrative things, getting your PR sorted, getting your bookings, exploring all those avenues and making sure that your doing it all right, and lining it up.
Are you looking forward to getting out on the road and supporting it?
S. Absolutely yeah. Especially since we did a fund it campaign, so you have your funders asking “we’re is the album I paid for two years ago!” you know we can say “here it is-“
R. There really is an album!
S. Yeah we did it! We didn’t run away with your money!
Would you view touring as the end of making an album or start of a process towards building your next album?
S. I guess it’s the middle of the campaign for us, because we still have two more singles and a few more songs, not singles, on the albums that we want to make videos for, sort of like a short film series. So with this album, the campaign goes to the end of next year, that’s how we planned it, but you know plans do change. Right now there’s just certain giddiness, because this album is here and its now, but I guess past the giddiness we are starting to look at songs for a possible third album. I love to get stuck into those and start approaching people with that material, but we just take things one thing at a time.
Do you feel like the Irish music scene has been kind to you?
S. Dangerous Question. It’s been supportive, I mean we aren’t an over night success band, we aren’t a band that follow trends, we’ve been doing what we’re doing a long time and garnered a fan base along the way. I mean it’s tough to be doing this full time. So everybody always says go the Germany, as if this one country is mean to sustain all these Irish bands
R. Almost like musical refugees!
S. Everybody always says tour, Europe, Holland,Germany, France, so that’s something that we’re going to be doing soon.
Have you managed to get to Europe?
S. We’ve done some shows in Germany and some in the UK, just not a lot of consecutive dates.
Was the response their expected?
S. It was good, but it was a while ago. One of our first gigs was in Germany, in 2007, so we are a different band now, different songs and a different approach.
You’ve also been in the states?
S. We played in Canada, in Toronto, at Indie week. We went over and did a run of gigs, about four nights. One day after another.
Would that be a place you’d try and crack again?
S. Definitely, we’d love to try it all. But when you’re independent and you’re DIY funds only go so far.
Is music full time?
S. No. It’s as full time as we can make it, and unfortunately other aspects of our lives have to be secondary because of that. We have jobs-
R. It’s a big priority.
S. We don’t make any money from it, any money that does come in stays in the band.