Interview: Eoin Kenny of the North Sea
Big things are happening for the North Sea, online who sound as though they stepped right out of the 80s alternative music scene. Mixing the reverb and the haze of My Bloody Valentine and The Wedding Present with the chest beating anthems of the Stone Roses and U2, the band, who are currently touring Ireland on the back of their first single, released a few weeks ago, are hoping for big things over the next year. We recently sat down with vocalist Eoin Kenny
According to your Facebook Page you’ve done a bit of recording in France recently. Could you tell me how that came about?
We where looking at different things at the start of the year. Two things that we really wanted to accomplish where doing the album live and doing it onto tape. That was our start off point and it really went on from there. We looked at a few places in Dublin and then we found Black Box studio in France and we heard Dave Odlum worked there, and we really wanted to work with him as well, so we looked into it. Then we got the idea of getting away from Dublin for a couple of days and recording in one long stint in the middle of nowhere. It was a nice environment to record in, you know I wasn’t waking up my girlfriend at four in the morning because I’m only getting in. Recording in Dublin, it can be stressful because you get up early and work late, so we liked how we could all stay together, we stayed at a residence on sight and got up really early to work, and we’d just base out live all day, then do some vocal tapes, then just go across the way to bed and do it all again. We did it tune by tune, and it was great. I loved doing it live, because you could hear the tape start in your ear, at the start of every take, a little woosh, and then you knew it was recording.
Was that one of the biggest appeals, the fact it was all on tape?
Yeah. There was the analog point, and we also knew some good stuff had been done there. The Last Shadow Puppets album was done there, some of the Wedding Presents stuff, who are a big influence on us, was done there, and so many great artists had worked there. We knew great stuff was coming out of there and we knew it was done on tape, which really clinched it, so we headed over. Going there as well it was great, getting on the ferry with all our gear, having a few cans, it was like a bit of a holiday. It was really enjoyable and then we started getting the mixes back, and you know doing it live and on tape is really the way to capture a sound.
Did you manage to play any shows over there?
We more or less booked a tour over there. We were in a bar near the studio, having the craic and they offered us a place there. We were in Dionnai, which is sort of a touristy place but there was a bit of seedy side, so we got into there and got offered a few shows, so we hope to get back. They do a thing there that’s a bit like Hard Working Class Heroes, so we hope to go back to that.
So is the focus now getting the album done or touring?
The big focus is the single. It comes out on the 26th of September, and we’re playing a show in Tower Records before hand. If people buy the vinyl then they can get into the show for free. Anybody that comes to the gig will get a single. It’s the main focus. We really want to get it out, on Itunes and on Vinyl. We’re playing the Roisin Dubh, in Belfast, a few other places. The single is really the focus now and then the album will be next year.
Is it an exciting process or an anxious process?
It’s a funny one. We had an EP out before, but an albums a different ball game. It has its trials and tribulations, with mixes and stuff, but Dave Oldum is great to work with, we’d send mixes back and forth and we’d each add little touches to it. Its great really, I mean the point of a band is to put out an album, you know that’s what we’re here for. We really just want to put out our debut album, so its all exciting, its all new, going to France to record and staying there for a few days and hanging out together, it was really exciting. We’ve been sitting on these songs for the last year or so, we just can’t wait to get them out there, especially the single. We’ve had these tracks for a while but it gives them a new lease on life when people are talking about it, like they’ve just heard it. It makes it great again, like we get real used to the songs but it gives it a new lease on life
I get a sense talking to you that vinyl is very close to your heart?
Playing live, there’s a good interaction on stage, which can be lost when tracking the album. Doing it analog preserves that. We’re also a bit nerdy about vinyl, even myself seeing the record in the sleeve, it was great to have. 7 inch as well. Putting the album out on 12 inch is great, but 7 inch, its bigger than a cd and it just looks amazing. The vinyl we have is quite weighty, so its quite big and the artwork is like a green colour, and it contrasts well with the black of the vinyl, so it looks great.
Looking at your music videos they’re very artistically shot, is the vinyl related to that?
Yeah, one of our good friends, Trevor, he’s a big influences. He takes great photos, the colours are always great. That’s the basis for the single cover. Gary, our guitarist, his girlfriend put her mark on it with this animal thing. It’s kind of two images working together. It’s a simple image put its very open to interpretation. It’s a shelter in Clontarf, so it could be any type of story. It goes well with the single. The video we shot in black and white, with the song “In Love” as we wrote it we kind of knew what video we wanted, that it would be slow motion, and in black and white. We worked with the Second Frame guys and they ran with it, they just realised the whole video.
When you say you knew what the song should like, is it the same with song writing? Does each member bring in something or is it more of a collaborative effort?
Our Guitarist Gary writes the music, the basic idea, and everybody would add something. I throw over the melody and add whatever lyrics that go with the theme. I base it on that. What every words work around the riff, that informs the lyrics.
Listening to your songs, I immediately thought 80s U2, the reverby Joshua Tree sound, is that an influence?
Definitely. We’d be a big fan of whipping boy, early U2, certainly Joshua tree and Achtung Baby, Boy as well. We all have different influences. Gary is big into alternative stuff, Shane is big into Indie, like the Smiths stuff. I’m into Whipping Boy, Wedding Present, it all works together.
How do you find the music scene in Ireland, do you think its been kind to you?
I think there’s a lot of great acts doing a lot of great stuff. My twin brother is in a band called Fiction Peaks and two friends are in Ghosts Estates, and our old drummer has solo stuff, and they all seem to be taking off. We all rehearse in this studio called Darklands up near Kings Street. We all work out of there, its great really. There’s a lot of great acts. As a scene is small enough that if you put some stuff out and play a few shows its easy to get noticed, you know its not some colossal scene like London. Its quite a diverse scene, so many acts working away. There’s no real Dublin sound, because of that. It’s a cool place.
Where do you hope to go in the next year?
In Love out, then tour a bit behind that, around Ireland until the end of the year. Then another single in February and then the album. I guess the plan is to just get there, and play a load of gigs. We’re playing some gigs in Germany and hopefully the UK. Now we just want to play in Ireland and then look at the rest of Europe. Hopefully a load of people will show up at our gigs!
by Adam Duke