Thérèse Walsh caught up with The Mighty Stef to talk about their new EP, medicine social networking and their own record label….
The Mighty Stef are an experimental rock group from Dublin who have have been touring, traveling and performing intensely over the past few years. The band itself is made up of Stefan Murphy [Vocals / Guitar] Gary Lonergan [Bass/ Vocals] Brian Gallagher [Keys/ Vocals] and Brian Farrell [Drums]. All members play a part in the songwriting and they are currently working on material for their redefining fourth studio album. The band is fresh from supporting the Boomtown Rats and has seen collaboration in recent years with Ronnie Drew, Shane MacGowan, Dave King & Bridget Regan of Flogging Molly from the US and Cait O’ Riordain of The Pogues. These collaborations, were all organized by Murray [ex-manager of the Pogues] who did a huge amount to raise Stef’s profile as a performer and bring his songwriting to the attention of a much wider audience.
I caught up with the Mighty Stef himself in between a busy rehearsal for their many upcoming gigs. Their new release is a three track EP taken from a full length album that was recorded in L.A during the past year. “We’re putting this EP out just to create a buzz about our new album,”Stef said. This album will be available after christmas, “we chose three tracks that seemed to go well together which we wanted to release as singles.”
And what can fans expect from the new EP? It has been dubbed a ‘redifining album.’ The main change behind their sound comes from the producer they were working with – Alain Johannes a Hollywood based producer (working with the Arctic Monkeys, No Doubt and Queens of the Stone Age to name but a few) has also managed to see the group produce some of their best work to date. The band found themselves in Hollywood for three months describing it “more like a J1 then anything else but that was an experience in itself.” Great things came from that trip to the states and the tracks produced have brought the band a lot of attention.
Their new track Vampire, Hold me Tight has seen large interest in the last few weeks with Phantom FM calling it “a must on any Halloween playlist.” The song ironically wasn’t written for Halloween purposes but due to timing and popularity it’s seen lots of airing on Irelands rock stations. The band itself was on UCD campus on the 30th of October for a live broadcast with Phantom FM – Dublin’s largest rock music station. The Vampire Hold me Tight song became a sort of Halloween anthem during the past weeks and has certainly “been creating a buzz.”
The Mighty Stef are not shy of touring and have been playing quite a bit around Dublin recently. They are doing a three week residency of shows in a live venue in November and December. Whelans is the bands favourite venue, “the upstairs of Whelens is just a great venue – it’s a really packed atmosphere.” Even though the band have previously sold out the downstairs area before, they still prefer playing the upstairs where the crowd is slightly smaller but more intense.
The band has a huge Facebook following. During the interview we begin discussing the pros and cons of social networking, “at first we were reluctant at the beginning with all it’s faults but now I think it’s as important idea of social networking,” said Stef. He mentions a friend doing a PHD on whether it’s better to be “sitting behind a computer promoting your band or actually be out in the field playing shows…..I would be 100% willing to admit that it’s a vital part now of being a band in this day and age.”
As long term musicians themselves, the Mighty Stef had this advice for young musicians – music DIY. Learning how to produce has become the freedom of musicians in our generation – with social media and music sharing websites making it easier than ever before to get your sound heard. The band has plenty of DIY experience itself with Stef forming his own record label in recent years so that the band could go on producing. And what you may ask goes into forming ones on record label? First Born and Dead Recordings is Stef’s own label, which was created to cater to the needs of their own band. The Mighty Stef’s third album, TMS and the Baptists, was recorded in Berlin. This was the third in a series of acclaimed records produced and released on a lo-fi budget with his own label The Firstborn is Dead Recordings. The Baptists record was Stef’s most personal songwriting and marked the end [for the time being at least] to his folk arrangement approach to songwriting. It also marked the beginning of a new collaboration with Gary Lonergan and Brian Gallagher who went on to form a new songwriting partnership with Murphy and also provide the basis for a full-time band.
Speaking of their major influences as a band, Stef mentioned the death of Lou Reed,
referring to him as “possibly the biggest influence of their sound.” Velvet Underground has been to the forefront of musical pioneering with the myth behind their first album being that it “only sold a few thousand copies, but everyone who bought one formed a band.” From these roots rise The Mighty Stef, whose momentum has started to increase rapidly. They are getting mightier each and every day.
The mighty stef will be playing Whelans on the 7th and 21st of November and 5th of December. Tickets are 9.75 each and avaliable on ticketmaster.ie
We have two tickets to give away to the 21st November gig in Whelans – email [email protected] to be in with a chance to win them.