I was lucky enough to get the chance to catch up recently with Limerick's Moscow Metro for a wee chat about their new release, future plans and to find out a little bit out about what makes them tick. Here's what happened... 2UIB: So lads, what are ye working on? The EP has just been launched, what's next?
MM: Well the EP came out on the 11th of April and was launched at a gig in the Academy. I suppose that was the nationwide launch. After that, we have a few more Irish shows to confirm, probably Limerick, hopefully Galway, and perhaps Cork. Then after that, in May, We're going to Germany. We'll be doing festivals in Manheim, Dortmund, all the big cities. We have shows in Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden...All over the shop! So it's just a case of preparing for that at the moment. After that, the long term plan is to work on our second E.P. We plan to come straight back from Germany, start recording that, and release that. That will probably take us up to June or July.
2UIB: Tell me a bit about the E.P. Who are Moscow Metro, and what they sound Like? MM: I suppose, to give you a core idea, we are described as post-punk shoe gaze, that's be the style of our music. Our influences, you can hear them in the E.P. The songs we've just released on it are chronological. They're the first songs we wrote together, so that's the way we decided to do it. We wrote our first few songs, and we played Electric Picnic and a few shows like that, and then we just kind of took a year and we said we'd get our signature song that we kind of settled on and we would have it permeate anything that we'd release, you know? So, in doing that we have kind of explored different ends of the spectrum. We've kind of gotten a little bit faster, a little bit more aggressive. Things like that. Then when we're ready and we feel like we've gotten to a place where we know exactly what sound we want and what we want to do. When it came to recording the E.P, we then asked ourselves "are we going to take these songs, that we are currently working on, or re we going to take the first songs we had written?" And because we had developed a bit of a fan base, and people liked the first songs they'd heard, we said we'd release them and do 3 E.P.s this year.
2UIB: What are ye hoping to achieve with the E.P.? What are ye trying to Deliver with it? MM: Well what's definitely important, is to deliver some kind of message of substance. So lyrically, and musically, if you are trying to express something like frustration, which we would have been. We are coming out of a generation of mass unemployment and stuff like that. There's been a lot of slow starters, your're broke all the time. Our social environment and those kind of things around us go into it. It's kind of saying how we feel about our lives at the moment. That's whats in the first E.P. I don't think we ever go out to write a song about a certain thing and call ourselves something, I mean, we let people call us that, but we are not defined by it either. It could change on the next E.P. Spirit of the City, it was about the social aspects of all of us moving to the city and the experiences around that. That's just how it came out, we hadn't intended it. I think if you listen to the lyrics, you can get the mindset we were in when writing it. When you move to a place, you kind of look at it as an outsider. The stories you hear, and whatever way we perceived the place, we just started writing about that. I don't know if it will feature in the next songs we write, but it was definitely feature in the first few. I think as well, we've moved on musically...not intentionally, but we did the songs chronologically and they were done, we expressed ourselves in that way, but I think the new songs, they'll still sound similar, but there will be different subject matter. The first E.P. would definitely be a good reflection of ourselves finding ourselves as a band.
2UIB: Ye have said ye are releasing 3 E.Ps this year, rather than an album, do ye think, firstly, that the album is dead? That the way forward is perhaps in shorter bursts with E.P.s given the way music distribution is gone very much digital? MM: I personally hope it isn't dead. I still like buying an album and listening to it, but the culture we live in now, everything is instant. You said earlier about downloading a single track. People aren't going to sit down now and wait 3 or 4 years for a new album like the did 10 years ago and then sit down and listen to a double album. I think now for us, it's easier, we have a fan base, we have songs, we want to get them out to just keep pushing it. People can go and download them, and will know them when we go out and play them live. If you hold stuff back, and wait and do an album, it could all be behind you. I don't think that the same audience is there for that used to be. It's a money thing as well...resources...I mean the Beta Band did it when there were still albums...they released their three E.P.s and then just put them all together as an album and it's a great album. You are releasing four songs at a time, but it can still be put together and be a great compilation you know? It's easier for us to do it that way as well. We are a working band we don't have the luxury of spending 6 months in a studio then doing a huge tour.
2UIB: When you are committing to just 3 or 4 tracks, your output is a lot quicker. A lot of full albums can suffer from a lack of continuity. Thematically and stylistically sometimes it can change too much over the course of the album to feel like a solid piece, but with an E.P. you have 3 tracks that are lifted straight from a short period in your career as a band.Would you think that, to a degree, this format gives ye a certain amount more freedom?
MM: Yeah, it's a snap shot. It's harder work, but even what we found was that, because the songs were chronological, going back and recording something we wrote when we were first together, we had to try and get back into that frame of mind. So we are looking forward to the second E.P. when we are literally in it. When it's fresh! We have moved on in our songwriting, we are at it every day for the last 2 years, so it's a natural progression. It's important for us, especially for the vocal delivery, to remember what the song was written about. To really tap the emotion that was behind the song writing at the time. I think we did it with this E.P. anyway...well I hope we did...
2UIB: Have ye much lined up for the summer festival season?
MM: Not really...there is one, but we can't talk about it, because it's not confirmed. To be honest though, and this is nothing to do with the festivals themselves, but if we didn't get to play the, it wouldn't bother us. I mean, it's great to have on your C.V. and it's great to bring your music to a different audience, that you wouldn't ordinarily find you through Facebook or whatever, but at the same time, it just stops productivity dead in it's tracks. It's all preparation for 2 weeks before any of these big festivals, and you're not going to start writing new songs then. You might have these new ideas, and they're fresh, and ready to go, but it's all about the preparation for the big shows. To be honest, right now, I'd sooner we didn't get them, we wouldn't mind. We are at the stage now where we are writing and it's an exciting time for the band at the moment. We're exploring new themes and stuff like that. It makes sense for a band if they are established and they have an album out. They can tour it around the festival circuit. If we get them, great! It's a good weekend. If we don't get them...well we've work to do anyway. We've played a lot of them, we've played Body and Soul, Electric Picnic etc...they were great, but it's not our main focus right now.
2UIB: That shows a really impressive work ethos. A lot of bands out their would give their right arms to play some of the bigger festivals.
MM: For us, that's the most important thing at the end of the day...Well...it depends on who is playing s well. We got lucky the last time, and The Cure were playing and we were in awe for 3 hours. I heard people complaining that they played too long, but we just thought after.."lets go back now and listen to some more Cure in the car!!"
For your good Friday, here is Fink (Fin Greenall) with the opening and title track from his new Album, Hard Believer. A slow, atmospheric, and moody blend of electronic effects and the blues. Sounds great for my lazy Friday. The album is not available until July, but this little taster is available now for free download.
For no other reason other than I cannot get this song out of my head today, here is Ham Sandwich with an acoustic, live performance of their new single Illuminate. Another marvelous combination of notes and words and the like from one of Ireland's favourite indie outfits.
Illuminate is available now from iTunes
More from Ham Sandwich over at Facebook.
Where do I even begin to start to describe New Secret Weapon? For those of you who have yet to have the pleasure of hearing/seeing the Dublin 3 piece, from my limited experience of them, they sound like an obscure hybrid of Queens of the Stone Age and Jeff Buckley. It sort of works...and works well...
Their self titled debut album is heavy, energetic and loud, yet among the cacophony of distorted guitars, pounding drums and delirious bass line, they display an incredible sense of melody and timing. The ever shifting nature of the album constantly surprises, keeps you guessing, but the material is good enough to bring you back again even when you've learned all the tricks. A perfect example of this is the almost schizophrenic You're Still Losing which begins as a moody, grungy, slow burner before exploding into a fever of ever changing time signatures and tempo feels. The entire record continues in this vein, feeling like a grunge/stoner rock album met with jazz technicality.
The album is perpetually jumping from moody, angst laden laments into giddy, dissonant Primus style mayhem, or the kind of grandiosity that you may expect from Muse. This is a highly ambitious record featuring influence from some of the cream of rock music. It sounds absolutely enormous. There are hypnotic moments reminiscent of Jefferson Airplane, that explode without warning into a glorious noise that sounds like it has been lifted straight from Smashing Pumpkins'Siamese Dreams.
The performances on this album are fantastic, especially considering the complexity of the song structures, just when you think you have a track figured out, you are slapped in the face with a few bars of some obscure time signature. David Griffin's vocal performance is particularly impressive, switching effortlessly from growls, low, dulcet tones, into Jeff Buckley style virtuosity.
New Secret Weapon is being unleashed on the world on April 21st and will be performed by the band live at The Button Factory on April 25th (A show that comes highly recommended). For anyone who, like me, erroneously assumed they had somehow out grown their teenage days of bouncing around in an ecstatic manner, to whatever band hand found their way on to the front of Kerrang magazine...I defy you to listen to this album and stand still with your hands in your pockets. High points are the albums opener, The Freak, I Draw Fire Watch and Rose. Great all round album...where are my torn denim jacket and my long hair when I need them????
This is Birds of Chicago, a US collective based around J.T. Nero and Allison Russell. Impressive and exciting peddlers of high energy, soulful North American roots music, their new album, Live From Space, is available to buy from April 21st. Birds of Chicago will be on tour in Ireland and the UK during April and May. Really looking forward to catching these guys!