Interview: Kieran of Delorentos (JD Roots)Tweet
A unique new gig, tickets money can’t buy and three top Irish acts; that is what we have on our hands with the JD Roots events. We Cut Corners and The Minutes will join Delorentos as part of the unique show in The Button Factory. If you want to increase your chances, we have two pairs going over here [competition].
The Delorentos have long been friends of the site, way back when we were just a website in diapers. The Delo’s played a charity gig for us just as they were embarking on what would ultimately be a career that has gone from strength to strength.
Arguably they have never been as successful and as relevant as right now. Which made it a great time to talk to Kieran about the band, their attitudes to succeeding, what about Dublin inspires him and of course about the JD Roots.
It’s been a great start to the year for you, Little Sparks, which has been met with widespread acclaim
It’s the greatest album ever released!
I didn’t say that, someone said that. It wasn’t me.
It might not be me, it might not be you, but someone said it…
It’s been brilliant. It’s kind of vindication of us, because we’ve spent the last 2 and a half years deciding what we wanted to do. We didn’t want to do something the way we had done it before. So when we broke up just before ‘You Can Make Sound’, we said look, put out ‘You Can Make Sound’. For the first album, we had 28 songs and we recorded 15, chose 12. For the second album we had 13 and recorded 11 and put 10 on the album, so the way half the album was done but – and I don’t want to slag off the album because there’s a lot of great stuff on it and we’re proud of a lot it - I think it could have done with a little more pre-production; a little more work done on it. It got some really good reviews. From the end of that album (‘You Can Make Sound’), around 2009 we got back together and started writing Little Sparks. We spent the entire time leading up to now. Some of the songs are slower and more stripped back than stuff we’ve done before. Some are more involved. Some of the songs we need six or seven people to play, so we’re still working out the live set of things, using backing tracks. For some shows, when we get the handle on it, we might bring in additional musicians. It’s been a really exciting process coming from the last album to this one and the release. It’s been very good, people calling it “Album of the Year”. All it means, maybe, is that more people might pick it up when things like that are said and more might come to the shows and experience what we do. Long may it continue.
Well we nearly didn’t have you guys, so for us everything’s a bonus
Well that whole experience meant we thought about it. If we were going to do something, it had to be the best thing we could do. We had to really work on it. We got in Rob (Kirwan, the album’s producer) and he is brilliant. He came to us at the same time that we were pushing ourselves creatively, instrumentally, musically, lyrically and sonically. He came in at the right time for that, and he is very open to all that. He challenges us. For example, on one of the songs, he came back and said, “I love it, but I need some pathos, I need something in it.” and we went away thought about it more. It was a process but we got there. The funny thing about it is, three or four of the songs from that session, they are some of the best we’ve written. They didn’t work for this project but will work the next album, or the next thing we do, and that is truly exciting because we already have a head start.
The promotional aspect of this album was interesting with the EP and pop up shops, and a beautifully put together magazine
We just said from now on, whatever we did, it would be as interesting as we could make it. Every aspect of music, some of it you just come to it, like interviews, we would be honest about it, we wouldn’t approach it with any bravado or anything like that….
‘Best album ever’ (see above), no bravado…
Hehe well yeah, that’s just a joke, but the thing about it was that we would come in and just be honest, try avoid clichés and everything is coming from that aspect [sic]. So we looked at releasing an EP and said “How can we do this differently” and we published a magazine, which was mental. It was really exciting though, and then we did an acoustic tour to release it. We had never done that before, we didn’t want to do that for the album. We wanted the full band sound for that, so we thought it would work really well with the EP and introduce the songs to people and play in churches or venues we’ve never played in. Smaller gigs in places we don’t normally play in, Letterkenny which we hadn’t played in as much, different venues around the country.
Wasn’t it the Unitarian in Dublin?
Yeah, and the Triskel Church in Cork. Amazing gigs, but they might not suit the full electric sound. We got to play to different venues and to people who might not want to hear our noisy mess. Cutback acoustic was a different side to us. It really emboldened us for the next step. You learn you can do whatever you want, as long as you can make it work of course. We came to this idea of the pop-up shops. If we said let’s try this now, knowing how difficult it would be, we might have made a different choice. We played the songs throughout the day and at the end of the day there was the big gig. Word filtered out; word of mouth, texts, Facebook and Twitter all played their parts. It built and at the end of the day we sold stuff, showed people the instruments and we played songs for people. It was just great fun. It was a kind of weird thing to do, because we were trying to be as open as we could with people. We’re independent, we want to meet people, we want people to meet us, if they’re in a band, talk to us, “How the hell do you do this and that?”, well this is how you do it. We wanted to be open to people, “What’s the lyrics in that song, it’s one of my favourite” and I could sit there and tell them. I don’t believe in being a superstar.
You don’t approve of hiding away behind barriers and brief encounters
Doing music is something that is important to people, but it should also be accessible. I don’t know who made the rule that musicians should hide away and live in mountain lairs and do mad interviews with the glossy magazines about their lives. It’s ridiculous because you should be accessible as a person. I’m just a person who writes songs about my life in the same way that other people do things. It’s a job that I/we have a talent for and I think we work really hard at it. In any kind of creative thing people get involved. If you’re a painter you open up a gallery and people come in and look at your paintings. If you’re a musician, why not go out and talk to people, meet them, talk to them about the songs.
Well the pop up shops seemed to garner a huge feel good factor, with you guys teaching little kids how to play
There was loads of that. In Galway there was a whole family sitting around a drum kit hitting something different each, like in that Gotye cover video (by Walk Off the Earth). In Cork, people were skeptical at first, but then they come in and you show them a glockenspiel and show them how to play Twinkle Twinkle little star, and they love it. I think that’s the way it should be done. If I’m in the pub having a few pints, I’m in public, I don’t mind people saying hello or talking to me about music. It doesn’t bother me at all.
It might bother you if queue’s were forming, that’s a different beast
Well I wouldn’t want to be that person that says no. It’s the same with the gigs. After the gigs we go out and have a pint and chat to people, even for 20 minutes and say hello, because people who want to see you or say hello will do it. Interact with people. I mean I know bands who get off the tour bus, go back stage, have a beer, play the gig, say thank you and go back onto the tour bus.
Do you think that’s why you’ve last so long as a band?
No, I think it’s more because we work so hard as a band, and we’re stubborn and this is what we do for a living. You decide to last as a band. Bands only break up because they decide to break up, or stop making music because you decide to. You never have to stop making musici I could make music in my room till I was 100 years old and we might do that and we’ll still be a band. You don’t have to make dramatic statements. I dislike the culture of having to be a celebrity to sell art.
It’s perhaps one of the more endearing parts of the Delorentos that you are just regular blokes
Well yes we are just blokes, but I think we do what we do to the best of our ability. We care about what we do and I think we have a talent for it. We work hard to write songs and improve the talent and play good shows to people. When you go out you’re not just gigging with other bands, you’re in competition with people going to see a film, people staying in to watch X-Factor or Britain’s Got Talent. If you want people to come see you play then you have to be good and you have to put on show or people won’t come back. You want it to be a communal experience and people to sing along. I WANT people to sing at gigs. Some people say “Shhhh”. No, sing and be part of it: make us stop playing because your singing so loud.
To really enjoy the experience?
It’s a privilege for us to have people buy our albums and watch our band. People who write about us on the internet, that’s a privilege. Don’t abuse it and do your best to pay these people back. Most bands that end finish in depression or failure. It never has to go that far. It doesn’t have to be that dramatic, you can make one great album and that could be someone’s favourite album forever. It can always be one of their favourite albums, you don’t have to be part of the narrative of their enjoyment of the music.
Well it’s clear you’re very social offline, how important is it to be social online to continue to grow the fan base?
I don’t know how much it does really. Generally the fan base grows based on songs, so you just have to hope people like them. I mean you can’t sit on Twitter all day saying “listen to this song” but if other people are telling people then that’s a huge impact. It’s most impactful through word of mouth. The next time that person is in a shop or download etc they might think “Oh well X recommended that”. That’s the way you spread music, word of mouth. If you play a good gig in a town, then others in the town will hear about it. The towns we play in most are the towns where we have the most fans and that’s not chicken and egg. That’s because we’ve played in them a lot and it snowballs.
So you let the quality of music speak for itself and the social networking should take care of itself?
Well yeah, hopefully. All that stuff is a mystery to me. I’m not the most technical person but we put up our gigs and tell people when we have something to release, but you can’t control who will spread the word or text a friend about a gig. Social interactions are incredibly important to spread the word of music but you can’t control it, you just have to let that happen.
Has word of mouth ever highlighted a particularly good Irish act to you?
Well looking for new bands for the tour, a lot of people asked to play with us. It was very good of them to ask to play with us, we sat down and went through them and a few stood out. Some couldn’t play but we got some great bands in. We played with some great bands like Girl Band and Bosco Metro, We Cut Corners and Senekah who we met and had a few beers with, and they played the Castlebar gig. Little Green Cars and Spies too, they are just great acts and we are excited to see where they go. We asked them to play a couple of gigs and, from the songs I’ve heard, I think they are brilliant. We’ve been very lucky throughout our career. We’ve had some brilliant bands support us, some have gone on to be bigger than us. We played with The Immediate, Fight Like Apes and Royseven.
Was it weird for you to switch the tact a bit and be the support act for Razorlight and Mylo?
Yeah we don’t do a large amount of support gigs. Not because we are stuck up about it but we view a support gig as playing to a different audience.
Well that show (the Jameson Global Party on St Patrick’s Day) gave you a worldwide audience via the broadcast
Definitely! The first 25 minutes were broadcast so we had to co-ordinate the show around that. It was good fun and that was a different audience and it got a lot of people interested. They asked to use one of the songs in the ads and that’s a great thing. Whenever we take on something like that, it’s to play to different people. You can’t be stuffy and say no to things like that. You could play to the same people all day – to the same people for the rest of your life – but you won’t grow as a band. You need to play to different people, hear different music. Joe Stummer used to say “No input, No output”. You’ve got to listen to a lot of music, read interesting books, keep up with current affairs, read interesting editorials. All this will feed into your viewpoint on things and that will feed out into how you write songs and how you interpret music. You don’t want to do what other people are doing but you can definitely be inspired and take creative cues from other people. The last album we were open to different ideas.
Speaking of creative cues, the JD roots is about the influence of the hometown on a band’s music, what about Dublin has influenced Delorentos?
Well each of us would probably give a different answer. Myself and Neil were big fans of Whipping Boy when we were young. My whole summer was spent listening to the album. We got together and went on a road trip around the states in summer 2004 and came back and decided to be a band. You can’t get away from the likes of Redneck Manifesto, we used to go see them when we had only started going to gigs. Sometimes you’d sneak in, we were that determined to see them. They were influences, as are U2 and Thin Lizzy. The lads have ideas and we reckon we will do a traditional song which will surprise a lot of people. I don’t know how that’s going to go, but we learned a lot of new instruments during the acoustic tour, so we might not play all guitar stuff. We’ll see how we go. It’s going to be exciting.
It’ll be interesting when you all get into a room together and try work something out?
Well, we’ll have to find out then.
Do you expect a busy summer then this year?
Oh Jesus yeah, it’s going to be brilliant. End of the month is the end of the Irish tour, then we have a week and a half off. We’re letting Neil go be a best man, so we’re all taking that time off aswell. After that it’s just gigs non stop. Spain for two weeks, loads of little excursions to different places and then it’s summer festivals in Ireland, Spain, France. The summer is going to be really busy. We might fit in a holiday and then concentrate on Europe for the releases. Then it’s Germany, Netherlands, mainland Europe and the UK. Right now is just extremely exciting and we feel very lucky to be doing it. It all fell apart for us once we take nothing for granted, we work as hard as we can because it doesn’t last forever.
You seem to work hard but you seem to love it
Jesus I sit in my apartment and think, music has paid for this, the car to run, food on the table, these delicious crab cakes, I don’t even eat crab cakes, it’s the best job in the world. If the best job in the world paid a bit better it would be amazing but sure we can’t have everything.
The Delorentos will be playing as part of JD Roots at The Button Factory, playing music which inspired them from Dublin acts and also some of their own material along with We Cut Corners and The Minutes. We have interviews with both the other bands still to come and if you want to be at the gig you can register to win tickets at jdroots.ie or you can enter Goldenplec’s competition.
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