Few Irish acts in the indie/alternative rock sphere give rise to quite as much excitement as Dublin duo We Cut Corners. Boasting an innovative two-man lineup, a unique sound, and two acclaimed albums, the band couldn’t be on a better musical trajectory. We caught up with guitarist John Duignan to talk festivals, strings, limitations and the future.
After a quick tour of Ireland to promote sophmore album Think Nothing, We Cut Corners jumped straight into the festival circuit. “It was just a crazy summer. We got to play pretty much every festival we would have liked to, which is an amazing thing to do in the wake of releasing an album. You get to go to parts of the country that might be otherwise difficult to get to.”
With twice as many tunes in their repertoire, the two had a great opportunity to mix up their set. “All the festivals were amazing in terms of crowd response, in terms of how the new songs seemed to be received”. Duignan explains they adopted the idea of “throwing some covers in there, and not being too precious about your own setlist”.
“We kind of discarded a lot of the quieter songs that would feature heavily on the record,” embracing the “festival philosophy of just purely entertaining”.
We Cut Corners have recently had an affair with strings, releasing a live EP (simply called ‘Strings’) and playing with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra for Culture Night. They enjoyed being “part of a real band in a sense”.
Would they like to bring a quartet on tour? “Yes it would be amazing to be able to do that. Visually how it looks on stage, it wouldn’t really work as part of the set. And sonically the strings work best during the quiet songs, so it would be a waste in that sense. If we could afford to do it though, we’d do it every night of the week!”
As a duo, they rarely perform with any backing musicians, orchestral or otherwise. Though it’s something they say they often consider but never seem to do – “We write the songs together, they come out fully formed and that’s how we play them”.
Confined by the limitations of their two-man setup, they are forced to come up with unique ways of keeping a song exciting. “When you’re writing with just the guitar and drums, you know when you get to a chorus or bridge, a huge bassline isn’t going to come in, nothing is going to lift the song in terms of the texture of the music. So we’re constantly trying to lift it in terms of the composition”.
Duignan considers this a very “healthy limitation”.
“We have to focus a lot on the strength of the lyrics,” and this is definitely something that jumps out at the listener. A We Cut Corners track is easily recognised by the clever wordplay and witty lines.
Talking about the placement of the vocal tracks in terms of album production, Duignan says “On the first album we buried them quite a lot, you’re not as confident on your first album. On the second one we worked with Tommy McLoughlin, he’s just got the best selection of microphones and pre-amps in the country really, we worked on having the vocals super present.” They feel it was nice for themselves to have done one record very upfront in that regard, and that it leaves them free in the future to experiment with whatever production they wish.
October will be a busy month for the band, with headline shows lined up in Galway, Limerick, Kilkenny, Dublin, Clonakilty and Dundalk. John assures they have some great guests lined up for these dates, with announcements coming soon.
There also don’t seem to be any plans to take the foot off the pedal after this. “Just when we finish those October dates, we’re going to Spain to play a few dates, we’ve never played in Spain before so we’re really excited about that!”
“The huge thing on the horizon is working on the third album. So once we get those shows in Spain done we’ll be sitting down and trying to plot the next chapter. We’ve started working on it loosely and hooking up with someone to engineer and produce, which should be fun.”
“I guess the way that we work is that we’re constantly trying to keep all aspects of the band thing going. So over the summer we took some time to write and get a collection of songs together that we think are going to constitute the next album.”
The future of Irish indie music is certainly in good hands. We’re certainly excited to check the guys out on tour and look forward to hearing the next wave of We Cut Corner tracks in the not-so-distant future.
We Cut Corners will play The Roisin Dubh, Galway on 02 October; The Kasbah, Limerick on 10 October; the Set Theatre, Kilkenny on 11 October; The Academy Dublin on 16 October; Debarras, Clonakilty on 24 October; and the Spirit Store, Dundalk on 25 October.