The longevity of Irish bands can be quite limited. Most of HamsandwicH’s peers have long since called it a day, but somehow the Kells outfit recently managed to celebrate twenty years together.

Line-up changes at inopportune moments have no doubt meant that the group have released less albums to date than they would have liked to, but Podge and Niamh have never lost their enthusiasm for performing which marked them out from the crowd all those years ago.

Ham Sandwich - 3Olympia - 21st October 2023 - ©Glen Bollard / HamSandwich

Their early antics are partly why they decided to record a live album in the 3Olympia.

“Truth be told, when we started off, we were terrible live,” says Podge frankly. “I would've been one of the biggest culprits, but we were a shambles.”

“We would've been told that on record we were really good and live we were terrible, and I think that’s completely changed. I would personally say that we are a different animal live (today).”

While the superman capes may have been retired from the live set, the group have always endeavoured to maintain the youthful enthusiasm of those early performances that underpinned their debut album ‘Carry The Meek’.

“We've kind of tidied up the mischief,” says Niamh, acknowledging that sometimes things got a bit out of hand onstage in the early days. “I think at the start that was very untethered and it could go any fucking way at all, but I think we've kind of managed to bottle that a little bit. We definitely concentrate more on bringing the songs to people as best we can musically.”

As well as setting the record straight that HamsandwicH are in fact a good live act, it also provided the group a chance to do something they’d never done before - experience what one of their own gigs actually feels like.

“It's nice to hear everything together because you only hear what you need to hear on stage,” explains Niamh, “which is the simplest version of what you need to hear to get the gig done. So, when you listen back to it you're like, oh fuck… the energy is hoping off the record and I love that.”

Ham Sandwich - 3Olympia - 21st October 2023 - ©Glen Bollard / HamSandwich

“We've never seen HamsandwhicH live, if you know what I mean,” says Podge with his signature laugh. “The cohesiveness of it, all the parts layered on top of each other... you don't hear that on stage.”

“We wanted it to sound as real and vibrant as possible, all the instruments, all the fluffs, everything,” says Podge, when we enquire what the approach to the record was.

Keen to emphasize that the album is as live as can be, Niamh states, “We didn't do any overdubs, once you open that can of worms you can't close it.”

The person in charge of keeping that can of worms closed was Niamh’s husband Darren, who also happens to be Hamsandwhich’s live engineer. In order to keep the pressure of getting the perfect performance off the table, his approach to proceeding was easy breezy.

“He'll always record most of the big gigs,” explains Niamh. “So, he was like, 'Look, I'll record it and we'll see how we get on’ ,and it ended up we were really happy with how it turned out.”    

Mind you, the band didn’t put themselves under much pressure either.

“We didn't do any extra rehearsing or anything that we probably should've done and there was no real preproduction. I'd say we did one extra rehearsal than what we'd normally do,” says Podge, noting the laid-back approach to the process.

“On the night, D'Arcy was the only one of the three that was actually aware that, ‘Oh, I have to be on my game here, we're recording’. Myself and Niamh completely forgot, it didn't cross my mind for a second at all…I just had a ball.”

“I forgot too,” says Niamh laughing.

Ham Sandwich - 3Olympia - 21st October 2023 - ©Glen Bollard / HamSandwich

“It's a really nice thing to be able to do a patchwork of your entire back catalogue and see how they all stand against each other,” says Podge of the career-spanning collection.

“We've kind of put a little of how we've evolved into the older tunes, not to match them up but to improve them. Keepsake has loads of trumpet lines that weren't on the (studio) recording. Click Click Boom is quite different to the Carry The Meek version.”

Podge also notes that the audience make their mark on proceedings. “The crowd were buzzing, particularly on Ants, it's insane.”

The release of HamsandwicH 'The Live Album' has been marred somewhat with the news that Ireland’s only pressing plant, Dublin Vinyl, is heading into administration and won’t be able to deliver the vinyl of the album, limiting its release to digital only for now. The group themselves didn’t even get their hands on a test pressing before the new broke.

“It was a big blow,” states Niamh. “I just felt really sad for the people who had bought it. Everyone got refunded, but it's an all-round rotten thing to happen, especially for the company and the people employed there.”

“I'm a hopeless optimistic,” adds Podge. “We'll have an update from Dublin Vinyl in April so it's not completely dead and buried just yet, it could be taken over and if it is, fingers crossed, we can plough on.”   

Well, what else would expect from HamsandwicH.

Upcoming live dates:

Seachurch, Ballycotton, Cork March 22nd

Cleere, Kilkenny - March 23rd