The Temple House Music Festival is fast approaching! With only one day to go before festivities kick off, Goldplec decided it was time to catch up with the legendary Steve Wall, founder of well renowned Irish indie/rock heads, The Stunning and more recently, The Wall’s and see what he has in store for us when both bands hit the main stage tomorrow night.
Beginning life 12 years ago, The Walls have released two albums (2000’s Hi-Lo and 2005’s New Dawn Breaking, both achieving massive critical acclaim) and now the band are gearing up for their third opus, Stop The Lights. Having released two preview tracks in June, the bands are currently road testing their very unique new live show as well as tracks from the forthcoming album. In addition to The Wall’s appearance at this year’s Temple House, Steve and his brother Joe Wall have decided they’d bring The Stunning back to give the summer a proper rounding off. We found Steve hot on the trail to Electric Picnic but he still had time to fill us in on The Walls new album, their exciting new live show and their plans for the future.
Goldenplec: You’ve finished recording your third album, have you decided on a release date yet?
Steve Wall: We haven’t given a release date yet because with this album we’re hoping to go outside of Ireland before we put it out here. There was a time when the life span of an album was about a year or more, so you could spend quite a lot of time in Ireland working on promotion and all of that but now the life span of an album in Ireland is about three weeks, so it’s just not, well it sounds bad to say it’s not worth it, but we have a manager in the States now and he’s keen for us to release something over there. So our plan is to release a four track EP with two album tracks and two extras on it in America and maybe in the UK. We’ll hopefully do that first and put Ireland on the backburner for a little bit.
GP: Have you decided on which songs you’ll put on the EP?
SW: It looks like the lead song will be track called Bird In A Cage. We’ve been gigging that song for a while now and we’ve been getting a great reaction to it. It’s just one that people have spoken about afterwards and one that pops up a lot and plus the recording of it came out really well.
GP: You mention the life span of an album lasts around three weeks in Ireland, which is very true in most cases. Why do you think this is?
SW: What’s happened with the rest of our albums, when there was a demand for them we’d set a release date, put them out and put quite alot of work into promotion in Ireland which paid off before, but now it doesn’t work like that. Three weeks, I don’t even know if I’m exaggerating there but possibly not. We put out our first singles (Carrying The Fire / Phantom Power) out around the middle of June and even in the last four years we’ve found that it’s even more difficult here. The night time DJ’s have been great at playing Irish stuff but you really have to hustle a lot for the daytime DJ’s. Also the life span of a single is very short on day time radio, it seems to just be what’s hot in the American R&B charts and UK Top 40.
GP: Considering the life span of an album is so short, do you feel the last four/five years away from releasing new material has hurt The Walls at all?
SW: It probably has but in a way we’re really talking about Ireland here and we’ve been plying our wares in Ireland since 1988 (laughs) so if we were a band like Bell X1 for example, if they were to take a break in Ireland for five years it probably would damage them because they’re at the top of their game at the moment. But for us it was different because we actually did more gigs outside of Ireland in the last five years than we’ve done in Ireland and we’ve been really trying to stop thinking of Ireland and break those boundaries a little bit. Even psychologically because it’s too easy to get caught up in the whole thing here of worrying about getting air play in Ireland or being written about in the press and all that. It’s just time to stop thinking that way.
GP: You’ve been doing the two man show for a couple of years, do you have any plans to bring the Walls back as a full band show or are ye going to keep pushing the new show until the album bears fruit?
SW: I suppose the main reason we came up with the idea for a two man thing was after a visit to Australia two or three years ago. We were invited to do some gigs with Crowded House over there and obviously we thought it was an opportunity not to be missed. It was great and all, but it cost us a fortune. Back in the day you would have had a record company here and a record company in Australia putting up some tour support and putting things in place so you’re maximizing the opportunity but now in most cases it’s just the band who have to finance it all for themselves and organize everything and that was the case with us.
When we came back we were broke and we looked into ways of taking our music abroad without the cost of five or six flights, van rentals, hiring the backline, the equipment, drums, amps and all that. So it was because of the Oz trip that we worked on the two-man show idea while trying to keep it different, interesting and not just two guys with acoustic guitars because there’s enough of that around (laughs).
That’s how we came up with the visual idea. We originally did a very basic version where it was just the drummer that appeared on the screen and we just expanded it from there. It’s really taking shape now and we don’t want to over do it but we’re. Donal Dineen shot some of the footage and another visual artist Claire Langan – who’s worked with Sigur ros in the past, helped us alot. We’re looking at this as something that will enable us to make trips over to America, make them affordable and allow us to go more regularly.
GP: Have you got the show finalized now or are you still adding to it?
We definitely see the show evolving and we’re meeting up with a theatre director this week to get more of a theatrical angle and see if there’s anything else we could be doing to enhance the experience for the audience. You know sometimes you go to a gig and something happens that leaves you with an unforgettable moment and I think as a band or artist, you have to strive to try and do things like that. You have to constantly think how you can make your music and your show better. We’ve only played two shows since all the visuals have been finalized and the reaction has been amazing so far. We were at a stage coming up to a show in the Odessa Club where we’d changed alot of the visuals and added in several things at the last minute and we were wondering if we were just making life more difficult for ourselves as we always tend to do (laughs), but it ended up going down really well and we’ve been getting great reactions since.
It’s the kind of show where we’re not restricted to indoor venues. It can be done outdoors or on the side of a building or like Temple House, we can do it at Arts festivals. At the moment we’re challenged by it so we’ll just go with it and see where it takes us.
GP: Going back to the Four track EP you’re lining up for an American release, do you have anything set in stone to go over there to promote it?.
SW: Our managers coming over here in the middle of October so when he’s here we’ll start setting out a plan for it. What we’d like to do is get the EP out over there in November or around then. We’re spending between now and then getting content, shooting some footage for a video to accompany it. We’ll be doing some shooting at Temple House and events like that. Basically we’ll be giving him (our manager) all the ammunition, hand over everything and let him run with it. We’re aiming this at the internet more than ever before so we’ll be doing some interesting videos with outdoor footage, some visuals and maybe some guerilla style footage like just put the projector up somewhere and play. We want to get lots of little clips and footage and create a little history of the whole show and head over to the States and the UK around February next year.
GP: Do you currently have a fan base in the States or are you starting from scratch over there?
SW: Ehm, I don’t even think it’s worth trying to mine that really. There might be people there who were into the Stunning but that’s a long time ago. I think we’ll just be going in with the new shiny toy guns and starting from scratch (laughs).
GP: Carrying the Fire and Phantom Power were released three months ago. Did you receive any international attention from them?
SW: Not really because we didn’t do anything with them in the sense that we didn’t have a video and, well they’re on ITunes and everything but we didn’t really take out any campaigns or anything like that. We’re waiting till we have the four track EP together before starting the big push.
GP: Going back to your earlier days, The Stunning are reforming for the Temple House Festival this weekend, do you have any other plans with them this year?
SW: No, we’ve no plans at all for any other Stunning gigs at the moment.
GP: What made you decide to return for this one?
SW: They just asked us and everybody was free so we thought, ok ‘it’s the end of the summer, let’s do it’. Also it’s a new festival and The Undertones are doing it aswell on the same night, it just made sense. The Walls are on at eight o’clock on the same stage and then another show with The Stunning almost straight after. God help us (laughs).
GP: Does it ever get annoying that The Stunning’s shows are always packed, even now years after the split but The Walls shows are on a smaller scale?
Not really, I kind of understand that. Ireland is so small and The Stunning were huge in Ireland and then to be able to come out with a new band and better that again is tough. Everything has it’s time and place and you can’t expect to always cap that. The Walls, we were always trying to thing a little bit more outside of Ireland and we’ve done alot more outside of Ireland than the Stunning ever did.
GP: With the Stunning it was always you on vocals but with The Walls Joe has taken over some of the singing duties. Have you found it hard to transition into the new presentation?
I think basically back in the Stunning days Joe wasn’t writing much material but he does write more now and he tends to sing what he writes. Like Phantom Power is Joe’s song and the way it goes is whoever wrote it sings it (laughs).
For more detials visit http://www.templehousefestival.com/