Interviews

CODES

May 28

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Friday, May 28, 2010  RssIcon

CODES

With blood pouring from her face, a girl stumbles into the surging crowd at a Christmas light’s fundraiser in a dingy pub in Ireland. Yes, that’s right. A fundraiser for Christmas lights. Surrounded by hundreds in fancy dress, neither the band on stage or the sweaty crowd took a second glance at the screaming girl. But she wasn’t reenacting the final scene from Carrie like the band thought, she had slipped, glassed herself and blended in with the rest of Freddy Krueger’s victims. “Nobody knew if she was for real or fake”, laughs singer Daragh.

Fast forward two years, and CODES have graduated from playing to the meager and slightly bloody crowds of the dilapidated pubs of Meath, to the 11,000 strong crowds of The O2 in the capital. The four-piece, who formed in 2007 have had a pretty quick rise in popularity. Within the space of a few months, the indie-electronic group had two singles in The Irish Top 40, played a set at Oxegen and were asked to support Keane on the Irish leg of their “Perfect Symmetry” tour. Recalling their first experience of performing in front of thousands of people, piano-player Ray says they, “took to it like a fish to water.” Presuming he meant to say duck to water, bassist Eoin was quick to correct him. “Eh no, I’m on about those aquatic lake fish,” Ray retorts. And so, we swiftly move on.The guys who comprise CODES are as follows: Daragh – the songwriting lead who’s faux-falsetto chords are reminiscent of Matt Bellamy; Eoin – the baby-faced funny-man in charge of the bass; Paul – the straight-faced drummer who is either the silent brooding type, or just severely hungover on the day I met him; and Ray – the Hanson-loving pianist with a slight obsession with The Saturdays.“We met them once. We met their entourage keeping us away.” Smooth. With Ray hailing from the barren lands of Sligo and Eoin and Daragh from South Dublin, they are the self-proclaimed Indie Westlife, “they’ve got ones from Dublin and ones from Sligo.”

After signing a record deal with E.M.I Records in May 2009 which the lads just about remember - “I don’t recall getting home that night”, laughed Ray - they were desperate not to let their new bosses see that when it came to a spot of drinking, they were Irish through and through. “We didn’t want them to see us really drunk on the first day, although we wanted to set a benchmark. Unfortunately, they failed miserably. “At least we’re told we went out that night!”, says Daragh.

Their debut album, Trees Dream in Algebra is a winter-inspired collection of tracks recorded with Manic Street Preacher’s producer Greg Haver. Perched on the top of a snow-covered mountain, their album cover ties in with the minimalist music created by the quartet. Was it taken in Scandinavia? No. Greenland? No. Antarctica? No. “It’s in the Wicklow Mountains actually.” Well, that’s not very rock-star-like. “The budget wouldn’t allow. We’re not 30 Seconds To Mars,” laughs Daragh.

Getting stuck in a lift with Vinnie Jones, eating breakfast with their idols The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s and insulting the bloke with the sunglasses from The Ting Tings, are only a few of the band’s Oxegen tales. “It was the guy from The Ting Tings who said he always wore his sunglasses because of a dodgy eye. I was talking about them and they were sitting right behind me,” says a red-faced Eoin. Insults aside, this year will be the third time the band will play at Ireland’s largest music festival as well as fourteen other festivals – and that’s just the Irish ones. “It’s a busy Summer for us. It’s good to be busy though. That’s what we always wanted to do, we just wanted to play every festival there is because we were all festival goers when we were younger.” Surrounded by huge artists at Oxegen, the lads are sure to get a tad star struck. Or maybe not. “I don’t think we’re the kind of people that get star struck,” ponders Ray. “I think if I met Thom Yorke I’d be a little overwhelmed, but I don’t know. I don’t think we’re the type of people to go up to someone and say, ‘Aw I know you!’, except Tom Dunne!”, laughs Daragh. Asking them why they’d get star struck after meeting an Irish news broadcaster is not even worth it.

Admitting that Kelly Clarkson, Hanson, Paolo Nutini and wait for it, the whole Doctor Who soundtrack are on repeat on their ipods, these black-loving, skinny-jean wearing rockers are not as hard-core as they’d like us to think. “They’re good pop songs!”, Eoin replies when the topic of Girls Aloud arises. Before they completely destroy their reputations, the boys mention Metric, a band in the US they’ve been listening to flat-out lately and Northern Irish band, And So I Watch You From Afar. “There’s lots of classical stuff too, like Steve Reich and Philip Glass who we’re going to see in concert in a couple of weeks,” says Ray. “I really love that BBC Orchestra stuff. It’s minimalist
and dark sci-fi music with crazy pianos and marching sounds.”

Drawing comparisons to Muse, Coldplay and Keane, the foursome are happy to be compared to such established bands. “We just did what felt natural to us and what came along at the time and because of that, any comparison is flattering to us, especially when people say Keane. Keane are like a huge stadium rock band and we’re just a band from Ireland who haven’t done much stuff outside our own country. To be compared instantly to them is complimentary!”, enthuses Daragh. “It’s much better to be compared to someone like that than someone rubbish,” Ray butts in. And who may they be talking about, you ask? A Flock of Seagulls, a-ha and The National are just a
few of the “really weird ones”. “I remember someone saying we sounded like The National. That’s like taking chalk and cheese and saying these two things are similar,” says Ray.

With a name like CODES, it would be a bit disappointing if there was a lack of mystery amongst the band. But have no fear. If you happen to be a fan on Facebook or one of their many followers on Twitter, you will be familiar with their cryptic status updates and their impossible riddles. “It’s just a way of keeping people interested and having a laugh with people. I think all of our favourite bands have that sort of aspect where there’s a lot more underneath the surface than just the things you take for granted,” says Eoin. “So instead of us writing up, ‘today we had chips..’ , we’ll do it in a way that’s fun and people might be a little more into it.”

If the lads weren’t sky-rocketing ahead in the music business, Ray sees himself doing a Ross Gellar and becoming a paleontologist. Unbeknown to the rest of the band, he insists that digging up dinosaurs is his fall-back plan. “I’m working on the beard. All I need is the checkered shirt.” “I’d like to think I’d be a sculptor or something mental,” Daragh coos. Perhaps he’s watched Ghost a few too many times. Thankfully, the guys might be able to forget about those plan-B careers after the flawless album they’ve produced. With theatrical, orchestral tunes like “Our Mysteries”, it’s easy to see where the Muse comparisons are coming from. “Telos”, a stunning instrumental worthy of Sigur Ross, the crowd sing-a-longs “Starry Eyed” and “You Are Here” and the opener “Malfunctions”, are just a few of the many tracks that prove Trees Dream In Algebra is an epic record that is scarily near-perfect for a debut album.

They may be set for international success, but don’t expect any sympathy from CODES if you glass yourself at their next gig. They won’t believe you.

Kerrie Donnelly

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