This article was first published on CLUAS in August 2000
Relish - Waiting to Witnness
Jack gets to drop in on Downpatrick's latest musical export...
I'm ushered in to The EMI offices on Ailsbury Road, a fine building indeed for
radio darlings Relish to be hanging out
in. Their Press Officer greets me as she dumps a bust of faulty CDs and brings me
down to a sumptuous conservatory.
Relish are ensconced, believe it or not, listening to a copy of their own single and wearing their own merchandise. I spy them before they see me and Ken Papenfus, the guitarist and most vocal member of the group, is playing air guitar to the track and headbanging his mini-dreads much to the others' amusement.
We start off talking about Witnness at which Relish will be playing, and
how they like bigger crowds...
Ken - A lot of bands say this, but I think our stuff works really well to a
bigger crowd we try and create a cinema sound, if we can, with our songs.
He's dead right. 'Let it Fly' is about as cinematic as it gets, a huge guitar riff driven along by Ken's massive voice, and classic along with it. I have gotten the impression that Relish are a 'Real Song' band, their stuff has a classic sound and all, so do they use all that classic equipment?
Carl - Yeah we do, basically it sounds better. We went through a phase we had racks and effects and bass pedals and digitech - but stuff just sounds better through the real gear, if we ever played with old guys we always wondered how they got such great sounds and they'd say 'its just my guitar and an amp'.
Ken - It just kicks the arse of the new stuff - all the new equipment is made just for dance music, not for what we play.
Darren - Anyway loads of that dance stuff, DJ Shadow and all is based on old drum sounds. Old funk you know. At the moment we're listening to D'angelo and Coldplay, we're suckers for real singers and real songs.
So nobody here is really impressed with dance music by the looks of thing.
Time to change tack... It seems that there's a real scene in Downpatrick, was it
something Relish were aware of when they started out?
Ken - There was a bunch of guys playing around I don't know if you'd call it a scene...
Darren - Ah it was, I was outside the town, if you were trying to start a band, it was always 'You should go to Downpatrick you'll pick up someone.'
Ken - There's a big blues thing in the North, and roots thing, you know from Van Morrison on. Scotland has a soul thing too. We embraced that more than the punk thing. We didn't dig that at all. Though Ash did a lot for music in the North, people were waiting for something after Therapy. They gave a lot of bands the attitude 'yeah we can do this too'.
Unsurprisingly Ken and Karl with the matching mini-dreads are brothers.
They came to Downpatrick from South Africa as kids. Their mother was a successful
singer down there and coincidentally was also signed to EMI. So the burning question:
Did Relish become musicians because of their parents, and did Mr. & Mrs. Papenfus
ever play with with their offspring?
(hoots of laughter)
Ken - Their parties would always have lots of jazz, but we just turned our backs to it. You become your parents at the end of the day, but we rejected all their stuff at first, we used to play funk mixed with metal. The kind of stuff that they hated, which we thought was great. Even then though when we used to send stuff off to American labels - we'd always be told to concentrate on some blues thing they heard, we were in total denial of it. It's odd that my Mum was signed to EMI as well. We never even thought to contact them.
So what common thread runs through the 3 members of Relish?
Ken - We've just got the same agenda; playing music. We're not really concerned about styles and genres and things. We grew up listening to all kinds so we talk about Carpenters songs and Darren says 'I've got that too,' and then we're like 'You've got no life as well'
Darren - I just go along with it?
Ken - We fitted in alright (to Downpatrick), but there was a seed of difference in it. We got refuge from sitting playing guitars, Darren kind of felt the same way, he came over from England. We were geeks about guitars.
It seems to have done them good, and their blas?attitude is only gas. Listen as the names of top level producers and studios just fall out of their mouths as they talk about their album.
Ken - We did half the album with John Leckie and then the other half with Al Clay. John was really cool. They way he communicated with us and how he puts things together, we weren't intimidated, we knew we had to do half the album with the guy. That's what we concentrated on. Then, because we had different styles, and we wanted to get to the bottom of all of them we used Al (Stereophonics, Reef) Clay. We were lucky to have our wish list of producers willing to work with us and available at the time.
I put it to them that it's a dream of most bands their age to record at Air studios, Rockford and even Abbey Road.
Ken - Don't get me wrong but when we were younger we wanted to be actors or sportsmen, the music was even too close to home, it was like an academic subject for us. We knew we'd be doing it eventually.
And they will certainly be doing 'it' when they play the Witnness Festival which takes place on August 5th & 6th in Fairyhouse.
Relish were interviewed by Jack Murphy