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This article was first published on CLUAS in April 2001

An interview with Relish

Carol meets up with Relish as their debut album launches...

It is of no great surprise that the three members of Relish strolling into the foyer of Bewleys' Hotel spot me instantly, standing as I am in the busy reception area amongst the suited doyens of business. The battered jacket and obligatory satchel-bag stuffed full of CDs, press bumph, tape recorder, cassette tapes, et al, give me the obvious appearance of the music hack - characteristically some of the least glamourous people in the known universe (despite what Cameron Crowe would have you believe). Naturally I clock them just as readily, in their easy, unhurried approach. Well, two of them have short, twiddly afro dreads not unlike Lenny Kravitz so that's a bit of a giveaway. Still, I can tell from the firm handshakes and open expressions there will be no rock-posturing or indie-kid attitude here, and as we retire to the comfy caf?bar below to sink into leather armchairs, I am already at my ease.

Relish live (photo by Roger Woolman)The Relish line-up consists of two brothers, Ken and Carl Papenfus and Darren Campbell, the band's bass-player, who is a mate going back to the brothers' schooldays. The Papenfus boys display no sign of the rock'n'roll sibling rivalry made famous by the brothers Gallagher. Instead they are natural cohorts, countering each other in conversation as easily as they complement each other in music. Carl explains the band's genesis with a certain coy reluctance, 'We've been together for about 5 years as Relish but... we've (himself and Ken) been playing together since we were kids, like. I did have the biscuit tins and all that and he had an electric without an amp for about 4 years. It's really corny and naff... you know, the whole tennis racket job.' Just in case such filial revelations were not embarrassing enough, Ken embellishes, 'Actually, biscuit tins that I handed on to you first of all. They were hand-me-down biscuit tins, not brand new ones.'

Once the guffaws subside, Carl continues 'And Darren actually joined the band we were in previous to Relish called The Id, which lasted about two and a half years and we did some Dublin gigs and did the universities and stuff like that.' At this point I become momentarily certain that I have heard this name before, declaring that it is indeed 'ringing a bell'. But before I can begin trawling the memory for some point of reference, the notion is quickly disspelled by Ken's rejoinder, 'More like a dull throb at this point.' Carl, laughingly, adds, 'For us anyway. Like a bad hangover.'

So, obviously much has changed since those early days patrolling the 'indie' scene. Whatever of past endeavours, the music Relish now make is decidedly upbeat and, in a word, positive. Ken offers a simple explanation for this volte face, 'We purposely wrote positive songs because we had just come out of the whole indie shoegazing scene and there were still a lot of bands doing it and we just thought it's too easy to get up in the morning when you're on the dole and you've no prospects and write about miserable stuff. It's just too damn easy. So we thought let's write stuff that we can play and be happy about and at least the one thing that we can be happy about is playing with each other and playing in a band. So that was really the basis behind that.'

It has been a steady incline for this band in development under the watchful eye of EMI for the past three years. This year has already seen the release of their debut album 'Wildflowers' and the Irish chart placing of their third single 'You I'm Thinking Of' (number 8). Since I met them they have completed a three night sell-out run supporting drearisome but inexplicably popular pub-soul outfit Ocean Colour Scene at Dublin's Olympia Theatre and been added to the bill for U2's headliner at Slane this coming August. Conveniently, the Olympia dates coincided with last Friday's Meteor Irish Music Awards, leaving the Downpatrick boys well placed to pick up their industry award, a win that they will no doubt still be celebrating as I write this.

continue with part 2 of 2 of the interview

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