Successful Irish band The Flaws have been in hibernation since their tour for their first album, Achieving Vagueness. This summer, they performed at a number of festivals, and released a single, 'I Don't Wanna Dance'. Now, they're preparing to release their yet-to-be-named second album. Here the ultra-modest Paul Finn, lead singer and guitarist, talks with Cluas.
Your first album was very successful - do you find that expectations for this album are high?
No, not at all, I don't think that anyone would really care if we ever released an album again!
You've been working on your second album - what's it about?
We started just writing songs aimlessly, and then we thought it might be more exciting to give the album a theme. The theme started out being based around the phrase 'peace and quiet', and it changed as the songs developed, into something else, which we're keeping under wraps until the album is a go. It's a very strong album thematically, and I think it'll be a nice surprise, once people get into it.
Tell us about your latest single, 'I Don't Wanna Dance'.
A lot of people are asking at the moment if this the first single from the new album. We haven't said yes or no, but it looks like it's not going to fit on the new album. It's like the song 'Sixteen', in that it's got a very dark verse, and very poppy on the chorus. It's just a pop song, there's not a whole lot going on. It won't fit on our album, which I'm kind of relieved about, I think the album will work a lot better because of it, not because it's a bad song, it's just that it will work as a good album without that song.
Do you have a favourite gig?
We did a show after the first album, in Whelan's, and we did an encore, the last song on the album, 'Windmill Talent'. We were all blown away by the fact that everyone knew the words of it.
Do you prefer to be on tour, or recording?
Recording, definitely, I love the process of it, I love being creative like that. We all do, we love trying to perfect everything to the last detail. We're perfectionists at heart, and in a live setting it's hard to get everything perfect. It's much easier in the controlled environment of a studio.
Do you live the rock and roll lifestyle?
Not at all, in any way. Total nerd. I think if I was wealthy, then maybe I would live the rock and roll lifestyle, but not at the moment!
Tell me about your creative process - do the lyrics inspire the music, or vice versa?
It's usually the lyrics, that come afterwards, the actual song structure could come from any one of us, and after that it goes through the process of being played in the band room, and usually some kind of ad lib melody will formulate along the way. After that, it'll either continue on to the jamming stage, or just disintegrate and never become anything. And if it moves on from there, we'll usually end up recording another demo here, before we record it for the album.
You've been compared to the Smiths and The Cure, but what sort of music do you listen to?
Obviously Shane, our guitarist, was a huge Smiths fan, and a huge Cure fan. I'm a big fan of the Broken Social Scene, and Feist, I like Animal Collective, and at the moment I love that new Girls album. I will listen to anything that's in any way good, and in any way not generic.
You recorded an Echo and the Bunnymen cover for Sparks N' Mind, a charity album, what's that about?
Great tune. We had been playing it live for about four of five months, and we actually recorded a demo of it, and then we were asked to put a song in for Sparks N' Mind, and it just made sense, we played it well, and we had already been thinking of releasing it as a B-side. And it really sounds great. It's also the first time me and Dane really sing together on the one track, which was pretty cool.
What do you think about illegal file-sharing?
There's nobody who's innocent, there's nobody who's never downloaded an album, who's never illegally got a song off somebody, but I recently found the application Spotify, and I'm a subscriber to that. Although there's absolutely nothing illegal about it, it feels wrong, because the service is so good. It's all totally legit, and I've payed my E9.99 a month, and you can just listen through the infinite amount of tracks, and find the most obscure things in the world. It feels so wrong. It feels more illegal that actually downloading a song, because there's so much there. Obviously I'm in a band, and I'd love to make some money, and we'll never make money if people download our music, but on the other hand, this thing Spotify and applications like it will change the way people listen to music. I know it's not free in Ireland anymore, but if somebody actually tried Spotify, they'd never download an album again.
Are you interested in any of your contemporaries?
Well, we have a lot of friends, we know pretty much every band in Ireland, I went to college with Kieran from Delorentos for a year, before either band had done anything. The first night we went out for a drink with him, we went to a strip club! I didn't see him for six months after that, but when I did see him, we just got along, and we still do. He's a good friend, so I'd like to see them doing well. I'm a great friend of David Marne, and all of the band Sanskrit, who only live down the road from me. It's tremendous to see all the great reviews that their album, After the Wedding, is getting. Within the band, Dane's great friends with Ham Sandwich, and we met Eoin from Director last night at a show we were doing. Everyone can do what they want, but I don't think anyone's doing the same thing as us, and certainly no-one has done what we're going to do on this album. So there's no competition, and it's all very pally, at the moment!
Is the future of Irish music bright?
Yes, if people support it. It does get a lot of support, but it's not supported enough by the people who buy records. There is a problem that the wind blows from England to Ireland, and never the other way, and whereas everyone could tell you who La Roux was, nobody could tell you who Ham Sandwich was. So I think we need to support it a little bit more. There are certainly problems with it, but it will get better.
Coke or Pepsi?
That's mental! I had a bottle of Pepsi yesterday for the first time in two, three years! I was thinking, 'Jesus, why don't I drink this more often?' The shop beside me doesn't sell it, and there's always Coke in the house, but I was well impressed. So I'm definitely a Coke guy, but I'm still partial to Pepsi.