This article was first published on CLUAS in August 2000
National Prayer Breakfast
Jack chats with Daragh and Paul of NPB...
'There's a girl in my kitchen and man she's really bitchin'
That's the line knocking around in my head as I trundle across George's Street to meet the National Prayer Breakfast in Dublin's Stags Head. It's a really warm summer's evening. My Clarks mules slapping the soles of my feet as I dodge traffic at a sedate pace for fear I leave a shoe or a leg in the middle of the road.
That same line is also my greeting to Daragh (bass), Paul (drums) and the barman who serves one of the best pints in town. The two boys are sitting seemingly ignoring each other when I walk in, Paul blanking the wall and Daragh with his nose in an Agatha Christie novel that pointedly does not have a barcode.
What's your favourite line on the album, then? That's mine (kitchen.. bitchin'..)
Daragh - Ah f**k, there's actually a shortage of lines on the album. My favourite is probably the 'Whoa's' that he (points at Paul) does on 'King Roach Battle Stomp'. Alan (O'Boyle of Decal fame) who was recording it wanted to just sample it, but Paul insisted on doing it. There's sixty of them and when he got to the end everyone just breathed a sigh of relief. Then he said there was a problem with one, everyone went psychotic and Alan played it back, Paul says 'that one' so we had to do it again' 'til everyone was happy.
The album 'The Sociables Prefer Pop Music' is definitely all their's - recorded with their own set of rules, and released under their own label Catchygogo Records. A DIY masterpiece, reminiscent of the finest 45 minutes of any Garage band.
Daragh - Last year we recorded for four weeks in Sun, spent a lot of money,
It wasn't going to be a very DIY album at that stage, we didn't really like it,
so we started working on it on and off, we kept maybe a third of that, and then
we just hired our sound engineer Alan O'Boyle (of Decal fame) who suggested hiring
equipment and bringing it out to where we rehearse. That was how we finished it,
and actually most of the stuff was made up in that two weeks. That only cost a fraction
of what Sun cost.
Paul - Also, it was kind of unexpected, but that was where we were used to playing, in a garage, dragging in all the equipment and having the drum-kit and all where they usually are, less pressure. I think we were a lot more comfortable playing in a familiar space, so instead of watching people going around tweaking weird things that flash, everything was just niced up, there seemed to be less variables and you actually end up playing your own music.
So, says I, were you trying to achieve your live sound on the album then?
Daragh - it got better yeah, like I don't think anyone can say 'Yeah this one you spent five hundred quid on and this one cost you a tenner.' Even Paul who plays live with us can't tell 100%. In Sun we were bringing in a huge range of stuff, from folk to swing whatever, and when we went back into the garage we decided that we actually wanted to be a garage band. We knew what kind of music we wanted to play and it worked, fast three minutes, stuff songs like 'Canary' (that's the one with the good lyric).
There seems to be a lot of independent stuff coming out at the moment around town, that's healthy isn't it?
Daragh - Yeah, even though I don't listen to the radio that much, Phantom
and Xfm are partly responsible. Road have done us huge favours also. Bands are glad
to see that someone will sell their stuff, especially singles which have a really
short shelf life, except in an independent record shop that works as a kind of archive
Paul - When we started I don't think we were aware that there was a place where we could place our stuff or that we could get airplay, Phantom and all just picked up on us.
Daragh - yeah nobody records just because they know there's a shop and a radio station that will play it and sell it, it's very encouraging when they do though.
OK, so that's all business, but what about the art of it? Tell me about the music man (I don't really talk like this but I can't really hear my questions on this lo-fi dictaphone).
Paul - When we were going in it was "let's just get nine or ten songs
and bang them out" but we ended up with way more.
Daragh - 'Sadder Day Blues' started as just a bit of a jam-in, we were just freaked out cos we'd blown three or four hundred quid on this rhythm track that took all day, then we were looking for something to do, and 'Sadder Day Blues' came out - that was really cool. 'Battle Stomp' we had practised for about two days before we recorded it, Paul had it all on an eight track - drums vocals guitars, the lot - we just decided to do it. The stuff that came out of nowhere and was recorded two days later is the
'Sadder Day Blues', you persuaded me it would be a really good single - You had a dance for it!
Paul - I'd say that was Patrick.
Daragh - It was you too! I was saying, 'but it's punk and 1 minute fifty!'
Paul - A couple of times after it was sent out, I was listening to radio stations they were saying "we're playing blah blah 'Sadder day blues' blah, blah.." and I was pottering around. I'd always step outside for a few seconds and I'd miss it.
(Me getting excited about song durations - voice goes squeaky at this point) I always reckoned 2 minutes 57 was the perfect length...
Daragh - A lot of the songs are 4 minutes - I was really happy to get them all down and short, the best thing is to fit them all on one side of a blank tape. The album's slightly over forty-five minutes and I wanted it to be forty so you could put your favourite two songs on the end again. At least that's what I always do. You always get that little bit extra on a blank tape.
I put it to them that they sound more American than anything.
Daragh - Texas Rock is the Corr's new song. Whenever we try to work out
what we're into, it seems to come out as everything except English. We're not Irish
sounding, a lot of European stuff like Mano Negra, and I was listening to Serge
Gainsbourg at the time we were recording, a lot of the reviews pick up The Pixies
and John Spencer, but that was in some press release ages ago. Mano Negra were a punk band who decided they could do anything they wanted to, Spanish punk whatever,
kind of a European Pogues, no rules. We like to be like that; Paul will come in
with a folk song, Patrick with a country one and I'll do a punk one.
Paul - It's more attitude to music I'm influenced by than actual music, as long as it's all rock and roll.
I leave it at that. That's good enough for me.
The album 'The Sociables Prefer Pop Music' is out now on Catch Go Go records.