Saturday, November 10, 2007

"Avoid Rock and Roll. Really. There's no money in it."

Irish indie hopefuls The Immediate split up this week. Helplines have been set up to console their weeping fans (music journalists, most of them) so as we bid a fond farewell to the band who Could Have Been Bigger Than An Emotional Fish, I present an interview I did with their bassist Peter Toomey earlier this year. It was intended for publication in a student paper but a cock up meant the music section never got printed. (Ciarán accepts no responsibility whatsoever for The Immediate splitting up).

HOW’S THE SECOND ALBUM COMING ALONG? We’ve recorded demos in Donegal and they’re sounding good. We’ve played a few new songs live and they’ve gone down really well. We played at Whelan’s last night actually.

WHAT HAS THE RESPONSE TO YOUR MUSIC BEEN LIKE IN ENGLAND? Gigs have been really good there, but it’s a tough place to crack. We played in Brighton and Sheffield and toured with The Young Knives. It’s tougher in London. The audiences are more cynical and jaded there, they’ve seen it all before and they can be hard to please. But we’re going back to Brighton in the summer to play a festival.

IS DANCE MUSIC REALLY MAKING A COMEBACK? I don’t know about this New Rave. All these bands like Enter Shikari…they’re all shouty guitars and squelchy noises over the top. Slightly folky stuff like Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom…that seems to be more where things are going now. So, I’m not sure about this NME New Rave scene, no. I suppose it’s all about getting your music out there.


HAVE THE NME IN IRELAND HELPED YOU AT ALL? Well, they mention us a bit but they’ve so many bands to cover. Yes, it’s a difficult one to break into really.

WHAT’S THE BEST BAND YOU’VE SUPPORTED OR BEEN SUPPORTED BY ON TOUR? The Young Knives…or Doves. I didn’t want to like The Young Knives but they won me over, they were so good. I was already a big fan of Doves, we got to play a few shows with them down the country and at The Olympia. Also there’s this U.S. band called Dios Malos, they were great too.

YOU USED TO WORK IN A RECORD SHOP. DID YOU EVER GET TO SELL A COPY OF YOUR OWN RECORD TO A CUSTOMER? Yeah! Before Christmas I sold a few copies of it. I just grinned. Some of them knew I was in the band, others didn’t.

DID ANYONE EVER TAKE THE RECORD BACK AND ASK TO EXCHANGE IT FOR SOMETHING ELSE? No, not in my presence anyway. If they had done would I have allowed their refund? Oh yeah! Of course…

WHAT WAS THE LAST ALBUM YOU BOUGHT? A compilation of stuff by Tim Hardin. I’d heard covers of his stuff by people like Scott Walker and The Small Faces. Also I bought a record by Au Revoir Simone. They’re three girls, really good…

SHOULD MORRISSEY HAVE ENTERED THE EUROVISION? I think so. He’s a big fan of sixties and seventies Euro-pop. He knows his stuff. But maybe he was just joking about actually entering himself. I think he would have done well, he’d have looked slick in front of the Eurovision viewers around Europe. Yes, I think they’re ready for something like that at Eurovision.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH POP MUSIC AT THE MOMENT? Too many bands are trying to be The Arctic Monkeys! Too many bands sound the same. You don’t get the weird one-hit wonders like you did in the seventies. It’s not as much fun now. You used to get things in the charts like (daft 1972 number one) “Mouldy Old Dough” by Lieutenant Pigeon. The guy had his mother on piano! And things like that would sit alongside stuff like The Sweet and T Rex. You don’t get that kind of thing now.

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO ACHIEVE IN 2007? Just to get the record out and about a bit more here. People don’t know us well enough yet. We want to release the album (i.e last year’s superb “In Towers and Clouds”) in France. That’s it really. I’m looking forward to going to France…

DO YOU STILL HAVE TO GO TO LONDON TO ACHIEVE BIG SUCCESS OR IS IT POSSIBLE TO STAY IN DUBLIN? I suppose you do in a way have to go to London. But Europe is good too. It all filters down anyway. A lot of the bands from the sixties and seventies that I like are English bands but these days most of the bands I like come from the U.S. People like Wilco. But it’s good to do well in places like France, Germany and Scandinavia too, so we might concentrate on there a bit.

BONO : “YAY” OR “NAY”? (Not much hesitation…) Yay. It’s begrudgery isn’t it, all of these people putting him down. He must be doing something right. I wouldn’t mind being as successful as him.

WILL YOU VOTE IN THE UPCOMING GENERAL ELECTION? I think so, yes. I’ve got to get my voting card though! Should rock be political? (Thinks for rather a bit…) Nah. I don’t like when it gets too political. I like story songs, that’s what I try to write anyway.

DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR THE BUSINESS STUDENTS OF TRINITY COLLEGE? (Appears rather stumped…) Advice? Do I have any advice for them? (Thinks for about five years…) Um, keep your bus tickets, recycle them… Career advice? Oh. Er, apply for lots of jobs. Should they give it all up for rock and roll? Oh no. Avoid rock and roll. Really, there’s no money in it.

DID YOU CARE ABOUT IRELAND DOING WELL IN THE CRICKET WORLD CUP? I didn’t know we were in it! It gets a hard time of it in Ireland, cricket. I used to listen to it in the background while I studied. There was just something very relaxing about it. I didn’t really understand the rules, no.

WERE YOU A HAPPY TEENAGER? Like any teenager really, I was moody sometimes but I was happy. Did I ever write a song about my moodiness? I tried to write songs, yeah. They were a bit rubbish though.

WHAT WAS THE FIRST SONG YOU EVER WROTE? I just wrote some lyrics and gave them to Conor in the band (Conor O’Brien, The Immediate’s guitarist/ drummer/ singer!). He spent ages putting music to my lyrics. That was it really. I don’t really write songs by myself.

THE IMMEDIATE ARE RENOWNED FOR THEIR KNACK FOR SWAPPING INSTRUMENTS. IS THERE ANY INSTRUMENT WHICH YOU’VE TRIED – AND FAILED – TO MASTER? The guitar! I play drums and bass, but I never managed the guitar. There’s no competition among us over who’s the best guitarist, no. We’re all good at our instruments in different ways. We have different styles. We each bring our own thing to it.

WHAT’S THE MOST ANNOYING QUESTION YOU GET ASKED IN INTERVIEWS? “What do you think of the Irish music scene? Aren’t Irish bands doing well?” That’s because there are lots of bands in Ireland! Once this journalist tried to get us to slag off another Irish band. He was comparing our sales with theirs, things like that, trying to create competition or something. Yes, it was a bit nasty.

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN SO NERVOUS BEFORE A GIG THAT YOU WERE SICK ON YOUR AMPLIFIERS? I get very anxious before a show but it gives you adrenalin. I’ve never actually been sick, no. You get a better performance out of it really, so nerves are a good thing. I don’t really mind having to come out from behind my drum-kit to sing. It just gives me the right frame of mind.

WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING THINGS WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO DO: (A) GO DOWN THE BOOZER WITH AMY WINEHOUSE; (B) GO TO A VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT WITH CHRIS MARTIN OR (C) DISCUSS GUITAR TECHNIQUE WITH GLEN HANSARD OF THE FRAMES? (Thinks for several aeons…) I can only pick one, can I? Go drinking with Amy, probably. Failing that, guitar technique with Glen Hansard. I could probably learn a thing or two off him. What if Amy got drunk and started causing trouble? Well, I’d walk away at that point I think…

THANKS, PETER OF THE IMMEDIATE. Thanks! (Click! Brrrrrr…..)