12 August, 2008

Interview with Dry County

Dry County managed to confuse and frighten the majority of their fans a few weeks ago with the announcement of their "last ever Dublin show". Did this spell defeat for the band who are one of the few who are truly blazing their own trail through the Irish music industry - their electronic eclecticism providing a last stalwart defense against the ravages of the indie machine? Or a tactical withdrawal before their claws slip from their hold on their lead? Kevin from the band explains their decision to withdraw and change their name, and tells of the new album in the works.

What has prompted the withdrawal and name-change?

Well the whole idea of a name change has been building for a while.when myself and phil first started making music it was a lot quieter. It was acoustic guitars/soft synths and drum loops, so Dry County seemed quite fitting. Then as our sound changed the association didn't seem to suit. People would ask if we were a country band or call us Dry Country which became annoying. We [above left] wanted a name that wouldn't draw such instant ideas about what the band were. Also there is an American band [above right] of the same name who make...wait for it...country rock. The withdrawal is to write and rework the live show. We want to come back with new songs (as well as the old ones) a new name and a new approach.

Why change your name when you're really just getting known? What effect do you expect the change to have?

It's always a worry having to change something especially when you are quite well known but I think it's better to do it now so we only have Ireland to convert to the new name. We've started to play the U.K / U.S etc so before a name catches on we want to make sure it's the right one. The Irish were said to be one of the best countries when it came time to convert our currency to Euros....now that's promising :)

Is this anything to do with your losing out on the Choice Awards, which many had you tipped to win? A fresh start?

It's funny because that's one of the reasons we didn't want to change the name. We got so much exposure from the nomination and gained so many fans that we didn't want people to forget we were part of it. Plus our award says Dry County...sniff sniff.

The band have seen a fair amount of progression and change musically since you started: will this new album be a completely new departure for you?

I think we as a band will always progress from album to album. The minute you cant go any further with something you should just stop. That's why it's sad to see great bands who have released two or three great albums and then hit a wall. They get stuck in a limbo of releasing the same album over and over. We are always writing and there is a lot of stuff there already. As far as tone and sound of the record I guess that will come together when we take the time out.

Tell me more about the album.

Our focus at the moment is writing. Anything and everything. From a piano to a synth, drum programming to a turkish guitar, it's all relevant. Then we will search for that one song that has the whole tone of the record. Then we build around that. Albums are a whole thing as opposed to 10 songs one after another.

What about your record contract?

Unexpected Falls came out on Lazybird records and that helped us distribute it throughout Ireland. For the next album we want to push further afield. I think that the traditional idea of a record deal is dead. With the internet and downloading becoming so big, a lot of power has been taken from the big record labels. A lot of bands are liscencing their music to labels as opposed to signing it away. This is also part of our withdrawal, so we can figure out the best way to get the music heard. I guess if Domino came a calling we'd be happy enough.

In your opinion what other exciting things are going on in Irish music these days?

Theres alot of good stuff: Giveamanakick - Somadrone - Adebisi Shank - MJEX - God is an astronaut - Vinny Club - Si Schroeder - Weakling and king - Jape - Super Extra Bonus Party - Halves - Cashier No.9. It's nice to see Irish bands getting a higher billing [at Oxegen] this year. We have music coming out of Ireland that is just as good as the U.k. and U.S. It's just a shame that so many times the band's whoa re doing well here are not always the ones that should. You might have to dig a little deeper but it's there.