October mornings rarely burn so bright but as State saunters into Tower Records, a tad bleary-eyed beneath magnificent sunlight, you appreciate the title of Delorentos‘ new record a little more. Night Becomes Light comes some eighteen months and change after the superb, critically-acclaimed, Choice Music Prize-winning Little Sparks. Their fourth album proper is an elegant experience, one that retains the nuanced songwriting discovered through Little Sparks and the band’s signature style while, pleasingly, sounding unique enough to cast its own shadow. A move to a major label could easily have resulted in a more radio-focused direct sequel or even a safe retread, but that wouldn’t really be the Delorentos way.
That way is one of connection, of charm, adventure and growth. All these elements and more are present on Night Becomes Light, which has just been unveiled to the public as we join co-frontmen Kieran McGuinness and Rónán Yourell alongside drummer Ross McCormick for their early-morning caffeine hit. They’re understandably buoyant, with McGuinness noting that their new effort is the album that they’re collectively the most proud of. He said the same of Little Sparks upon its completion, and you believe him now as you did then. “Lyrically and sonically, we pushed ourselves into areas that we hadn’t before, and that’s all we can ever do, you know?”, offers Yourell, confidently.
There are surprising moments on this album…
Kieran McGuinness: There’s a couple of songs on the album that I don’t think we would have written before. I don’t think we would maybe have written ‘Dublin Love Song’ or ‘Everybody Else Gets Wet’. I think it’s a very honest album. I don’t think it’s all… clear. I don’t think people will listen and go, ‘Ah, I know what that’s about!’. For us, it’s a very honest album. There’s a lot of personal stuff on it.
Rónán Yourell: It’s taken us, I suppose, to get to this point, to get more comfortable with yourself and express feelings that you may not have really been able to when you were younger.
K: Or maybe you didn’t have the skill to.
R: Yeah, yeah. We have that trust in each other, now. It’s still the scariest bit; that first day when you bring in that idea you played on your acoustic guitar or piano to the rest of the band. It’s still scary, but a little bit less than it was a few years ago.
K: The weird thing for us is that we still feel like apprentices. On the next album, I’ll be like, ‘I’m gonna do that better, I’m gonna have that better prepared, I’m gonna be a little bit better with how I deliver it’. I feel like I’ve still got a ways to go. There’s tons to do, still. There’s tons to get through. Even with the songs that I might have originated, I’m still going, ‘Yeah… No…’. It took a while to get to that point. Next time I want to be able to see the finished product a bit more. There’s tons of a way to go before we feel like we’ve reached our height.
I presume working with Rob Kirwan again was a no-brainer?
R: Well, not that it was a no-brainer but it certainly felt like we had more to do together. And when you find a relationship that really works… he does feel like an extension of the band, a little bit. We really trust his sensibility in terms of even just listening to the songs. We produced a huge number of tracks in the initial phase and the writing phase. We filtered about 30-odd songs through him but it was actually his involvement from an earlier stage that helped us sift through and find [the right ones]. It’s hard to know, when you’re in the middle of writing, do we have enough? Do we feel like the core of the work is there? To have Rob’s sensibility there from an early stage to help us piece through it… it was kind of a mutual decision – we all said, ‘Actually, this feels right. We can start the next process’. It’s been great to work with him again.
K: With four songwriters, the way you work is pretty democratic. I might have a song and I might think that it’s the best thing I’ve ever done, but if it doesn’t have Rob and other lads’ interest and they don’t ‘get’ it, then it doesn’t go any further. Every song that is on the album has to have the five of our input, love and approval and work. Everyone’s fingers are in that song. Someone will bring something but to get on the album, it has to be massively influenced by everyone. If everyone isn’t on board, it won’t get to the end process. Something else will.
Rob said before that with Little Sparks, he wanted to capture the sound of Delorentos “playing in a room together”. This time out, was there any kind of similar remit?
R: We want to be learning all the time and trying different things. I think that’s the thing about going into a studio. When you’re in there for the first time and you’re 16 and the red light goes on, you’re scared shitless! Now, it’s a bit of a playground. We were down in Grouse Lodge again for the beginning of it and we had mountains of keyboards and effects boxes and loads of different guitars. It was just about going to town on it, really. One thing we really focus on now is being in the moment, enjoying the songs, pushing them to see where we can take them. It’s not necessarily about one specific sound, or making a prog album or whatever. We’re less concerned about the results. As Kieran was saying, the songwriting will come from four different perspectives. That approach makes it a bit of a roller coaster for us because…
K: You’ve no idea.
R: You don’t really know what the album will sound like by the end. That’s a little scary but it’s really exciting.
K: Imagine if we had 15 songs or whatever to choose from by the end. Between the four of us, we had four different track listings which effectively made up four different albums. If you take ‘Forget The Numbers’ and ‘Everybody Else Gets Wet’ off the album and put on two slower songs, it’s a very different feeing record. If you put on two very upbeat poppy songs that didn’t make the cut, it’s the same thing. So every time you do it, you have to really listen and really think about what the album will be. It took us a while. We argued about it a lot. Rob’s final album is different to what the four of us decided on, too. It’s a funny process but you trust in the band, that the four of us will make the right decision, as opposed to any one of us. There would be slight differences if one of us had our own way but hopefully you make the best album as a result of all of us coming together.
There are lots of nice little flourishes. There’s a moment in ‘Everybody Else Gets Wet’ where the drums switch into this big, almost industrial sound and then it goes away and comes back and goes away again.
Ross McCormick: I actually can’t remember how that came about! I think it may have been when Alan Moulder mixed it. You had something specific in mind, Kieran.
K: Yeah. I wanted the drums to sound like they were being played by a boom box with a microphone held up to it. It starts off with a demo-sounding keyboard drum kit and there’s a synth rhythm over that. The song goes from live instruments at the beginning to a very electronic-y thing by the end. It goes through the process. You get that transition where two things are happening at the same time and it sounds really cool.
RmC: We’re trying to work out how to do that live, now.
K: It’s going to be the hardest playing of an album because the rule was, ‘Don’t worry about the live aspect. Focus on the album and work it out later’, and now we’re in the process of working it out and it’s like…
R: Oh shit.