Formed in 2008, The Dirty 9s have already managed to pack a variety of high profile projects into a short career. They were the winners of TG4’s Deis Roc in their first few months together and have gone on to play the IMRO showcase tour, work with OXFAM and this Friday will play the State vs Club AU night at the Purty Loft with Audio and Pocket Promise. The band’s Cian McCarthy tells State about the band’s short history and their plans for the future.
What music inspired you all to get into a band?
Each of us have very different inspirations when it comes to music. In fact it varies so much that we can never even agree on what music to play in the car when we drive to gigs. I can’t say for sure what inspired everyone originally but I do know that Fergal is listening to Bruce Springsteen non-stop right now, Keith’s been listening to Owen Pallett an awful lot . Stephen has been listening to O Emperor (he says they’re great live too) and Paul is enjoying Tape ‘n Tapes at the moment.
My own obsession with music began when I was about 12 and Britpop took off. I bought a guitar and spent most of my days listening to and trying to play along with records by Blur, Supergrass, The Verve, Oasis, Suede and Elastica amongst others. Its been years since I’ve really listened to a lot of those bands but I suppose you could say they were the ones that originally made me want to play in a band.
Do those influences show themselves in the D9s?
I think all of our influences would have to play some part in the way we approach music. But because each of us have such different influences its maybe kinda hard to actually hear them in our music. I mean I was hugely into the Buena Vista Social Club but I don’t think that really comes across in our music. Maybe album two will have more of a Latin feel, we’ll see……
How soon after you formed did you win Deis Roc?
To be honest the band wasn’t even really fully formed when we won Deis Roc because Keith didn’t join the band on keyboards until a month after the show was finished. Myself, Fergal and Stephen had started playing gigs as the Dirty 9s back in 2005 when we met at college in Maynooth, Paul came on board in 2007 (we met while working in a very mundane office job). But really I don’t think you could say the band was fully formed until we became a 5 piece in April 2008 when Keith joined.
How did you feel about band competitions before?
It depended (and still does) on the type of competition. I liked the idea of Deis Roc because we had to write songs in Irish to perform on the show. We could have gotten them to translate the lyrics for us but liked the challenge of doing it ourselves, it was something new and a bit of a challenge. You also had to make sure the songs didn’t go over 3 minutes, up to that all of our songs were way over 3 minutes long. Having to write songs in a different language to a certain length was a great learning curve for the band. Even if we hadn’t won the show we would have learned from that experience, so I suppose if a band competition can offer you that then they’re worthwhile.
You seemed to put the money to good use? Did you intend to build yourselves a base?
The money offered us the chance to make exactly the kind of album we wanted to make. We knew once we became a 5 piece that we could now get the songs to where we wanted them. Our intention was (and is) to use the album as a launching pad for the band once we were able to back it up live. We’re ready now and cant wait for people to hear it.
One of the moves you took was to work with producer Greg Haver. Having experience with the likes of the Manic Street Preachers and Super Furry Animals, he has a great CV.
He does doesn’t he? One minute he’s doing a Welsh language album with the Super Furry Animals the next he’s recording a Mel C album, its a diverse CV! I love the Manics and he’s worked loads with them so it was exciting for me to work with him and I was eager to impress him. So I decided to play ‘A Design For Life’ note for note and played it the first day I was in the studio. I’m sure he was just being nice but seemed impressed that I learnt the song, its about the only song other than our own that I can play properly.
What did he bring to the process?
We didn’t have a very long time in studio to record the album but he made sure we got everything done properly. The best thing was that the whole recording never seemed rushed at all even though it was only recorded in two weeks. When we werent recording he kept us entertained with stories of his days as a drummer during the 1980s in a hair metal band.
Are things like IMRO / competitions / Oxfam the best way to build a profile?
They’re worthwhile and can be a huge help but bands shouldn’t rely solely on them. You need to get on the road yourself, start organising your own gigs and get to know bands in other towns that you can play with. Getting to know bands like The Good Fight (from Belfast) and Philtre (from Tralee) has been great because we’ve gone to gig with them and then had them come play with us in Dublin.
What’s the 12 month plan?
Our album Stop Screaming, Start Dreaming is coming out in the next few months. The plan is to get it out there and keep building up a fanbase. We’ve had a great time this year playing around the country, places like Dundalk, Belfast, Cork & Waterford have been particulary great. I’m really looking forward to getting back to playing these places with the album released and people in the crowd getting to know our songs better. When you’re in a band the worst times are when you’re sitting still, so constant movement is the plan.
The Dirty 9s play State vs Club AU at the Purty Loft with Audio and Pocket Promise on Friday 14th. We have five pairs of tickets to giveaway. To win just email your name and phone number to email@example.com by 2pm on Friday.