With a debut full-length in Citizen having landed today, we caught up with Joey Doyle, frontman and chief songwriter of alt-indie band Fiction Peaks. Charting their journey from solo effort to group outfit, the recording and writing process behind the new LP, and what’s on the cards for the rest of 2017, read the interview below, and have a listen to Citizen in all its sheen at the bottom. It’s sound advice, we’re certain.
You’re on the cusp of releasing a debut full-length – how have your releases so far shaped the way the record sounds?
Well this record is really an amalgamation of songs that have been around for quite some years and then some relatively new songs. Some were written up to seven years ago while others have been around for a year or two. So, in that way it’s an interesting record to listen to because it kind of documents the evolution of the band since 2013. All wrapped up in one bundle of songs and represented as Citizen. I think the eclectic nature of how the songs were compiled and produced really adds to the character of the record. Some of the songs we had actually recorded before but we revisited them with more instrumental and vocal embellishments and the new versions are now on this record, then we got the all the tracks mixed together. Getting them mixed together really tied it up nicely. Most of the tracks were mixed by Christian Best and some were mixed by Dan Doherty who also engineered the record. It was recorded between Darklands Audio which is Dan’s studio in the Chocolate Factory in Dublin and Windmill Lane. It’s certainly not a polished sounding record by any means because there was little or no studio trickery involved in the recording process. But again, I like that because it has its subtle flaws but that only adds to the character and general vibe of it.
There have been a few strings to your sonic bow since 2013, but your last single said more for US indie or college rock than it did the headier alt elements we’ve heard from you before. Is this a conscious progression of sound?
Not really a conscious progression. The songs generally dictate the landscape of the recording and how the recordings turn out for the most part. They kind of lead you down one path or another regarding studio production and that. It can be difficult to put a label on the music we do for that reason but we certainly do like experimenting with different sounds while still keeping it minimal at times also. It’s a nice dichotomy to try and balance both the minimal and experimental together and we’re definitely going to keep that going on in the future. Sometimes the solution is embellishment and sometimes the solution is editing or keeping it simple. But you can never tell until you’re in the process or creating the track really.
‘Before the End’ has a certain politicised element running through it – are you making music as a reaction now or has politics always been a wider incentive for you (or your musical peers)?
Well the video certainly has some political elements to it. That was really Colm’s interpretation for the video and what he wanted to say through it. The video was directed and edited by Colm Giles who is our guitar player, Brian’s brother. We really like the video and I suppose you can always relate one thing to another through words and music especially when there’s visuals involved but the actual song itself I can’t say has any real political element to it at all. But yes it is true that we are certainly living through very strange times politically and the rise of radicalism on any side of the political or ideological spectrum will always undoubtedly have quite negative effects on the planet as a whole because radicalism by its nature usually runs on either blind faith or some kind of extreme arrogant belief system. It’s obviously very difficult to reason with any kind of far leaning mentality no matter what way it’s packaged. But for the actual song itself, it’s really about doing or saying the things we wished we should have said or done before it’s too late, or before the credits role on our current existences, to use a movie metaphor that runs through the song. I can see how the video and the track do tie in, in some ways, but I think that was purely coincidence. Like a happy accident.
What can you tell us about the progression of the band since 2013’s Lesser of Evils?
Well Lesser Of Evils was predominantly a solo project really. I actually played 90% of the instruments myself. Cillian plays trumpet on a track or two as well though. I just had a bunch of songs written and wasn’t really sure what to do with them so I just started recording through them bit by bit. That was all actually recorded around 2011/2012. That was when myself and Cillian really decided to start building up a group rather than a solo thing. Brian had played in bands that were mates with us so he was brought in around late 2013. Then we went through a litany of drummers (which is par for the course for a lot of bands) before we met Joao, our drummer now. We met him through a shared rehearsal space and then Barry was brought in on synth and backing vocals. Myself and Barry had been playing music together in one way or another since we were a lot younger. So in a way we’ve only really settled on a full line up in the last year and we’re looking forward to progressing musically and as a band now.
In terms of how Fiction Peaks writes, is it a group effort or is there a conductor leading the charge, as such?
We all bring certain things to the table musically but for the most part I have written the songs up until now because I’ve been writing away for years so I still have a good few songs in the bank and I’m always writing away anyway. There’s a song of Joao’s that we hope to try soon though. We’re just happy to get Citizen out and then move on forward with new and even better stuff. We already have a few new tunes in our live set and have even began recording them so we hope to have new stuff out around the end of the year with a new video or two maybe.
What are your plans for the rest of the year in terms of getting Citizen out there in front of people?
We’re in the middle of booking gigs to follow up the release at the moment so keep an eye out on our website and social media sites for now. But April 28th in the Grand Social for the album release party is still the main thing on our mind at the minute. It will be a great show with two support acts; Stevie Cliff and Vulyples. Definitely go check them out online and on the night because they’re both great live. We have a projected visual show playing during our set and a live string quartet also. So all in all it will certainly be an entertaining evening.
Are you planning on writing anymore this year or are there any other projects you’re looking forward to being involved in?
We’re always writing away and have already began recording our follow up to Citizen that’s sounding even better already in my opinion. There should be a few new videos on the horizon also…so do keep an eye and an ear out for us!