Sitting in the cozy environs of the Library Bar of the Central Hotel, Jape frontman / main man Richie Egan is in suitably cheery spirits. A now permanent resident of Malmo, Egan seems noticeably charged about being back in Dublin and is clearly excited about his fifth The Chemical Sea. With a European tour to follow the two time Choice Music Prize winner has a busy 2015 ahead of him, but, as usual, he’s just taking it as it comes – as he seems to have done with his move to Sweden a couple of years ago… “Basically I’m a sexual refugee! I’m over there for personal reasons really. I’ve got a little baby girl now too, so I’m kind of stuck there. But I’m lucky enough in that I get to come back to Ireland a lot and do gigs”.
How does the music scene compare to here?
“In my experience Malmo hasn’t been particularly great musically. There’s a lot of bands there that are alright, but not amazingly great, nothing’s really blown me away. I’m right beside Copenhagen though which is a good spot for music, there’s lot of good shit there. Gothenburg and Stockholm are great too so it’s grand. I just basically have my studio 15 minutes walk from my house and I just go there everyday and make music”.
Not like Dublin then?
“No, in Dublin it’s like everywhere you look there’s a new band starting up”.
Let’s talk about The Chemical Sea. It’s your first in three years but how long was it in the making?
“Three Years! I tend to just keep writing. When an album comes out I’m still writing and then it’s like how long is it till the next one comes out. This one took a while actually, I think it might even been four years as it comes out in 2015 and my last one was in 2011. So it’s three and half to four years really”.
What did you mean when you described it as the ‘most uniquely Jape album from start to finish’?
“Well I just wanted to have an album that was coherent. A lot of times the Jape albums have been bouncing around, so you’d have an acoustic song and then you’d have an electric song, and with this one I just wanted it to have a specific sound when you put it on. Like a lot of your favourite albums, when you stick them they have a certain sound from start to finish. Not all of them obviously, not The White Album or something like that, but I wanted to have a record that sounded like one you’d stick on if you’re in a particular mood. With the other Jape albums there was no real defined sound, but with this one there is”.
Would you say it’s your most electronic album to date?
“I dunno to be honest. Maybe. I don’t real think about that, it’s all about colours and flavours for me. Like what does a song need at this particular time, if it’s a synth, great, if it’s a bass, great, if it’s a drum beat, great, so you just kind of serve the song. I have a lot of synthesisers it has to be said so it’s probably sounds more ‘synthy’ because I have more now than I had for the other albums”.
And a lot of bass too?
“Yeah. I played bass in Redneck Manifesto but because I moved to Sweden we don’t really play together so much anymore and I really, really, really miss playing the bass. So with the new Jape record I just wanted to get back to playing it so I kinda wrote all the songs on bass. There’s only one track on acoustic guitar which is ‘I Go’, the rest is bass, synth, vocals and samples”.
The mixing was done by David Wrench, the man behind some of the biggest records of the year, so you must’ve bounced quite a few ideas off each other?
“He’s amazing! To be honest you don’t really need to bounce too much off him, you just send him the rough mix and the stems and then he comes back with stuff that blows your mind, he’s just on his own buzz! When I was listening to the stuff he was mixing like Caribou, and Bat for Lashes, the stuff he was doing before, I just knew he’d be a good guy to mix it, and he was”.
How did it feel to take a bit of back seat when it came to making some of the album tracks, with bandmate Glen Keating getting more involved?
“Not so much of a back seat, more of a collaborative, like a passenger seat vibe. If you’re only working by yourself it takes a while to decide if something is good or bad if you’re thinking about it a lot, whereas if you have somebody you can trust you can save yourself a lot of time. You can ask ‘Is this good, or is it bad?’ and they’ll say straight away so if you trust them you’ll believe them. Or else you can fight over it as well, have a little argument, but it just saves you a lot of time and stops you from going mad really! You sometimes end up throwing something away that’s good, or keeping something thats crap because you don’t have anyone to bounce off. Sometimes its hard to decide if you’re actually good at something, so if you have someone with you who knows you and can just say ‘That’s deadly, or That’s shite!’ it really helps you along, and Glen was like that for this album”.
You’ve got your European tour coming up in January as well. Starts off in Sweden but includes Irish dates in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick. You looking forward to it?
“I’m looking forward to just taking the songs from the album and reworking them for a live environment. We’ll be touring all of next year I’d say which is good. I feel like I’ve been living under a rock for the last few years so it’ll be good to come out and do some gigs. For Ocean of Frequency we did a good load of gigging too. It’s a different mindset really. I come home, I write, I don’t really drink much, but then you go on the road and you end up drinking all the time, doing gigs, which is great!”
No rest then…
“Well when you’re doing a gig it’s kind of like resting. My whole life is, just working on music to me is basically just like resting. It’s all I do seven days a week so it’s grand”.
You’re the only artist to win twice at the Choice Awards, with some critics tipping you to make it a hat-trick with The Chemical Sea next year. How do you feel about that?
“That would be nice wouldn’t it! Ten grand, buy myself something nice! Who knows, but I doubt it somehow. I’d say even if they thought it was the best album they’d probably just think ‘fuck that guy he’s already won it twice!’ which is fine with me. It would be great to win it again, but I don’t give a fuck if I don’t as well. I’m glad I’m not in it this year anyway because Hozier’s in there, and he’s gonna win it…”
The Chemical Sea is released on Friday.