For Redneck Manifesto fans – who until recently have had to make do with Richie Egan (a.k.a Jape)’s not insubstantial solo efforts for sustenance – their return to the limelight with fourth album Friendship, their first since 2006’s local smash I Am Brazil, is a long awaited breath of fresh air. Many thought Jape’s solo career could mean the day will never come, but with a series of gigs lined up and Friendship on the shelf, Dublin’s favorite math rockers are back with a bang. As the hype peaked, State took the chance to grab guitarist Niall Byrne and find out just what’s going down in camp Manifesto.
It’s been four years since you were last in the studio. Was it challenging after all that time?
No. It was a lot easier and more comfortable this time around, although it had been a while since we were in a studio together we have all been busy recording in home studios and with other projects. As a result we are a lot more clued into the do’s and don’ts of recording. Plus we’d worked with Dave Odlum before so again both parties knew what to expect from each other. It was pretty comfortable.
How has your take on music changed in all that time?
I guess tastes in music have changed over that period but music still means the same. We still have the same ambition to try to make the best music we possibly can.
Life as an instrumental band has always been a bit of an awkward musical niche – there are plenty who just don’t get it. How do you counter a lack of vocals?
We just try to make music that’s good. We’ve never seen it as awkward to play instrumental music be honest, if people don’t get our music because there’s no vocals then they don’t get our music.
What would you consider a success when it comes to the new album?
I know it sounds a bit wishy washy but our goal was to record an album to the best of our abilities and then get it released, and we’ve managed to do that. Beyond that we’ve been getting really positive feedback off people in relation to the album which is obviously great. People have been looking for us to head back to the US to tour and back to Europe to tour and there’s also the option to tour Japan which is something we’ll probably end up doing as we’re yet to do that. Success for me, though, was getting an album finished and released that we can all stand behind.
The scene has changed a lot since 2006. Is it a different experience these days?
It’s not a different experience for me.
How has Richie’s success affected the rest of the band?
From a personal point of view I think it’s great – I think he deserves more success than he’s actually got to be honest but from a band point of view I don’t think it’s affected us at all.
What have the rest of you been up to in the meantime?
We’ve been busy – don’t know with what but we’ve been busy – we all make music outside of TRM and we all have job and family commitments. The time just flew by.
How does it feel to be back on tour?
It feels good – it seems like it’s been a long time since we’ve had a concentrated run of gigs over a short period so it’s been good. After this current bunch of gigs we have nothing lined up until Electric Picnic in September and then hopefully onto Japan. We’re already looking forward to that.
Do you have any good tour stories? Do you tend to take it easy, or is it mayhem?
All tour stories are good stories. For the most part you travel around new places with your friends playing music and meeting new people – you have some beers, you have some fights, you make up and then you travel on somewhere else and it happens again. You know it’s going to happen again but it’s always fun. We’ve had some scrapes along the way and we’ve met some pretty crazy (but generally great) people. It’s never really mayhem but sometimes things just happen.
Friendship is out now on Richter Collective.