Dublin Duck Dispensary is Bobby Aherne, an off-kilter worldview and access to home recording. He’s been making lo-fi pop spanning the spectrum from Danielson-esque to Blood Visionary for a few years now, but 2008’s acupofteaandasliceofcake on Rack and Ruin Records is the first the world at large/anyone who knew him heard of him. Since then there’s been plenty: Luanqibazao, He Do The Police In Different Voices EP, the Yykes Basket 3″ and most recently the Antique Beach Resort tape. Last month saw a review in the Wire, but the last word on DDD remains Hot Press’ Jackie Hayden’s: “self-conscious smartarse indie pop-rock from somebody trying hard to come on like a really mad bastard…”
(Bobby’s also a friend and I play live with him, so you know.)
Dublin Duck Dispensary – Shoot The Curl
Dublin Duck Dispensary – Zoo On Yr Back [exclusive – from Antique Beach Resort cassette]
Q 0.5 How are you?
Nevermind me… how are YOU? Welcome to my crib. Wipe your feet, sit down and relax. And don’t worry… I always dress like this.
Q1 Nowadays, when everybody has a decent computer and gear is more available, it’s much easier for anyone to make music and have it heard quickly – does the bedroom music explosion devalue music at all by making it so easy to do?
Yes, it completely devalues music by letting jerks like me be heard. Beethoven’s spinning in his grave. Back then, they needed to laboriously compose symphonies on staff paper and then gather an orchestra, but now you’ve got simpletons like me just hitting record on some freeware and slapping a broken guitar I got in Argos when I was 17. I don’t actually have the patience or money or self-esteem to book myself into some studio. And not to mention (though I am actually mentioning it) the fact that if I didn’t record a song within a few hours of conceiving it, I’d probably forget it or lose interest in it. And I can’t think of a band I’ve listened to in the past few years whose existence could have been possible a couple of decades ago. So no, this little revolution doesn’t devalue music… it validates it.
Q2 Is downloading a good thing? Does the fact that it’s possible to get so much music so easily and for free make it more disposable at all?
Oui, et oui. But a disposable camera is still a camera. I’ve called time on many a recording without maybe giving it the time it gagged form and I’m sure that many people have repaid me by doing the same to MY noise. But the fact that I just used the term “many people” is precisely at the bethanks of downloading. And I guess that it’s interesting and exciting that this generation right here is hearing more music than anyone ever before, and then making their own. But it’s been proven that upon listening to any piece of music for the seventh time, you’re at your peak point of absorption and enjoyment of it. I doubt most of us make it to seven anymore though, cos we’re too ready to pounce on top of the next album in the queue which has just buffered itself up.
Q3 Is there anything that makes your music quintessentially Irish? Is it intentional?
I apparently have a trad-like riff on a song called ‘The What’, though that’s only been noted because it’s actually audible, unlike my lyrics. This is where I sorta need to get pretentious to properly answer the question. So apologies to all as I make the pompous pronunciation that my ‘Luanqibazao’ album revolves quite stringently around notions of nationality and how weird it feels to be from such a fucked-up and wretched little rock which nobody actually wants to be on but which is actually quite adorable. Yes, I have an ‘Irish concept album’. Yes, it has a Chinese title. Yes, yes, yes… stop jeering… it’s rude.
Q4 Do you find it difficult to self-edit, or to take a step back from your music and look at it objectively?
I don’t think I’ve got any reason to look at myself from an outsider’s view. It’s not like I’d be able to, anyway. I just do things and that’s that. Like it or lump it. In fact, just lump it… I don’t know if even I’d listen to me if I weren’t me. I certainly never model anything on anybody else. I mean… I don’t try to get Franz Ferdinand’s snare sound, or whatever synth setting The Killers use, or to get my vocals to sound like Arctic Monkeys. And obviously I don’t need to “produce” music in a way that it’ll sound okay slotted in between two other shitty songs on the radio or anything. I just record what my brain sounds like, except with a bit less static.
Q5 Is there a Dublin scene, or even smaller genre-based scenes? Are you a part of one?
There seems to be a set group of around 100-150 people here who enjoy – what I’d consider to be – good music and who pop up in all the same places you’d expect them to, and who interact with each other at varying levels of shoegazery. And a bunch of them make music too. But Dublin’s tiny… if you put a babybel into a shoebox, does that make it a cheesery? I’ll let you ponder that one. I’ve played shows with people like So Cow, A Series Of Dark Caves, Patrick Kelleher, Crayonsmith, Big Monster Love, How Will They Cope and Grand Pocket Orchestra. I like all of these. So if any of you are reading this… scene? How about it?! Let’s do it!
Though the internet also now means that a “scene” doesn’t have to occur within a couple kilometre vicinity. I’m on Rack and Ruin Records, which is a very proud affiliation for me; to have Jason the Swamp, Andy’s Airport of Love, A Series of Dark Caves, Slothbear, Lean Horse Marathon, The Macadamia Brothers and a bazookaload of others as my brethren. We’re all scattered all over Earth and don’t play together or anything, but we’re still busy carving out the Elephant 6 a new arsehole.
Q6 Name a non-musical influence on your music.
Joke answer: The Mighty St*f.
Serious answer: The artist Hollie Leddy Flood.
Q7 Take one of your songs and explain the process of writing it from the beginning to the finished article.
This is a difficult one for me, because my writing/recording phase is an awfully murky and trance-like process. I’ll sit down on my carpet and then a couple of hours later, I’ll realise I’m mixing down a song and I’ll wonder where it came from. I’m probably medically dead most of the time I make music. I’ve heard musicians say that they’re simply a medium for the audio they produce. Daniel Smith from Danielson Famile reckons that God channels his tunes through him. This is – of course – mad. I’m not implying this for myself. I have a song called ‘Shoot The Curl’ which is a bit of a winding piano-based thing. It started off with a melody I hummed into my mobular telephone whilst in public and trying to look sane. Then (no longer in public anymore), I worked out how to play it on the piano, which led me down a few different paths after a few different parts which I then strung together and plopped some guitar and drum machine over. Then, as soon as the other songs on that EP were instrumentally complete, I turned whatever vocal melodies I had into lyrical grunts, and then sullied it with my lungs.
Q8 Has music criticism ever influenced your music, or at least made you think about it differently? I mean proper reviews, but also blogs or even just hearing someone you don’t know talk about you.
I once got a bad live review where the only positive point made was that I had a half-decent song called ‘Manners’. Alas, I didn’t have a song called that, so I quickly recorded the worst possible song I could envision and entitled it so. It was around ten seconds long and truly horrible. I swiftly put it onto myspace so that anyone who took the reviewer’s recommendation would think that he’d been living up a chimney and eating larvae. However, I don’t believe that I have the ability to argue with OR agree with any opinion about me. Positive talk makes me smile, but negative talk makes me laugh. Making music is nobody else’s business. Nobody can know what they want or like until they realise that it’s what they want and what they like! And you may not know this, but there are a number of other bands out there! There’s one in particular who I’d recommend to you, but I’ve forgotten what they’re called.
Q9 Have you ever felt guilty for trying to get other people to take an interest in your music, if you aren’t making the effort with new music yourself?
I don’t try to get other people to take an interest in my music. When (viciously) probed, I will volunteer the minimal amount of detail possible. I avoided actually saying the name of this project aloud until I was releasing my fifth or sixth garment to the dregs and my politeness overtook my cringe reflex. There’s enough music in the world without being demented by some of the people who wander these streets with delusions of grandeur, spouting praise for their own shite. Yes, I’m talking about you! Yes… you! Unless I’ve mistaken you for somebody else. In which case: I’m sorry.
Q10 Would you call yourself a traditionalist with regard to music, either as a listener or in how you go about writing/recording/performing?
No. I can embarrassingly reveal here that I buy very few records anymore. But in turn, I don’t expect people to buy my “records” either, so I almost feel like that balances me out or something. Like one of those “give a penny, take a penny, that’s why they’re there” things at the checkouts in supermarket… not that I avail of that though… those pennies don’t got hygiene. And in regard to the second part of the question, I reckon that I have a more slapdash attitude to doing shit than most. Here, I can also counteract my earlier embarrassment with pride; pride that the DDD has never had to go out “looking for gigs”. We’ve been very lucky in that we’ve been asked to play with a good few cool-dudes/heroes/cool-dude heroes without ever stooping down to an Open Mic night or Battle of the Bands. Did you know that Ronan Keating once worked in a shoe shop? Isn’t that wild?
Q10.5 What’s something you’re listening to right now?
Myself, and lots of it!!!!!! I jest. My summer has largely shone around the bright and burning figures of The Barbaras, Sir. Victor Uwaifo, Wavves, the 1910 Fruitgum Company, Ganglians, First Class, Clues and Jacques Brel… and of course you: the crowd! Take care, and good day!
- Interview Project #9: Hunter-Gatherer
- Interview Project #8: Villagers
- Interview Project #7: So Cow
- Interview Project #6: Big Monster Love
- Interview Project #5: A Series Of Dark Caves
- Interview Project #4: Porn On Vinyl
- Interview Project #3: Patrick Kelleher
- Interview Project #2: Angkorwat
- Interview Project #1: Mumblin’ Deaf Ro