Interview Project #22: Yeh Deadlies

Richter Collective have been the obvious example of, as a stamp of approval as much as a label, something that guarantees a certain quality and a certain sound in Dublin. As of the last few months, though, a nefarious grouping called Popical Island has been showing in association with the names of bands who make fun, sad indie rock. Yeh Deadlies are amongst this stable. Having steamed along releasing EPs and contributing to compilations, they are releasing the rather thrilling Magazine 7″ in May (which is this month), both songs of which you can hear online and buy for 2 total euro at Bandcamp. There are five of them, who will introduce themselves to you in Q0.5. If you are a scurrilous foreigner who needs an explanation of the name? “Yeh” means “yeah” and “deadly” is what Dubliners say when they mean what surfers mean when they say “radical”.

(Both songs from the 7″ are here, including Constitution Hill the moth-and-Fates basis of which is fully explained if you scroll down to Q7.

Q 0.5 How are you?

Andy: Not too hot.
Padraig: Grand.
Annie: Good.
Dave: I’m good, I’m having my lunch.
Jonny: Reasonable, thanks.

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?

Annie: You can’t devalue music in that sense, I don’t think. It doesn’t really have any value other than what people get out of it. There is certainly no value in music that never gets to be made. It does make it a bit harder to sift through and find what you like. Something I read the other day in a review made me laugh: it said something about an album being very lo-fi and dirty sounding because it was recorded on an old computer.

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?

Andy: I would certainly consider it a good thing. Anyone, anywhere, with a decent internet connection can gain access to a vast music collection and do with it what they will. I wouldn’t think that this could in a way make it more disposable, considering for example its free and you need not leave the house to get it, however, this is only a fraction , in my opinion, of the positive/negative factors of downloading. Personally, I do it, I know a lot of people who do it and a lot of people who don’t. The thing I find most fascinating and a far more important factor than disposability is universal access.

Q3 Is there anything that makes your music quintessentially Irish? Is it intentional?

Padraig: Remove the quintessence part of that question and I’d say absolutely, yes! Is the music that I make informed by the fact that I’m Irish? Of course. The window dressing can change from one moment to the next, but if there’s a consistency at the core of what someone “has to say” then it probably comes down to fairly fundamental things.

It seems to me that there is a certain strain in Irish culture that has always been very comfortable looking west. I think someone like Pat McCabe really nails that whole thing in his writing. Also, with a lot of Irish “roots” players there is an apparent fluidity between Irish traditional forms, the blues, country music etc.

That peculiar hodge podge of “Irish Authenticity”, “Americana” and whatever other ideas it encompasses is probably somewhere in our music too.

Is it intentional? I was conscious of things like that when I first started to make music and it seems less and less so as time passes. I used to be very aware of the accent in my singing voice (such as it is). I suppose I felt that there was no point in just being a faded copy of whatever I was digging myself. I don’t really think about it anymore. It’s probably not the best idea to define yourselves as a band by what you’re not, there’s just too much fun to be had trying things out.

Q4 Have you played much outside Dublin? How do people take to you elsewhere compared to here?

Jonny: I’m originally from over the water so played a few UK places in my time. There’s some truth in just being yourself (but not too much) and not trying too hard – people seem to appreciate that. I was in Drogheda before I moved to Dublin. I felt I had to challenge myself and put myself out there, I always had positive reactions to making the effort to go and play somewhere else – especially if you don’t know many or any people! That seems to be magnified if you go as a band… the energy you get from boldly going into the unknown. Apparently it’s better to travel than to arrive, but we Deadlies seem to have a quite a laugh upon arrival too.

Q5 Is there a Dublin scene, or even smaller genre-based scenes? Are you a part of one?

Padraig: There are several, interconnected sub-scenes. Some are probably as small as a circle of friends so maybe that doesn’t count? Firstly there’s the Popical Island collective which is the name chosen by a group of like minded folks who were rubbing shoulders a lot and playing gigs together and who then decided to formalise things a bit. Yeh Deadlies are a Popical Island band.

There are a few other things that have particular types of bands in their orbit such as Hefty Horse or Skinny Wolves. There isn’t really a scene in the sense that there’s a peculiarly “Dublin sound” or anything like that, or at least most bands in Dublin don’t tend to be self aware in that way, which is quite different to my experience of cities in the UK, for example.

It’s pretty untypical of Ireland’s general obsession with itself too, and maybe it’s healthy in that sense, I dunno.

Q6 Name a non-musical influence on your music.

Andy: cake/film/storytelling/goodvibes/animals/pizza. I would consider a lot of Yeh Deadlies music to come from an anthropologic influence.

Dave: Plumbing.

Q7 Take one of your songs and explain the process of writing it from the beginning to the finished article.

Padraig: At time of writing we’ve a 7″ coming out with a song on it called Constitution Hill. I remember that quite clearly so here we go.

One day I was playing the guitar idly, doing some finger picking. Annie asked me what’s that? It’s nice. I said I dunno, wanna make a song out of it? I’ll try to have it in a key where we can make a shot at singing some nice harmonies. She said cool.

I arranged it a bit. I always liked the place name Constitution Hill and in the back of my head I thought I would use it in a song. I chose it as a title which suggested to me immediately that the song would be about trying times and having the constitution to keep at it… cheesy stuff. I was back at college part time and I suppose somewhere in my head I was using that feeling to inform the song too. I had the words “death’s head… hawk wing” suggesting themselves in the song so I googled Death’s Head Hawk moth. I noted that the European variety was named Atropos. This excited me because Atropos is one of the three fates in Greek Mythology, the one who cuts the thread of life. I liked this. Since myself and Annie were both going to sing on the song I began to think of it more in terms of a lifelong commitment to another person, and what you take on in terms of the things that might happen to that person, as well as the joy and the safety net of companionship. I quickly revised the lyrics with that in mind. We had been at a party in the Gallery on Constitution Hill a couple of years before so that crept in, in terms of the setting.

At practice that week, we jammed the song around a couple of times before suggesting what, if anything, people would play on it. Andy suggested that it needed a middle eight. It did, but we weren’t sure where to go with it. The following week I had written one. We recorded it partly in Andy’s flat and partly in Jonny’s gaff over a couple of days. My cousin, Pat Daly, played violin on it.

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.

Annie: It has never influenced me consciously but it’s a good bet that everyone who grew up reading music magazines and went on to form a band has been influenced in some small way by music criticism. Also, when you read something like Lester Bangs’ “Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung” you notice that almost all of the bands and artists mentioned are familiar to you now, whereas I’d struggle to say the same if I was reading about britpop. Is that because it was such a great time for music or because his and others’ work was so influential on the cannon we now know? A bit of both maybe.

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?

Jonny: Guilty? Eek! That’s a bit emotional – I don’t feel guilty anymore (!) about not making an effort in listening to everything… I know I used to though. I think this can depend on who you are talking to – I go to gigs with mates so I know I get to listen to a lot of new stuff there. Other less musically active mates of mine would just be on your typical Pop-Factor radar. You can’t make someone listen to or like something, you can only show them what’s on offer – it goes back to not trying too hard. If you enjoy what you do and create, then if someone else likes it that’s great. If they don’t, or don’t want to bother, that’s their prerogative. Familiarity can also breed contentment (back to emotion and feelings!), as well as its less popular cousin – contempt.

On a flip side, you do need to do some – what you might term – research! No point in dismissing anything out of hand before its been given a fair chance. If I’d maintained the strict policy I had prior to being age 15 then I would never had discovered pizza or the Cars. I don’t think I can state enough to your readers that these were life changing moments. For anyone who hasn’t tried pizza yet, I urge you to. Oh… the Cars are quite good too.

Q10 Would you call yourself a traditionalist with regard to music, either as a listener or in how you go about writing/recording/performing?

Padraig: I wouldn’t, even though the music we’re making right now isn’t a radical departure from anything in most ways. There’s always room on the broom. We don’t fit snuggly enough into any particular scene to be too concerned with scene traditionalism, and personally I think I’d get bored. Being aware of traditions is fun and it makes listening to people who are trying things more fun. It’s also fun to stretch the elastic band and see how far you can go before it breaks, like pushing genre expectations towards something less generic without ruining what was good about that music in the first place. I love how Suicide’s first record retains a traditional rock n’ roll vibe and brings it somewhere 100% different. I have a preference for vinyl and I spend time listening to a record I like, rather than gorging myself on endless new stuff.

Q10.5 What’s something you’re listening to right now?

Padraig: Right now, as I type, I’m listening to Pastels/Tenniscoats : Two Sunsets – it’s lovely.
Annie: Betty Davis.
Dave: Jurassic 5: Quality Control.
Jonny: Kings of Convenience – Declaration of Dependence.
Andy: Gene Pitney singing in a distant corner of my mind.



One response to “Interview Project #22: Yeh Deadlies

  1. As an addendum, you know that there’s a thing on Popical Island in this week’s NME? Ex-pats pushing Irish projects FTW.

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