“We write and practice music in our guitarist, Amanda’s house. It’s pretty unique as the house is situated on a working farm in Dublin city, surrounded by donkeys, peacocks, giant Finnish rabbits and assorted animals, including our favourite, Molly (a red Retriever). We’re lucky to be able to have our gear permanently set up in a room in the house. It’s the room that Amanda also uses for dressmaking by day, so we share the space with a mannequin, fabric, patterns and sewing machines. Even though its quite a spacious room we still manage to cram it with gear, rubbish, props, sweat (the boys) and glow (the girls). There’s a nice pastoral view of fields and bales of hay from the windows and a balcony from the hallway for smoking.
When we first started to practice there, we had a very basic set-up. Ger had to rely on a snare drum and a cardboard box with a kick pedal, and Paul had to play bass through a small practice amp, while Amanda and I “elephanted” over them with our guitars. These days we’ve got two drum kits, two Fender guitar amps, an Ashdown bass amp, electronic drum machine, glockenspiel, keyboard and stylophone. We have mics going into small guitar amps for the vocals and from time to time the room also sees acoustic guitars, banjo, omnichord and an eclectic mix of noise making toys and shakers.
We’ve got an eight-track recording unit and laptop with Pro-tools for putting down demos of new songs. These recordings invariably start with someone shouting “WE’RE ROLLING” and pretty much always end with confused laughter. There will often be one lost Hair pretending that they know the new song better than they do and who will be natching out cheesy jazzy riffs or beats with an air of fake confidence. On the nights when we’re too lazy or strapped for time to set everything up, mobile phones are used to record anything that might come out of the ether and which might disappear just as quick unless committed to sim card.
Just having the four of us together with some combination of our gear is the most important aspect of the room. If there’s a jam when one person can’t make it we might work on new stuff. Anything that’s not sounding right will be left for the missing person to “fix”! It’s a pretty good incentive to try to make it to as many rehearsals as possible! Generally, we try to get two jams in a week, but this can increase depending on upcoming gigs or if we’re writing new material. From time to time, when full amplification is needed to rehearse for gigs we use a rehearsal studio in town. Every now and again we’ll have a few weeks when one of the jams turns into an “admin” session where we might be doing anything from sending emails, making phone calls, planning videos or making balloon portraits of ourselves. All of these things are equally important to us. A good portion of every night there is also taken up with tea, childish laughing fits and inappropriate joking.
In terms of developing an idea into a fully-fledged song it is essential that all four of us are together, in the same room, at the same time. Besides the four of us, the only visitor we ever have is Molly, the aforementioned red Retriever. She always thinks she wants to be in the middle of things but then changes her mind as soon as we start to make noise.
All of us write so the process usually involves one of us bringing ideas for a song to the room, wherein it goes through the grinder with everyone adding their parts. Different tempos are tried, parts are changed/dropped/added until hey presto a song emerges that we’re all happy with. It can often emerge a completely different song to the initial idea and we’ve been known to have to draw out maps in order to find our way through new songs before demo-ing them! When we have the basis of a song we put down a rough demo on the eight-track and we all take a copy away. That way we can have a good listen before the next practice and decide what bits to change.
Sometimes the vocals are the last thing to come. Lyrics might come from one of us singing something nonsensical over the top; or else from something we’ve read or heard on news. I don’t think we’ll ever be the type of band to write about how hot we think someone looks.
The best thing about our space is its location; it’s like an oasis of fresh air in the smoggy city. Three of us are from the country so being able to have a piece of that in the city is great. It definitely has an impact on our music. The contradictory nature of the location reflects the dichotomy prevalent in our music, noisy yet poppy and accessible. Also, the room itself has an odd sense of “nostalgia in the making”, and leaving at the end of a night always contains an air of excitement about our next rehearsal.”
Story of Hair are a four piece noise-pop outfit based in Dublin, featuring Ger Staunton on drums and Glock, Paul Brett on bass and vocals, Amanda Eustace on guitar and keys and Caroline Carew on guitar and vocals. Their debut album Cheap Rate was recorded by Steve Shannon at Experimental Audio and will be released nationwide on October 24th. The Dublin launch takes place on Friday October 31st upstairs in Whelans (a Hefty Horse Presentation). They also play Fletchers, Waterford tonight (October 25th) support to Future of the Left at Whelan’s, Dublin on November 14th, The Roisin Dubh, Galway, on November 20th and Bakers Place, Limerick on November 28th.