“I think when inspiration hits you, no matter what the location, it’s always the same buzz. That’s how it feels for me, like you’re suddenly online after your dial-up internet finally connects, (Oh, how I DON’T miss that sound) and there’s a world of opportunity and wonder at your fingertips. Location does play a part in the initial stages of a song, and if I had a choice between the studio, an apartment in the city, a car at the side of the road or West Cork, I’d go with the obvious. Whether I’m down at Inchydoney beach with my guitar being hypnotized by the ocean, watching a fox run through my garden or in de Barra’s with my notepad and pen, the opportunity to be swept away by inspiration at the click of a finger is far greater than if you’re cooped up in a Rubik’s cube of metropolis. That being said once you get down to it, your imagination and creativity will do the work and a lack of comfort and scenery won’t stop that from happening.
I always make sure I have some form of Dictaphone with me. It might be my phone, or some portable studio equipment. An idea for a song can come fast and hard like a jab, but it might not leave a bruise so you tend to forget it just as quick. I’d often pull over the car to record a snippet of an idea. Aside from that, the guitar, and my notepad, rehearsals are usually laced with everything we’d use live. Drums, bass, guitars, various pedals (some we use, some we disregard) and again recording it for a reference is usually handy.
Distractions can come easily if you let them. Taking a break to make a cup of tea or coffee can often turn into a kick of a soccer ball, then into lunch and into an afternoon nap followed by a trip to the shop. They’re time consuming exercises but inspiration could come when you least expect it. The trick is to be disciplined enough to latch onto it when it hits.
I love nothing more than to be in front of the fire when writing. It easily supplies a means to escape and delve into your creative abyss, it also doesn’t distract when you’re working hard on an idea. A cup of tea, or a good lashing of hot chocolate is never far away either.
Depending on the stage of the song, isolation can help or hinder. In its infancy I think being able to hear your own thoughts is paramount. It’s when you flesh it out with the band that isolation doesn’t work. That seems very black & white I guess, but you can’t get too caught up on complexities, otherwise the meaning can get lost.
It’s rare for me that a song has been written in the same way as one that has preceeded it. I like to write a lot, gibberish mostly but always colourful. Hand picking some gems [sentences or descriptions] and carefully placing them into a song has always been a style of writing that works for me. Because of that, I don’t often know what a song is about until after it’s completely finished. Sometimes it can take a song in a totally different direction, almost as if the song wanted to walk another path. It does usually conclude with a meaning that I’m surprised by, and hopefully a song that enjoyable to play and to listen to.
I’m a complete romantic in the sense that I’m always thinking of someone or something when I’m writing a song. Even if the song may seem like a magical fairy tale, or a ridiculous string of sentences, there’s real events and real people hidden behind driving it.”
Armoured Bear’s debut album Honeycomb Moons is released on October 3rd. They play Dolan’s in Limerick on Wednesday October 8th, The Pavilion in Cork on Thursday October 9th and Sunday October 12th at The Roisin Dubh, Galway. For more information, visit www.armouredbear.com.