“My favourite space to create music is the house that I live in. I live here with six other people so I keep moving around. The kitchen is the only warm room so I’m often there at night, but there’s a loft outside the house in which I record drums and rehearse with the band. It’s freezing, but I usually get the long johns on and record vocals up there when everyone’s gone to bed. I have a song called ‘Pieces’ that I demoed there. It was about 3am when I started howling like a dog. My god, it felt good. The owners of the house live nearby and sometimes I wonder if they can hear it all… something in their eyes…
True story! A couple of days after this, a pack of dogs started running around the house each morning, just before sunrise. I haven’t seen them for a while, but they kept coming back for at least three weeks after that. It was so strange, they looked really well groomed, but none of them had collars or anything. They were the most excited dogs I’ve ever seen. Anyway, I’m trying to find words to describe the loft. It’s dusty and cold. There’s a great little mixing desk in the middle of the room that RTE were going to throw out. I have a suspicion that this mixing desk is only the tip of the iceberg. If anyone has any more info about this, let me know. My notebooks are full but my pockets are empty, so free equipment is always welcome.
The room is filled with a few old amps and my friend Marc’s drum kit, as well as boxes of old cassette tapes and minidisks which belong to a young Davey H (from my old band). One of Dave’s drawings is on the wall beside the door. It’s a sketchy image of a man’s face, drawn onto a large piece of wood. There was a period of a few months last year when I was recording like a madman. I almost made myself sick. Anyway, every time I had a break I’d say, “I’ll be back in five minutes” to the face as I walked out the door. I think it was a way of dealing with the fact that I was alone now. Violins, please.
The amount of time I spend in the loft varies greatly, as does the amount of time I spend writing or recording. It all depends on how much free time I have. A lot of my last year was spent touring with the incomparable Cathy Davey, so I had to learn the lost art of time management (well, it was lost to me). Schedules don’t really work well with me. I’m usually pretty good at getting stuff done because once I’ve started working on something, I can’t relax until it makes me extremely happy to sing it. Even then, I usually want to change it again. The songs that I’m most proud of are usually the ones that were worked on at the most unsociable of hours.
I’m only learning the value of isolation now. I think I used to know it when I was a boy, but since then my head has been filled with useless ideas and information, which I’m currently in the process of filtering out of my system. I become a bit of a bastard when I’m in creative mode, so if you don’t mind, I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to my friends and family for all of those ignored text messages. It really is essential, though. I hope you take my songs as an indication of how much I love you, because that’s what they are.
I keep a little Dictaphone with me at all times. Sometimes I just record whatever is going on around me, but most of the time I use it to get musical ideas down. Usually they tie in with some words in my notebook and a song is born. Then I have to help it grow. When I feel that it’s ready (usually after a few months), I move the song from the Dictaphone to a little 16-track recorder which I bought a few years ago when I was working in an office (PLEASE GOD, NEVER AGAIN). Late last year, I got a little handmade acoustic parlour guitar (which is why my pockets are empty). Is it possible to actually be in love with an inanimate object?
What I like most about the loft is the feeling of absolute abandon that hits me when I start working with a couple of days off ahead of me. Time loses all meaning and the sweet chimes of freedom make themselves known to one and to all. Amen.”
Villagers is the collaborative project of former Immediate member Conor O’Brien. They release their debut E.P. Hollow Kind this Friday, February 6th on Any Other City Records. Villagers play Electric Avenue (the Friday Club), Waterford on Friday, February 6th, The Roisin Dubh, Galway on Thursday February 12th, DeBarras, Clonakilty, Cork on Friday, February 13th, Cypress Avenue, Cork on Tuesday February 17th, The Spirit Store, Dundalk, Louth on Friday, February 20th, Crawdaddy, Dublin on Saturday, February 21st and The Stables, Mullingar on Saturday, February 28th. The EP can be downloaded for free on his myspace page. For more information and details of upcoming live shows, visit www.myspace.com/wearevillagers.