Musical Rooms

July 14, 2009

Musical Rooms Part 79: CODES

Filed under: Interviews,Irish Music,Musical Rooms Series — by SinĂ©ad Gleeson @ 4:13 pm


“Our rehearsal studio is locked away on the top floor of a creaky old Victorian house on a hillside in north Dublin. The room itself is quite large (it needs to be to accommodate our mountains of gear!) and is soundproofed, which is important as we usually rehearse for long periods of time and often into the night. We’ve adorned the room with black curtains and some neon lights and strobes. When we rehearse the live show we try to make the space feel as much like a live situation as possible so we often rehearse in near darkness with the lights flashing intensely. There aren’t many other houses directly around so it’s a great place to make a lot of noise. The house that the room is in has a lot of character; it’s a really big premises with a lot of history attached to it, sometimes it has quite a dark mood especially during the winter months and there are a couple of mysterious locked up rooms at the end of our corridor that seem as though they’ve not been explored in years. We love the mystery that lies behind those locked doors.

We like to experiment a lot in Codes and we like to have a lot of gear on hand in the studio to explore loads of different possibilities when we’re writing or throwing around new ideas. You’ll find some old modded synths, which we’re particularly fond of, some newer gadgets ,our laptops and Kaoss pad along with a Korg Ms2000r unit and some Roland keyboards. Each member of the band uses both an electronic instrument along with their more traditional instrument. Paul (our drummer) has his kit, a glockenspiel and a Roland SPD-s drum pad and we like combining those elements of acoustic drumming with live-sampling and electronic drum triggering.

I use a trio of 70’s Telecaster Custom, deluxe and standard models into a black Orange RV50 Combo and sometimes bi-amp into a Marshall TSL150 Stack with a mode4 cabinet. I’m having lots of fun at the minute with the Orange combo though as it’s my newest addition, my mic stand holds a Kaoss3 Pad which I use for sampling and vocal effects in real time and a small glockenspiel which I use on a few songs. Raymond uses a Roland FP-5 Piano and a Macbook Pro running reason with a MIDI keyboard for synth sounds and a Gretsch guitar into a Fender Deville 410. Eoin’s bass rig features Deluxe Jazz bass into a Marshall Silver Jubilee 350w head, a Hartke head and an Ashdown 4×12 Cabinet along with the aforementioned Ms2000r running from another MIDI keyboard. Eoin, Raymond and I have a lot of pedals on our pedalboards, which is really great for experimenting coming up with new sounds when we do switch back to our stringed instruments. The four of us sing too, and harmonies are an integral part of our sound so we obviously each have our mics in place in our respective shadowy corners of the room for that.

We’re particularly focussed when we get into the room and we like to work from lists so the obligatory whiteboard is really important for structuring songs and making sure we’re not retreading old ground. A clock is always important too as it’s easy to get lost in the moment as there are no windows in the room. Sometimes we could rehearse for five or six hours on end and not notice that it’s gotten dark outside! We sometimes like to record on the fly as well when we’re demo-ing a new song so our Mac is on hand to help out whenever we get the need.

We usually rehearse three nights a week though it fluctuates depending on what we have coming up in our schedule or if we’re making particular headway on something new. It’s great that we have no time restrictions as it’s our own space so if we get in the zone with a song we’ll usually try to keep working on it while the creativity is flowing. I usually write the bones of the material on my own with a piano or acoustic guitar to get started and then after some arranging on Reason will bring the piece to the guys, this helps get a broader perspective on the song and where it’s going. Of course then it can completely change when someone else adds a new part or we decide to re-mould it in a different manner, so usually most of the actual rehearsal time is spent doing that. I’m good at starting things off but useless at making a final decision on a track so this seems to work well for everyone.

For us, the most important part of songwriting is restraint. We always try to set ourselves creative boundaries to carry through an overall standard. I think that the boundaries that you set yourself when writing a song define the sound more than anything else. It helps characterise the sound, keeps the music focussed and concise (when it needs to be) and makes the bigger picture come into view more quickly. For example at the minute we’re experimenting with writing a song that combines odd time signatures (11/4 & 17/4) to create polyrhythm. Traditionally writing a song in these metres seems unnatural and sounds strange to the ear. I’d find it impossible to naturally write in such a way, but by imposing myself the restriction of having to make the song work within that paradigm, I find it easier to make a concept become an end product.

Our space is one of the most defining and important aspects of our band, without the freedom we have within the walls of the room, we’d never have the opportunity to be as focussed and work creatively in our own time.”

Musical Rooms was talking to Daragh Anderson of CODES
Codes are an alternative/electronic quartet from Dublin. Comprised of Daragh Anderson (Vocals, Guitars, Samples), Eoin Stephens (Bass, Vocals, Synth), Paul Reilly (Drums, Vocals, Samples) and Raymond Hogge (Guitars, Vocals, Piano, Synth), they have just released a single, They released ‘This Is Goodbye’. Their debut album, Trees Dream In Algebra was recorded in the UK and New Zealand with acclaimed producer Greg Haver (Manics, SFA) and mastered in New York by Greg Calbi (U2, Interpol, Kings of Leon) and will be released in September. For more information, visit or

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  1. Seriously nice room!
    Saw these guys at OXEGEN. very impressive!

    Comment by david cawley — July 14, 2009 @ 9:31 pm |Reply

  2. I absolutely love CODES, what a great team of guys and Karl is such a gent too. great interview Sinead and delighted to see the lads doing so well. Enjoyed the read.

    best, Linda

    Comment by lin coogan byrne — July 28, 2009 @ 8:33 am |Reply

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