“For years, I’ve always been most comfortable making music in a converted garage in my parents’ house in Templeogue. This is a smallish area with a bookcase and a hi-fi system at one end. The bookcase boasts a set of Encyclopaedia Britannica from 1986 and The Great Books of the Western World. The hi-fi is closely guarded by a choice selection of various family members’ vinyl, including James Last’s Christmas, A Very Mickey (Mouse) Christmas and The Andy Williams Christmas Album. At the opposite end, there’s a TV. There’s a couch and an armchair. It’s a cold room in the winter and a warm room in the summer, due to a total lack of insulation. In the 80s, there was a pool table in there, but the room was too small to allow shots from either side of the table. I think that was the main reason that the pool table was jacked in after a couple of years, but it’s still called the Pool Room even now.
I don’t keep any equipment in the room permanently. I was a resident, a well-treated tenant of the generous proprietors Cooney, until quite recently (despite this, I’m going to talk about the room in the present tense, because I haven’t quite replaced its special charms). I drag my gear in and out of the room as necessary; as I use a lot of the same equipment when rehearsing with the band or playing shows. When working on something, I have my electric guitar, my acoustic guitar, my little synth, a bass, a laptop with audio interface and rubbish speakers, a mic stand with a wire hanger attached and an aul pair of tights stretched over the triangular part, an amp, various pedals and other bits and bobs like shakers and toy xylophones and what not.
When I’m there, what I need with me is a pint of water; a pen; a notepad; a Dictaphone; a kitchen chair (if recording a demo or something); the remote control for the telly (I find the mute TV a useful addition if you don’t have anything definite to work on, and are rather just absentmindedly playing around with riffs or chords). I don’t have a fixed schedule, nor do I wait for inspiration to hit to go there. I tend to write songs in my head through the day, imagining arrangements and devising structures without an instrument to hand. So there is always something to commit to Dictaphone at least, or to Pro Tools if I’m a little further along with it.
I almost always work alone. It is highly unusual for me to bring a basic idea like a riff, a melody or a lyric to someone else to work on together. I like to bring a complete song to practices, to give collaborators demos with well-developed structures, so we can then focus on enhancing whatever is good about the song. I’d guess that about 50% of the songs I write start out as tunes that pop into my head away from a musical environment – in work, walking or driving somewhere, etc. Sometimes I’ll get really excited by the original idea and try to work it out on guitar as quickly as possible, but as often I’ll forget the idea completely before I have the chance to record it. Sometimes they come back.
Another reliable source of inspiration for me is a song title. When I was younger, I used to guess what the songs on a new CD would sound like based on the titles, and write my own songs with those names before listening to the album. This has mutated to the present day in that I often make lists of imaginary song titles and dip into these lists to set off the writing process, or to get me started on a lyric. Sometimes a whole song can spring from a line that means nothing but sounds good and is suggestive of a character or story that you then flesh out around it. Once I have some sort of tangible song on my hands, I’ll decide if it has any potential to be hammered out into something worthwhile, and if I think it does, I’ll start working on it in a Pro Tools session – layering instruments, trying different rhythms, coming up with vocal harmonies, etc.
I like the absolute comfort of the place. It’s home territory. There’s no prospect of having to leave, a cup of tea is only a few seconds’ walk away and the TV is there to alleviate frustration or boredom. I find other rooms suitable enough in my absence from the Pool Room – most new bedrooms in new apartments do the job.”
Musical Rooms was talking to Pádraig Cooney of Land Lovers
Land Lovers began as the musical project of Pádraig Cooney from Dublin, and has now expanded to include Ciarán Canavan, Brian Lynch, Rob Maguire and Cormac Hughes. In the main, the band aims to craft satisfying pop songs that match memorable melodies with intelligent and sometimes funny lyrics. They take their name and some influence from Luke Haines, and would invite Elvis Costello, Stephin Merritt, Bob Pollard, Robert Forster and Dan Boeckner to their weddings. The debut album Romance Romance was launched in September 2008 and since then the band have supported the likes of the Future Kings of Spain, Uzi & Ari and R.S.A.G. They have recently released the EP ‘Immovable Feet’ and play the Twisted Pepper on Dublin’s Middle Abbey St. on Friday, August 14th. Door 9pm and admission is €8. For more information, visit www.myspace.com/landlovers.