“My musical space is the rehearsal room in the back garden of my parents’ house in Crumlin. My parents have always been very supportive of me, my brother and friends when it came to creating and playing music. There has always been some kind of space for me and my friends to play together at home. At first it was just a small wooden room my father built behind two apple trees. We used to keep pigeons in there until the cats killed them. You couldn’t fit a drum kit in there, it was just big enough for me and my brother and our tiny guitar amps. Then as we started to play with more people, my parents decided to build a real rehearsal space. Sound proofed, to some extent, with double doors and the whole nine yards. We dug up the soil and poured the cement for the foundation together. My uncles came around to help.
It took a long time to finish but when it did we took full advantage of it. All our friends’ bands rehearsed there and my parents’ house became this kind of meeting place for a lot of really good bands. My parents opened their home to anyone we knew who wanted to play there. They never once complained about the noise, fed the bands and treated them as friends. It was a great time. Bands like Bambi, The Dudley Corporation, Dinah Brand, The Connect Four Orchestra, Jape, Goodtime John (He’s actually out there now as I type this), Decal, Puget Sound, Large Mound and The Dublin Guitar Quartet all recorded and rehearsed there. Plus many more I can’t think of right now.
My band, The Redneck Manifesto, all live quite close to Crumlin so the room was perfectly placed and convenient for everyone to get to. It really helped us to become the band we are today because we had no limitation in time when it came to rehearsing. We could rehearse as long as we liked and this helped us grow together as a band. We played off each other for years in that room. Each of us filling the spaces left by one another. All our individual styles of playing would not exist today if it wasn’t for all those years of jamming together. We sound best as musicians when we play in the Rednecks. Everything locks in to one unit. So I can say that as a band, this is our favorite space to create music and the most important. It’s not a square room, so it’s quite hard to measure. All the walls are at different angles, not to help the sound of the room, but because we wanted to make it as big as possible so it forms around the shape of the garden walls. The front door has a big wooden B on it, the room’s name is Studio B (B for Bolger). Once you open the first door you enter a small hallway then through another door into the main room. It has wooden floors and white walls. There’s a big sky light in the roof that leaks a little when it rains but gives the room amazing light in the day time. Outside the room is a beautiful garden my parents have built over the last 2O years. It’s very cosy, beautiful and a nice place to hang out in the summer when we need a break from the insanely loud volume we rehearse at. When the room is set up properly there are two drum kits, a 12 channel PA we put all our synths and samplers through and our bass and guitar amps. The corners of the room are filled with old Marshall heads and cabinets and there is musical equipment everywhere. From Little Bontempi organs to giant console organs with Leslie speakers. A lot of synths, A Moog Voyager, two Juno 60s, a Wurlitzer Piano, lots of drum kits and drum kit parts, samplers and lots of effects pedals. The gear changes a lot, as we’re all mad into buying new stuff, although we do keep a lot of it in our home studios.
The most important things for us to have there is heat, light, electricity, coffee and tea, beer on special occasions, plectrums, people in a good humor, showered bodies, spare strings and creative brains. We used to rehearse two to three times a week. Now I live in Sweden and Neil lives in San Francisco so now we rehearse when we’re getting ready to record a new record or coming up to a gig or tour. We all have studios at home and all make music by ourselves. We all miss getting into our rehearsal space but when we get a chance now there’s no time wasted. We’re happy to see each other and play together again. We all meet up and jam for a few hours. After a while ideas start to come together. We spend a very long time developing these ideas into a song as a group. It’s a completely democratic process, where everyone is needed for it to sound good and like us. Some songs are in the making for years and others just come together quite quickly over a few weeks. We take a lot of time forming a song and tweaking it before we play it live. If it passes the live test it’s tweaked a little more and is then ready to record.
The core of the group, at the beginning was drums, bass and guitar. So that was the only equipment we had in the room. Now synths, samplers and percussion have become a very important part of the band, so now they rest along side the amps, guitars and drums. These are at the centre and surrounding them are all the dead and broken instruments we’re too attached to to get rid of.
Our space has a lot of history. I built it with my brother, father and family. I have very fond memories of what has taken place in that room and what we created there. The fights and laughs we had with one another, and the fact that the room allows me to meet and hang out with some of the most important people in my personal and creative life. I like the fact that it’s in my parents’ house so when I come home now I feel as if I’m returning to both my family and creative home.
Musical Rooms was talking to Matthew Bolger of The Redneck Manifesto.
The Redneck Manifesto’s new album Friendship is released on the March 26th. The album launch will take place in Tripod on Saturday March 27th, with tickets available from Road Records, City Discs, tickets.ie and ticketmaster.ie. For more information visit www.myspace.com/redneckmanifesto or www.redneckmanifesto.com.