Musical Rooms

December 14, 2009

Musical Rooms Part 96: The Holy Roman Army

Filed under: Interviews,Irish Music,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 2:35 pm
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“It seems like I’ve always made music at a desk by a window in the spare room at home, wherever I’ve lived. For a few years the window was overlooking the river in Cambridge (which was lovely, the sound of passing cyclists and late evening rowers drifting in the window) and for another year it was the canal in Phibsboro (which wasn’t so lovely, the sound of feral teenagers and broken bottles spoiling the ambience a little). Now I’m overlooking the manicured flowerbeds of a suburban South Dublin apartment complex, they’re like Celtic Tiger Memorial Gardens. I don’t know if favourite is the word, but I’m able to write here. It’s very quiet outside, the room is very plain and there’s very little external stimulus. For some reason that seems to work.

There’s loads of odds and sods lying about the place. Effects pedals, guitars, loads of keyboards, a xylophone, a Speak and Spell, many many wires, a set of monitors that are too big for my desk. Empty teacups feature prominently, although I have yet to harness their awesome musical potential. Something for the difficult second album perhaps. Dirge In B Minor (With Teacups).

I try to write something or tinker away at a piece a couple of times a week. It’s hard to find the time sometimes with work but thankfully over the last year or so I’ve had a more 9-5 job
so I find more time during the week to write. I write best generally when I’ve a weekend afternoon to myself, I can get loads done if I’ve four or five hours to really go at it. I go into an odd, almost trance-like state for a few hours, I lose track of time, I forget to eat (believe me, that’s not my usual modus operandi) and at the end of it there’s a song. Sometimes I come back to the song a few days later and I ask myself what the hell I wasted a whole Saturday for to come up with this rubbish. But sometimes I don’t and it makes it all worthwhile.

For anything we’ve written so far it has begun with me working on a song by myself and if I think it’s going somewhere I send it to Law and then she adds in her bits and then we work on it together. Her bits often being the melody, hook and funny things like that which I tend to overlook sometimes. We’ve never really sat down together and written something from scratch. I think if we did we’d end up killing each other – Law is much more finicky than I am about everything being in tune and whatnot, it’d probably take a year to finish a single song.

The creative process starts with me opening a blank project on my audio sequencer Ableton Live (a German program which I now know and love so well that it’s like an extension of my arm; it’s also the only piece of musical equipment at which I am even vaguely proficient). I think that moment is even better than the point of feeling a song is finished. It’s like starting a new book by your favourite author, not knowing the plot or having read reviews. It’s maybe not the most useful feeling – I’ve started hundreds of songs and finished far less. The program is so good and I’ve so much virtual musical equipment on it that opening the program is as bit like opening the door to Abbey Road, there’s no excuse not to be able to write something good there. I started off writing DJ Shadow rip-off tunes and I’m still very much in the habit of starting a tune with a sample I’ve grabbed from a CD or record and then building the song from there. Nine times out of ten I’ve gotten rid of the sample after a half hour, but for whatever reason that seems to spark things off for me.

What I like most about this space are the boundless possibilities. And they make the tea the way I like it there.”

The Holy Roman Army are Chris and Laura Coffey, a brother and sister from Co. Carlow, Ireland. They blend samples, synths, vocals and guitar to create music that encompasses electronica, hip-hop, dub, post-rock and shoegaze indie. Their debut album, How The Light Gets In, is out now on their own Collapsed Adult label. This weekend they play the first in a series of planned gigs by Ragged Words. Also on the bill are Adrian Crowley and Hunter Gatherer. The gig takes place at Dublin’s Twister Pepper and tickets cost €10 (plus a small booking fee) and can be bought here. For more information on the band, visit

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December 7, 2009

Musical Rooms Part 95: 65 Days of Static

Filed under: Interviews,Music Reviews — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 5:19 pm

“Our favourite space to create music is wherever we are allowed to play loud enough to hear ourselves without getting thrown out. This is becoming harder and harder for us to find. I don’t think we’re getting any louder. It’s a rehearsal room where sometimes you can pay by the hour, sometimes you have to pay by the month. Sometimes you can leave your gear set up and sometimes you can’t. Sometimes there is running water and sometimes there isn’t. It is always too cold or too hot. The longer you stay there the more it steals away part of your soul. It will feast on your confidence like a king on a peasant’s bone.

We just have our stuff there, the same stuff we have on stage. In the corners there are piles of broken equipment. Somewhere there might be a kettle. We make all of our beats on an Atari ST and a circuit-bent gameboy. I believe the Royalty to be cannibals. Essential to the room is our instruments, members of the band, coffee and a GO-GET ‘EM attitude. When we are writing we spend every day in the room, for too long. Longer than is fruitful, longer than is healthy. We are lucky enough to be in a band as a job, so we make sure we put in the hours. We’re all too Northern to believe in time-off for inspiration.

As a band, we tend to work alone. If you’re a band who writes with other people, then 65 doesn’t understand you. Personally, isolation is definitely important. But the rest of the band keep turning up and making trouble. Our creative process takes 14 months. It starts with a round table meeting where each member of ’65 put forward their concept for the next project. This time round, Simon voted through sheer force of will, with his idea of writing a soundtrack for the Bayeux Tapestry. Did you know that, despite its title, it isn’t a tapestry, it is actually an embroidery? After the initial meeting, we basically argued for a year, and then wrote some instrumental nonsense on a laptop when we realised we were running out of time. We use drums, a bass guitar, some other guitars, a keyboard, a sampler, some other, smaller keyboards, and a computer. Oh, and a mixer. And various leads to join all of it together.

What we like most about the space is that it’s beautiful, infinite and expanding outwards at the speed of light.”

Combining elements of post-rock with heavy electronica influences, Sheffield’s instrumental 65daysodstatic have developed into Britian’s finest live act. Currently working on a new album, they’ll be taking time out to play at umack’s 15th birthday party at Tripod on Thursday December 10th. The bill also includes Battles, The Ex, the !!! DJs and Adebisi Shank. Doors are 8pm and tickets are €35 From Sound Cellar, Road Records, City Discs, Sentinel & online at For more information on 65daysofstatic, visit

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November 29, 2009

Musical Rooms Part 94: Wounded Knees

Filed under: Interviews,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 6:32 pm
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“I have a room for music, for writing. It took me a while to get comfortable with the room I now use. It’s basically a spare room beside my daughter’s bedroom; it’s small but looks over the Grand Canal, which at night can be inspiring. Night time is the only time I open the shutters, if I’m in there during the day, I keep the shutters closed and light it with one little lamp. There’s always a point at which a new space becomes christened, when it starts to feel like the right place; it happens with a tune. Once that tune comes, you’re at home.

I keep things pretty simple; I have no real interest in the sampler or keyboards I have there (apart from the Casio which I share with the girls) that gets a hook down just fine. I record onto a Roland 880EX, through a dbx channel strip for mic pre-amp. I monitor through Genelec active monitors. I only use my Guild D35 acoustic these days. It’s the Wounded Knees sound. I use an SM57 to record vocals.

For me it’s important, at the end of a session, to leave things as they are. The litter of stuff is a physical recording of the things that have happened in the room since I was last there. It’s important to have nothing in the room that can break the spell, so everything in there is related in some way to the music I make. I leave books randomly open on the floor. I’ve got a smiling Neil Young on the wall; when I catch Neil’s smiling eye, it’s like he’s saying, “….ya got something there kid”. The Ramones are everywhere, passes from gigs, drum sticks that have delivered at a recording session, a few pictures of the beach boys, George Harrison (I’ve always related heavily to George). There’s no conscious plan to make the room a certain way, it just becomes what it becomes. It’s random. If it feels good it stays. I like having the hard evidence of good things that have happened. One treasure is Patti Smith’s own personal copy of The Coral Sea with her notes all over it. She gave it to me after a show.

Between my work with thirtythreetrees and the kids, it’s impossible to schedule time for music, so it happens when it happens. If I’m getting ready for something like ATP, then I know what I’m doing with all my free time. I’m in there, mainly putting down new tunes for the band to listen to before we get together to rehearse. For me isolation is really important. You have to believe that what you’re doing, at that moment, in that room, could potentially change your life. You have to dream when you’re writing. Songs are very delicate when they’re born, it would be easy for someone outside of you to crush them with apathy. For me I treat them all as potential saviors. It’s one of the ways I feel connected.

Typically I start things with a chord sequence or a riff that just seems to come from nowhere, it’s rare if I remember when I first started strumming a song, but the ones that stay present an urge in me to find a progression, to make it a song. Then I usually get a bit ripped and play the thing over and over until the melody is just there. I tend to listen to the harmonics of the chords really closely while I’m playing until I hear a melody. I’ve leant to stick with that melody; it’s always the best one. And as I play I always hear the whole band in my head, especially the drumming, I’m a drummer first forever. I always play guitar as if I’m playing with a drummer.

The recording usually happens with a sudden urge to listen back to what I’m playing and hearing in my head, that’s why I keep the set up very simple, I don’t want to have to think when I’m putting stuff down for the first time. For me it’s important to get it down sounding pretty good straight away, I need to hear the power of it and the harmonics to get the urge to finish a vocal for it. I like to do things quickly, first take.

I scan notebooks for lyrics that fit the track. I tend to write words separately; it’s the John Lennon way. I like the surprises you get in the phrasing when you do it that way. Like most musicians, once I have an idea down, I have “a loosener” and listen to it about 100 times. That’s always the best moment. Pure dreams.

I use a Roland 880ex, a dbx tube channel strip, Genelec monitors, a Guild d35 1970 acoustic (I bought it in Amherst Mass; J Mascis and Kevin helped me find it), SM57’s for mic-ing the acoustic and for vocals, a Fender Champ, an FMR compressor (really nice) and some distortion pedals (dDistortion and compression are really the only effects I’m into these days). That’s the basic set up. For me, it’s a sound I stick to cause I like it; from there the songs that change the sound. Rhythm and melody.

What I like most about the space is the fact that it’s mine. It’s my soul cell; there aren’t many “real life” distractions in there. I can leave it as I please. I like how it looks after a good session. The girls know which things they can touch and which things they can’t. You can touch the guitar but don’t touch the faders!”

Musical Rooms was in conversation with Jimi Shields of Wounded Knees
Wounded Knees is a band made up of Jimi Shields (ex-Rollerskate Skinny and Lotus Crown), ex-Mercury Rev flautist Suzanne Thorpe, and Phil Williams (ex-Hopewell). The Wounded Knees released an EP, All Rise on Specific Recordings in 2008. All Rise was mixed by Kevin Shields and the band played tour dates supporting the newly-reformed My Bloody Valentine. This month, Wounded Knees will also play at the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival A Nightmare Before Christmas, curated by My Bloody Valentine. Their play Whelan’s (Upstairs) on Wednesday, December 2nd. Doors are 8pm and the show includes an installation by the creatives at South Studios. Wounded Knees will perform as part of this, from the floor as opposed to the stage. Tickets are €10 from Wav Box-Office (Lo-Call 1890 200 078). For more information, visit

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November 15, 2009

Musical Rooms Part 93: Mike Scott

Filed under: Interviews,Music,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 9:44 pm
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“I used to write and play anywhere – bedroom, living room, kitchen, street – until I set up my first music room in 1988, when I was 29. It was in a house on a hill overlooking Galway Bay. The view was incredible but once I started singing and playing I’d forget all about it; the only landscape that mattered was the one in my head. I finished writing The Waterboys’ Fisherman’s Blues album in that room and since then I’ve set up a music room in every place I’ve lived: twelve of them in all, including Baile an tSleibhe, Waterloo Rd, Hudson St., Kilmashogue Lane, Marine Cottage, Lansdowne Road, No. 69, No. 72, Primrose Hill, Broombank, Raglan Lane – of which the current one is the best.

It’s an extension of a mews house in south Dublin city. My wife and I have a home in Scotland but we’re in Dublin for a year while I develop my Appointment With Mr Yeats project, a show The Waterboys are doing at the Abbey Theatre in March 2010, for which I’ve turned around 20 of WB Yeats’ poems into songs. The music room is at the rear of the house, reached by a glass hallway, and feels quite separate from the rest of the building, giving it a removed atmosphere.

The command posts are my electric piano, which is plugged into to a Fender guitar amp and a large desk on which my computer sits. I do all my home recording here using Apple’s Garageband system, which I prefer to Pro-tools (less mental energy is involved running the system, freeing up my mind for music). I have guitars, a bouzouki, a mandolin, various drums, tambourines and sleighbells, two speaker systems (KRKs and Yamaha NS10s) and a couple of huge boxes of Venetian masks that got worn on the last Waterboys tour.

There are a couple of cupboards; one’s full of books, sound effects CDs and tapes; the other contains effects pedals. I love Electro Harmonix pedals: the Pog, the Hog, the Stain, the Wiggler. They sound as great as their names and I spend many psychedelic hours sticking keyboards and guitars through them.

The floor is wood but I’ve covered it with eastern carpets purchased in that famous and most exotic bazaar, Dunne’s Stores in the Stephens Green shopping centre. The room is well-lit, with about a dozen bright ceiling lights. The family who rented us the house used this space as their office, and the bright lights suit me – I’ve no patience with working in shadowy, dingy places where I can’t see what I’m doing. I like atmospheric lights on stage, not in my music room.

The Waterboys sometimes rehearse here if we’re preparing for an acoustic show, though we could squeeze a drummer in too, I guess. And Steve Wickham and I are doing the string arranging for the Yeats’ show here, the two of us sitting together at the desk sorting the manuscripts on our computers. He’s a trained reader who went to music college, and works beautifully fast. I taught myself to read and write music only a few years ago, and though I compose quickly, it takes me a day to write out a page of manuscript.

I don’t work specific times; I just get in here whenever I have a ‘go’ feeling, which is most days. I used to stay up working all night but now I prefer to work only when I’m fresh and at my peak. I make less mistakes, keep my perspective, and it’s easier to stay “on” all the time. In common with all my music rooms just the fact of the room itself enhances the creativity. I only have to walk in to feel stuff start happening. That’s the beauty of it: a dedicated space where alchemy happens.”

Mike Scott is the founder of The Waterboys, a band who have released hugely successful albums like A Pagan Place (1984), This Is the Sea (1985) and Room to Roam (1990). They are probably best known for their 1988 album, Fisherman’s Blues. Scott has also released two solo records to date and his next project is An Appointment with Mr Yeats, a show fusing the poetry of W.B. Yeats and the music of The Waterboys. The WB Yeats show runs for five nights from Monday March 15th, 2010 to Friday March 19th, 2010 on Dublin’s Abbey Theatre. Scott also plays a solo gig on Saturday, November 28th at the Clyde Auditorium, (part of Scotland’s SECC complex) in Glasgow. For more information, visit

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October 29, 2009

Musical Rooms Part 92: Midori Hirano

Filed under: Interviews,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 10:20 pm
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“My favourite space to create music is in my apartment which is still in transit since I moved here about a half year ago. I’ve been living in Berlin for a year so far, and I moved from another apartment to the other by sub-renting until I found a current space in the center of the town. Meanwhile, I toured a lot in Europe, so I couldn’t get settled in this new, tiny, cosy space to really feel like I could work on new tracks for a while (even though now I’m just about to leave for the UK and Ireland to play shows there). I’ve recorded my last two albums in Kyoto and Tokyo in Japan in 2006 and 2008. So now I’m excited as to how my future will work out after such big move from Japan to Berlin.

My musical space is a part of my bedroom. So this means really tiny (but it’s bigger than the one I had in Japanese apartment). It’s on the fourth floor on a corner where you can easily see the TV tower of a “symbol” (now regarded as a tourist one though) of former East Berlin. You can then look down at the tram on the streeet. There’s also one nice cafe/bar where a friend of mine sometimes works. The inside of the space is quite white and bright. In the summertime it’s too bright though, but now it’s getting to have appropriate brightness to be able to bear Berlin’s gray days of winter. I love spending time in the quietness of midnight here. It’s so meditative.

Right now I have a Macbook Pro to run Logic on, which have been my main equipment/software for creating music for these years. And there is a MIDI keyboard, and Korg synthesizer MS2000 which I sent from Japan by ship. Also I have a pair of speakers, headphones and the M-Audio’s firewire solo for an audio interface. Other things like BOSS Loopstation RC-50 are only for performance use, as it is very useful for improvisation on the stage.

Recently I bought a Melodica by made Hohner. I really like its sound. And what else? I have a few of ethnic-made shakers I got in Kyoto, which I played on some tracks from my second album. There still is one other piece of equipment which I left in Japan – my AKAI sampler S6000. It’s so heavy and big but I really love it. I’m not sure if I really need it later again though since the technology is always in progress to make all of those things smaller and lighter.

The most important things for me to have in this space is just simplicity and quietness. It was a bit hard to have the atmosphere in the summer because of the noise people made outside till late. But now it’s time to enjoy the “deadness” of this town in winter. I spend most of my time here except when I go to meetings or am having dinner or coffee with my friends, or DJing or touring. And I often get inspiration for some ideas for new music when I’m going out. Then I take time to shape all my ideas into sounds when I get back to home.

I work alone usually, since I’ve been doing this solo project for a long time. That’s why I need quietness to make myself feel like I’m in an isolated place. On the other hand, when I get stuck, I’d rather like to go for a walk or meet some people to change my mood. It also helps my creativity. In terms of the creative process, at first I try to record little phrases on Logic freely using by keyboard using the ideas that came to mind at that time, and then layer them up. But it always messes up at the first step, so I leave them for a couple of hours or days, and then go back to them again to see if I can make an outline more carefully, just to improve them. I keep doing this until I’m satisfied with the story and sounds contained in the track.

What I like most about this space is the fact that I can go to the kitchen immediately any time I want to make some food. There’s a big window where I can look down at the big tree in the courtyard which shows me the changes of the seasons.”

Hailing from Kyoto and now based in Berlin Midori Hirano dances the divide between electronic and acoustic sound, creating lush, layered chamber music out of piano, strings, digital samples and vocals. After graduating from university with a major in classic piano, Midori Hirano started creating music with the help of her computer. Her participation in compilations by overseas labels and EP releases led to the release of her first album LushRush from Nobel Records in September 2006. February 2008 saw Midori Hirano became the only Japanese to be invited in the composer category of the “Berlinale Talent Campus”, a program for aspiring young film makers hosted by the Berlin International Film Festival. Her latest album, klo:yuri, was released on Noble in 2008. Midori Hirano plays Whelan’s Upstairs on Friday October 30th with support from At Last An Atlas and Richie Keenan. Tickets are €12 from Ticketmaster. For more information, visit

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October 13, 2009

Musical Rooms Part 91: Mark Morriss (The Bluetones)

Filed under: Interviews,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 8:47 pm
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“Since moving home two summers ago, it took me a while longer than expected to re-adjust to writing in a completely new environment. I had lived in my last home for nearly 12 years and during that time written four albums worth of material as well as various b-sides and the bulk of the songs for my solo album. I had unconciously become rather attached to the ‘vibes’ there. I didn’t realise quite what a seismic effect moving home would have on my ability to feel comfortable in my writing space.

Add to this the fact that my partner gave birth to our son in the summer of 2008 there really were quite a lot of changes to get used to. I think these factors all played a part in the length of time there has been between the forthcoming Bluetones record and our last release in 2006.

It’s only been in the last few months that I have started to really feel the juices flowing again and this I put down to the fact that I finally realised what was holding me up and addressed it directly. I cleared out the old shed in the garden and turned that into a makeshift writing room, also somewhere I can go for a crafty cigarette. Whilst writing I do like to have a fag on the go and since the arrival of my son smoking is not something I wish to do around the house. It’s a drafty, dusty and slightly damp old shed, but with my wonky little desk and ashtray I feel very much at home out there these days.

I’ve never really been a big believer in utilising too much technology at the early stages of songwriting and prefer to simply hum my ideas into my mobile phone. If I can ‘hear’ the song taking shape within these limited means then I tend to think I’m onto something. I use an old nylon strung acoustic guitar to bash out my ideas and again, feel that the limitations of this are an aid to identifying a good idea from an average/unusable one.

It’s only when the song is fully formed, do I attempt to demo it properly. The band share an old Akai 12 track recorder to record demos and this is shared between the four of us depending on who is feeling inspired at any one time. When writing lyrics to music written by the other members of the band, I tend to pop these onto my iPod and disappear for a bit of a long drive, listening to their ideas on repeat until some kind of structure starts to take shape in my mind. Then, as before, get home and finish them off in the shed. With a bottle of vino and a packet of Silk Cut.

I’ve always shunned the idea of trying to make the demos sound too polished, believing that this can be quite restrictive when playing ideas back to the other band members and perhaps hinder their own creative instincts. It’s preferable to me to just create a beginning/middle/end to each song and then colour them properly within the band’s rehearsal studio.

Right, there you go. I have divulged all my secrets to you. Basically my philosophy is that if you have a good idea for a song you should be able to identify it no matter how poor the quality of the recording. Well… that’s my EXCUSE anyway.”

Mark Morriss is probably best known as the singer in UK band The Bluetones, whose song ‘Slight Return’ is one of the biggest indie hits of the 1990s. He released his debut solo album, Memory Muscle was released in 2008. He plays two shows (7pm and 9.30pm) at Whelan’s Upstairs on Friday 16th October. Tickets are €16.45 from Ticketmaster. For more information, visit

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October 6, 2009

Musical Rooms Part 90: King Khan & The Shrines

Filed under: Interviews,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 7:41 pm


“My favourite place to make music is at home in Berlin at my fabulous Moon Studios. It’s spacious and the instruments are all tiny and the sound is huge. I make music in the tradition of Sun Studios, which is keep it simple. I never use more than four microphones for anything. I have two rooms; one on Sonnen Allee, which is closer to the East and this is where I make loud noises. The other room is in my Living room where I do vocals, organ and all the other less noisy stuff.

I have lots of cheapo 60’s guitars, a nice tape machine and the smallest amps I can find. There are revolving walls, a few custom made mics and one condenser mic made out of an altoids box, which sounds awesome (it was a gift from Greg from the Gris Gris); a beautiful Philacorda organ exactly like the ones that old monks used to have!

The most important things for me to have around me is probably my wife and my two daughters. Everything else is replaceable. In terms of a schedule, chaos is my creative breeding ground. I love spontinaeity and I only record people I love. The same applies to my tarot readings…. only the chosen ones… like James Brown said on his Christmas album “Non-Believers shall suffer”.

Sometimes isolation when working is important, but then isolation is like masturbation – too much will make you sore and grumpy. I need the input of my friends and family to find the way, especially because I love REVERB and tend to overdo the reverb. People need to make an intervention in order for me to keep it down. Check out the movie ALTERED STATES from 1980 and then you will understand the importance and dangers of isolation…

The creative process is very simple – you cook, eat, and shit… you listen, hear and write… you injest, vomit and get high…

I use everything from from frying pans to Hofners to make music. I love my tascam and have some supro stuff. I love cigarette amps and Vox

What I like most about my space is that it’s mine.”

King Khan and the Shrines are a Berlin-based garage rock and psychedelic soul band. Spawned from the ashes of Canadian garage act, The Spaceshits, their stage performances have become the stuff of legends. Singer Khan’s other project is called The King Khan & BBQ Show, featureing ex-fellow Spaceshit member Mark Sultan. Khan and the Shrines play Whelan’s Upstairs on Wednesday 7th October, with a line-up that will include Ron Streeter (who has played percussion for Curtis Mayfield and Stevie Wonder), Simon Wojan (of Kranky Records), German jazz musician Ben Ra and rockabilly saxophonist Big Fred Rollercoaster. Tickets are €14 plus booking fee from WAV. For more information, visit

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Competition: win tickets to see Roses Kings Castles (Adam Ficek of Babyshambles)

Filed under: competitions,Music — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 4:12 pm
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roseskingscastleMusical Rooms has five pairs of tickets to give away to see Roses Kings Castles, the “quixotic pop project” of Adam Ficek, whose day job is as drummer in Pete Doherty’s band Babyshambles. The gig takes place at Whelan’s, this Thursday, October 8th. To be in with a chance to win, just answer the following question and leave your answer in the comments below.

What instrument does Adam Ficek play in Babyshambles?

Tickets for the gig are €12.00 plus booking fee from WAV Box-Office (Lo-Call 1890 200 078), City Discs, and Ticketmaster outlets nationwide. Doors are 7.30pm and there will be a support act.

Link: Roses Kings Castles on Myspace

September 23, 2009

Musical Rooms Part 89: Teengirl Fantasy

Filed under: Interviews,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 12:44 pm
Tags: , ,

“As of late we are always on the move, so we don’t really have one specific room where we play music. Any floor, basement, attic, etc. where we can set up our equipment will work. This is a picture of the most recent room we’ve been playing in, which is also our living room in our new apartment in Amsterdam. We have such a beautiful view of Amsterdam’s Centraal Station right outside of our bay window. So lucky! It’s fun to watch all of the people going down the bike path in between songs.

Our set-up (SP-404, Electribe mk2, MPC1000, MicroKorg, and Juno 6 and this amazing Echolution delay pedal that Nick just picked up), is fairly portable and allows us to set up pretty much anywhere. We don’t have any real amps so in the past we’ve monitored our mix using anything from headphones to blown out battery powered baby practice amps. Right now we are using the television speakers, which works pretty well. Maybe when we are older and have the stability and ability to use a real studio space we will, but this set-up works just fine for us now.

When we are writing songs each of us brings our own ideas (a loop, collection of samples, or drum pattern) that we’ve been working on individually, which we then jam on with the each other and add even more ideas to (layers, structures, forms). Often we’ll write songs in short spurts then develop them more by playing them out live at shows. Thus most of our writing process usually occurs live, but there have been times when we are recording an already performed song where we we will get another idea for a part, which will in turn effect how we play the song live again. Other times we will improvise and jam for hours from scratch and may or may not use any of it. After a long time of playing all of the bass and midrange sounds make us fall asleep and we end up forgetting songs if we never hit record.”

Teengirl Fantasy is Logan Takahashi and Nick Weiss, two friends at Oberlin College in Ohio (although they are currently enjoying a semester abroad in Amsterdam). It’s tough to classify their music within one genre -both Harmonia and Cece Peniston serve as equal reference points. Their love of drone, 4/4, and warm gating synths force new classifications of electronic music. Since forming less than a year ago, they have toured the US coasts opening for acts such as Dan Deacon, Telepathe and THE GZA. Their debut release was the ‘Portofino’ 7″ on Merok Records and on September 5th they released a limited edition 12″ of 113 copies (each with unique artwork) on Dick Move Records. Their debut album is forthcoming on True Panther Sounds. They play The Thomas House, Dublin on Saturday, September 26th. Doors are 8pm and admission is €10. Support is from Angkorwat. For more information, visit

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September 22, 2009

Musical Rooms Part 88: HEALTH

Filed under: Interviews,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 10:06 am
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“My favourite space to create music in is not exactly “my favourite”, but it’s the only one. It’s a room in a former textile factory, which is now a practice spaces for bands. It’s owned by Dave Mustaine of Megadeth. The room has very tall ceilings and concrete walls. It has a carpet floor, lots of bad smells and gets incredibly hot. But the sound is amazing.
In here, we have piles of all of our guitars, drum kits and various bits of recording paraphenalia. There are stacks of acoustic guitars that are never touched as well as shelves of unused guitar pedals and a vintage Tascam mixer connected to a 2005 iMac.

The most important things to have in here are all of our equipment and a mini fridge for the beer. This place is a 24-hour lockout, so it’s always available at any time. We usually set a time and meet there. Rarely are we there alone. For me, working with a group is most important. My solo time is devoted to finding new sounds with my equipment. We usually start with an idea or concept written and then fleshed out on paper. To record ideas, we use an iMac and an ancient mixer. To play, we use everything that we use live. I don’t want to give away any trade secrets, but my bass is a Rickenbacker.

What I like most about this place is the sound. It’s a great place to record.”

Musical Rooms was talking to John Famiglietti of HEALTH.
LA noise rockers health started out in LA’s art space The Smell making and their huge wall of sound includes a homemade guitar pedal/microphone called a Zoothorn. The four-piece are fronted by Jacob Duzsik and released their debut album, HEALTH, in 2007. They have also toured with Crystal Castles who they had previously collaborated on a 7″ with. Earlier this month, they released their second album Get Color, on City Slang. They play The Village on Thursday October 1st. Doors are 8pm and tickets are €14 including booking fee from WAV Box-Office (Lo-Call 1890 200 078), City Discs, and Ticketmaster outlets nationwide. For more information, visit

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