“We spend a lot of time travelling to and from gigs and this time has become an unofficial practice time and space. Travelling to the gig is a time full of fizzy nervous energy. Once you are actually on your way you already feel like you’ve achieved something. We spend this time making ideas about what we will do for the coming performance and spurring each other on to go through with it. Sometimes one of us will suggest something to the other, like a dance, and the other will nod throughout and say at the end ‘Not a hope in hell I’m doing that’.
Travelling home from a gig is often tinged with exhaustion and is all about relaxing and making sense of the gig/day/weekend before, and harnessing post-gig energy. There’s a bus called Rapid Express, that runs very late between Dublin and Waterford, like a Nitelink. Soon everywhere in Ireland will be a suburb of Dublin. The first verse of a song – ‘Here is Home’ – that I wrote on this bus after a gig, goes:
“Rapid Express, stress excess / ah what a mess now made / Make me new like a baby just / learning learning learning.”
From the get-go, we wanted to emulate the chatty social feeling that you hear in early hip hop or the euphoria of good techno parties, and create a public party space where eye contact happens. So it makes sense that most of our nine songs are written on-the-go, often on public transport. It probably won’t always be like this – I am in the very early stages of writing a piece which will be in a house in September and is more domestic and intimate, and often find myself thinking about it while cooking dinner.
I bought a laptop cheap when I was doing some gigs in New York last year and I take it everywhere with me. Sometimes I like to write with pen and paper, especially on planes, though my fingers find it easier to type now than to handwrite. A journey without snacks is a hideous place. Bananas are full of potassium – it is as if they were designed for human consumption, the way the hard peel protects the food centre, and comes off in convenient panels.
Although I write words alone and work on them over and again before showing them to anyone, I also really need to road test material and get feedback from people I trust. There is a long and gradual process of honing and re-working the original concept that I enjoy a lot. I tend to think of the performances we have coming up and work backwards from there. I am a writer rather than a musician and I write songs in a very formulaic way – at one point our sets were very monotone, all party songs, so I wrote a song called ‘Epidemic (we need you here)’ which is a ballad to wave your hands to.
The best thing about a journey like this is that at the end of it you have arrived somewhere else, and that place is either home or at a gig. If we come up with an idea while walking to the gig we can incorporate that easily, if not always seamlessly. One of my favourite things about live performance is the simplicity and directness of it. If you think about things for too long without taking action then you lose resolve and energy and courage.”
You’re Only Massive are presenting Disco-nnect (Remix) from Monday June 30th to Saturday July 5th as part of We Are Here 3.0 at The Project. Their split 12″ album, Dot-Dash, with Queen Kong and will be available from July. They embark on a 32 county tour in July, and in September will present a new show based around cooking and domesticity. For more information, visit www.myspace.com/youreonlymassive.