Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Interview with Irish band CODES

A couple of weeks ago I sat down and had a chat with newish Irish band CODES. With Dad jokes (Daragh) firmly put to the side, we talked to Paul, Eoin, Daragh and Ray about their forthcoming debut album TreesDreamInAlgebra which is released here on Friday (Sept. 18th), their music loves and how it's all going being signed to a major label.

Your debut album TreesDreamInAlgebra is about to come out in a few weeks time are you excited? Nervous?
- Yeah we're excited. A little bit nervous more excited than nervous though!

-We recorded it in the UK in Gloucester and worked with a producer called Greg Haver who has also worked with The Manic Street Preachers and The Super Furry Animals and anyone Welsh. He basically did some demo's for us in Cardiff where he is based himself and when we worked with him we were really happy with the results and one of the songs made it onto the album.

Which track was that?
Daragh- Memorial is the track that made it onto the album. Greg was really really cool to work with and good fun, he helped us relax and get the best out of us rather than producing us too much and he recommended a studio in Gloucester that we would get really good results from. It also was within our budget, because we paid for it ourselves and that was very much on our minds. So basically he chose where to record the album and where he would be more comfortable doing it.

So you obviously would be fans of the Manics and Super Furries then?
-YES definitely.
Their albums seem to have quite a big sound and are slickly produced.
Daragh-He says he doesn't make small albums so that's great.

What process did you go through to write the album?
Daragh- It all started off in the rehearsal room I think. We've been together since 2007 and so there was a lot of material floating around and we kind of got thinking to ourselves before we even thought about going and working with Greg, about what songs would make the final cut. We picked the final 13 songs ourselves and we were very calculated before we went into the studio about what we wanted to achieve in the time, so everything was kind of done before hand.

So there is 13 tracks on the album. Did you record more than that before choosing what songs made it?
-13 in total that's it.
Memorial came from the Cardiff sessions, which we intended to do. We thought we might go back and do a few bits and bobs extra on it
- For the most part it ended up being up to scratch.

Daragh. We remixed it a bit but it was pretty much the same version as we did in Wales.

Do you think if you hadn't signed to EMI Records that the whole process would be much different? How you chose your producer, studio etc?
- I think we would always be conscious of how much money we would spend because it's something you learn very early on in your musical careers that nothing comes for free. Even if we had signed to a label like we are now and they fronted the money we would still be conscious of how much we would spend because ultimately it's like a bank loan.

- We don't want to end up like Guns N' Roses and wait god knows how many for years to release and no matter how much money is spent it still wouldn't sound better for that.

Daragh- Yeah. The difference is in music is that usually the longer you take in making an album the better it is but sometimes and from bad experience the more you deliberate over something the more you end up wrecking it. I think if we were to do it again we would try and impose ourselves the same restrictions.

Do you find you still have that same creative freedom you would have had if you had decided to release on your own? Are there any restrictions?
Daragh- No not at all. I think one of the reasons we went with the EMI deal is because one of the things we had on our list when we were pitching it to labels, was that we didn't want to sign to a label who wanted to change any of the songs on the record or wanted it remixed because we are really happy with how it sounds and I'm really proud of it. So that's one of the reasons we chose the EMI deal. I don't feel any creative pressure at all I feel really comfortable.

A few people have commented that you guys could become quite a big success do you feel pressured by such statements?
Eoin- We don't see it as pressure, more of a compliment.
Daragh- If they hear something in the music that they relate to artists who are already successful and big then we are doing our job correctly, obviously not in the way where we are trying to emulate anybody, it just affirming again being told 'Yeah your record is good enough to go out via a major label', so yeah, we've done something right. People who have come to our gigs and seen us in Whelan's go 'I can see you guys playing on a bigger stage', that's the kind of affirmation you long to hear.

Your sound is quite epic and big and you used a lot of instruments on the album to get that sound. How are you going to bring it live with that amount of instruments?
- They way we rehearsed it before we even went into the studio was us playing the songs as we are now on the album with the exception of a few strings, but all the synths and all the pads were all played live, we wrote the songs with that in mind.

Daragh- There is no layering on the album, when we were rehearsing everything, we rehearsed it live so we knew what sounded good with the four of us playing. Albeit we switch a lot of instruments a lot on stage. Ray will be playing guitar for a few seconds then you'll see him on keyboards and then he is hitting the keys with the top of the guitar. Paul will be on drums then electronic live drums so we're always running around on stage, there is lots going on. That is part of why we sound so big.
- I think our logic was if someone is capable of playing their part they will play it.

Speaking of playing live. You are about to head on an expansive tour of the country.
Have you done that before?
- We have done it on a smaller scale when were promoting our own self released singles beforehand but this is first time we are trying to cover as many different counties as possible in a short space of time.

- It's about giving people the chance to see us and try and win them over as well.

Would you have any pre stage rituals to get you ready to play?
Daragh- Pint! Why are ye all looking at me? (laughter from the rest). We just relaxed and hang out together and try and detach as much as possible. We usually do some vocal harmonies, I know that sounds cheesy, warm the old voices up before we sing. Usually we don't stick around for other bands sound checks because you get a bit more nervous. We did the Academy last year but we are quite conscious that we were under the radar a little bit. We have been busy doing the album and behind the scenes work with the label so we are approaching it as a brand new thing not as expecting any particular crowd or reaction. So we're hoping most people coming to the gig will be coming to it completely fresh.

You have toured a bit with Keane and the Delays how did those support slots come about? Daragh- Keane actually asked us to do the Irish leg of the tour so that was pretty cool and we did Dublin and Belfast with them. We supported the Airbourne Toxic Event as well in the Academy in March and they ended up liking us and invited us to come along to play with them in London a week later which we were surprised about.
Paul- It was a last minute decision, they were surprised with us and wanted us to come along. I think Darren their drummer said that he would be so much happier to have a band like us opening for them rather, than, what they usually would be getting which would be two local bands which were terrible and they much preferred a great opening act to keep the crowd entertained before they came on. They are really cool guys.
- Sometimes you get lucky where bands are in a position to ask you so it's nice and I think it was the same with Delays. Karl our manager was in contact with their management, sent them a CD and they liked what they heard so we played with them when they came over and I think we are going to be returning the favour.

Is the UK next on your list then?
- I think that's on the "What's next with Codes' list, which is stuck on the back of the rehearsal room door. Hopefully it will take on it's own legs and we're going to work as hard as we can to get as many people as possible to hear it in Ireland and if they like it, it spreads a bit organically as well as us pushing it. Then the UK next.

We have discussed loads of bands but who would be your influences? Obviously it's an individual thing.
- Interpol, Radiohead have always been a constant influence, personally Jeff Buckley and lots of soundtrack music for all of us, some Ennio Morricone and Murray Gold. Then Sigur Ros, Bjork. It's like even really shit things are an influence because it reminds you that you really ever don't wanna do that.

Are there any Irish bands that you would be fans of or admire?
-Yeah Halves are fantastic,
Lines Drawing Cirlces I've been listening to a lot on MySpace, they are a really good band. Holy Roman Army, they are good. Villagers are pretty cool pity about The Immediate I really liked them when they were floating about. There is so much out there and because we were at the back of this trend, where lots of stuff was being influenced by this angular post-rock stuff like the Bloc Party-esque type of band, we were having a lot of bands in Ireland of that kind of ilk. Now that trend seems to have passed, you're not seeing so much of that type of stuff, so what is emerging is more original and quite different and I think it's really healthy for Ireland musically. It's not productive for a scene to encourage emulation, because what you'll get is loads of Irish bands trying to mimic what's going on in England and in the NME. When that happens, because we are little bit behind with scene setting in we often look to the English media as a stand point as to what's next and cool and a lot of people do. You then find that bands are at the back of a trend, when a genre stops becoming popular you still find Irish bands still doing it and it's not healthy, because you shouldn't look at what to copy but should be doing your own thing.

What would be you favourite albums of 2009?
Ray- I like the Doves album Kingdom Of Rust
- I really like TV on The Radio's
Dear Science (we discussed it after being an '08 album). A discussion then ensues about the Bat For Lashes album Two Suns with the band collectively agreeing on Fur & Gold being the better album. (I disagree)
Paul- I started listening to the new Placebo album (Battle For The Sun), it's not too bad but i've listened to very sparingly.
Daragh- The new Mew album No More Stories, which came out there last week.
Eoin-Yeah it's not bad but it makes more sense when you listen to it as a body of work. Daragh-Crazy Danes
Ray- It's a little mental.
- I like the Lisa Hannigan album as well, it's great.

- The new Mars Volta record, I want to support them but I don't think they would really go for us
(laughter follows).

What sources would you use to discover new music? Particular websites, blogs?
Daragh- We're aware of the blogosphere as well as Pitchfork and Sterogum which is where I would find most new music.

Lastly before we finish. What would be your personal highlight this year so far?

-Probably getting the album finished and done and then....

Ray- The O2 maybe? Joint agreement there.
- Also Oxegen, I always enjoy Oxegen. I think because between this year and last year we are new to it. This year more people knew who we were and we had interest in the media centre. I really liked that just going to various radio stations and got a beer per station.

- Just being busy in doing what we do. It's nice, you've been growing up doing it your whole life and you put everything of yourself into trying to make it a career and it's finally becoming a career this year. People finally take you seriously and there is artistic merit in what you do. We are really enjoying doing it all.

C O D E S live @ Oxegen 2009

TreesDreamInAlgebra is released in Ireland on September 18th and they play The Academy on September 26th. Check out the
CODES official MySpace for more tour dates around Ireland this month.

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