Interview – Still Point
Right now Northern Ireland is a melting pot of epic musical talent. With bands like the mighty ASIWYFA and Lafaro (as well as soon-to-be-massive A Plastic Rose and The WonderVillans) currently breaking out into the world, it’s no surprise that there’s a host of un-tapped talent still here on the island waiting to be discovered.
One of the most promising of the recent acts to emerge are Belfast’s StillPoint, an alternative rock trio with leanings towards the Reuben and vintage Biffy style of noise-making. They’re currently in the process of finishing their new record, and Echoes and Dust caught up with front man Dave McKendry to chat about their progress.
He can’t help but enthuse about how the new material is coming together: ‘Recording was fuckin awesome, we’re now completely finished laying it down. We tracked in Westland studios in Dublin with producer Alwyn Walker. It was a hell of an experience he was great to work with and really, really good to us. He didn’t cut any corners and made sure we were always sorted and happy with everything and really pays attention to detail.’
So far it’s sounding fucking great! We’re not going to be back down til the 5th or 6th of July so we’ll have a clear head and go back absolutely fresh and get stuck into mixing. We love recording, for a start just the feeling of going to the studio is great and then you get there and it’s just excellent.’
The 5 songs on the EP comprise part of a well-honed and stream-lined live set, which the boys have compiled over their one year as a three piece, and since their inception, writing seems to have just flowed: ‘Generally speaking I write whenever the mood takes me, sometimes I’ll be absolutely knackered and needing to go to sleep and all of a sudden I’m like “ok, I need to go and write a song”. I have no idea what it’s going to be about or anything, I just feel the need to sit with my guitar and make music, which is awesome.’
Sometimes it happens first thing in the morning and sometimes it can be months without it but I generally let it happen if it happens and I don’t hold back. A lot of the time now with us three if I have an idea and as long as we’re not rehearsing for shows or tour or the studio we’ll sit down and just go for it with idea sharing. I wouldn’t call it jamming, it’s more like exploring, I’m almost tempted to say we groove things out, we’re more of an exploring type of band. Get some flow on the go.’
I try and make it as collaborative as I can. Almost all the time I come with the main idea but I try to keep that as basic as possible so that we can grow together with it. That sounds so kinda, holistic fuckin youth-work-y kinda shit but I want the song to grow with all three of us so I try to keep it as basic as possible, so if I have riffs one and two, instead of writing three four and five I come in with that and we all put the ideas together.‘
These songs have grown into the Some Lessons EP, for which messrs Dave, Jack and Will have currently embarked on a campaign via the website Sponsume to raise money to pay for the album master, as well as duplication. Along with the standard fodder (EP, T-Shirt, name in liner-notes etc) if a generous backer is kind enough to donate £150, the drummer has agreed to a very special reward: ‘Yeah’ chuckles Dave, ‘We’ll send you everything out, we’ll sign it if you want and Will will tattoo your first name on his ass. Get your friends to fuckin band together cos I want it to happen! We were just talking shit about it and he was like “yeah, I’ll do that”’
Bands are increasingly taking advantage of services like Sponsume and Kickstarter to fund their music, as the stereotype of the broke musician rings true for full-time, working acts, and these guys know this well. ‘The downside to being a musician is that you don’t get to see anyone else play most of the time. Its not just about playing a killer show it’s about showing the right people you can play a killer show and showing people you’re a nice guy and you can do it. The reality is I can’t do that ‘cos I’m too skint to, the only time I get out is when I play a show. There are some amazing bands in Ireland and I never get to see them, even when touring bands come over I can’t see them.‘
‘As far as the world goes I’m unemployed and I don’t fuckin do anything but at the same time I actually bust my ass and work 6 to 7 days for this. We’re at it all the time and it’s not a 9 to 5 job, I don’t mean in terms of gigging at ten o’clock at night. You get on the laptop during the day and start emailing people and organizing tours and shows and it’s not like you’re constantly on the go 24 hours a day but you’re never really off the clock either.’
You’re constantly on call and need to be on it all the time. I do love it, we just go for it as much as we can. I love being busy ‘cos it means you’re doing something and something is going to come from it. It’s not like you’re sitting saying “shit I’ve nothing to do,” if there’s nothing coming up then make something happen and something will come of it.’
When asked about raising the money, Dave is humble, and stresses that they are not looking for charity: ‘We need help, but we’ve also been extremely lucky. With Alwyn, there’s loads of good shit going into the ep and it makes me feel great about it. Geoff Allen (of Fun Is Ok studios) who we met on the road has offered to do the artwork for us for free. He sent us through proofs the other day and they blew my mind. Nothing at all what I’d been expecting but in a really good way. So much is piecing together.‘
The new record is being launched in Belfast on the 2nd of August in Voodoo Bar, with support coming from the excellent Droids, Deadlights and Window Seats, after which the band will embark on a month long UK and Ireland tour in September. If they come near you, check them out!
You can back the completion of the Some Lessons EP here: http://www.sponsume.com/project/stillpoint-some-lessons-ep
In the mean time, here’s their old stuff: http://stillpoint.bandcamp.com/ Woop!
Interview by Eóin Boylan
Tags: Interviews, Still Point