Darling Interview

I interviewed Gary from Darling for Dublin Concerts in July 2014.

Watch the interview below (YouTube credit: Dublin Concerts).



Interview Mojo Gogo

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A fear of hard work is an accusation that could never be levelled at Mojo Gogo. Formed a little over three years ago while in college in Derry, the band, consisting of Donegal natives Niki Pollock (guitar/vocals), Jordan Carty (drums), Keelin Gallagher (bass/vocals) and Paul Rodgers (guitar), are already about to release their fourth EP Streets, Backseats & Envy on 7th March and are set to play one of their biggest gigs to date, in The Academy 2 on 6th March.

Fresh from a tour of the Netherlands late last year, where they gigged every night, the band went straight from there in to the world renowned Grouse Lodge studios to record the new EP and have already hit the road again to promote the new release.

Recording in such a prestigious venue, which has seen the likes of REM, Muse, Snow Patrol and Michael Jackson cross its threshold, proved to be an awe inspiring experience for the band. “It was just kind of surreal,” says Jordan. “When we went to the front door they were like ‘you have to sign the guest book’ and we were like ‘ok’ and we opened up the guest book and we were seeing people like Michael Jackson and all that there. We were like ‘oh my god, this is ridiculous’ and we were like, just didn’t even feel worthy of signing the guest book because Michael Jackson’s signature and all is there. We were like, ‘this actually mental’ so that’s the way we felt but it’s an amazing studio you know. It was an amazing experience.”

That amazing experience has produced a three track EP full of infectious hooks and energetic, soaring riffs that perfectly counterbalance the lyrical themes of fractured relationships and lost weekend parties. Such universal themes are sure to appeal to a wide audience and the band haven’t been afraid to do the hard slog, travelling the length and breath of the country to build up their following.

This admirable work ethic will see them heading off to spread their sound all over Europe, with gigs planned in Germany, the Netherlands and a week long residency in Lanzarote over the coming months. There’s also the small matter of the Aranmojo festival, a festival that is organised by the band themselves.

Aranmojo takes place in Aranmore Island in Donegal and is now in to its third year. The lads started the festival in reaction to the lack of venues for original music in Donegal. “For the past two years it was all Donegal acts. That’s kind of why we started the festival, was to give them an opportunity because there was no original venues around Donegal at the time,” says Jordan. “But now, two years later, there’s original gigs popping up everywhere and the scene’s really healthy up here, so this year we’re actually taking bands from down the South up to Donegal. We’re taking bands from Dublin, we’ve a band from Limerick and stuff like that so that’s really exciting to be taking them up with us.”

While he’s reluctant to reveal who these bands will be before the official announcement in April, if the previous year’s line up is anything to go by, one can assume that the acts are sure to be top notch. In Their Thousands, Colour//Sound, Mark Black and of course Mojo Gogo themselves all played to a sell-out crowd of 200 people in 2013.

An intimate festival, packed full of quality emerging Irish acts, on an island off the coast of one of the most beautiful counties in Ireland – there’s worse ways you could spend a summer weekend!

But before that, there’s the small matter of the current tour which culminates in the aforementioned Academy gig. The hard graft that the band has put in has seen them earn rave reviews for their live performances and Jordan feels that this is the best way to fully appreciate Mojo Gogo. “Come see us,” he says. “You can read all our interviews and everything like that but until you come see us you’re not going to probably understand what we’re about.”

And what is it that they’re about?

“When we play live we just let loose and that’s what we want people to do as well, just come and see us and just let loose. I mean at our gigs you get girls there and you see girls up crowd surfing and stuff with skirts on, it’s just crazy, you know. It’s just bedlam,” says Jordan and he reckons that Mojo Gogo are “really bringing back the old punk kind of feel to things, you know. Our music’s not punk obviously, but our gigs would definitely remind you of the old punk gigs, people just going absolutely crazy.”

It certainly sounds like an evening not to be missed.

This article originally appeared on dublinconcerts.ie on 28 February 2014

Red Empire – Interview

Having garnered critical acclaim with their debut EP ‘Strange Philosophy’, Red Empire are ready to take on the world with the release of their new EP ‘Small Mercies’ on 28th February. They hope to follow this up with their debut album ‘Inhale’, which was produced by Aslan’s Joe Jewell, later this year. Dublin Concerts caught up with them last week for a chat about the EP and album and their plans for the future and we were impressed by their confidence and ambition. Not that that confidence is allowed to spill over in to cockiness; “if anybody did decide to grow an ego, they’d be battered,” says lead singer Craig Cahill to a chorus of laughter from the rest of the band. He’s joking of course but it does show that the band is determined not to let anything get in the way of being as successful as they possibly can be.

Consisting of lead singer Craig Cahill, bass player Des Finn, Gar McCarthy on keyboards and guitars, and brothers Richie and Deco Connolly, who play guitar and drums respectively, Red Empire hail from all over Dublin and came together through Joe Jewell, who was a mutual acquaintance of all five members. Craig and Gar have been working together since they were very young while Des grew up across the road from Richie and Deco. So when they all got together did they know straight away that they had something special?

“People say ‘oh was there a spark or anything there?’ No, there was a common respect and it’s still there today, we appreciate each other,” says Richie. “We’re so different, absolutely different, different fishes all of us but there’s an appreciation there.” This difference is reflected in the wide range of influences that the band have; with classical music, Orbital, Rage Against The Machine, The Stone Roses and Bon Iver just a few of the influences that the band draw upon.


With so many different influences it’s no doubt a challenge to piece them all together. “It looks disparate,” says Craig. “It looks like everybody’s into different things and it shouldn’t work but it does because we’re grown ups about it. I mean, Richie listens to a lot of up-tempo Britpop stuff I’m into that as well but some stuff that Richie is into, I’m not into and some stuff that I’m into, Richie’s not and that’s reflected all over the band every which way, but it works.”

“For some reason when you put us in to a room and we start writing a song, it just all works,” adds Gar. This collaborative spirit and dedication to honing their craft is certainly apparent in the material that the band has released so far. “We’ve set a standard for ourselves, a certain quality of that whatever we look back on we’ll always be proud of and we’re kind of trying to stick to that,” says Gar.

That high standard shines through in the excellent video for ‘Small Mercies” which features an appearance from Christy Dignam, a long-time friend and fan of the band. To shoot the video, the band had to endure 6.30 a.m. starts in the freezing cold and Dignam’s professionalism acted as a spur to the band to slog through the hardship in order to get the job done. “He was very ill at the time,” says Craig (Dignam was diagnosed with blood cancer last year), “so we didn’t think it was going to be possible you know, but on the day he suited and booted and he got up and he did it and that alone was enough of a confidence builder on the day for us to go, Jesus, right, we’d better get our shit together.”

The song itself is great and has an infectious chorus that you can’t stop from humming to yourself after a couple of listens. It’s set to feature on the band’s album ‘Inhale’. The album will feature ten tracks that the band have recorded with Joe Jewell. But with no label currently behind them, the band have so far taken a DIY approach to releasing their material and are open to continuing that approach if they have to. “In the industry at the moment it’s kind of like bumpy terrain. Nobody knows what’s the proper format to release these things in so we’re playing it by ear as to what’s the right way to go,” says Craig. “I don’t really mind releasing things as EP’s, it doesn’t really sway my opinion one way or the other. If we release another EP after this I think it’s great, it’s not like we don’t have the songs. We have like, 30 plus songs. They’re there, they’re sitting there, they’re going to be heard one way or another whether it’s on an album or on another EP, it doesn’t matter.”

It’s refreshing to hear a band speak like this and not be afraid to confront any obstacles that may be thrown in front of them. Do they think that the way the music industry is at the moment forces bands to be more proactive?


“Well it sorts out the messers from the people that don’t mess,” says Craig, “We’re pretty serious about what we do and there’s a lot of people out there that just can’t be bothered. They’re just like…a little bit of financial hardship there and they’re just gone. They’re not really interested but we’ve hung in there and it’s something we’re really passionate about. We’re determined to make it work.”

This dedication is clear to see in the work that they have released so far. It’s quite obvious that the band has a rigorous quality control system when it comes to their music which stems from the fact that all five members are involved in the writing process. “What happens is myself or Gar will come up with an original spark of a song. It’s elaborated maybe one or two more steps at that stage and then it’s brought in to the room and thrashed out,” says Richie. “It’s very important that everybody has their stamp on it because it’s not Red Empire if everybody doesn’t stamp on it so we’re not, you know, no one ever does everything. It’s just, it’s always collaborative.”

“We definitely won’t gig something unless we all think the quality is there,” adds Des to nods from the rest of the band.

The lads seem very focused on achieving their goals and it will be interesting to see how they progress. They certainly have the talent and belief to go far so what would their ultimate ambitions be for the band?

“I’ve set out to do what I’ve achieved which was to be in a really good band. Success is kind of a result that happened out of that but you know, what we have is really, really positive,” says Richie. “I just think everything going forward now for me is a bonus. We have a fantastic album, fantastic EP and everything we’ve done up to date for a band of our stature has been of such quality so I’m happy with the way things are and that’s why I want go for the jugular now.”

And where does he think going for the jugular will lead them?

“Mercury prize,” says Richie to laughs from the rest of the group. He may be saying it with tongue half in cheek but there’s no harm in aiming high. If they continue to do things in the manner in which they’ve done them so far, who knows, maybe one day their album will feature that little ‘Mercury Nominated’ sticker in the corner.

This article originally appeared on dublinconcerts.ie on 18 February 2014