“I HAVE sought, but I seek it vainly, That one lost chord divine, Which came from the soul of the organ, And entered into mine,” so wrote Sir Arthur Sullivan in his celebrated song ‘The Lost Chord’.
For Galway band Lost Chord, exploration in music is their driving force. However it is not so much about finding the chord once briefly heard by Sullivan, it is an exploration of the many diverse genres that make up music itself.
Now the band’s journeys into indie, hard rock, electro, Afro-beat, and Krautrock have been recorded for their debut six track EP There Is No Lost Chord, which will be launched at Strange Brew in the Róisín Dubh on Thursday January 28 at 9pm.
In search of...
The band began life in 2008 as a solo project by Limerick born, Galway based, musician, songwriter, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist Dave Phelan, under the name In Search Of The Lost Chord.
The moniker was inspired by a comment a friend made about Jane’s Addiction’s classic 1990 album Ritual De Lo Habitual. However ‘In Search Of The Lost Chord’ had originally appeared as the title of an album by British prog-rock group The Moody Blues.
Some months ago Dave shortened the name to Lost Chord. “I won’t be calling my debut album The Moody Blues,” he laughs as we sit for the interview on Monday afternoon. “The reason I shortened it was I was fed up with people shouting ‘What?’ when I announced the band’s name from the stage.”
However Dave was intrigued to find out that ‘Lost Chord’ is also the name of a song written by Sir Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert & Sullivan fame ) in 1877.
Lost Chord’s original stage performances consisted of just Dave with an acoustic guitar, an old reel to reel tape machine, a lap top, and a battery of effects. At this point the Lost Chord sound was largely indie-electro.
Soon after Disconnect 4’s Eoin O’Reilly joined on electric guitar and later the line up was expanded when Yoseph Sheridan (drums ), Darren Nestor (bass ), and Aiden Mulderry (synth ) came on board, leading the band to a more hard rock orientated sound.
“With so many musicians the sound just naturally became a lot heavier,” says Dave. “When Yoseph hits those drums we all can’t help but get heavy, but we are bringing the electro elements back and we’re exploring different things.”
Exploring different things is what the Lost Chord sound is all about as their music encompasses a wide array of rock and world music genres.
“It wouldn’t be any fun playing one type of music,” says Dave. “People would get sick of it and we’d get sick of playing it, but it’s not a deliberate thing to play different kinds of music. You hear a song and if you feel inspired by it you want to try something like that, it doesn’t matter what style it’s in. It’s an ‘organic exploration’.”
If Lost Chord can be pigeon holed, the only appropriate term would be indie, because for Dave, indie is not a style of music, it is a philosophy.
“For some people indie means Arcade Fire or Bloc Party, but it’s not really,” he says. “Indie embraces a lot of kinds of music. It can be soft-folk or hard trance. Indie is really about the love of writing songs and not caring how they sell. You do it because you love it.”
The philosophy forms the basis of one of Lost Chord’s best songs ‘Not Records They Sell Fear’, dominated by its stomping, sinister, guitar riff and angry chorus.
“It’s a Hallowe’en song,” says Dave. “It’s about people being afraid not to buy what is the latest thing in the charts or by the act that is getting the most hype. They buy it because they are afraid of not being cool or not knowing what the latest trend is, so many record shops are selling fear rather than music.”
Songs can come from an idea of Dave’s which he and Eoin work on or else all five members contribute to. A good example is the hard rocking ‘Some Other Long Haired Boy’.
“Me and Dave were busking in Shop Street one day, trying to get together enough money to buy some beer,” recalls Eoin with a laugh. “We were playing the ‘Fresh Prince Of Bel Air’ over and over again as it was going down so well with everyone.
“As we went along we were coming up with these random riffs and so we worked them into ‘Some Other Long Haired Boy’ - which is about incidents on tour, including getting naked on a bus! - and recorded it that night. Perhaps it’s as well we didn’t make too much money busking or we might not have been in a fit state to record the song.”
There Is No Lost Chord
Next week will see the launch of the band’s debut EP There Is No Lost Chord. The six-track release will feature the songs ‘Cheats’ (originally a commission for a Strange Brew CD ), the Afro-beat instrumental and gig opener ‘You Do Not Do’, ‘Up North’, ‘Not Records They Sell Fear’, the Krautrock thunder of ‘Ronald And Nancy’, and the Crimes Against remix of ‘Cheats’.
As the title suggests ‘Ronald And Nancy’ is inspired by former US president Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy and features a sample of the couple talking “though not saying what you would expect them to,” laughs Dave.
“‘Ronald And Nancy’ is the sound of us going crazy,” says Eoin. “We didn’t intend including it on the EP originally but we though ‘Let’s give it a shot’. I recorded my parts using a Gibson Les Paul. It’s a cool guitar but I don’t like playing them, I’m much more comfortable with Fenders, but Fintan the engineer on the EP was adamant I use the Gibson. It’s a hard tune to play as it’s all downstrokes but we got it and recorded it pretty much live, there and then.”
The cover art for the EP is by Shane O’Connor. It merges a photo of the Lost Chord boys on Mod mopeds with a wallpaper pattern. The back of the EP features a word puzzle containing the song titles.
Over the last 18 months, Lost Chord has played support to such acts as Port O’Brien, The xx, Fujiya & Miyagi, and New York Dolls. Recording wise it has posted a number of songs on its Myspace page, but Eoin says, recording wise, There Is No Lost Chord is: “The first proper thing we’ve done. It’s the first fruit of our labours, so things really start from here, and we will be pushing the EP for a while.”
Admission to the EP launch is free. Gugai will be DJing afterwards. See www.myspace.com/lostchordband