When you think of Irish rock and indie, the traditional strongholds for major talent to emerge have nearly always been Dublin and Cork. Yet the last few years has seen a plethora of high quality bands emerge from other areas of the country and a growing willingness among the public to support them.
Alongside the numerous Dublin and Cork acts are The Blizzards and The Aftermath from Co Westmeath, Galway’s Only Fumes & Corpses and Julie Feeney, Giveamanakick from Limerick, and Co Monaghan’s The Flaws - who play the Róisín Dubh on Friday October 3 at 9pm.
For The Flaws’ vocalist and guitarist Paul Finn, this is not a new phenomenon, good bands from the regions have always received public support.
“I don’t think it has ever mattered where a band has been from,” he tells me. “The Corrs were from Dundalk, just up the road from us - I know they’re very pop, and very accessible - but they were very successful so I don’t think it’s really mattered as long as the band was good and honest. That’s what people look for.”
It’s an attitude reflected in Paul’s wide ranging taste in music - a legacy of listening to his older brothers’ record collection when he was growing up.
“I first got into music by listening to what my brothers were listening to at the time,” he says. “They had some of the best and worst taste in music. But the album that really got me was Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks. That had a huge impact on me. I love how deep and yet how simple it was and the story behind the album - how magic can happen so spontaneously and produce something beautiful. Guns’n’Roses were in there as well, a bit of everything. Although much of it is nothing like what we play, it’s all been catalogued in the brain.”
The Italian job
The Flaws have been a rising force in Irish indie since the release of their debut EP in 2005 and the release last year of their debut album Achieving Vagueness, which went Top 20 and was nominated for a Choice Music Prize and two Meteor Awards.
Their melodic, intelligent, new wave has struck a chord with the Irish public and increasingly with Italian and British listeners.
Achieving Vagueness was released in Italy in March, encouraging the band to do a short tour, but nothing prepared them for the frenzied passion of the Italian fans.
“Our single ‘16’ was being shown a lot on Italian MTV so we played Bologna, did a press tour, interviews, and played some shows,” says Paul. “The Italians were singing back the songs to us and they know every word and most of them can’t speak English! I might have messed up on one or two syllables and they’d correct me. There was a crowd of them followed us to every venue we played and that was really great. They really took us to heart.”
Britain got a taste of The Flaws this summer when the band played Glastonbury. “In terms of atmosphere Glastonbury was very special. It was overwhelming and exciting to be at one of the biggest festivals in the world, but I think we were more in our own skin at Electric Picnic. It was our second year there. Last year at Electric Picnic I climbed up on stage while Jarvis Cocker was on, but this year I just wanted to see my friends and not be showing off.”
The Flaws recently released the single ‘Idolise’ from Achieving Vagueness. It may be the last single from the album as the band are keen to start work on the follow-up.
“‘Idolise’ is about going back to your hometown and finding some of the people there haven’t changed even though you wish they did,” says Paul. “It talks about a deck of cards and how life is dealing you a hand but you can’t really ever win, and relationships not working no matter how much effort you put in. It was a riff I had and we jammed around on it and it turned into the song by accident.”
The Ulstermen are now focused on creating new songs for their next release - which they are adamant will not simply be Achieving Vagueness Mk II. Paul says they will probably “disappear after Christmas” to concentrate on wiring and recording.
“We’ve been writing new songs for the past year and a half but we don’t have that many songs,” he says. “We have a lot of ideas though and we don’t want to rewrite the same songs again. People would say we were a one trick pony. Achieving Vagueness was us trying to write a collection of singles. We want more depth than just a collection of singles again. It will be a while before we record but it’s on the way, probably by the end of next year.”
The Flaws’ 2007 single ‘1981’ featured a Lego man on the cover and dancing Lego men in the video - which was created by the band themselves. “Shane, Dane, and me did all the stop motion animation in the video making the Lego men dance,” says Paul. “Dane took the photo and decided that would be the front cover as Lego is so iconic.”
So can we guess what was the band’s favourite toy growing up? “I never had Lego,” Paul admits. “All my neighbours had. Shane and Dane were really into Lego when they were small.”
The Flaws’ website has a link to the Lego website, but Paul admits the Danish company is unaware of the video. However he remains open to the idea of Lego producing a series of toys based on the four members of The Flaws. “That’s not a bad idea,” he says. “I’m all about marketing, I am.”
Tickets are available from the Róisín Dubh and Zhivago.