The Brno Chairs - improvising with sound

The daring, improvisational, guitar sounds of Galway’s The Brno Chairs - led by songwriter and guitarist Bushy (aka Kenneth Coyne ) - are at De Burgo’s on Monday December 22 at 9pm.

Bushy has been a constant presence in the Galway music scene for many years and was in Baby, Gardener, and Beretta - as well as solo acoustic guise Tulpa - before forming The Brno Chairs in 2006.

The band’s live line-up is as a three piece. While Bushy is the central figure in band, the remaining two spaces have been taken up by a variety of Galway based musicians.

For the De Burgo’s gig next week, Bushy will be joined by brother Aaron Coyne (also of Mirakil Whip ) on bass and Philip Cassidy (also of 21 Outs ) on drums. Why the ever rotating line-up?

“College has taken over my life and it would be unfair to play so little with a dedicated line-up,” says Bushy. “Don’t get me wrong, if I could hold onto Aaron and Philip I would. They’d be a tough act to follow. We read each other well. Because of our brotherly history, Aaron and I had some epic Oasis type battles back in the 1990s in other groups so it’s great to just play together and enjoy it. Philip and I just clicked.”

Why did Bushy name his band after the modernist cantilever chair designed by the Bauhaus’ Mies van der Rhoe?

“I was drunk one evening and saw Around the World in Eighty Treasures,” he says. “Dan Cruickshank went to Berlin and went to the Bauhaus and said “…and this is the Brno chair…” I liked it. It’s an awful band name but so are most band names.”

Whatever about the ‘awful name’ there is nothing awful about The Brno Chairs’ music, which mixes the influences of Cream, My Bloody Valentine, and US alternative rock and welds together the seemingly incompatible modes of melody and wild improvisation.

One of their best songs is ‘Samurai Sword Maker’ which can be heard on It turns out that on this track, Cruickshank’s Around the World in Eighty Treasures was again responsible for firing Bushy’s creativity.

“Cruickshank went to a samurai sword maker in Japan,” he says. “I was well steamed at this stage and on a role. I had a piece of music I was building up in my studio. The main lick happened in my head first, and then I played it straight off the guitar through a filter. I sang it in a falsetto because by the time the song was recorded, I realised I couldn’t sing normally in that key.”

At any given gig, each member of The Brno Chairs can play a solo simultaneously. None of it is rehearsed. It is total improvisation, and it can range from free jamming, to 15 minutes of constantly looping feedback.

“Improvisation has been done by thousands of bands. It’s not in the least bit new,” says Bushy. “We just push things out a little further. I deliberately record and arrange songs so they are impossible to play live with three people. I’d need four guitar players and three bassists and a different singer if I tried that.

“Trying to play the songs as a three piece just makes you come up with whole new ways of fleshing out a song. It’s the improvisation of sound more than anything else. We just switch on and go for it.”

In order to capture the sounds he is looking for Bushy uses a Fender Jazzmaster and sometimes a Fender Strat.

“The Jazzmaster is my guitar,” he says. “It’s just the business. I use a pile of effects pedals split three ways into three different amps: a Fender Deluxe, an unusual acoustic 412GS Valve Half Stack 1970’s amp - It’s actually owned by Aaron - and a Peavey Solid State. I’m not going to list off everything but suffice to say I use a lot of boxes, currently 19, mostly drive pedals, loops, and spatial effects.”

The Brno Chairs may have a double A side 12” EP with Mirakil Whip out after Christmas, but what’s this we hear about Bushy receiving an email from the great Derek Forbes, Simple Mind’s former bass player?

“Damn, now it’s out!” says Bushy. “Yes I did love Simple Minds but back in the original New Wave 1979 to 1982 period. Forget the rest of their s***e! I just implied in my email to Derek Forbes what I’ve just said here and I think he agreed with me!”

Support on the night is from Inanimate Floyberg and Mark Hanley.


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