Mnemosyne Lay in Dust: A reading of Austin Clarke’s Mnemosyne Lay in Dust at St. Patrick’s Hospital, Wed 7th January 2015 @7pm

First Fortnight: Ireland’s Mental Health Arts Festival

Mnemosyne Lay in Dust

A reading of Austin Clarke’s Mnemosyne Lay in Dust at St. Patrick’s Hospital, Wed 7th January 2015 @7pm

First published in 1966, Austin Clarke’s Mnemosyne Lay in Dust is an intensely personal and haunting narrative poem about memory, detailing the fictional Maurice Devane’s “nervous breakdown” and subsequent recovery. Mnemosyne Lay in Dust is based strongly on Clarke’s own experiences as a patient in St. Patrick’s from March 1919-1920. In reading Clarke’s great poem in St. Patrick’s, the poem is, in a sense, brought back to its roots.

Poets Peter Sirr, Doireann Ní Ghríofa and Gerard Smyth will read Clarke’s Mnemosyne Lay in Dust, in full, in the Lecture Theatre of St. Patrick’s Swift Centre. The reading will be introduced by way of Stephen Bean’s short film Mnemosyne Lay in Dust: Memories of Austin Clarke and concluded with a post-reading discussion facilitated by John Saunders, director of Shine and author of two collections of poems.

Poets Peter Sirr, Doireann Ní Ghríofa, John Saunders and Gerard Smyth (clockwise from top left)

Poets Peter Sirr, Doireann Ní Ghríofa, John Saunders and Gerard Smyth (clockwise from top left)

Tickets priced €5 (ex. booking fee)

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Interview: Delorentos talk new album Night Becomes Light

Originally published by To read the original, please click here.

Gang of four: Delorentos’ prepare to take album four, Night Becomes Light, on the road.

ALMOST ten years into their career, Delorentos have followed up their Choice prize- winning album Little Sparks with Night Becomes Light, an album that might just be their best yet. Kieran McGuinness and Rónán Yourell sat down with us and talked about the writing and recording of the record, sharing the same producer as Hozier and what fans can expect on their upcoming tour.

Delorentos are almost ten years on the trot and now on the eve of releasing album number four. Does the process of writing and recording a record get any easier with that level of experience or is it always daunting?

Kieran McGuinness: We have our own way of doing things: we’re four songwriters who are always supporting each other, in competition with each other, which are both good and things

For our first record, it didn’t really feel that anyone was dying to hear our record; during our second record, we kinda broke up so it was a bit of a mess; by the time we made our third record, we came back and we didn’t feel like anyone was mad to hear it again.

So it does feel like a different process for us every time. On this album, we didn’t want to do the thing where you write a song in a room, play it for three months and record it; this time around, we had a bigger pool of songs and the four of us have got a bit more confident in our writing. You begin to trust each other more. When I bring in a song to the other guys, I feel that I can trust them.

Rónán Yourell: Every time does feel different. Over the years, I think you just trust and believe in each other more. If someone has a vision for a song, it’s about facilitating that vision, enabling, but also trying different things, too. Neil on this record, for example, brought a lot of technology to this record: a lot of iPad apps and the like, putting them through pedals, exploring different sounds…it’s weird and wonderful every time and, like anything else, there’s good days and bad and there’s times where you wonder “are we getting anywhere, here?” and then, suddenly, there’s a five minute breakthrough that opens up a song and takes in a different direction.

Kieran McGuinness: We were never the type of band that practices in Temple Bar Music Centre, goes out for a smoke and talks to all the other bands and and goes “How are you? Did you hear such and such got signed…”. We’ve never been part of that kind of thing; we’ve always felt that we were out there on our own. There’s a song on the record called ‘Everybody Else Gets Wet’, which I wrote on my phone. The lead- in to the song starts off a bit…weird. And I had to convince the other guys: “Trust me: this will be good”. I guess that was the way it worked for all the songs on the record. It takes a lot of trust, work and passion where you have songs ready. It always feel like the first time.

Producer Rob Kirwan has worked with bands who have quite a robust, dynamic sound, such as U2 and Depeche Mode, but also acts whose sound is more grounded and stripped down, such as Hozier, PJ Harvey and Ray LaMontagne. Was it difficult for him to centre four songwriters, brimming with ideas and how effective was he in bringing you all into a middle ground?

Rónán Yourell: Rob worked with us on Little Sparks, so what was great about working with him this time around is that we had an existing relationship with him and we’d worked up a degree of trust in working with him. We had a much larger pool of songs, this time around, so Rob was great at sifting through things, putting a shape on the record. Listening back, I definitely think that this record has much more variety than any record we’ve done, but it also feels cohesive and it feels that it connects up.

Kieran McGuinness: We do our own, internal, sifting through songs, but you still end up with a pile. One of the songs on the record never went beyond the demo that Ro had on his phone. Rob chose what he felt were the best songs. He then deconstructed those songs, with us, to make them the very best versions of those songs. On the last record we didn’t know what to expect, but on this record there was more internal discipline.

This songs definitely has much more of all of us together than any other record before; if a song wasn’t connecting with someone during the sessions, it didn’t go beyond the practice space. I had songs that I thought were strong, but they didn’t get off the ground with the guys because, maybe, they were too personal; too direct. When we settled on a final bank of songs, it was a strange thing, because on the first two albums, we had what ever songs came to us and said “these are our best 15 songs” and produced them to the nth degree. It was strange to have cut a record from such a large pool of songs

Rónán Yourell: The first couple weeks were really great fun: going into Grouse Lodge with dozens of keyboards and all sorts and experimenting with sounds. Rob has a great sensibility with feel that brings about the best in us. When you have four strong characters who can be quite forceful in their opinions, you can get in each other’s way. Rob gets great results by not making it results driven. And demystifies a lot of recording techniques. It’s all about feel and getting away from listening to a guitar part for two hours and trying it a thousand different ways with overdrive pedals.

Kieran McGuinness: A lot of the sounds from the album were live takes and there were a lot of rough sounds that just sounded great that made me wonder how we’ll do it all, live, ahead of our tour. I remember Rónán was paying guitar and hit his elbow off his guitar and it made some kind of weird, almost wah- like noise and it sounded great; so it’s a live take that is as much a part of the song as anything.

Rónán Yourell: Obviously, we really hope that we do go out and play great shows, but on record, perfection has never been what this band has always been about: it should be real and it should be about capturing something that feels real, imperfect, raw.

You mentioned Hozier: Rob produced Hozier’s record at the same time as ours and on, consecutive days, he was going in and out. He’s a really genuine guy; very gentle and I can see why it works well between Hozier and Rob: they’re both quite chilled, relaxed guys.

With the melting pot of ideas that you guys have and the range in songs and sounds that came out of the sessions, how did you sequence those songs into a cohesive record?

Kieran McGuinness: On every other record, it was a case of “These 12 songs worked, these didn’t”. We got to the position when we were sequencing and we chose from 15. Every time we added or removed a track the tone of the entire record felt really different. Take out two singles, put in two very slow songs, it’s a different record.

We get on really well; we’re like brothers. Sequencing, though, is the kind of stuff that we fight about and that causes some degree of tension. But we can league the arguments in the practice space. Right to the end, there were heated discussions about what went on the record and what didn’t. Eventually, we got it right and we separated ourselves from it. We came out of the fog of recording with perspective and, now, we’re into again because we’re rehearsing for the tour. When we’re rehearsing, everything connects more: our vocals connect more, our playing…it feels right. You hear the words more.

Rónán Yourell: We hadn’t lived with the songs as long as on the first record, so we still don’t know how some of the songs will work live, which is really exciting.

Kieran McGuinness: Some of the songs could take on a different life, live, because we still don’t know how it’s all going to sound, live. There’s a couple of songs, ‘Too Late, for example, that have a very defined, Motown feel, which you really have to work at achieving. It has to be groove based and you can’t be afraid to reach for that feel. The melodies, to us, feel like new melodies and new songs in the world. We work so hard at putting what it is we feel down on record, so hopeful when we go out and play, people who’ve heard the record will connect to that feel as much as we have.

When you get to this point, it is scary: everything up until this point is quite inward. You’re focused on the songs, the songwriting, everything that you’re all bringing to it. You then go out in the world and you have to relate all of it back to an audience. The focus goes outwards. In a band, there’s always skills that go on. But standing on a stage, delivering those songs to an audience…that’s where you find out when it works, or when it doesn’t.

Delorentos’ fourth album, Night Becomes Light, is out now on Universal Music.

Catching Up With…Rhob Cunningham

Ahead of his first gig in Dublin since taking on 20 shows in Berlin over the summer, I interviewed Berlin- based Dublin singer Rhob Cunningham. Rhob spoke to me of his internet ‘win’, how the Dublin and Berlin live scenes weigh up against each other and how he can’t wait to hear Jennifer Evans’ upcoming LP.

Rhob will launch his album The Window & Day on Thursday 18th September at The Button Factory in Dublin. You can stream The Window & Day here.

Originally published by Entertainment Ireland. To read the original, please click here.

Berlin- based Dubliner Rhob Cunningham launched The Window & Day, his new album, at The Button Factory.

Berlin- based Dubliner Rhob Cunningham launched The Window & Day, his new album, at The Button Factory.


What’s been the highlight of your year so far?

Singing a new song in a handmade Berlin canoe and the video getting on the front page of Reddit! I won The Internet that day.


When did you first realise you wanted a career in music?

I don’t like to think of music in those terms. If I did, I’d have to seriously consider another profession. I’d like to be a writer when I’m older.


In three words, describe the five minutes before you walk on stage.

On my way!


How do you wind down after a gig?

It differs from gig to gig. When a gig goes well, I’m already unwound.


In three words, describe the live scene in Ireland.

Still. Going. Strong.


In three words, describe the live scene in Berlin.

Twenty. Four. Seven.


Whose career do you envy and why?

I’m not driven enough to maintain envy for very long. I know too many talented feckers, if I dwelled on it, I’d never get out of bed.


Vinyl or digital downloads?

I’m a big fan of Digital Pre-Orders which facilitate the future printing of Vinyl. Let one medium pay for the other. Cough cough. Hint hint.


What is your favourite record shop anywhere in the world?

Anywhere that can still be found. Any record store that has found a way to keep it’s head above water.


Name one rare record you don’t own, but you want more than anything.

Jennifer Evans won’t let me hear her record because it’s not being released ‘til later this year. I want to own that, but we all have to wait, I guess. For now.


Name one piece of music memorabilia that you wish you owned.

Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti driver’s licence. (Fela Kuti’s mam, the first woman to be granted a driver’s licence in Nigeria.)


What is the one thing in your life that you couldn’t go without?

GPS technology.


Name one record, one book and one film that everyone should hear / read / see.

-Shel Silverstein’s A Light In The Attic,
-The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard Feynman


Pick the director and lead actor for a biopic about your life.

David Lynch. Tilda Swinton.


Describe the perfect night in.

Owning a place. Owning a front door key and a door. Maybe a room. Being “In” somewhere that you didn’t have to pay someone for, in some regard. That would be perfect.


Where did you grow up and what are the best and worst things about that place?

Donaghmede and then Dun Laoghaire. The worst thing is trying to spell those words. The best thing is being from anywhere at all.


What is your biggest fear?

That fear leads to anger.


Who is the person in your life without whom your life wouldn’t be the same?

Una Molloy of Turning Pirate, we’ve been friends since college and she’s always had my back. Her whole family are rather inspiring.


What is the most important lesson life has taught you, so far?

T.S. Elliot – “You are the music while the music lasts.”


If you could give one piece of life advice it would be…

You’ll know more tomorrow if you ask today.


Rhob Cunningham’s The Window & Day is streaming here.

Music Interview: Royal Blood’s Ben Thatcher

Support slots at Arctic Monkeys’ Finsbury Park shows, a barnstorming performance on the John Peel stage at this year’s Glastonbury, the blessing of Led Zeppelin legend Jimmy Page and one of the year’s most anticipated début albums…Royal Blood‘s rapid ascent since forming in 2012 has seen the Brighton based band take in some unforgettable experiences.

On the release of their eponymously titled début album, drummer Ben Thatcher talks candidly about the band’s speedy progress, inevitable comparisons with other rock duos and an encounter with Jimmy Page at a New York gig.

Ben Thatcher (left) of Royal Blood.

Ben Thatcher (left) of Royal Blood.


What has surprised you most about the band’s rapid ascent?

I think how quickly it’s all happened and how quickly it’s all come together from the first single to the release of the LP has taken us by surprise. One of our managers sent us a picture of us playing a gig a year ago to the day and it was hilarious just looking at how the crowd and the venues have changed for us since then in that small space of time.

Do you think the speed at which Royal Blood have progressed is due, in part, to the fact that you’re a duo; that if there were third and fourth members in the band that the process would be slower in terms of arranging other instruments for recording?

It all depends on the members of the band, I guess; their chemistry together, how they work together…there’s no quicker way of doing it, I don’t think and it happens at its own pace. If we had another two people in our band, they might well write their parts quicker than we write our parts. It all depends on the people you’re working with and the chemistry within the group.

How have you dealt with the inevitable, and often inaccurate, comparisons with other duos, such as The White Stripes, The Black Keys, The Kills, The Flat Duo Jets?

The two- piece thing is inevitable, really; it’s always going to come up. Being in a two- piece probably once seemed unusual, but it’s getting more common now, I think, for audiences when they see a two- piece band. The White Stripes are probably the most commercial two- piece band, I guess, that’s come around, so we’re always going to elicit comparisons with them. That said, we can sound bigger than a two- piece and, sonically, we sound very different to The White Stripes.

Are there any bands or records that influenced you during the recording of Royal Blood that might surprise some people?

I think that when we make a record, we don’t really get influenced by other bands, I guess; we don’t consciously decide to make something sound like something else that we’ve heard. Mike and I have just really enjoyed making music for the enjoyment that comes out of it. What comes out has this rock n’roll, blues- y kind of feel to it. We love a lot of bands, but we never try to copy what they’re doing. True,  certain bands and artists influence you, but when you’re writing and recording you’re not thinking “let’s make this sound more like ‘X’, let’s make this sound more like ‘Y’…”. So I think it’s just natural that we go to when we play music.

A big champion of Royal Blood has been Led Zeppelin legend Jimmy Page. How did you guys meet?

Jimmy Page came to a show in New York. We heard a rumour that he was in town, but we didn’t know if he would be coming to the show. We were just about to walk onstage and I remember walking past him as I was walking towards the stage. It was one of those moments that I’ll never forget: one of our absolute heroes standing in the crowd watching us. We got to chat to him afterwards and he was a lovely guy. We talked a lot about music: we grilled him about Led Zeppelin for a while! He’s a really nice guy.

Brighton’s reputation has been that of a paradise for dance music fans, but there are more and more guitar bands coming out of there. Both BIMM (Brighton Institute of Music) and The Great Escape festival have been a huge boost for music in Brighton. Is the music scene in Brighton, now, as fertile as it is in Portland, Nashville, Manchester?

I think Brighton has always been rich with variety and has always supported a variety of music in spite of the clubs, DJ’s and dance acts like Fatboy Slim that have given Brighton that strong association with dance / club music. BIMM is a massive music college where people from all around Britain travel to study music, so there’s much more diversity and subversion going on there, I think, than there would have been in the past. Bands that come out of Brighton all sound completely different, whereas places like Nashville tend to focus on one genre: Nashville, obviously, is synonymous with country, country- rock, etc. So I think Brighton’s scene is very diverse and unpredictable.

When you talk about that scale of diversity and variety, do the limitations of being in a two- piece ever strike you as being too restrictive?

It all depends on what you want to do, really. If we wanted to, we could be a two- piece for the rest of our lives and come up with loads of different things and it wouldn’t be a problem. We’d carry on writing, songs that we enjoy doing. Obviously, there are limitations to being in a two- piece, but I think those limitations can push you to be more creative: you find different ways of doing things, of being more economical and it puts you under pressure to experiment, which we really enjoy.

Royal Blood’s début album is out now on Warners Bros.

Theatre review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Dublin Castle Summer Seasons, Dublin, 23 July, 2014

In Dublin theatre company Mouth On Fire’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, one of The Bard’s most popular works is given a glam rock twist. It works, writes Philip Cummins

Left to Right: Fionn Foley (Puck) and Colm O'Brien (Demetrius)

Left to Right: Fionn Foley (Puck) and Colm O’Brien (Demetrius)

Originally published by Entertainment Ireland. To read the original, please click here.

IN THE 450 YEARS since William Shakespeare’s birthday, it’s only really in the last 100 years that practitioner have  fused Shakespeare’s work with the contemporary culture of the day to give added context to the longevity of the themes and concerns of The Bard’s best work. The most popular example is, of course, Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 film version of Romeo & Juliet, though this reviewer has seen a version of Macbeth featuring a cast clad in military uniforms and firing AK- 47’s rather than wielding swords, as well as a version of Hamlet far removed from 16th century Denmark and, instead, set in 1950’s American suburbia.

It’s no surprise, then, that Irish theatre company Mouth On Fire have sound-tracked one of Shakespeare’s best-loved plays, a comedy featuring five interconnecting stories of love, decadence and identity, and fused Shakespeare’s work with the soundtrack of 1970’s glam rock; a genre of rock music characteristic of many of the play’s themes and, indeed, characters.

Dublin Castle’s Castle Gardens is an excellent space for the performance. On unusually balmy summer night in Dublin, the play’s surroundings are nothing short of majestic. Of course, the play’s surroundings also contrast starkly with the costumes and props of the cast, of which much emphasis is given: the costume designer seems to have raided Freddie Mercury’s wardrobe for leotards for the character of Lysander; Hermia is a 70’s era San Francisco folkie; Demetrius, the man whose feelings Hermia doesn’t return in favor of Lysander, is a 1950’s- era nerd that is the antithesis to Lysander; the chorus of the play is found strumming a Fender Stratocaster rather than a flute.

Left to Right: Colm O'Brien (Demetrius), Melanie Phillips (Helena) and Matthew O'Brien (Lysander)

Left to Right: Colm O’Brien (Demetrius), Melanie Phillips (Helena) and Matthew O’Brien (Lysander)

What makes the costumes work is the knowledge that basing the production on 70’s, glam rock- era costumes is no more and no less nostalgic than dressing the cast in Shakespearean-era clobber, which has its own nostalgia. While it’s true that nostalgia, or ‘Retromania’ as Simon Reynolds terms it, has the power to drown out everything, the production sets out its tone in the opening moments of the act one, scene one: T-Rex’s ‘20th Century Boy’ blares from the PA’s, the cast dancing together to establish the cultural tone of Mouth On Fire’s production. From then on, the play progresses at a steady, even pace, seamlessly seguing into the “play within the play” that the mechanicals rehearse and stage for the wedding of the Duke (Theseus) and the Queen (Hippolyta).

With all nine actors in the production juggling up to three characters each over 90 minutes, the play could seem too busy, at times, thought the cast pull it off with, seemingly, little effort:Matthew O’Brien’s Lysander has all the charisma necessary for the part, Sharon Mannionplays Hermia to her character’s naive and dilemma-stricken nature, Fionn Foley’s Puck is as jaunty and playful as expected, while Neill Fleming’s Egeus, Hermia’s disapproving father, is as shrewd and determined as expected and a lynchpin in terms of the play’s action.

Closing the performance with cast introductions performed against the soundtrack of Mud’s ‘Tiger Feet’ and in a manner that can only be likened to hit TV series Glee, it becomes more apparent that Mouth On Fire’s production will either delight those who seek fresh productions of Shakespeare or disappoint purists who might find the coupling of Shakespeare and glam rock is nothing more than a gimmick. With a strong cast and an imaginative creative team, however, it’s hard to fault.

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