Mudkiss: Revellions Interview
Currently hunkering in an airport lounge under a cloud of volcanic ash, the Revellions are a quintet from Dublin that emerged from an electric storm of fuzz and Farfisa to release their superb eponymous debut album in November 2008. No mere revival set, the disc combines the best elements of the Nuggets/Pebbles-style garage sound with fresh ideas and relentless vigour, spewing forth ten stomping slices of organ-led mania. If you’ve not checked this album out, scurry off and do so. You’ll thank me. It’s on Dirty Water.
With a second album on the way and a heavy summer of touring lined up, I caught up with the Revellions’ organ wizard Thomas D’Arcy as he waited for the dust to settle.
Dick: First up, I’d like to ask about how the band came together – your MySpace page mentions the ‘dark dank caverns of the Dublin underground’ – could you also explain a little about your local scene?
Thomas: For us, the garage underground all started in a little venue called Eamon Dorans in Temple Bar. It's where the garage scene emerged in Dublin with bands like the Things, the Urges, and the Revellions. We all started off playing there. It was a basement venue and the back of it was kinda like a cave. It had a really cool vibe off of it. Unfortunately it's closed down now, but it'll always hold a special place in our hearts.
There are a few other clubs that cater to the need of the fuzzed out garage freak like The Recession Club – aptly named after all the other cool venues started closing down, like Voodoo , Sassy Sue's Go Go Inevitable and The Amsterdam Beat Club. Unfortunately although a lot of people try it's very difficult to keep a garage club open for long. You just gotta enjoy them while they're around.
It was cool for a couple of years. Didn't know what we had till it was gone!
Dick: How did you hook up with Dirty Water Records?
Thomas: We started playing The Dirty Water Club in London. They had just started up their label and they were always helping us find gigs in the UK et cetera. It seemed like the natural progression.
Dick: Your debut album bears the evident influence of such Nuggets bands as the Count Five, Shadows of Knight and the Seeds. How did you come to get into garage rock? Are there anymore like you back home?
Thomas: We actually started out as a surf band playing covers like ‘Pipeline’ and ‘Comanche’. The garage world and the surf world are closely linked so we kinda took it from there. We never intended to pigeonhole ourselves into the garage world. We were listening to this kind of music and playing our hearts out to whatever came naturally.
There are a load of garage freaks in Dublin actually. The Urges, the Pulpit, the Things, the Mighty Atomics...
Dick: The Revellions is a tightly constructed gem of an album; particularly in respect of the lead/backing vocal interplay – was this the result of intensive gigging/practice or something that just came together organically?
Thomas: The Revellions’ first album wasn't really constructed as an album in the traditional way. We had been playing and rehearsing religiously for 2-3 years and when we went to record we just recorded the best of what we had. I suppose you could say that it was well rehearsed. I like to think of it as a ‘best of’ the first three years of the band. Especially as we met our new singer Al Moore just at the end of the recording – He only sings on three of the songs on the album. So it is kind of like a retrospective of before he came along.
Dick: You recorded the album in Gijon, Spain – How did this come about? How long did the recording process take and was it an enjoyable experience?
Thomas: Recording Circo Perrotti is a pleasure. Gijon is a really cool little town and Jorge Explosion and Mike Mariconda are really easy to work with. I think it took us around two weeks in total. We split it up over two sessions. The first being the most difficult as it coincided with the Euro YeYe festival which made it difficult to go to bed early each night!
Dick: Jorge Explosion and Mike Mariconda did a nice production job on the album – How did they become involved? Will you be working with them on the forthcoming follow up?
Thomas: We were actually back over in Gijon in February of this year working with the guys again. It's very important that the producers are into the material you're trying to record so we didn't see any reason not to go back and have them do it again. If a system works, stick with it! Should be going back to finish the album after we do these couple of tours we have coming up.
Dick: You’re playing a vintage looking Farfisa on the album sleeve; is authentic instrumentation important to you? Are they hard to acquire these days?
Thomas: They are not so much hard to acquire as they are difficult to get fixed after they arrive at your house not working. They will absolutely break your heart with the amount of money you have to spend maintaining them. Definitely worth it for that sound, though.
Dick: Is that a Theremin on ‘One of a Kind’? Or are you achieving that otherworldly effect with the Farfisa? There’s a kind of Dr Phibes vibe to the organ intro on ‘Not The Attraction’ – what are the influences behind that kind of sonic exploration?
Thomas: That is a Theremin at the start of ‘One of a Kind’. We like it. It just sounds creepy. It's not really sonic exploration as much as trying to make it sound eerie. Some tunes just need that sound to get under your skin. In contrast so the happy uplifting groove on ‘Have It All’ or the pop rhythm of ‘It's Up To You’, sometimes you just have to try and hook them another way!
Dick: Much of the lyrical content of the album recounts an element of doomed luv, is this a conscious theme?
Thomas: What songs aren’t about doomed love?!
Dick: How are the sessions for the new album coming along? What can we expect?
Thomas: I can honestly say that it's our best material yet. You can expect something different and yet the same, kinda horizontal but vertical at the same time. With this album we're gonna get you ... DIAGONALLY!
Dick: You’ve got a run of gigs in Italy and France coming up later this month and in May. Is this down to there being healthy garage scenes in those countries? How have previous shows on the continent gone over?
Thomas: We have been received very well in mainland Europe – Always a very good crowd at our shows. It's the best part of being in a band is going away on tour and having people that you've never met come to your shows and sing the lyrics back to you. It's a really good feeling. Although you mentioned our tour of Italy, we're supposed to leave on Wed 21st and a volcano has just erupted in Iceland grounding all flights in and out of Europe. Not too sure if it'll happen at the moment!
Dick: Can we expect some UK dates after the new album has been completed?
Thomas: You can expect some UK dates this summer actually. I just found out that we're doing a single release in June. One of the tunes off the new record and ‘Aint No Fool’ from the first record on the other side.
Dick: Finally, if you had to hit a bald man over the head with a fish, what kind would you select?
Thomas: Probably a Bream. It has that nice wide dinner-plate shaped body. Probably get a nice full bodied slap off of that!