Interview: Riot tapes

Although they are still relatively newcomers to theDublin music scene Riot tapes have already made quite an impression, and 2013 looks set to be their best year yet. I caught up with guitarist Chris O’Brien to talk about their début album, their plans for the year, and why he wont be shaving his head any time soon.

You guys have only been together a short while, how did it all come about?

Well long story short I had been involved with the music scene over in the UK and had success over there and through a long set of circumstances I ended up moving to Ireland and was looking to start something over here. I basically just met a lot of singers and was trying to find someone that would fit. I ended up meeting Elaine and we hit it off and started working really hard together on getting something going. We did loads together in my little home studio and the Irish Times ended up hearing some of it on the internet and wrote a review of it, and that got an English producer involved who actually ended up joining the band. And it’s all led on from there.

There is a lot of talk of a début album being released soon, what’s the story with that?

If I’m going to be completely honest with you it’s not gonna be out for a while yet, we aren’t self-releasing and so we are just gonna promote ourselves for a bit first. It won’t be out probably until the summer, we are just gonna put out a few songs up until then, here and in the UK. We will also have some promotion going on in America.

Can you tell us anything about it or is it still a work in progress?

The album is at this point 10 songs, we recorded it all over the place.  We recorded it in nine or ten different studios in Dublin, some in London, and even Nashville in the states. We’ve been mixing it for the last nine months or so, it’s a long process. The record itself, some of the songs are brand new on it, one of the songs itself was only a couple of weeks old when we recorded it. Another had been kicking around for years, it’s very mixed time wise.In other ways it all sounds like the same band, we went out of our way to make sure we had a consistent sound.

Did you feel pressured to release a début seeing as you have been around a while, and have built up a fan base?

Most of the pressure a band feels is self-inflicted. We did feel a bit of external pressure from management, but at the same time internally we didn’t  We wanted to share our songs of course, but there’s no real point in rushing things. I think way too many bands rush things because they feel that if they don’t, that the band will fall apart or they will have no future and lose their fan base.  We have had people say it to us things like “oh if you don’t release something soon you will lose all your fan base”, and we are just kinda like what fan base? Having a few hundred fans in Dublin is not our end goal.

So do you plan on expanding out of Ireland?

You see a lot of bands doing this and I think it’s a bit of desperation to be honest, most band that you’ve heard of, that I’ve heard of, that everybody’s heard of didn’t get signed or get famous by being a really good live band. Most did because they have good songs, people get frustrated at the isolation of Ireland. Because there aren’t loads of cities to tour in, like in say England. That frustration leads them to think that if they move everything will work perfectly. But if you look at the bands that have done it hasn’t always worked out.

Do Riot tapes plan to tour at all ?

We are weird in that we will tour, but not until we have something to promote, we have seen so many bands break up from the pressure of touring. Instead of putting pressure and financial pressure on ourselves I think it’s best to bide our time until people have heard the music and it will be worthwhile to tour.

You of course got to playing at the Shave or Dye charity gig in aid of the Irish cancer society which is great, are you going to take part in the shaving / dye-ing? 

I wish you hadn’t asked me that, I cut off all my hair about six months ago and I have regretted it so so badly ever since.  Im going to feel this incredible pressure to cut it all off again and it’s taken so long to grow and its only just now gotten to the stage where it doesn’t look brutal any more. Maybe I can get out easy and dye. Ages ago when I was about 13 I was living in the states, and I went to the third lollapalooza and I happen to know Kim Deal through a friend. We were all hanging out and she took me through all these back stages tents and the next thing I know, literally the next thing I know she is taking me out on the stage, in front of a huge crowd and she shaved my head. Thousands of people seen it, and that was the last time I ever let someone shave my head.

At least you got a great story from it though, how many people can say Kim Deal shaved their head on stage.

She didn’t tell me she was going to do it either, I had no idea until I heard the buzzing of the razor. My hair was down to my chest and all, I was devastated.

You’ve received a lot of positive press for your new single the key do you think is going to be the year things finally take off

Yeah I mean the thing is that we are really confident of the record, it’s something we worked so, so, so hard on, and all the feedback has been very positive. This is why we took our time, to make sure that it was what we wanted. I still think that it’s going to keep building and that when the next single comes it will do even better.

I have to ask, what’s the story with the panda head in the video?

There is a story behind it but I really, REALLY can’t tell you.

No scoop on the panda story for Goldenplec so?

I wish I could but then everyone will find out what I did and will be pissed off. We’ve already talked about it, should we bring the panda head on stage and things like that, but we would be kind of afraid it would be stolen. We don’t want to be like that band The Residents who became know for their head props and then they ended up being stolen, and they had to go on stage without them and play like the elderly men they were by that stage.

Read the original interview here 

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