The Eskies, it’s easy to conclude, have their tongues stuck firmly in their cheeks. The Tallaght four-piece’s modus operandi is one of playful, hard-wired fun, and it reflects in their music: a frantic, snarling but endlessly witty selection of gratifying, whiskey-loving country-punk.
Having been working their way around the Dublin music scene for the best part of a decade, their first album ‘After The Sherry Goes Round’ has been joined by the Christmas-release country-melodrama of ‘And Don’t Spare The Horses’. The entire process, at least from the outside, has been one surreal, messy party.
“The difference between our first album and our second album is our first album was written for live performance,” Frontman Ian Bermingham explains of the band’s progression in recent years. “I think a lot of bands will tell you that. By the time we got to the second album we had our hour long set. When we came to record the second album, we only had about half the album written. Maybe less. The same pressure wasn’t there to write songs that would work live, so we could be dynamic in what we did.”
The second album ended up being delayed by a couple of months for marketing reasons, leaving the band struggling to keep quiet about what they’d finished. “We were going round to people’s houses for sessions, and the thing is when you have lots of musician friends, you have a couple of pints and you all share what you’ve recorded. Then we’d wake up the next day going, ah, we shouldn’t have done that. I don’t want to be that guy. It’s like 2.0 of that guy who won’t put his guitar down. Playing the unreleased album on your phone.”
That album is out now, though, and is helping the band secure a wider audience, something that’s critical to their long term ambition. Despite the silly side to their music, the Tallaght band are deadly serious about finding a bigger audience.
“We were totally on our own for a long time, “Bermingham tells us. “Now we have booking agents and label services, though label services basically means we pay them to get the records out, instead of them paying us. There’s an extra dimension to having managers and booking people, a team of people who care about what you’re doing and become friends. It’s made a big difference to getting gigs”
That hasn’t made life entirely easy, but the band are determined to press on into full professionalism. At this stage, the door is ajar.
“The financial side is always tight and sometimes a total disaster, especially a band of ours, where we’re trying to make it a full time thing,” Bermingham says. “There’s a balance between trying to make it cover itself and trying to expand that can be quite difficult. It doesn’t cost money to tour, but I don’t think we’re coming home with much. It can be quite difficult.”
That has often involved touring outside Ireland in the last couple of years.
“I don’t really think there’s a place for us in Ireland sometimes,” Bermingham says, despite selling out a number of shows here recently. “Maybe there’s not a scene we quite fit into. Which is fine. We write music for ourselves, pushing each other in stupid directions and doing increasingly ridiculous things. We want to make people in the room laugh. It can be ridiculous and obnoxious,
“We’re not worried about being cool, but we are certainly enjoying ourselves. It’s a very carefully choreographed sloppy session buzz.”
This article is one of my weekly music columns for the Dublin Gazette, reproduced here with permission. Note: this column is published in the Dublin Gazette several days ahead of on this website. The Gazette is a freesheet paper available across Dublin, published on a Thursday. Pick up copies at these locations.