After more than two decades of songwriting, Kevin Nolan‘s work lives largely in an intriguing world of self-examination.
Taking his leads from Nick Cave and Lou Reed, Nolan ponders and layers his tracks with meaning, producing much of his content entirely off his own back. In the process, he became the subject of a documentary by RTE.
Recently released second album ‘Let’s All Get Nervous’ was five years in the making. I asked Kevin to talk me through it…
First of all, congrats on the new album. They seem to be few and far between for you – does that make releasing one the culmination of years and years of work?
Yes, years and years of work, and months and weeks and days and hours and minutes and moments, as Leonard says, ‘thought by thought’.
Can you tell me how, from your perspective, this record compares to your previous work?
I would hope I have raised the bar somewhat with this new one. My debut ‘Fredrick & The Golden Dawn’ had a lot of rules and I freed myself of these rules on ‘Let’s All Get Nervous’. For example, when working on Fredrick, I purposely refrained from using any effects except reverb and a distortion sound which I created myself. During those days, occasionally my live musicians would ask me why don’t you use any effects, and I would always reply the same: that’s for the next album. Sure enough on LAGN I explore, albeit tentatively, the world of effected sound. Check out ‘Human Story (stet)’ featuring Mik Pyro on lead guitar.
All the songs on Fredrick were piano-based fictions, whereas for this new album the electric guitar is at the centre of the songwriting and the songs are my first forays into the confessional form. A lot of the songs on ‘Let’s All Get Nervous’ were conceptually written and for most of them, I jettisoned the metronome altogether in favour of an organic rhythm.
There are many many other differences besides, not least of all that I invited Mik Pyro (Republic of Loose), Vyvienne Long and Alabaster DePlume to add their expression to the album. And also after a project exhibited in the Irish Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition “A Vague Anxiety” in which I collaborated with Susanne Wawra, I asked Susanne to join me on this album. Making ‘Let’s All Get Nervous’ was an entirely new experience for me.