A diverse band who claim to dabble in ‘primitive rock and roll’, Glimmermen have been dabbling around the Dublin music scene for some time now, earning a reputation for a sparkling live show and an ability to flit in and out of genres, yet produce an amazingly coherent whole.
Their latest album ‘Here I Stand’ is a vinyl-only release that serves as an exploration of love and exploration of the world’s flaws. I spoke to guitar and vocalist Gav Cowley about the story behind it…
Congrats on the new album. Can you tell me a little of the story behind the release, and a couple of the key tracks?
Thank you very much. The album was recorded at the beginning of this year, 11 of songs at once in love and aghast at the state of the world. For key tracks, the current video/single ‘It’s Nice’ is out at the moment is a good starting point and of course the title track. What you get with Glimmermen is a lot of different styles – the thread that runs through our output is melody, decent hooks, quirky lyrics, and I think with this album in particular a lot of heart.
How does a typical Glimmermen song come together?
Sometimes we will have ideas in the room all together , sometimes I’ll come in with an idea for a song and we go at it, bend it around, take it somewhere else, we have the benefit of all our individual musical influences and different reference points. We are all big music fans.
The video for ‘It’s Nice’ is quite a concept – would it be fair to say you’re not too bothered by things like the charts?
I think all we want to do is do what we do. We would love the opportunity to play more gigs. We love playing music together and whatever else happens is a bonus.
What does constitute success for the band these days? You’ve been around a while, have you noticed much change in the Irish music scene in that time?
Success? hmm..As an independent band, we are happy with a gig that went well, we are very happy if someone likes what we do and tells someone else. We like when people buy what we put out and also it’s nice to get the feedback on the output which leaves you enthused to continue, to do better.
Three albums in, how do you feel you’ve developed as a band? You do seem a little less bluesy than the old three-piece these days?
I think the heart of what we do is still there, but there’d be something wrong with a band if they didn’t develop, refine things, build on things. We certainly always wanted to expand what we do into the area of brass arrangements and I think with the addition of Trumpet and Saxaphone to what we had has taken things into a new place.
You have a reputation as a really strong live band. Is that something you prioritise – are songs written with the live show in mind, for example?
Sometimes..sometimes songs will grow to fill the space your in. I know with the first album ‘I’m Dead’ we were rehearsing in a very small room. There is a lot going on in the first album but there is a claustrophobic, frenetic quality to the songs…thats just one example but obviously you are hoping to play the songs to an audience even an audience of one so we do both..we play our hearts out a gig, or in the studio when we record.
I remember years ago you had a bit of a thing for recording in abandoned buildings. Is that still a thing?
We haven’t done that in a while. I suppose in some ways, these days just for time constraints it’s nice to be in a studio with a bit more control. But certainly we are always on the look out for different approaches.
How much of that original DIY ethos survives in the band as they are today?
100%. This is an independent release, we put our money where our mouth is and hope that we have done the best we can to create something that people will enjoy. That’s always been the way. Sometimes it’s hard to get your head around why we do it..someone asked me recently at a gig..how do we manage everything else we have going on in our lives work/families and also do the band..my only reply was..it’s just what we do!
I found the art on the album quite interesting – something like an old-world portrait with a few quirky references to it. What’s the story behind that?
J Bassetti our bassist spotted a painting by Dublin artist Kevin McSherry at an exhibition in the RHA in the summer. We’d been on the look out for ideas for a long time. This seemed to work on a number of levels for J and when I saw, it did too. It’s a very hard thing picking an image to represent your music. But this was perfect and luckily the artist was happy for us to use it. I think that with any artwork visual or whatever it’s up to the viewer/listener to appreciate it in their own way. There are layers to it. I think also on the vinyl format it’s nice to have something that you can look at again and again and wonder.
I didn’t know what the name Glimmermen referenced until I went to research some questions to ask you. That’s a peculiar reference – are you quite historically minded?
We’re aware of our history for sure. I think it hopefully says two things. We keep our music on the glimmer and also hopefully we bring some light into other people when they listen.
You did a ‘gig plus vinyl’ thing with the last album. How well did that work, and is something you might repeat?
We will be happy with people walking out of the venue holding the album. As an artefact it’s a beautiful thing. As a record it is too.
What are your plans for the future?
We hope to get out and do a few more gigs around the country in the coming months.
Glimmermen’s new album ‘Here I Stand’ is out now.