WITH THREE NOMINATIONS for the Choice Music Prize from their debut three albums, the release of Dublin duo We Cut Corners’ fourth album of abrupt, melodic and immediate rock should, perhaps, be backed by quite a bit of confidence.
Despite their successes, though, the duo – consisting of guitarist/vocalist John Duignan and drummer/vocalist Conall Ó Breachain – have always felt a little on the outside looking in. They’re not full-time musicians, working as teachers in their day jobs, and see no real prospects in terms of a switch. In a sense, new album ‘Imposters’ questions itself, and it’s all the better for it.
“We’ve kind of gone back a bit in terms of the way we put the album together, and the types of songs we were looking for,” Ó Breachain explains. “The last album was a lot bigger in scope, while this is going back to snappy songs and a lot of them are quite upbeat. It also goes heavily into our doubts, though.”
“We like to put out an album every two years, play festivals, play a few shows, but we are limited. It’s not that we don’t care about it, we do take it seriously, I don’t have any other hobbies. It’s very unlikely we’ll ever be at a point where we just make music.”
“At times, you’d like to give up the day job and make music. Damien Dempsey just said today that he doesn’t think he’s going to have a family because he’d have to get a nine to five job, and give up the music. Our time is limited, but it’s a compromise, and we like it that way.”
What the pair create with that limited time is astonishing. While gigs have become more occasional, Ó Breachain and Duignan pour their heart into music which reflects obliquely so many aspects of their life, from relationships to compromises, to that crisis of self-confidence. It can be inward-looking, but it manages to be both poetic, and make its point clear.
“Imposters is an examination of where we’re at as artists,” Duignan says of the forthcoming album. “We’re not part of the touring musicians world, because of our life circumstances. I suppose in a sense we always felt on the fringes. That informs our work and our presence – it feels like we’re on holiday when we go to play shows, or go on tour.”
“We’re examining our lives and the different roles we play in our lives, and the truth and honesty we approach those roles with. We’ve only started talking about it really now, but it’s interesting to verbalise. ‘Imposters’ started as a collection of 15 songs we were happy to commit to record. As we started to rehearse them and get to know them a bit, imposter syndrome jumped out as a central theme.”
“I guess it was a snappy enough title,” Ó Breachain continues. “We could be accused in the past of having titles that were anything but snappy. It was nice to have a one word title that summarised, and we recognised the strength of that thread. We decided to add a piece of music – kind of like a difficult song, in terms of structure – book end the record and punctuate with these three pieces. It talks about the struggle of feeling like an outsider as a musicians, and it brought a sense of completion to it all.”
“It’s an internal search for your true self, and we’ve always been very honest in terms of being aware of our weaknesses. So it makes sense as a record. It’s interesting to us that four albums in we still have those doubts, but they’re there.”