Dave Hingerty’s day job is as one of Ireland’s most successful drummers, a regular behind the kit with the likes of The Frames, Kila and Josh Ritter. Naturally, he’s made plenty of contacts through his job, and the whole thing has led to an unusual record.
Side 4 Collective are, perhaps, the ultimate ‘isolation’ style group, in that some of them have never met, though their output far pre-dates our current situation. Their album is constructed with the layering of their various contribution on top of Hingerty’s drum backdrop. Their new record ‘We Burn Bright’, which features Josh Ritter, Paul Noonan (Bell X1), Joe Chester, Ben Castle (Radiohead, Blur, Amy Winehouse) and Katy Perry drummer Adam Marcello.
I caught up with Hingerty to find out all about it…
Congrats on the new record. Can you tell me a little about the story behind it?
It all started with my obsession with recording drum ideas at soundchecks and at home. I have that type of personality that can’t stick to a practice routine and I go on tangents almost immediately and got into the habit of recording any new creations.
I feel like I am a frustrated guitar or bass player, and I think I try to express melodies through the drums often subconsciously. This in turn led to the idea that I could use all of these ‘melodic’ or experimental grooves and beats as a ‘first point in writing’ and invite lots of friends and artists to challenge them to write a song or piece to one of these grooves.
You seem to have gathered quite a collection of musicians around you. How much did they contribute to the construction of the record?
Almost Everything. I just sent them the beats and connected them up and sat there eating sandwiches while Anthony (Gibney, Audioland Studios ) did the real work, recording and mixing. I did ‘Anti Production’. I worked with Steve Albini a few times in Chicago with The Frames etc and he never liked the whole ‘produced by’ title. Like him, I just didn’t want to get in the way. The whole spirit of the project is musical and sonic freedom. Now and then I made some suggestions or played a keyboard, bass or xylophone badly.
This is quite a creative departure from The Frames. Is this more along the lines of your personal taste?
Probably yes. Not that it’s musically so different, but it’s more focussed on freedom and experimentalism. I love The Frames music and I love the music I play with Kila, and also with Josh Ritter, but there isn’t always room for creativity and I often have had to ‘play for the song’. So, for this Side 4 project, these poor artists were forced to work with my rhythmic creations. So, there is more of me creatively in Side 4. I am wide open when it comes to taste, but I prefer if music is brave and performed with emotion though, otherwise I smell a rat.
The album, you say in the press blurb, is a departure from the need to be commercial. How does that pressure influence bands in general, do you think?
Following on from the last question, I do feel that nearly everyone I work with panders towards what they think will be more acceptable to the record-buying public, as opposed to what they really want to make.
Freud used to encourage his patients into ‘free association’ which means talking honestly and continuously and without a filter. We need more of this in music, I think. We need a new wave of punk. Raw, real, and brave. This, I would hope, would freshen everything up.
Where are the mavericks these days? The David Bowies and the Iggy Pops and the Georgie Bests, John McEnroes and the Alex Higgins’? There is too much music now that is slick and sterile I find. Over edited. Overcooked. And, commercially speaking, mostly in the hands of the wrong people.
Tell me a bit about the kits you used for the record…
I used a 1950’s WFL Ludwig caramel wood finish I bought in a Boston antiques warehouse, a kit that The Frames paid for, but didn’t want me to use at the time. Now it’s become a real producer’s favourite and loved by the modern Frames fraternity.
I also used a 1960’s blue sparkle Rogers kit, often voted the best ever made…I’ve even slept beside this kit I love it so much! Then there’s the 1970’s Premier gold sparkle kit, a type that was used by early Pink Floyd, but sounds very Led Zeppelin. A Monster bass drum. With no manners. They are all so unique sounding. Not like the generic modern kits that you can get.
How did your drums underpin the recording process for the record?
They are patterns that are supposed to take the pressure from artists as they start writing. The artists don’t have to construct conventional songs at all. Just let the groove carry the momentum and then they just ‘throw paint at the canvas’, as Pete Townsend said when he heard about the project and actually helped me to write the press release for it.
In some ways, this seems like the ultimate ‘lockdown’ record, in that it’s kind of collective but individual in nature. Is there more music coming from this period?
I like the way you see similarities…For that first record, over a 3-year period, everyone more or less worked individually in isolation until it was time to interact but then they only did so minimally. Most collaborators still haven’t met each other yet! The new folder of grooves, Volume 2, is ready, and lots of artists are working on it during this lockdown, and I want to make it clear to your readers that anyone genuinely interested in collaborating and adding to this project can get in touch with me.
Will you all be meeting up after this – perhaps for some live shows?
Hopefully we’ll have a big party for the actual vinyl release in late august. Then the idea is to have a monthly, ‘first Sunday of every month’ kind of residency in some dark sweaty intimate club in Dublin. It can travel too on special occasions and there has been talks with Irish Arts and Cultural Centres in NYC and Paris.
What are your plans for the future?
Personally, I’d like to write more actual music myself. Time to stop hiding and making excuses. I’ve given myself a platform now and this is the time to step up to the plate. So many of us get to the place just before the actual place we want to be. We stop ourselves. We need the courage to take the final step. This project can allow that.