The latest in a popular string of Dublin post-punk acts taking the rock scene by storm, TV People have the dingy backdrop that’s common to the genre, their music a poetic airing of greicances delivered through abrupt, snarling tones and intense intros.
Very much embedded in the city, like the predecessors Girl Band and Fontaines DC, they’re another glance at the darker side of city life, something that shines in their videos as well as their tone. I caught up with them following the release of new single ‘Nothing More’.
Hi folks, congrats on the new single – can you tell me a little bit of the story behind it?
Paul – We wrote ‘Nothing More’ at the start of the lockdown in March. We usually write together in our rehearsal room so it was a new experience for us. We didn’t see each other in person for nearly two months but were constantly sending voice recordings and ideas over and back to each other on Whatsapp.
It was a bit of a mad way to bring the song together and it was definitely frustrating at times, but it was extremely rewarding to watch everything fall into place as we got used to writing in that way. The lockdown put me in a really reflective and introspective headspace and I think that brought out the existential side to the lyrics as well. We probably would never have written a song like that if we hadn’t been put into lockdown, so it’s nice to have something to show for that period and to look back on it.
I assume the track predates the whole 2020 shitshow, but it does seem oddly appropriate. There’s a real ‘lostness’ to the music – is an outlet for that side of things for you?
Paul: We definitely try to channel our surroundings into our songwriting. Writing this song was the only real focus the four of us had for the first few weeks of lockdown, and I think the tune was an outlet for the frustration, stress and apathy we were feeling at that time.
Those emotions can be felt in the music and the lyrics of the song. For me, lyric writing is a way to break down and express how I’m feeling so that I can manage it. The lyrics and music of this tune are emotionally woven together. I think it’s an expression of how the four of us were feeling when we wrote it.
Have you managed to function as a band since March, with everything that’s going on?
Paul – The last few months have been fairly chaotic. We had studio time and plenty of gigs canceled overnight. It was obviously frustrating but COVID has impacted everyone and some are much worse off than us. We’ve tried to stay positive and focus on writing to keep ourselves busy over the last few months.
In a way, it’s been nice to have a bit more time to dedicate to working on new tunes. We played a recorded gig in Central Arts Waterford for the Artbeat – Summer in the City festival a few weeks ago which was great craic. It was really nice to get back playing live again and hopefully we’ll be able to get a few more gigs in over the next few months.
Speaking hypothetically (for now, at least), how do you see the band being as a live act once you can go back to it?
Len: Playing live is one of our favourite things about being in a band. Once we can get back to it, we are going to return to our live-playing form. Not being able to play live gigs has made us extremely eager to get back at it. We have taken this time to practice as much as possible and focus on tightening our set. With the inclusion of the new songs, we expect to give even more impressive live performances than ever before. We can’t wait to share our music with live crowds again.
Can you tell me a bit about how the band came together and your musical backgrounds?
Bren: Paul and Len met when they first went to college where they started jamming together. I went to school at Newpark where I had always played in bands and had spent a fair few years taking lessons in the jazz centre with Kevin Brady.
Learning how to play jazz and other types of world music there, as well as rock, I think helped me view drums through a more creative and melodic lens. I auditioned for a bunch of new bands when I went to college before meeting Paul and Len. We got on really well and became great friends.
For years, we jammed around in rehearsal rooms drinking cans before we started taking things more seriously. We decided to record a couple of demos in our friend Dashiel’s basement which got some good reception. This got us excited to keep going. We needed a new bass player around then so I asked Rob to join the band. We really clicked musically as a four-piece and have been gigging and recording regularly since.
The video seems to be a glance at Dublin outside of what tourists would see. How do you relate to the city?
Bren: The video was a really fun project to work on. My brother Rob Clarke directed it and it was produced by my housemate Conor McLaughlin. It was shot over three days around the Rialto area where I live which was really nice.
We didn’t want to use the same Dublin landmarks and streets you see all the time so shooting mostly locally was something important for us. I think this allowed for an interesting perspective on the city. It was great craic driving around and trying not to crash in the 1979 Audi we rented for the shoot.
We all love Dublin and are extremely buzzed to be part of a community here with such a strong music scene. I think being based here has definitely influenced our writing and sound in a big way through meeting bands and going to gigs.
You’re following in the footsteps of a huge post-punk revival here, with the likes of Fontaines and Girl Band really flying. What do you think it is about the city that’s propelling this stuff at the moment?
Rob: The live music scene here has a really great sense of community about it, and many bands are very supportive of one another for gigs. I think you see a lot of overlap of fans between bands here as a result of this which allows the scene to grow very organically.
In terms of the revival of the genre, I think that Girl Band have been a huge influence for many of these bands in Ireland like Fontaines D.C., The Murder Captial, and Just Mustard. Due to their success, I think people have taken a new interest in guitar bands from here, and they have also shown that bands from Ireland are definitely worth paying attention to.
How far off it an album or EP at this point?
Rob: I would say we would be thinking to release an EP sometime early next year with the material we have released already alongside a lot of new material we are working on at the moment.
Later into the year we will be thinking about a more long format release like an album. Of course there are lots of logistics that tie into this like gigging/touring, which is a bit uncertain at the moment due to the pandemic.
What are your hopes for the future?
Len: We will be releasing a follow-up single to ‘Nothing More’ in November which we’re really excited about. Once things ease off a bit we are looking to get back into gigging as soon as possible. We have loved every single gig we have played in Dublin and we are very eager to get to play some more gigs further afield. We hope to travel to the UK and play some gigs over there coming off the back of the success of our next two singles. In the short-term, the plan is to continue writing and add to our catalogue of songs to be proud of.
Check out TV People here.