Dublin rockers Three Underneath have been one of those slow-building bands, a set up that have taken six years to get a debut album, preferring to make their noise live instead.
It’s paid off, too, with their ambitious self-titled debut album launched recently to ample comparison to the Foo Fighters, and a digital version (click the name above) available with a full digital ‘festival’ on their website. I spoke to them about it all just as the album came out…
First of all, talk me through the debut – a long time coming, what can we expect?
Yes, a long time coming! But this is our calling card. Our real debut! There’s 11 tracks total. A couple are written upon early demos, but most of the album was written last year. We were delighted to get to work with Aidan Cunningham [Overhead, The Albatross and The Scratch] because he has a really unique, analogue sound. A lot of the album was recorded at my home studio which is all digital, so him mixing the vocals and then mastering the whole thing made everything beautifully balanced out. Legend!
What will you consider a success for the record?
We’re giving the album away for free! The digital version anyway. Not “pay what you like” either, completely free. We’re pressing 1000 copies of the physical album, in high quality print, limited edition. I have no doubt these will sell out, but a true success will be hearing the songs sung back at our live shows. The album inlay has gorgeous artwork and all the lyrics printed. The record is the homework! Get learning…
Let’s allow for short attention spans… if listeners are going to check out one of your tracks, what should they listen to?
My personal favourite is ‘You’ve Been Had’, the intro track on the record. For our YouTube fans, that’s the “Bank Robbery” video. But I’ve been told by many that ‘All You Can Do’ is the catchiest. That was a really early demo that we then worked on again last year.
It’s been a long time since you’ve played live as you’ve been focused on the album. How do you feel about a return?
We are absolutely thrilled to be playing live again!! We just got the TiLT development deal this year with Sound Training Centre and John Barker 98fm, so we’ve already been working on our live set at the Button Factory.
Were there any positive sides to covid for the band?
I don’t know about positive, but we definitely managed to work through it. I did all my vocals in my home studio during lockdown. I’m a professional singer, so finding the opportunity to sing my heart out without having to worry about my voice being wrecked for the following weekend — that was great!
When things started opening back up, but live shows were still way off in the distance, we bought a cinema camera and started making the music videos. It was tricky with all the guidelines and more costly than it would be normally, but we’re delighted with the results now!
We were delighted to be chosen for pandemic funding in 2020 to release the album and are grateful to the Irish Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media for supporting the release.
You’ve talked about surprises around the album build up. Give us a few clues…
The album is being launched via our virtual festival ‘ThreeUnderneathApalooza”.
You sign up for the free album and VIP pass and each day we email you some goodies and open a new festival area. The surprises are awesome – it’s really interactive.
We’ve been a band for a long time so there’s a LOT of content. I surprised myself with how much of a digital hoarder I am!
How have you found the Dublin rock scene in recent years – it seems to be hugely on the up…
We’ve always just done our own thing. Dublin goes through these waves, where everyone’s crazy into one genre. Some of our favourite Dublin bands have unfortunately broken up! Bitch Falcon are still rocking though, their new album is awesome and we’re absolutely dying to see what Fangclub have coming next!
Talk me through some of your favourite lyrics and why you wrote them…
A lot of my lyrics are sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek or at the very least, cynical.
I really enjoy listening back to ‘Stand Before The Fire’ because the lyrics always make me laugh. It’s a weird take on all the things that could be perceived as ‘masculine’. I had just seen something online like ‘ten things to teach your son’ and had just finished the book “First Man In” by Ant Middleton. And in the context of life, between pop culture references, invasive marketing and even Bible stories, I thought “wow, what a strange hodgepodge of ideas”.
You’ve had a fair bit of radio coverage in recent months. How much difference do you find that stuff makes?
It’s been a massive boost! When we heard Cormac Battle was playing our song on 2FM we were over the moon. His band were such a huge influence on us. We also had a play on Gemma Bradley BBC Radio Ulster which is insane! Plenty of new fans are hearing us on the radio and messaging us. It’s been really great!
You dabbled in Irish language stuff a while back. Is that something you’ll continue with?
That was a fantastic time! I still know all of the lyrics in Irish. I remember we promised a crowd at Electric Picnic Puball Gaeilge that we’d release the Irish language version of ‘All You Can Do’ at some point, and I think that’ll have to happen next year. We’ll be recording in Sun Studios a lot in the coming months and it’s something we’d love to do — we’ll make it happen!
What are your hopes for the future?
Well, we’ve done quite a lot for an independent, unsigned and self-managed band, but one thing we still haven’t done is tour outside Ireland! We’ve been putting that ambition into our biography since forever, but it’s never happened. So if you’re reading this and you are (or know) a booking agent for UK / Europe / US / Asia — get in touch! We want to see the world!