Just Mustard


Just Mustard: “We’re happy to get any kind of reference to Portishead”

Moody, captivating and with a hint of the 90s Bristol scene that launched the likes of Massive Attack and Portishead upon the world, Dundalk mood-rockers Just Mustard are widely regarded as one of Ireland’s most compelling recent exports. Fronted by Katie Bell, an intriguing lyricist with a tendency to create records with thinly veiled and entrancing themes, the band recently announced a remarkable South American stadium support slot with The Cure.

Having edged from a local scene centred around Dundalk’s Spirit Store to that international acclaim and no little hype, the band are riding the crest of a wave. Guitarist David Noonan took time out of their busy schedule to tell us that the journey has been somewhat “surreal”.

“The call kind of came bit by bit, one show first and then more, which made it more exciting,” Noonan says of the South American shows, “I can’t really wrap my head around what it’ll be like. We usually play inside in the dark, so outside on a big stage in the sun is a bit different.”

“I get the Bristol sound comparison,” Noonan says. “We’re all really into Portishead, especially the first album, and I suppose a lot of the music we’re influenced by is in a similar vein. We’re happy to get any kind of reference to Portishead,” he laughs.

“Our progress has felt like a slow thing, the big shows are rare. I feel like our band exists in very much a ‘dark, smaller venue’ type of place, and we’ve done a lot of support tours in the last year or so. It’s hard to get a gauge on what we’re doing and where we’re at.”

“We properly started in around 2017, and I suppose because of Covid it doesn’t feel like we’ve been around that long. We toured the first album and then stopped for two years, so it’s been a weird road. The first album was recorded in our practise space, with the vocals done in different rooms of the house, bedrooms, bathrooms and so on. It was all like that apart from the drums. A lot of the acoustic stuff was done to place the album in a certain sound, but we’re a lot more direct live.”

The first two albums, for reasons that are difficult to put a finger on, are often associated with colours. “We felt the first album was red, and the second blue and connected to water, and I can’t really explain why that is,” Noonan says. “We’re working on new material now, but it doesn’t really have a colour or a theme that’s apparent to us just yet. I guess Katie’s lyrics are a big part of that.”

The strength of their massive second album ‘Heart Under’ is, perhaps, partly the product of being granted the kind of time that is usually difficult for a hyped band arriving on a major indie label, in their case by the pandemic.

“Covid had its positives for us as a band. Obviously talking creatively only, but it was our first record with Partisan, our first time working with a label on that scale,” Noonan explains. “For the first one, we had finished the record beforehand. It was quite a creative space, but also an uninspiring time. Speaking for myself, I get a lot of inspiration from going to see music live. I’m excited by that. So it was a weird thing to miss, not being able to play gigs or see gigs.”

“It was like coming up with things in a vacuum for ‘Heart Under’, and maybe that’s why we made the album we made. We were locked away for a long time, and put the songs together 5 or 6 days a week over July and August, not knowing when we’d be able to meet or record again.”

“We’re back writing music now, as much as we can. We’ll use the summer to get another album together, but it hasn’t fully taken form just yet. It’s nice to be able to work on that at soundchecks, something we haven’t had for a few years.”