Sounds Of System Breakdown


Sounds Of System Breakdown: “sometimes the songwriting is a bit of a blur”

In their early days, Sounds Of System Breakdown were a fiercely ‘Dublin’ band. Their music, a style of live dance heavily dosed in party-loving lyrics, was crammed with city references and delivered a boisterous style designed to be performed in front of an audience. And then time passed. Two of the three members relocated to London, and the third to a new life on a houseboat in Kildare.

Things paused for a while – or at least significantly slowed down – before the three-piece returned this month with ‘Desperate Creatures’. “2013 was our last album, though we’ve done an EP and remixes, but this is the first body of work since then,” frontman Rob Costello says.

“I guess we were trying to remember what, exactly, we were doing,” he continues. “It felt like the second album was a move on from the first one, and after that, there seemed to be a number of different threads, musically. It took me a long time to figure out which of those threads was SOSB, and take it further. That’s accelerated in the last couple of years, and the current album is a representation of what the band is to me. It feels good to be at that point.”

“The previous EP captured a moment for me. I was quite central in London, in Paddington, doing this guardianship thing where I lived in this big office, a huge space in the City of London college with a lot of people around. It was this weird, not very domestic situation, and I felt like that bled into the EP quite a bit.”

“This new album, I kind of feel like, is influenced by the big old melting pot that is Catford, where I live now. My studio is right in the centre, so I hear a lot of goings on out of the window. Of course, there’s also my personal growth, self reflection – this album has a lot of that kind of thing in it.”

Sounds Of System Breakdown: “The events of the past few weeks have reinvigorated the case for protest music”

Sounds Of System Breakdown‘s self-titled debut album, released in 2010, is one of the sounds of my early years in Dublin. Encapsulating the gritty urban-ness of the less-touristy aspects of the city, it was a shining electro-pop record riddled with enthralling beats and whip-smart lyrics.

They’ve been relatively quiet in recent years, being spread as they are between a houseboat outside Dublin and a new home in London, but recently returned with new single ‘Connect With Me’.

How much do I personally rate this band? They were my wedding band, playing exclusively their own material. Here’s what they had to say around the launch of the new single.

Welcome back, lads! It’s been quite a while. How does it feel to be working together again?

I guess we never really stopped, we just had to slow down a bit as other life events took precedence. It’s great to have three pairs of eyes and ears on everything again. Honestly, there’s a great feeling of focus now – I think a bit of distance from the last few records has given us a better understanding of our sound.

It must be quite difficult given your disparate living situations. How do songs like the new single come together in practice?

It was kind of iterative. I’d usually demo something, then Ed would do a rough drum take, Richy would try some vocals on top. Then after a few listens we’d chat about what worked and what didn’t. We avoided preciousness wherever we could so you’ll hear a lot of the demo stuff in there, mixed with better quality recordings. It was about keeping whichever take had the best energy.

Can you tell me a bit about the story behind the single?

It came from the bass line – everything else came from that in a really instinctive way. The lyrics are supposed to be little snapshots of memories all jumbled up together. The words feel secondary to how the meter and sounds elaborate on the rhythm section.