Musical Magic: the Rest of the Week

Anyone who knows me knows I love music. In fact, to say I love music is a bit like saying Paul McGrath ‘quite liked a drink or two’, or that Italian tourists are ‘a little bit loud’. I’m obsessed with music, and discovering new sounds, going to good gigs and even writing about music has become a vital part of my life. Which is why, following a fairly normal start, this week ended up being one of the best ones I’ve ever had. This post starts a little slow, but it needs the build up, bear with me! This is the less glamorous part of the week, be sure to head on over to the ‘Guinness 250’ post, too, as that was just incredible.

Now that I’m (at least trying) working full time as a writer, I must admit I’ve started to consider the benefits of writing for free (there are some, but they’re not always worth it – long overdue full post on this to follow sometime soon), but State Magazine is one of only two I’ve never considered giving up. They’re responsible for all of this past week, so thanks, boys.

I did some really massive interviews out in Korea (there are certain advantages to being the only person who both speaks English, writes decently and knows the musicians), but this week started with probably the biggest one I’ve done since (only possible exception: Von Bondies earlier this year). I started the week on the phone to Frank Turner (who my avid readers – haha – might remember me raving about in my Reading Festival post a few weeks ago), who was midway through his American tour, and chatting to me from a diner in Portland, Oregon. Funnily enough, Frank grew up just down the road from me in Winchester, and seemed quite happy to hear a familiar accent, which probably helped me grab a few decent quotes. Frank Turner fans, click here to read.

Next up were Zero 7, on Tuesday morning, who are absolute giants of their genre, though I challenge anyone to tell me definitively what that genre is (answers on the message board, please!). Sam was in the back of a taxi (these musicians must be really pressed for time!), and came across as oddly lacking in confidence. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say he thinks his band are going downhill, which is perhaps a bit unfair, but he really did sound a bit dejected, and admitted that one particular track on the new album was written pretty much for the duo to try and inspire each other. Another click through here for Zero 7 lovers.

Finally, at least in terms of interviews (if you want to see just how finally, head on over to the Guinness 250 post!), I got on the phone to Girls (who, bizarrely, are two men). Girls debut album (entitled ‘Album’… this is all a tad ridiculous, isn’t it?) isn’t even out yet, which is perhaps why they interview so incredibly well (the record company and publicists evidently haven’t got to them and filled them full of standard answers just yet). Half an hour of chatting away about growing up in a cult (the lead singer escaped at the age of 16, after being born into an international cult, after saving enough money to fly away to America), writing the debut album while utterly smashed on drugs with no intention of releasing it (and then being discovered online) and why their album has such a distinctive twang (to be fair, see last point, though it’s not the only reason. An absolutely brilliant read if I do say so myself, link to be added when it’s published.

Three great interviews, then, and time for some live stuff. As I’m the only State writer based in Galway, to an extent I have the freedom of the city when it comes to gig reviews. Depending, of course, on the venues willingness to give me a press pass and there not being an identical review happening in Dublin a day or two later. So this weekend I managed to grab Mundy for Friday, and The Blizzards (who have won major awards for their live show two years in a row) on Saturday.

Mundy on Friday was half empty (probably something to do with the entire country having a beast of a hangover after all the Guinness celebrations), but very impressive. They’re always going to go down well in Galway, in part because they do an absolutely stomping cover of Sharon Shannon’s ‘Galway Girl’ and in part because they’re incredibly charismatic and play a kind of country-tinged rock music that seems to fir in perfectly with the city. If you don’t know Mundy, head over to YouTube and stick on ‘Tenerife’, ‘July’ or ‘Mexico’. Great stuff.

Finally, Saturday was ‘The Blizzards’ day, and having won national awards in Ireland for their live shows for the last two years, expectations were high. Rightly so, it turns out, I’ve rarely seen a more entertaining live show. They bought their tour manager out to sing vocals on two tracks to sing ‘wedding singer’ style covers of stuff like ‘The Power of Love’ (they actually are preparing for some of the band’s relatives weddings apparently, and this is a hilarious way to do it), and despite claiming to be completely exhausted, still gave a lively performance. They won me over, anyway.

In between all of this I’ve had to produce all the articles that actually pay, but I’ve absolutely loved it.

Next week definitely needs to be a quiet one!

J x

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