Tiny Magnetic Pets started out the wrong band in the wrong place.
The synth pop trio offer a compelling line in Teutonic aloofness. But their roots are in Ireland — where electronic music is still regarded with a degree of suspicion. Why aren’t they bashing guitars and singing their misunderstood hearts out?
“People hear synths and start making assumptions straight away,” says the group’s Sean Quinn. “That it’s dance music or something related to that. The truth is that music is music.”
Happily, overseas audiences are more open-minded and Tiny Magnetic Pets have won an enthusiastic international fanbase. They’ve been feted in Germany and have a loyal following in Britain. Now, they’re set to embark on one of their highest profile tours yet, supporting Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark in the UK (there is a Dublin date too).
“These are venues in the 3,000 - 4,000 range,” nods singer Paula Gilmer. “So… no pressure.”
Tiny Magnetic Pets came to the attention of OMD’s Andy McCluskey while performing in Dusseldorf. The city is ground zero for electro pop as the home of innovators Kraftwerk. McCluskey was smitten by the Dubliners’ mix of catchy songwriting and Mitteleuropa hauteur. He needed to hear more.
“He was really into what we were doing,” says Gilmer. “He emailed to say he loved our stuff. Then we were offered their UK tour.”
In a happy coincidence Tiny Magnetic Pets have a new album to promote. Arriving eight years after a well received debut, Return of the Tiny Magnetic Pets, the new LP, Deluxe.Debris is a vintage pop tour de force. It also comes with the ultimate seal of credibility — a brace of collaborations with former Kraftwerk member Wolfgang Flür.
The opportunity to work with a member of the group was dream brought to life, says Gilmer.
“Wolfgang was playing a gig in Ireland and we were asked to support,” she explains. “He was essentially being mauled by fans — so we held back and just said a polite hello. Then, we got to know him better. He’s a really interesting guy — and he appreciates our sense of humour.”
Flür didn’t phone in his parts. The songs on which he appears are fully fledged collaborations, to which he contributes lyrics and music.
“What was brilliant was the insight into how Kraftwerk functioned,” says Gilmer. “He’s incredibly eloquent and his lyrics are these self contained stories. We didn’t want to work with him just because we were a member of Kraftwerk.”
The near-decade gap between albums can be explained by the fact Tiny Magnetic Pets assembled an unreleased double LP in the interim. That record needs to be put out in the right context and with the correct industry support behind it, the group believe.
So they shelved it for now and cooked up the catchier, more pop influenced Deluxe.Debris.
Though an unknown quantity in Ireland, Tiny Magnetic Pets’ popularity on the Continent is such that, for the OMD tour, fans will be flying in to cheer them on.
“There are quite a number coming over from Germany to see us,” says Quinn. “For a synth pop band from Ireland to be popular in Germany is like sending coal to Newcastle. But we get a lot of support there and in the UK. In Ireland you are up against singer songwriters.”
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