Irish indie acts and major labels don’t always go well together - Limerick trio Bleeding Heart Pigeons can testify to that.
Their very serious indie guitar music (2013’s debut EP, In a Room in Littleton, Colorado, was a response to the Columbine massacre) drew inevitable comparisons to Radiohead and soon the labels were swirling.
They signed to Virgin Records in the mid-noughties while drummer Brendan McInerney was still in secondary school.
Their first album, Is, arrived in 2016, and the follow-up was recorded a year later - but they’ve been sitting on it since, as their relationship with Virgin fractured - they finally release Stir on their own newly created label, Hylm Records, this Friday.
“We built it up for years to release this album, Is, which we were really proud of, and very excited for people to hear.
"And it came out and it got a really great reception, but it didn't really fly very far,” says singer Micheál Keating with a reasoned hindsight.
“So after Is came out, it was kind of a hard time for us. We didn't have that feeling of exhaling from the first album.”
He’s circumspect about BHP’s major-label experience now, a couple of years removed.
“We were young and a bit naive and maybe trusting for other people to look after us and make sure that we got what we needed out of the touring and all that.“
The manufactured hype that swirled in their early days saw the youngsters - BHP are completed by Cathal Histon - being wined and dined by various cogs of the industry.
Keating explains: “I was really aware of all this kind of smoke being blown up me by by all these people.
"They'll sit down with you at dinner or whatever, and really just say ludicrous things, basically try to suggest that like, ‘Every once in a while, a deep character comes along in music and I think like you're that person,’ like telling you that you're Thom Yorke - which was really really uncomfortable for all of us I think.”
BHP have grown as people, musicians, and as a band on Stir, with synth-pop influences (they city Talk Talk and New Order) seeping into their, yes, Radiohead-tinged sound.
They’re still singing about big issues too, the album focusing thematically on the fear of losing things and “the wider scale for humans as a whole - what are we trying [to get] towards, in terms of environmental collapse”.
And they’ve been reinvigorated by the burgeoning music scenes of Limerick City, evidenced by the guest spot of the Post Punk Podge on single ‘Trapped’.
“I'm in a different place now,” admits Keating, “where I feel like I'm amongst a community of amazing Irish musicians that are able to kind of help each other out.
"And it's much easier to see how people could do stuff on their own, whereas at the time we couldn't even organize a gig for ourselves.”
He adds: “We're gone from the major label thing now, we're doing it ourselves.
"We've met lots of musicians; I think we always felt very lonely and disconnected, in terms of Irish music.
"We never met that many musicians even all the while we were on major labels, we didn't really find this community that we related to.
"And I think, in recent years, we have found that and people who are also doing it independently.
"I don't know, it's just we're in a much better place now I think.”
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