With two drum kits and three guitars, Thumper really do live up to their name, writes Ellie O’Byrne.
Two drum kits? Three guitars? Thumper frontman Oisín Leahy Furlong tells Ellie O’Byrne about forming the band that comes with in-built thump.
Rare as it is to see in a band line-up, there’s nothing like the thump of two talented kit drummers playing together.
Add to that the jet-engine sonic lift of three guitars and a bass, and high-energy songs drawing on everything from psych to post-punk to bubblegum pop, and there’s no doubt that Dublin sextet Thumper are aptly named.
Born from a solo project, they’ve been revving their engines since their first appearances as a band in 2016 and now, it seems, they’re ready for take-off.
It’s been a busy summer, out cementing their reputation as a live act with blistering energy levels at Irish and UK festivals. Now, there’s a forthcoming UK tour and they’re midway through recording their debut album.
“Yep, we’re in sight of the finish line,” their moustachioed founder and frontman, Oisín Leahy Furlong, says of the recording process.
“I don’t want to give too much away, but we have lots of material ready to rock.”
Furlong started recording as Thumper while studying music at BIMM Music College in Dublin.
“The first three EPs, I recorded all the instruments and did the artwork; that was the buzz, and then it gradually became its own beast,” the 25-year-old says.
Furlong want’s deliberately disrupting the standard guitar-band four-piece format of drums, bass, guitar and vocals: he was just building the sound he wanted.
“Even in the very first incarnation there were two drummers; it felt necessary to make the impact I wanted. And once you go with two drummers you’re not going back: it just feels really good.”
He says the current line-up features other musicians that, like him, are not afraid to rock out, even when there’s an element of danger involved: stage-dives, smashed guitars, and, most recently, one guitarist climbing onto the roof of the Body & Soul stage at their Electric Picnic gig, to the delight of the crowd.
“Yeah, that was Alan, on the roof,” Furlong laughs.
“We don’t really discuss that shit before we do it; the songs are the important thing, and the live show just kind of happens. Guitars get smashed and stuff, but that element isn’t pre-planned.”
As a kid, it was art that first drew Furlong. At the tender age of eleven, he published a comic book called Super Brian and his Electric Head; it was sold in chemists all over Ireland, with proceeds to the Meningitis Research Foundation, and came with an endorsement by Roddy Doyle on the front cover.
“I was always drawing as a kid,” he says.
“I still have all my notebooks. Both my parents studied art and my mam is a textile artist. I was going to study art in college but decided music was my bigger passion and went down that route instead.”
Thumper are amongst a wave of BIMM graduates making exciting guitar-based music at the moment: Furlong’s classmate and friend is Murder Capital front man James McGovern from Cork, and Fontaines DC also studied at the college. Are they part of a movement?
“Ireland’s so small it’s hard to say where a scene starts and ends,” he says.
"But I don’t necessarily think we’re part of some big guitar movement: people have been playing guitar in Ireland for 150 years.”
Thumper play De Barra’s Folk Club, Clonakilty, on Friday and Saturday as part of Clonakilty Guitar Festival (Sept 16-22)