TALKING to Adam Faulkner, one quarter of Girl Band, is like getting a geography lesson.
The drummer is just back from a show in the Netherlands, talks candidly about gigs in the US, Luxembourg and Poland, is readying for an Irish tour, and then reels off numerous other stops on their upcoming schedule.
It seems everybody wants to get their hands on Girl Band, with the all male Dublin group having just released their stunning debut album, Holding Hands With Jamie, on Rough Trade on September 25.
Girl Band defy convention, from their name to their album title (Jamie is a sound engineer at Bow Lane Studios in Dublin, where they’ve recorded all their material to date), to their sound — they’ve laughed off all the genres thrown at them in recent times, like post-goth, post-punk, and neo-grunge.
In the live sphere, there’s simply no comparison to their fierce apathy, singer Dara Kiely heading a cacophony the onlooker wouldn’t think possible from drums, bass, and guitar; Daniel Fox playing his bass with a beer bottle should tell you all you need to know. The lineup is completed by guitarist Alan Duggan.
“We’ve played the continent a few times so when people turn up to the shows, there’s a handful of people there that know what to expect, a handful of people that have heard what to expect and then there’s loads of people that haven’t a clue, and then everyone kind of comes together like, ‘OK so this is actually what it is’,” explains Faulkner. “We seem to have a loyal fanbase which is nice.”
On their debut album Girl Band mostly eschew choruses, the closest they get is “I look crap with my top off”, from ‘Pears for Lunch’, which hints at the underlying problems that Kiely has had to deal with since the band started to take off a couple of years ago.
In a recent interview with NME, he explained that he went through a breakup, suffered a mental breakdown, and basically had to take a year out: “And just went through depression and thought I couldn’t write again. It took me a year to feel good within myself again. The whole album is those emotions I went through; the phases of depression and the rehabilitation.”
Faulkner says the interview was a little sensationalist, and describes the situation further: “The album wasn’t written because of his psychotic episode. Over the course of the time that the songs were written, which is about two-and-a-half years, Dara went from being kind of normal and everything going well to having essentially a bad breakup and that whole thing of that psychotic mad high and incredibly bad low that you reach when you have those swinging moments.
“He’s very open to talking about it, his lyrics do speak to that in a more personal way than you can kind of read into because they are cryptic. But we kept writing while Dara was sick… It was very much music and melody and then lyrics fitted on top.”
From a selfish point of view, was Faulkner ever worried that the band might break up? “The concern wasn’t, ‘Oh what’s going to happen to the band?’; the concern was, ‘How’s our mate doing? How can we help him?’ And it definitely brought us all together a lot more as friends.”
He adds: “It was such a big part of our lives for such a long period of time and Dara is in a comfortable enough place now where it is a thing that he reminisces about and is able to remember how he felt in those situations but look back on it and be intrigued as to why he felt things, or what was triggering those things and talk about it that way.
“While it was a mental heath issue at the time, it’s now something to come back to and you’re always learning something from it or something new about what happened that triggered this moment or that moment.”
Thankfully, however, the focus for now is very much on the music and that busy touring schedule.
Holding Hands With Jamie is out now. Girl Band play Roisin Dubh, Galway, Thursday; Dolan’s, Limerick, Friday; The Pav, Cork, Saturday; and the Button Factory, Dublin, on November 7.
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