Every Monday we will be bringing you an unsigned singer or band as part of our Independent Music Monday feature. This week, we caught up with Craig from Red Empire find out more about them…
Who is in the band, how did you meet, where are you from and how did you come up with the band name?
Richie, Gar, Deco and myself are from Dublin and Damo is from Athlone. The band is like two halves that found each other through a mutual friend (Joe Jewell, the guitarist and songwriter from Aslan). Richie and Deco are brothers so they obviously know each other inside out and Gar and me have played and written together since we were 15 so we might as well be brothers at this stage! Damo joined the band about three years ago and fitted right in straight away. We’re a bit of a motley crew of musicians from all different backgrounds and influences but we love playing and writing together and above all else, we respect each other and what we each bring to the table. The name kind of mirrors how the band came about. I wanted to name the band after the film Red Road and Gar wanted to name the band after the song Fake Empire and Deco suggested combining the two so it was all very diplomatic!
Who were your musical influences when you were growing up and who are your influences now?
When I was growing up my da had me on three square meals of music. It was Queen for breakfast, The Beatles for dinner and The Rolling Stones for tea. I count myself very lucky to have been exposed to such great song-writing at such a young age. I have a particular memory that any time I was sick from school I would watch all of the Beatles films; A Hard Day’s Night, Help, Magical Mystery Tour and Yellow Submarine all in a row. It was a beautiful way to be introduced to the idea of that level of song-writing. Nowadays, I listen to a bit of everything. I’m a massive Deftones fan and it’s still a real event for me when they release an album. It’s the same for Morrissey, although with Moz I’m an unashamed fanatic. There are so many pillars of influence that I could mention, I mean, the new Randy Newman album is unbelievable and the last Nick Cave album was gut-wrenchingly beautiful but as far as newer artists are concerned I’m really enjoying Aldous Harding at the moment and the new Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes albums are ridiculously good too.
How would you describe your sound?
Lessons learned over music earned.
What is your latest single called and what was the influence behind it?
Our latest single is called “LAND OF IRE” and it has been a long time in the making. LAND OF IRE is about the cultural upheaval that took place in Ireland in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, and the way those changes are still playing out today. The song references the catalogue of abuses perpetrated within the church and pays tribute to those who suffered and were instrumental in exposing what occurred. It’s about the country that I grew up in, how quickly it changed and how it's continuing to change.
What’s your local music scene like?
Dublin is a weird place for independent artists. There are lots of supports in place and plenty of stellar individuals doing amazing work in showcasing independent talent but there is also a cliquishness too which has no place in any art. There will always be dividing lines and snobbery from some people but we, as a band, just don’t get involved with that shit any more. For us, if you’re listening to music for other reasons than to appreciate and feel an idea or experience then there’s something wrong.
What do you have planned for the next 12 months?
We’re just gonna keep making good shit. We’re playing the main catwalk at the Dublin Fashion Festival this Friday night so that’s going to be an interesting one. Then the following morning we’re back in the recording studio to record our next single which we hope to have out by November. It’s going to be a very interesting one and something that we’ve wanted to do for a long time. I don't want to give too much away yet but I think its going to surprise people.
Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
We’re currently recording a different song at the moment that has a very interesting orchestral arrangement so we’re looking at various orchestras. But if we’re talking about dream scenario collaborations I’d love to sing something with Sinead O’Connor. She’s an absolute hero of mine. I know she has had a very tough time of it lately but hopefully she’ll back singing, writing and performing soon. Her voice is truly astounding and listening to something like "Troy" never fails to make me feel something strongly.
Any funny stories surrounding your live performances?
We made a band rule never to eat burritos before a performance because the stage is almost inhospitable come mid-set. I’ll let you guess the reason why. Richie has created a rule for himself where he is not allowed to look anyone in the eye while on stage because he's had several complaints of “scaring people” (Richie has a 100 yard stare that would stick you to the floor). And during a particular acoustic live performance Deco hit his cajon so hard that he broke the cajon and his hand was twice the size that it should have been. He looked like he had one of those joke-hands from the Everlong video.
What is the one thing that you want readers to know about your band?
We’re doing this because of who we are not because of stuff we want.