Every Monday we will be bringing you interviews with unsigned UK or Ireland artists for Independent Music Monday. Recently we caught up with Joel from unsigned Belfast band Gin Palace to find out more...
Who is in the band, how did you meet, where are you from and how did you come up with the band name?
The line-up currently is me (Joel McCracken) and I play guitar, brass and sing alongside Daniel Donaghy on lead guitar, Josh Lown on drums, and Darren Mercer on bass guitar. We are an indie band from Belfast, Northern Ireland.
As for the name, it came from when I was with my brother at an exhibit about The Troubles at the Ulster Museum. There was a really cool photo of a booth in a bar with the words Gin Palace written on the glass above the booth, I pointed at the photo and said that it’d make a great band name and wrote it down. I’d never really heard the term before then and did a bit of research about it when I got home, it’s interesting if you ever get a chance to look it up. I later found out the photo was actually from Lavery’s, an infamous bar in Belfast that’s just up the road from where I live. I really think the term suits our sound really well too, there’s something pretty eclectic about it all!
Who were your musical influences when you were growing up and who are your influences now?
For me, when I was growing up I mainly listened to a lot of 60s pop and rock music, the usual suspects like The Beatles, Kinks, Led Zepp, Dylan. As I’ve got older I’ve definitely expanded my horizons into much funkier stuff. My current favourite band and biggest influence at the minute is a Thai funk-inspired Texan band called Khruangbin. The biggest influence to our sound as a collective would likely have to be Vulfpeck and Steely Dan, we don’t sound too much like either of them but I feel like we’ve definitely got their grooves in there somewhere.
How would you describe your sound?
It definitely falls into the blanket category of indie music, but personally I think there’s a lot more to it than just plain, old indie music. There’s absolutely a real funky element, with a lot of groove or sway coming through in the rhythm section. To sum it all up, I’d say we make indie music that’s heavily inspired by funk and jazz, kind of like a musical melting pot of sorts.
What is your latest release called and what was the influence behind it?
Our latest release is our debut EP which came out a few weeks ago (July 3rd) which we called ‘Gin Palace’ as we all think that the songs on this release really reflect the fact that we are really beginning to nail our sound. What better way to let everybody know who we really are and what we truly sound like than to call our first EP the very name of our band?
What’s your local music scene like?
The local scene on Belfast is generally great, there’s a lot of awesome stuff going on in the city and it’s really nice to be a part of it all. Whilst our local scene is mainly metal or electronic-orientated, I feel like we’ve definitely made great progress at establishing ourselves in spite of that. We’re very different in style to a lot of the stuff on the scene at the minute but we’re definitely not letting that get in the way. The people really seem to be digging it so we can’t complain.
What do you have planned for the next 12 months? Any albums or festivals?
As we’ve only been a band for under a year I would say that it’s doubtful that we’ll have any big festival slots or album plans coming any time soon, although that’s not to say that if this sort of thing came into the equation that it’s an absolute no-go. For now, we’re going to stay grounded about the future and just keep doing what we’re doing. I think the next year is going to be focused on writing, gigging throughout Ireland, and trying to establish ourselves properly here before we start putting together any big, big plans. We are all really looking forward to taking a bit of time to ourselves and writing, there’s a lot of cool stuff in the works that we want to finish.
Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
It would be an absolute dream to work with the likes of Kevin Parker or Mark Ronson. They are the best of the best when it comes to production at the moment if you ask me, particularly in terms of the kind of sounds we make. I can only imagine the trip-fest of an album that we’d make with Kevin taking the reigns, if we had Mark it’d definitely have to be an absolute funk-fest.
What is the one thing that you want readers to know about you?
Our debut self-titled EP is out now on Spotify and all other major streaming services, it’d really mean a lot if you checked it out at the link below, you never know, you’ll probably end up loving it!