Swear I'm not Paul: Interview: Codes

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Interview: Codes

I got the chance to talk to Daragh Anderson, the singer and frontman for upcoming Irish band CODES. They've had a hugely succesful year, so Daragh took some time out of his busy schedule to talk about signing to a major label, supporting Keane, the power of reviews, and how their shows cause riots (kinda). Oh, and he also spoke about his work with the Sligo tourist board (not really), and how upset he was that Olly didn't win the X Factor last night (definitely not).

Firstly, thanks for giving me the time for this interview. You've probably been busy promoting the album for the past few months, has it taken over your life?
No problem sir, yes I guess it really has properly now. Not that that's a bad thing!

Ah that's good. So then what is the worst thing about being in a succesful band?
I suppose all the crap food you get accustomed to when your usual ports of call are garages and rest stops at 3am. That and sleeping in a van. Doesn't do wonders for your well being, especially for prolonged periods, but it's all part and parcel until we can afford nutritoinists and Beyoncé's tour bus! *laughs*

The really great music requires a lot of suffering! You play a lot of live dates, have you any weird or interesting stories?
You know, we probably have a story from everywhere we've played so far, all the nooks of Ireland have thir own little bit of character. For me it's gotta be playing in Ray's hometown of Ballymote in Sligo.
The venue was way over capacity, all hell just broke loose really, people were invading the stage and breaking glasses over each other's heads. There was one poor bouncer tring to get people in order, it was a right riot. I don't think we were meant to be on the recieving end but Paul did get a punch in the face accidentally...and that was just the women!

Nice. You must have some hardcore fans! Has anyone asked you to sign a body part yet or has fame intruded into your life at all?
Nah, I'm not going to pretend it's like that for us. Usually just people politely approaching us. After shows we try to get out and say hello as much as we can. I've signed someones face though, in permanent marker. I bet the next day they were like "who ?"!

You must feel you've come up in the world since signing with EMI. How did that come about?
It's nice to have to opportunity, yeah. Well we started working on the record around November last year on our own budget, with a view to pitching the finished work to a label of some kind. So, we put our eggs in the one basket so to speak. We couldn't afford to do anything really after spending all our savings on the record. It was risky, but we believed in it so much and had put every effort into the musicianship and organising it so we could get it recorded the way we wanted as quickly as possible. Luckily for us we had a few offers in the new year and we went with the EMI deal because they seemed to "get" the record a lot better than some other labels, as well as not wanting to change any of the work we did, which is utterly flattering and affirming I guess.

Yeah, a lot of artists suffer from too much label involvement, you were one of the lucky ones. But then again, the album is so good, why would you want to change it? Or is there anything on it you wish you'd done differently?
There are always parts I suppose, you wish you'd done one or two little things differently, but that's the beauty of capturing a moment in time, be it a photograph or a recording. It's never perfect, sometimes the discrepancies are what make it beautiful. Our producer, Greg, kept reminding us that in the studio. We're keen perfectionists, but sometimes that can just seem too laboured and un-human, he taught us to just play and let him do the worrying!

Greg produced the Manics before, and you've supported Keane. Is there anyone you'd love to work with or tour with?
I'd love to tour with NIN, just to see how all that works, the stage set up, the interactivity. I know U2's stage is visually amazing but I don't think anyone else is doing what NIN are live.

So what was it like to support Keane?
Again, it's one of those landmark moments of the past year. When you're part of the production line at a show like that, you see how all the hard work can pay off. You know: 90 crew, 3 articulated trucks worth of gear, nutritionists, Beyoncé's tourbus etc. It's a great learning process no matter what. They were really nice lads too,treated us really well.

Excellent. Speaking of huge productions: what do you think of X Factor and shows like that? Admit it, you watched it, didn't you?
Not one second of it! I'm slightly proud not to be sucked in but I guess it's not really having the time. I have 2 seasons of The Wire to watch on DVD you see. Oh yeah and being in a band. That too!
It's funny to me though, I find that people watch it more for the failures and the car-crash value than for any real musical merit. It showcases the worst sides of people really. Their desire for instant acclaim at any cost, and their lack of shame. At the end they're just marionettes in a big ridiculous pantomime.

Last year's Norn Ire contestant Eoghan's album was called "the worst ever" by critics. Do you pay much heed to album reviews? Your own got some damn good ones (myself included).
I'd like to say no. But I think I do. The other lads not so much, they're always reassuring me and telling me not to take heed but I have let bad reviews get to me in the past. We have gotten some really great ones for this record, and I'm glad because we're all so proud of it, but it's funny how with maybe 50 good reviews I always manage to dwell on the few bad ones.
Being in a band sometimes feels like you're on the defensive, because you put so much of yourself into it and you wait for the critical onslaught to hit. It's a good thing I have the other 3 guys to give me that reassurance sometimes.

That's true, but it also means you'll be working doubly hard for the second album. Should we be expecting that any time soon? Or do you have any plans for it at all?
Our plans are to get TreesDream released in as many territories as possible before we star working on the next album. I've got maybe six or seven new tracks that are contenders, and some pretty good ideas about where we want to go with it, but we're sort of sidelining those at the minute to focus on playing live and getting as many people to hear the current one. People can expect less guitars!

Next stop America?
UK tour in Feburary. We'll see where that takes us!

Excellent. You have some Irish dates this weekend, including one in Dublin on Monday. Tell us about that? (Encourage us to go!)
We carry on the tour this week with Dundalk on Thurdsday in the Spirit Store which is a lovely intimate venue only an hour's drive from Dublin.
We play Sligo on Friday Night in The Clarence. Bound to be a packed out night so get some tickets early. Sligo tourist board had this to say "Remember when the beaches went on forever, when the sea glinted in the sun, when you could smell the green of the woodland after rain, well that’s Sligo" sounds good!
We then head offshore to Shirken Island (Off the coast of West cork) In what promises to be one of the most memorable shows this century. See shirkenisland.eu for boat times, we play The Jolly Roger pub at 8pm, it's going to be a pretty crazy night. Not one for the sea-sick!
And on Monday we headline The Button Factory with special guest Gemma Hayes in aid of the Dublin Simon Community, which is a really great cause, and of course more pertinent at this time of year and in this climate with homelessness on the rise see www.dublinsimon.com for info on the great work those guys are doing.

Last but definitely not least, what is your favourit album of the decade? And favourite Irish album of the 00s?
Wow, a lofty question. Kid A - Radiohead (2000), and Irish... Adebisi Shank - self-titled (2008).

Upcoming gigs:
Thursday, 17 Dec: The Spirit Store, Dundalk
Friday, 18 Dec: The Clarence, Sligo
Saturday, 19 Dec: Shirken Island, Cork
Monday, 21 Dec: The Button Fatory, Dublin with Gemma Hayes

Watch a acoustic version of 'Starry Eyed', one of my favourite songs of the year:

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