For the blog we caught up with Greg Purcell and Feargal Corrigan, two-thirds of band Half of Me, to discuss the release of their upcoming EP and the journey that has brought three old musical friends back into the studio to record some Brooklyn tinged songs over the next year.
This triumvirate, completed by bassist and lead singer Luke Nelson, are very familiar with each other having lived in a cramped New York apartment for a year. Their close quarters familiarity has not bred any contempt, far from it. Instead they’ve put a structure on their jam sessions and are hoping to establish themselves on the Dublin music scene by releasing material that was written in Brooklyn and studio recorded back home.
The band members have gigged in Dublin before, doing so for years with previous project Killer Chloe. Half of Me has the same spine, the only member not present is ex-lead singer Peter McNamara, he’s currently drafting his first novel. The lads describe Killer Chloe as a fun musical apprenticeship – as 98% of all teenage bands tend to be. They committed themselves wholeheartedly at the time and it flourished in the competitive Battle of the Bands atmosphere that thrived on Dublin’s college music scene. They welcomed the opportunities it afforded them: to play in venues like Crawdaddy’s and Whelan’s in front of friends and family – all fond memories, for which they’re grateful, but they are quick to point out that they’re not trying to emulate that.
“We gigged a lot with Killer Chloe but we only released the EP right at the end. We had this material recorded but we’d already decided to end the band, it’d run its course but we released the tracks anyway and I guess they were sort of a goodbye, a ‘this was us’ kind’ve thing. Half of Me is different, at least we hope it is. We want to make music and have the gigs follow on from the recorded material.”
With Killer Chloe they realised their limits, creatively that project stalled and the group parted ways.
During the break, which lasted two years, the band members became more self assured in their own musical abilities. Guitarist Fearg completed his studies in music technology, while the others finished their respective degrees and day jobbed.
“We all went off separately after Chloe and did our own thing. As a result we grew up a little both musically and as individuals, I don’t mean to sound like a dick-head by saying this but what it translated into is individual self confidence and we hope that comes through in the music.” Greg echoes that sentiment, “As a young band you feel compelled to play all the time, it comes from an insecurity, a “do I deserve to be here feeling”, so to justify your being there you tend to over play. As a teenager you felt left out if you weren’t bashing your instrument all the time. Now we’re more comfortable stepping back and just concentrating on the song as a whole and playing when we’re needed. What the two year break taught me the most was when to play and when not to. We learned the importance of lulls in allowing the tension to build. Like in theatre, the silences and gaps are very important for a listener connecting to a piece. That’s the same for a song. Letting it breath and develop at it’s own pace is so important. That’s difficult to understand when you’re young.”
Sticks and strings were never out of hand during the hiatus and soon they became restless without the band dynamic. They found themselves all heading to New York together and they slipped back into the familiar routine of practicing. They had a different mentality after the break, “whereas before we were very much a garage rock band wanting to just play together. That was the only goal. Now we’re interested in constructing songs and seeing if we can make a record.” Luke Nelson took over lead vocals but the others are comfortable on the mic as well.
The band have about 12 songs that they are working on. I asked why they choose to avoid the album format if that’s the case? “We see releasing an EP as a better choice for us. There’s a danger with releasing a full length album that it’s just lost to the ether, just thrown out there and forgotten. With an EP we can create some momentum and as a band with new material that’s what we need. Bringing out an EP and getting straight back into the studio and recording more songs is ideal. It keeps us busy and sharp. I mean if you build towards an album release it’s a huge culmination and it’s hard to pick yourself up after that, you’re drained. Also we’re learning and picking up a great deal and we’re just really keen for our release to be the start of something and then to gig the songs and see where it goes from there. We want to leave some in reserve. I mean we have a few songs that are more ready than others and that’s really the only criteria for being on one EP over the next.”
88 Cornelia street is the Brooklyn address where everything was written, it’s also a song title in this numeric heavy release. Today’s music scene is a numbers game, but it’s about Youtube and Soundcloud hits rather than record sales – a sad fact with record store day tomorrow. “It’s a constant live show with the way a band interacts with it’s audience and you’re not limited in how you reach that audience, that’s something we’re keen to take advantage of – the different platforms for getting your stuff out there. With this EP, it’s our tentative reintroduction. We’re just looking to reach an audience that wants to hear us and cultivate that audience by giving them a number of songs over a few EPs. We’ve an album worth of stuff that we’re in the process of figuring out and releasing”. Half of Me are hoping to generate some noise over the next year and it starts with the 99 EP.
House keeping: This music video is the first release from Half of Me, their 99 EP will be released in full on May 22. Their launch gig will be held in the Button Factory on Friday the 6th of June.