Friday 15 May 2020

What inspired you to take up drumming?

I guess what started it was listening to early U2 albums', mostly the War album. This was when I was around 10 or 11 and I wanted to start playing. A cousin of mine was throwing out an old drum kit and I started on that for the first few months.

What type of drum kit do you use?

I'm playing a C&C Player Date 2 kit with a walnut veneer finish. I adore this kit! Sizes are (22/10/13/16) and a 14 x 6.5 snare. 
Cymbal wise: Mainly Istanbul Agop - 18" Traditional medium crash, 20" dark crash 21" signature ride with 14" Traditional hats.  For some songs I use a 20" Meinl Byzance flat ride, a really lovely cymbal, have had it for years. I'm also using Roland SPD-SX sampling pads live with BHP.

Who are your favourite players?

To name a few - Chris Bear (Grizzly Bear), Matt Barrick (The Walkmen), Chris Talbot (Wild Beasts), Bryan Devendorf (The National)

What are your favourite albums / songs?

Some of my all time favourite albums would have to be: Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest, Sigur Rós - Agaetis Byrjún, Talk Talk - Spirit of Eden, Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest. 

Recent favourites I've been listening to: Stereolab - Dots and Loops (Have become a bit obsessed with Stereolab in recent months)
Yves Tumor - Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Big Thief - Two Hands, Destroyer - Have We Met.

How are you spending your time during this COVID-19 lockdown?  

Been trying to keep positive and stay productive. I have been reading a good bit more of late, (Kevin Barry - City of Bohane, John Connell - The Cow Book) trying new recipes in the kitchen, getting in a cycle, when I can too. Also organising album promo bits with the guys, over zoom calls, I have some of my kit set up in my sitting room at the moment also, so it’s not too bad!

Bleeding Heart Pigeons have a new album 'Stir' coming out this month. Can you tell us what to expect?

We do, we're self releasing it on May 22nd. It's our first release since our debut 'Is' in 2016 and was written and recorded in our small farm shed converted studio, throughout 2017. We took more of a 'song writing' approach this time, I think with the last album we just didn't know when to stop (lol). We wanted to write songs for a more accessible audience while still trying to keep our own sound. I am very proud of the finished product and can't wait to have it out.

Limerick, where you're from, has produced some great acts over the years. What is it about Limerick, in your opinion that creates such great music?

It sure has! There are some really great bands in Limerick at the moment and many of them are great friends of ours. DIY LK have a massive part to play in Limerick’s music scene, from hosting gigs in Pharmacia by really great bands from around the country to their annual festival - Feile na Greine (which sadly is cancelled this year due to Covid-19) it’s an amazing group and am proud to be a part of it. It’s great to have something like it in Limerick. We were never really part of a community as such around the time of the first album, so it’s very nice.

Photo credit: Piquant Media

Saturday 9 May 2020

Dan, can you tell us about Fixity and some of the projects you’re involved in? 

Fixity is a home for my compositions and ideas around repetition, space, and textural exploration in song form through improvisation. It has existed since 2015 and since then has taken in the perspectives and skills of numerous musicians from Ireland and Sweden that are important parts of my musical life in different ways. There have been 10 releases in total so far since then, including two LPs released by Penske Recordings, 'The Things In The Room' [2016] and 'No Man Can Tell' [2019]. All available at . 

Other ongoing projects I am involved in as either drummer, producer or saxophonist include Senior Infants, The Bonk, Not Earth, The Great Balloon Race and The Council For the Dark Arts Orchestra. I also organise Cork Improvised Music Club, an independently promoted residency dedicated to the world of real-time music making at Plugd Records in Cork City since 2013. 

What type of drum kit do you use?

I play a Gretsch New Classic in bebop sizes (18/14/12) with a Sonor SClassix 14x4 Birch snare. Cymbalwise I use  a 20" Bosphorus master series unlathed ride and 22" Istanbul Custom Jazz ride with 14" hihats made up of a KCustom Dark top as the bottom and Meinl Thin crash on top. 

Who are your favourite players?

Mitch Mitchell, Brian Chase, Rashied Ali, Bob Moses, Jim Black, Paul Motian

What are your favourite albums / songs?

Cosmic Music - Alice and John Coltrane
Songs Of Experience - David Axelrod 
Kraftwerk 1 - Kraftwerk
Endtroducing - DJ Shadow
Dazzle Ships - OMD

For a long time my favourite song has been 'Naima' by John Coltrane, in particular the version recorded live in Stockholm in 1961 with Eric Dolphy. I think it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard. 

You have played with a lot of musicians, is there anyone else you’d like to play with?

I’m really glad to have had the opportunity to play with some really beautiful people throughout the years and I would love to be able to keep on developing these relationships further and finding new possibilities. There are a few folks I would love to play with and learn from such as Matts Gustafsson, Tyshawn Sorey, Roscoe Mitchell, Lee Ronaldo, Marc Ribot... I could go on. 

How are you spending your time during this COVID-19 lockdown?

For the most part, my practice as an artist is built on interaction and collaboration in real time with people so this lockdown has put a significant hold on a lot of what I do. I don’t have a studio right now so it's a time where playing drums and being involved in collective improvisation are not possible. Given the circumstance, what I’m doing is composing, practicing saxophone and recording what I can for various projects in preparation for whenever we can return to our lives. It is not an easy time for musicians and dealing with an uncertain future is a terrifying thing, but we have to be sure to keep what fulfils us present in our lives, every day.  

Picture credit; Kieran Murphy

Saturday 2 May 2020

R.S.A.G have a new album 'Chroma' coming out in May. Can you tell us what to expect?

'Chroma' is a mood driven album, with a much richer soundscape and heavy weight percussion. You'll hear songs that will connect to my earlier work and then some from a new more sensitive space. I am proud that my co-writer Jamie Walsh and I were able to merge our musical and lyrical ideas to produce songs of intensity and emotion.

You hail from Kilkenny, a city that has produced some great artists over the years. What is it about Kilkenny that inspires such creativity?

Kilkenny has a great advantage; being situated in the middle of Waterford, Dublin and Cork. As a result, over the years the city has hosted an array of music and arts festivals which attracts people from all over the world. This has created a sense of pride along with a lot of inspiration for the city. Kilkenny has always been a creative hub for artists, producing bands like Crawl Babies, Engine Alley, Kerbdog, Jerusalem Taxi's, My Little Funhouse, Headspin, Surfin' Dead, Blue Ghost, Gout and The River Valley Band, to name but a few. They all in one way or another inspired each other. Kilkenny is also the home of Cartoon Saloon and Lighthouse Studios, who have had two Oscar nominations, for the last two animated features. Is there something in the water? Maybe, but for me it's the people. 

How do you feel you have progressed as a musician over the years?
I feel I've progressed from a lot of different aspects of what I do. My playing has progressed from performing live both as R.S.A.G. and with other bands and artists. With recording and producing music you have to approach performing in a different way. You have to think about the overall sound and how each performance will fit to suit the mood and narrative of each track. This too has been an interesting learning curve for me over the years. Each album brings with it these differences both in playing style and techniques. Technology has also helped my progression. Apart from playing, recording and producing, I also teach music. This too has helped develop and progress my craft. Apart from really enjoying the teaching process I feel I've learned so much from my students. I love hearing how they interpret what I'm teaching, hearing their own individuality and style developing as they grow in confidence.

What type of drum kit do you use?
I use an APK premier kit. It's from the mid 80's. I bought it from a guy about 15 years ago who still had it in its plastic wrapping. I particularly love how the toms sound.

Who are your favourite players?
There are so many but here are a few:

Buddy Rich
Gene Krupa
Tony Allen
Louis Bellson
Max Roach
Ringo Starr
Steve Shelley
John Bonham
Steve Gadd
Jimmy Cobb
Al Jackson
Levon Helm

What are your favourite albums?
In no particular order:

In A Silent Way - Miles Davis
Daydream Nation - Sonic Youth
The White Album - The Beatles
Life's Rich Pageant - R.E.M.
Beethoven's 6th Symphony
Repeater - Fugazi
Entroducing - DJ Shadow

How are you spending your time during this COVID-19 lockdown?

I've been keeping busy during lockdown, trying to make the most of my time at home with my wife and two dogs. I'm recording new music, teaching and facilitating a very interesting new music project online with young people from Kilkenny for Ossory Youth. It's aptly called 'Lockdown Session'

You can order the new R.S.A.G album below

Photo Credit;
Colour photo - Ruth Medjber
B & W photo - Unknown