Mail Order MessiahsPosted: 14.11.2009
We caught up with Mail Order Messiahs to have a quick chat about the release of their long-awaited debut album, “Plain”.
So tell us about the new album
We brought it out on our own label, it’s called Ambulance Chaser records, because that’s how we thought we’d have to fund the album, by fake lawsuits! We got a small grant from North Tipperary Arts Council towards the cost of it which was really good.
So do you both live in Dublin now?
Mike: No – this is the whole nature of how we work, the whole reason why our music sounds the way it does. We post each other the songs as they’re being written. We were originally living in Galway, in the same place, and we were in a standard indie-rock band, but we sort of got tired of it.
Dar: So we bought a computer and learnt how to use it…
Mike: well Dar did…
Dar: Then Mike decided that he’d get certified how to use it, so he came here [Trinity] and he learnt how to use a computer also, then we started to send mixes across the country to each other and then we realized that it was a really good way of pushing each other, because we were kind of in a competition to out-wow each other with each rip of an envelope, so that’s pretty much why the songs sound as they do.
It took us a long time to find out what sort of sound we wanted – how electronic, how acoustic, how many vocals, who was going to sing what – so it was about 2005 when it began to gather pace. Then we brought in Jimmy Eadie and we got him to mix it. We’d gotten as far as we could, so we needed a fresh pair of ears to say ‘I think you should do this’. So we spent about six months on and off with him –like a day a week here and there – and he did great work. It was like an apprenticeship for both of us as well.
Have you been doing any touring recently?
Mike: We did a tour in July and August… until I got mumps. Pre-that, we did a tour – we played Whelans, Mullingar, Galway, a good few places, we hit the main spots. That went well, that was our first kind of proper national tour. We’re hoping to do another one soon.
Dar: The music world is a bit different now – even back in 2005 you could have hit the road and got almost an instant collegiate following in different cities around the country. Now, you seem to have to build it up a lot slower, a lot more work. The good thing about it is that we’re developing the live sound each time we go out, so it’s going to get bigger. But I think it’s always going to be just the two of us – I don’t think we could work with anyone else.
What instruments do each of you play?
Mike: We both play pretty much everything – it depends…
Dar: Mike is an amazing guitarist. If he’d sold his soul he’d probably be a big guitar player in some rock band, but I’ve completely wrecked his chances. Oh well.
Mike: Live, it’s just a laptop, then Dar sings and plays synths on a few songs, then I play guitar and sing pretty much the backing most of the time, and play synth on one song, which is usually a bit hairy.
Dar: No, Mike plays the synths very well, he’s downplaying it. If I wasn’t here it would be the big story. But tonight there’s no synths, we’re very relaxed.
Do either of you play drums live, or do you rely on a drum machine instead?
No, we use Ableton Live– there’s various loops that we can mess about with live, but we usually keep it simple. We have to have reliability – the more complicated you make the setup, the more angry the sound engineer gets and you need to always have the sound engineer on your side. So if you can present them with a left and a right, theoretically you’re going to get a good sound every night. And to get our ideas across to the people, we’ve got to have a good sound every time.
At the minute, we’re a low maintenance band – we’re in the position where we can just turn up and play. Whereas if we had a full band we’d be really restricted in what we could do. In terms of touring, we can just turn up with a laptop and our stuff and play – it’s very compact.
What’s been your best gig to date?
Mike: I think the first gig we ever did in the Roisin Dubh was really good, but that was with a few other bands. We played the Roisin again in August, that was the first time we’d been back since it was changed. We’re kind of a Galway band, I suppose…
Dar: Oh, I’d definitely say that. I want to keep saying that until we get the freedom of the city.
Mike: They don’t claim us though. But we are – when we started we were both in NUIG so we consider ourselves a Galway band so that gig was a kind of homecoming, I suppose. We played Dolan’s Warehouse in Limerick and that was really nice as well – it’s a beautiful venue and the sound was fantastic.
Dar: It’s kind of funny because we judge our best gigs by the technical performance that we deliver rather than audience interaction, crowd participation or crowd presence, so the gigs that Mike has mentioned would be the ones that would have technically the best mix of sound and the best sound on stage. Whether the people enjoyed it or not…it’s hard to say.
We reckon Mail Order Messiahs were just being modest – their album “Plain” is pretty fantastic and very original. You can download their song “Buddy” here.