With a gig with Tom Tom Club scheduled for this friday, and their debut album due at the end of the month, Ian Maleney had a chat with Annie & Padraig of Tieranniesaur about the history of the band, the logistics of touring as a seven piece, and their inevitable metal future.
Over the past few years there’s been an ever increasing amount of chatter about “the music business” and how a musician should maybe go about succeeding in these new and difficult times. From direct-to-fan marketing and mailing list etiquette to courting labels and making the most of social networking, the music world is flooded with advice from apparent experts on how to become a success. Someone should have asked Annie Tierney. Embodying the Popical Island motto of “Be sound and be around”, Tierney brings a welcome sense of homespun individuality to everything she does and no less so on the debut album from her newest venture, Tieranniesaur.
After impressing everyone with the standout track ‘Sketch’ from Popical Island’s first compilation, the first full length offering is a brilliant continuation in that vein. Now a seven-piece band expounding the virtue of the local over the global and the inimitable over the imitative, Tieranniesaur is a technicolor explosion of funky grooves, sing-a-long hooks and whip-smart songwriting. Tierney and her husband Padraig O’Reilly chatted for a little while about how things have come together so far and how they might work out in the future.
So tell me about the album. When did you start writing it? Annie: I guess about two years ago. We first had the idea to start another band and we were Padraig was sitting playing the guitar and trying to write songs for Yeh Deadlies. He just started playing something on the guitar that I thought was really good but he didn’t want to use it. It was that part in Sketch… (She hums the main hook) I was like, “That’s amazing!” We started going back and forth and he still didn’t want to use it so we had the idea out of that to start another band kind of more for me. We wrote a few at that time but we didn’t really finish them and we always intended to finish them. We had the basics of a lot of tracks at that point but we kind of left them it aside. It was only last year when we were getting the Popical Island compilation together and there was a conversation where we were saying there’s not really enough women on the compilation, and I said well, I’ve got something I can do! That’s how it got a name and everything, last summer.
Padraig: We finished Sketch for the compilation.
Annie: We were probably the last people to finish anything for the compilation. We only finished everything else when we recorded the album in the last couple of months.
When did it become a full band? A: Just before the compilation as well. I was trying to figure out how to do it because everything that had been played on the record had been played by a couple of people so you could go anyway with it. You could start trying to have a one man band or a two man band and use drum machines and samplers and things, but it just kind of happened organically. We knew Ruan and and Ian already. Ian is an amazing bass player so that was a pretty obvious one because we knew he’d be able to play the parts, some of them are tough enough to play.
P: It’s changed quite a bit since they started. I think ‘Sketch’, ‘Here Be Monsters’ and a couple of others were pretty fully formed before the guys. The most kind of band-written one would have been Candy.
A: Yeah, Ruan wrote that one!
P: It was slow. Well, it was all done quite quickly but with huge of gaps in between. We had an idea for that type of band and then we didn’t do anything for months. The album was actually done in a couple of months then really.
Has the Yeh Deadlies record influenced this one at all? A: In some practical ways, I suppose. We kind of made the decision that this year we’d try and make both records. We’d both been meaning to do it for ages and stop dilly-dallying. Yeh Deadlies is kind of more Padraig’s baby and Tieranniesaur is a bit more mine, even though we’re both in both bands. Padraig does a lot in Tieranniesaur as well but that’s kind of the way it goes. I kind of get to steer the aesthetic of Tieranniesaur a bit, I get to veto a bit more or whatever. I think it’s good to have two things on the go anyway, I like being in two bands at once. Your ideas bounce back and forth, it gives you space so each band doesn’t become schizophrenic. You’re not trying to do everything in the one band, you’re not trying to cover lots of musical ground. I think we can both be guilty of that anyway, having a country song and a poppy song and a metal song all in the one!
P: We’re starting a metal band now too! It’s good to have the two bands though, I find it’s easier to just keep playing the music if you’ve got two because if you’re getting bored you can just do the other one. A change is as good as a rest, as they say.
Tieranniesaur seems to have a wider range of influence than Yeh Deadlies, do you think that case? A: Yeah, sort of, I guess. A lot of people start bands trying to be a cross between X and Y and they’ll name to bands, like Suicide and Lady Gaga or whatever! I’ve never really been like that, I kind of just go with my instincts. Some songs do turn out a little ska or whatever, obviously disco, but we just follow the path that the song is on and don’t think about it too much in the greater scheme of things.
You’re supporting Tom Tom Club this week? A: Yeah, hopefully it’ll be cool. Really looking forward to it. They’d be a band that you could say would be a big influence. I like them a lot. I don’t know what it’s going to be like though, I haven’t looked at any photos recent gigs or anything they’ve done but it should be a laugh anyway.
What kind of aims to you have for the record, if any really? A: Eh, it’s very, very low expectations! I guess just the chance, which has kind of already happened, for a few people to hear it. Not really beyond that. I’d like to play some cool gigs or whatever, the band is up and running now so it’d be a shame not get a few good nights out of it but no, not ambitious in the traditional sense.
Would you like to tour with it or is that even a possibility? A: With seven people? I don’t know, we’ll see what happens. We’ve kind of been making it up as we go along and I’d like to keep it like that. There’s obviously a few things to consider, some of the guys could get really busy. Already some people have come and gone a little bit because Lisa, one of the girls, had a baby and she was gone but it has all worked out. It’s not rocket science like, if someone is not there, we’ll get someone else or whatever. The people that are doing it now are brilliant and it’s good fun so hopefully we’ll get some more gigs out of it.
What are the plans for the launch? A: Well, obviously we usually have our nights down in the Shebeen, but we decided to just take advantage of having this opportunity in Crawdaddy with the Future Bright thing. Patrick Kelleher and No Monster Club are going to play as well, so it’s a Popicalia night but it’ll also be the album launch. We’ve got the Playbuttons and some cassettes with the Bandcamp downloads.
Who came up with the idea for the Playbuttons? A: I was the one who wanted them because I think everyone else thought they were a bit silly!
P: I suggested them as a joke for Popical compilation two, because we had the badges for that anyway. Then Annie saw them and was like, “Want those!”
A: Yeah, they’re gimmicky but I think they just look amazing!