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Tiny Magnetic Pets - Interview

  by John Clarkson

published: 9 / 2 / 2018

Tiny Magnetic Pets - Interview


John Clarkson speaks to Sean Quinn from Dublin-based electronic trio Tiny Magnetic Pets about ‘Deluxe/Debris’, their first album in eight years, and their recent tour in support of OMD.

Dublin-based electronic trio Magnetic Pets finished 2017 in a rush of activity. Their second album ‘Deluxe/Debris’, which follows on from their 2010 debut album ‘Return of the Magnetic Pets’ and two EPS, ‘Stalingrad’ (2015) and ‘The NATO Alphabet’ (2016), was released on Happy Robot Records, to great critical and fan acclaim. They followed this by supporting OMD on a twenty-date tour in October and November across the UK. The group, whose music has been described as “Saint Etienne collaborated with Kraftwerk”, combine experimentalism with a strong pop sensibility, and consists of crystal-voiced singer and synthesizer player Paula Gilmer, Sean Quinn (synthesizers, guitar) and Edgar Somers (percussion). ‘DelLue/Debris’ includes the eleven-minute ‘Semaphore’, two collaborations with ex-Kraftwerk member Wolfgang Flur in ‘Radio On’ and ‘Never Alone’, and two very different mixes of the same song ‘Here Comes the Noise’, the ambient ‘pink’ version and the soaring and discordant ‘white’ version. Pennyblackmusic spoke to Sean Quinn about ‘Deluxe/Debris’ and the recent tour with OMD. PB: It has sometimes been said about OMD that they couldn’t decide whether they wanted to be a pop act or an experimental band and that they, therefore, decided to be both. Tiny Magnetic Pets combine real experimentalism with a very melodic edge. Do you think the same could be said about you as well? SQ: Thank you! We do like to be both as well, which is probably why we got on so well on the tour. We don’t set out to be one or the other, though - it just happens and it has to be natural or we won’t pursue it. You have to let the music flow and not try to mould it into one thing or the other. So a radio-friendly synth-pop song like ‘We Shine’ just happened musically and the words came afterwards. ‘Semaphore’ on the other hand just grew and grew and we just let it. PB: ‘Deluxe/Debris’ implies in its title great contrasts, richness, poverty, newness, deterioration. Why did you decide to call your album that? SQ: It is about all those, I think. What was once shiny an new is now falling apart. And I think we’re all only too aware of the riches/poverty crap which is happening everywhere. Not to get into the politics of it but our crap politicians tell us the economy is doing well - not when there are people living on the streets it is not! So consciously or not, these things preoccupy you and it just came out in the title. PB: Ireland is not famous for its electronic acts, more its hard rock, indie guitar and folk bands. How big or small is the electronic scene in Ireland? SQ: Virtually non-existent! We only have singer/songwriters, indie or folk bands. What synth artists we do have can be counted on one hand. PB: You recorded a double album of material between the eight year gap between ‘Return of the Magnetic Pets’ and ‘Deluxe/Debris’ as well as the ‘Stalingrad’ and ‘NATO Alphabet’ EPS, yet decided to shelve it although you had worked on it over for two years. Why did you decide to do that? Will any of that material ever be released? SQ: With both albums we released, we worked to very strict deadlines imposed by the respective record labels. With the “lost” album we could take as much time as we wanted and this allowed us to really get into it - total immersion! So we ended up with a huge 80 minute-plus double concept album. We finished it but before organising the release, we thought it would be a good idea to use the tracks which we had which didn’t fit the theme of the album as a separate EP. That was ‘Stalingrad’, but then our manager sent it to Rusty Egan (Ex-Visage member and co-founder of the BLitz Club -Ed) and everything started happening. Then we were on to The NATO Alphabet, not to mention constantly writing new material (everyone in Tiny Magnetic ets writes) and said double album just got lost. It will definitely see a release though as we love it. PB: ‘Deluxe/Debris’ contains two collaborations with the former Kraftwerk member Wolfgang Flur in ‘Radio On’ and ‘Never Alone’. How did those two collaborations come about? SQ: We supported Wolfgang when he played in Dublin but we were too shy to ask him to work with us. Fortunately we have a mutual friend in Dusseldorf - Rudi Esch from Die Krupps and he made the overture and we over the moon when he agreed. We had the basic track for ‘Radio On’ already done but no verse so Wolfgang came up with the verse vocal, some synthesiser and worked with us on the arrangement. ‘Never Alone’ was written from scratch around Wolfgang’s synth bass part. PB: ‘Here Comes the Noise’ appears in both a pink version and a white version. Why did you decide to put two different versions of the same song on the album, and label them ‘pink’ and ‘white’? SQ: We had the fast version first and we came up with the ambient version with different lyrics afterwards. The idea was to bookend the album with them but Paula suggested running them both together. We called the versions 'pink' and 'white' because one is mellower than the other and pink noise is mellower than white noise. PB: The tracks on ‘Deluxe/Debris’ all segue into each other. Do you see it as one level as a concept album? SQ; We weren’t aware of there being any concept at the time but listing back to it there does seem to be a thread of a sense of doubt, whether it be self-doubt or the current ennui of an uncertain present where nothing is permanent except war, poverty, debt and greed. This is not the world we were promised when we were kids… PB: You played a twenty date tour which was your longest to date in November with OMD. You were very generous to fans, meeting them immediately after the show at the merchandise stand, and won a lot of new converts. What was the most important thing that you learnt as a band from that tour? SQ: I think the fans were very generous to us! We were not expecting the reception we got from OMD’s audience. We thought we’d be playing to about a hundred people in these big venues every night and couldn’t believe it was to more or less full houses for the whole tour. We learned a lot from OMD, actually: The way they play live and engage with the audience is amazing - total professionals. We watched their show every single night - and we took notes! We also learned that our original decision to play some of the tunes on ‘Deluxe/Debris’ live before recording was the right one. PB: You have just completed a successful tour and have released a critically acclaimed album. Where do you go from here and what other plans do you have for the future? SQ: We’re hoping to release the first single from D/D and we’re working on a new video with Susan Gleeson who did ‘We Shine’. We’re currently in the studio working on our new album and it’s going really well. We came off the tour completely energised and we just got straight into it. We’re hoping to have it ready for release sometime later this year. We really want to get back to the UK and Germany for some live shows. PB: Thank you.

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Tiny Magnetic Pets - Interview

Tiny Magnetic Pets - Interview

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