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Red Eye Pariah - interview

  by Eoghan Lyng

published: 8 / 3 / 2024

Red Eye Pariah - interview

There are three Irish men on this Zoom call. Two Northern Irish men are being interviewed by a lad from Munster. "My brother's partner is from Waterford," says Red Eye Pariah bassist Alex Close. "Somebody with a good strong Irish name: I'd like them to ask me a few questions." The two of us are joined by guitarist Sammy Stevenson, who is in good form, despite some wobbly connection issues on my end of the line. No matter, it's still a thrill to speak to a band who could well become the Neil Hannons or Tim Wheelers of their generation. “Ash are one of my personal early influences”, Stevenson says. "As a band: Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs, and Alex is big into The 1975. But Deano, he comes from a punk era background. I would be more of a Britpoppy Stone Roses person, while Joe is more of a hardcore kind of guy. That's developed into this love of The Black Keys." "A lot of my influences are blues rock" Close continues, "and glam rock, which got me into synthy-pop stuff. A lot of my basslines, I would try and make them more dancey. Along the lines of Peter Hook and the like, but it sort of varies because there's such a broad range of what we do in our genre. We're sort of adjusting to each song." Like drummer Joe Dawson and guitarist Deano Kelly, Close and Stevenson stem from Antrim, and happily admit to their geography's impact on their songcraft. "I think the main influence would be more like the colloquialisms of Northern Ireland, really," says Close. "Deano's lyrics, especially. The Ulster Club, we've only played it once, but the first time was a support gig, and we were supporting Michael C. Hall's band. Obviously, we've been practicing quite some time during lockdown, but that was our second or third gig and that's quite a big celebrity. And then it was a sold-out crowd. It was a very different type of music for this type of band, but the crowd were really responsive." Stevenson says he harnessed his sound during the Lockdown period. "You're kind of forced into these sessions. Escapism," he chuckles. "Escapism was upping the productivity. We were in Northern Ireland for lockdown. It wasn't fun." More recently, Red Eye Pariah made a splash on YouTube with their incendiary makeover of 'Touch Me'. "The rule of covers is that it has to sound exactly as it does in the original, or you have to do it completely different," Stevenson admits. "I see this as our equivalent of Placebo’s 'Running Up That Hill.' It's that much different." Bolstered by Dawson's cymbals, and some economic splashes of guitar work, "Touch Me" is the ultimate cover, offering something new to devotees of the original track. They have a raucous energy that's comparable to Arctic Monkeys, although Close is reluctant to peg Red Eye Pariah as "Northern Ireland's Alex Turner." "When you compare yourself to another artist, " he says, "you create this sort of 'Well, if it doesn't sound exactly like them, I'm not going to listen to them.' I always see bands like this who say, 'We sound like this band,' or 'We sound like this band'. We like to say we're fans of Arctic Monkeys, and you'll hear a lot of influences from Turner's music. But I wouldn't compare myself to them, but if you do compare us to Arctic Monkeys, we're a small fish in their big ocean." I don't know, I say: their recent work has offered diminishing returns. "I didn't mind ‘Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino’," Stevenson replies. "It took a few listens, but I do think The Car was a bit weaker than that. So, hopefully we will [succeed them]." It's still early days for the Antrim four-piece. "Basically, we all knew Joe, kind of the end of Lockdown," Stevenson explains. "He'd left his band, and we got a message one day; 'Wanna get together?' We set up a Whatsapp group and put some ideas into it. We sent ideas through the Whatsapp group and Deanno had these great songs he was singing in his accent, so we recorded two. We were pushing at the beginning and thought we could have a good go at this. All socially distanced, of course." Close says that the band are working on new music but feel that it's too soon for them to release an album: "Not an album, but we're definitely working on new music to release this year. There has to be real demand for an album, and I think we have a bit to go before we have one out. We have to work out strategically what we're doing." Which isn't to say that the momentum isn't happening for them. Close and Stevenson are packing for a tour in England, which excites them no end. "I'm looking forward to all of it: Manchester, London and Liverpool," Stevenson admits. Close is looking forward to Manchester: "I've so many friends in Manchester, and it is a really good city for music. The gigs are on another level there." And across the Northern Irish border? "Dublin is so on the cards," Close beams. "But gigs kept falling through. One venue turned around and said, 'We're double booked and we're going with the other artists.' We're also going on a UK tour and would like to put in a few Irish dates. We do hope we can play in Dublin." The two men have invited me to join them ("We'll put you on the guest list," they promise,) but what impresses me most is that the band are most determined to impress each other. "There have been times when Deano's written a riff off the cuff," Stevenson says "and jamming it. And there are songs when Deano has this chorus, and nothing else, and I'd come up with some sort of guitar intro. Then, me and him wrote a verse each, so it's song per song. It really depends. The songwriting process is that everyone puts in." "Deano brings a lot of ideas to the band, and a catalogue of songs he'd written before the band," Close elaborates. "But I would say in our new creative process, it comes from more of a melody; jam, verse section. Deano would kind of figure out a melody from this and write the lyrics from that." Sounds like the workings of a prog band from the 1970s. "That's it, exactly," Close laughs.

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Red Eye Pariah - interview

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Red Eye Pariah - interview

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Rising Northern Irish band Red Eye Pariah talk to Eoghan Lyng about their unusual influences, touring and eventual plans for an album.

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