Music has always had its place in Cork. There’s something about the place, about the air, that just suits music; it’s not just weird fish and shopping trolleys running through Leeside, it’s music. Always able to attract massive international acts in the heydays of Pairc Ui Chaoimh, Cork’s first massive stamp on the Irish scene was undoubtedly Macroom’s Mountain Dew festival, Ireland’s first open-air festival, headlined by virtuoso blues/rock guitarist Rory Gallagher; Mountain Dew set the stage for the Indiependence’s & Electric Picnic’s of today.
Not content with hosting the great rock acts of the 70s, Cork was often the stage for new bands to hone their craft, get their first big start. It was Cork that gave U2 their first big gigs outside of Dublin, and despite what you may think about Bono, U2 would then go on to be one of the biggest acts in Irish history…all of it starting in Cork. From the lofty (if not dilapidated) roof of the Arcadia, to the dingy depths of Henry’s, Cork was always ahead of the curve…not that you’d ever hear Cork people talking about it. I mean, do you know that Nirvana played in Sir Henry’s?
On a serious note, though Crowleys may be gone, and the Ark may be luxury flats, the music scene in Cork is far from dead. And while it may not have a base as infamous as Henry’s, it does still have the ability to create a buzz, to home undying waves of new talent. And on the lip of that wave are Blaming Hannah, one of the new top bands on the Cork scene. Music editor Cailean Coffey sat down with the band to discuss their burgeoning success, and their new EP.
Q: How did you meet and when/how did the band start?
A: We met through school. We were all in Kinsale Community school and we all… let me just gather my thoughts for a moment… well, for my music practical [in the Leaving Cert] I was going to do DJing – like, music technology and stuff – and I found that you couldn’t do that and then I found out I had to play guitar. So I got Liam – who’s our guitarist now – to try accompany me and got another girl to sing, because I didn’t think I could sing at the time…. One day we were practicing, I was doing harmonies, and the teacher was like “Jeez, Sean, you’re well able to sing” and so Liam and I thought we may as well start a band ‘cause Hugh, the drummer, was in his year. He was in 5th year and I was in 6th year, and the drummer had never played drums in his life so he was…. he had to learn very quickly anyway. And the bass player’s my cousin, and he was like “Oh, Fionn, I wanna get a guitar. What guitar should I get?” and I told him to get a bass and join us, and he did. We started playing covers – really awful stuff, you know yourself – and then in about November 2015 we started writing our own songs, and our friend’s 18th was our first gig. We only did six or eight songs, most of which were covers, and then in December we had a gig in a shitty pub in Kinsale. We were standing still on the stage absolutely shitting ourselves. We couldn’t even call out the song names. But our bass player’s Dad recorded it and he sent it to his friend in the alcove and then they gave us a spot supporting them and we kept gigging and gigging, got a booking agent and started working on the EP in March of 2016 and now that’s about to be released.
Q: Nowadays, what’s your Cover-Original ratio in your set?
A: If we’re doing an hour set we’d do one cover, maybe two if we feel like it. We try to do as many originals as possible because we believe that if you want to make a name for yourself you have to stay original. It’s true that cover bands are guaranteed gigs, so it’s harder now, but in the future we’ll reap the benefits of it.
Q: Who are your major influences?
A: Well mine personally – and I write most of the songs – are The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Nirvana, Black Ribbon Motorcycle Club, Arctic Monkeys, Asap Rocky, Kanye West – the greats, really.
Q: How was it writing the songs?
A: It came quite naturally. See, Ciaran, the bass player, had just started playing bass and the drummer was kind of the same, so I’d know roughly how to play bass and drums so I’d just go home, write the songs, come to the lads with the idea, test it out, and if something’s not working I’ll just jump on and try to work it out. It was quite natural though. We just decided one day in November, we started writing the first song, and by December we had like eight songs. It was just bang, bang, bang. See, we’d done the covers and we just thought – what’s the point in wasting our time learning new songs when we can spend our time writing our own songs, you know?
Q: When’s the EP out?
A: It’s hopefully out January, February or March so the first quarter of next year I suppose.
Q: What are your hopes for the next 12 months?
A: For the next 12 months we would hope to drop a second single, release the EP, get better gigs, support better bands, hopefully get on some radio stations and festival shows, get an Indie label or something like that. The goal for us next summer [is that]we want to be hitting the festivals essentially, even if it’s just some shitty stage, you know, just to be there. It would be huge.
Blaming Hannah’s EP is due to be released in early 2017. Their debut single, “I’m Alive”, is available now on Spotify, iTunes, and other music providers.