Music: Fight Like Apes
Last weekend I caught up with Mary-Kate Geraghty (MayKay) and Jamie Fox (Pockets) of Fight Like Apes (homepage, Wikipedia, myspace) for a chat. The audio (MP3, OGG & FLAC) and text of this interview is licensed under a Creative Commons, Attribution, No-Derivs License.
See Update below.
I also (with permission) recorded their gig, which is currently being hosted from Skynet, but hopefully it’ll be up on archive.org’s Live Music Archive soon. The gig is available in four formats with files for each individual song (low MP3, high MP3, OGG and FLAC), plus the entire show as a single file (low MP3, high MP3, OGG and FLAC). Copyright of the music remains with the copyright holders.
Update: I recieved a mail from Jamie on July 2nd asking to take down their two new songs, Jenny Kelly and I Am Not a Merry Man. This means the full gig recordings have to come down too. Jamie wanted the songs offline as they are very early versions. The will be back up as soon as the band give the OK. I got permission from Mary on the night to record the gig, and Jamie is happy for the rest of the songs to be up, just not the two new tracks.
dd: Were here in Electric Avenue with Mary and Jamie from Fight like Apes. How’s the tour going so far guys?
mk: It’s great, I suppose we haven’t really been doing much of a tour at the moment. We’ve had a pretty strangely easy couple of months. We’ve been writing a lot, we’ve been rehearsing a lot. Getting back to what we started doing, just hating a lot of things and writing about hating a lot of things, writing for ourselves and having fun. There have been a few gigs…
pk: When we started we never really got a break, we got a bit of a break over the last few months, just the odd gig and stuff. So now we’ve finally got new songs and we’re going to start trying them out in the shows now. We’ve got a new lease of life I suppose.
mk: I reckon Waterford marks the start of the summer, officially, because next weekend we’ve got Glastonbury. Every weekend from here on is all Festivals and really fun gigs. If you have a tour coming up you often have one that you pick out and go “Ugh, I could do without that one”. But we’ve pretty much got a solidly exciting three months ahead of us.
dd: Great, so you guys are really starting to get into the swing of things?
mk: yeah, and its an amazing place to start. We haven’t had a Dublin gig for a while, and we’re not going to have one for a while, and so many people have traveled down from Dublin, which is such a massive compliment, young people who’s parents have dropped them off.
dd: You said a minute ago that for the last while you have been in a Haunted Mansion of some kind?
mk: I’m sure it was haunted, someone touched my bum.
pk: Apparently three people were hung in the Green room upstairs. It’s pretty haunted.
dd: Were ye recording there?
mk: We recorded some demos, nothing at all to be released, just for ourselves kind of thing, writing away and seeing what came out. It was really nice, if you’re rehearsing in a studio you’ve got a set time, and you have to be really conscious constantly of the time limit, how much you’re paying and stuff. It’s so nice to be really relaxed and not really give a shit, eat and drink at your leisure.
pk: If somebody doesn’t want to make music, they can just stroll off as opposed to if you’re paying for a room for a certain number of hours, that’s not really cool.
dd: Sticking with music, one of the things I’ve heard about you guys is that you’ve put down the Pixies as an influence, is that mis-attributed?
pk: I don’t know where that came from, we love the Pixies but I suppose…
mk: I can understand where people get it from, but we’ve never…
pk: I think there’s second hand Pixies influences, but nothing we intentionally did, but we do like the Pixies a lot and with Toms bass-lines I can defiantly see the Pixies. But it’s never something we’ve consciously done at at all, but I can defiantly see it in the Music.
dd: Rolling on from that, do you have your eye on anyone for a collaboration?
mk: Shane McGowan.
pk: Shane McGowan. It’s an odd one, but we’ve decided that we want to do a collaboration with Shane McGowan.
mk: We’ve got the song done and dusted
pk: We’ve just got to show it to him
mk: I think it’d be amazing, we need a kind of gruff voice that’s seen to much of life. I think for you, Steve Malkmus has always been…
pk: Yeah, but i think if we did work with someone like that we’d just be too in awe of them to do anything ourselves, and it’d just end up being a Stephen Malkmus song.
mk: I’d love to do something with Il Divo but I think I’d just end up loosing complete faith in myself and the rest of us, “I can never be like them”. I’d love to do a bit more of that, start working with people and stuff. I think it might be too early to be doing any serious collaboration, you don’t want to give the impression that you’re running out of ideas yourself. We’ve got so much that we want to work on ourselves. I think maybe on the third album we’ll defiantly want to…
pk: start collaborating a lot more.
dd: New stuff you’ll be playing tonight, do you have any of that penned down for a future album?
mk: I think, I hope so.
pk: Hopefully, we’re trying not to think about it in terms of the the album, just to write 20 odd songs and see what the best ones are. But at the moment I can’t see them not being on the next album.
dd: Sticking with the songwriting, one thing I’ve noticed about your songs in the past is that at time your lyrics can be explicit, to say the least. Where does that come from? Is that you [Mary] or the band as a whole?
mk: It’s me and Jamie really. When we started writing if I’d ever considered my mother hearing it, or the local priest hearing it, or my old teachers hearing it, I’m sure I wouldn’t have written the likes of Digifucker, I’m sure I wouldn’t have said things like that. But I think that’s the beauty of where we are now, and something that was really important for us. When we’re writing we just need to remind ourselves that we’ve never written for anything but for our own self amusement. I think that’s where it came from. Digifucker is actually a pretty simple song, the lyrics are very simple, there’s nothing that every girl or guy doesn’t think about when they’ve been hurt, but it’s something that no one would every say out loud.
pk: Especially not on a record I suppose. We never thought we were the type of band that would play many gigs, never mind get on the radio. If we were doing that in the confines of our own personal space, it didn’t matter, that allowed us to properly vent, and cater for some sort of radio play.
dd: Flipping back to the collaborative stuff, what are your views on other people on other people remixing your work, taking a bass-line from here, mixing drums from another track. Are ye open to it?
mk: Yeah, we’re defiantly open to it. Recently Jape did a remix of Battlestations for us and that was perfect, he came to us and he said he loved the band, he loved that song and wanted to do a remix. We were like “of course”. That’s a really nice way of doing it.
pk: At the same time we’ve had some terrible remixes.
dd: Sure, but you’re going to get that.
pk: When you open yourself up to being remixed by anybody you’re going to loose the control of what comes out of it. But I think that’s OK, I think that’s kind of nice. I mean, at the end of the day we sample stuff, so what’s the difference between someone sampling our music and we complain about somebody asking for money for a sample, so we’re not going to complain about somebody…
mk: I was out in a club in Dublin last night and I heard the Battlestations remix, which first of all was weird, because my voice is remixed, and I can kind of tell it’s me, but it sounds kind of weird. But then I saw people, friends of mine who I know aren’t that into the band, but are really into dance music. Afterwards they were like “I really like that song that way”. If someone else has a different take on something that we have, why the hell not?
dd: 2manydj’s do a lot of indie remixes In a a very dancy way, would you think of releasing stuff like that yourselves, even as B-Sides?
mk: I think as a B-Side, yeah, if we liked it enough. We wouldn’t release it just because it’s a remix and it might appeal to a certain type of people but if we loved it as a song itself and as a different version of a song I wouldn’t see a reason why not.
dd: Taking it on from remixing, sampling, and not paying for samples, what are your views on piracy in general, and where do you see the industry panning out on that?
pk: With music piracy?
dd: Yeah, not commercial piracy, it’s pretty much accepted that if you’re selling 10,000 copied CDs and the band are getting no cut, it’s not on. But for fan’s downloading themselves, I mean I will honestly admit that I was coming here tonight to listen to you guys and I had [How am I supposed to Kill You If You Have All the Guns] but not [Fight Like Apes and the Mystery of the Golden Medallion], so I said, “I’ll grab that”, just to listen up and be familiar with the songs. Now obviously it’s not ideal, it would be much better if there was some method in place whereby I can download it, and if I like it I can pay you fair compensation, I can give you a tenner that preferably goes into your pocket. It’s slightly unrealistic to say that all the money should go to a band and not a recording studio or a producer. Where do you see it panning out?
pk: At the moment we’ve got Spotify which seems to be the fairest to me. It’s a streaming streaming website which looks like it’s going to overtake iTunes in a few years. It’s really cool, money goes into the artists pocket and you can stream anything. At the end of the day, we’re not going to be the ones complaining about not getting enough money, we’re not that cynical about the industry. We’ve grown up in this industry, as opposed to growing up as Metallica, turning around and complaining that the world’s changing, saying “Oh god, my ‘07 Jaguar is the old model”. At the end of the day, any money is a bonus.
dd: But this is still your 9-5, so you’ve got to make a living out of this.
mk: We’ve talked about this so much, especially since we’ve realised that this is the thing we’re hoping to make money from. We have really quite casual chats about it, anyone who says they haven’t downloaded something illegally is lying, I don’t accept this moral high-ground thing that people take, that’s why I think Spotify is such a good idea, because it’s a way of taking something for free without owning it for free, without pissing anyone else off. I think if someone downloads our album and likes it, they might come to a gig, buy a T-Shirt, and that’s where we might earn money from them downloading something illegally. Someone might listen to it and not like it and that’s fine. When we released our album first we put it on-line, streaming for free for a week. I think that was our way of saying we just want people to hear the music, we’re not going to make our fortune off records, we’re probably never going to make a living off record sales alone, that’s why I don’t really mind. If they like it and download it I don’t really care.
pk: Plus I watch Internet TV every day so I’d be a hypocrite.
dd: So, free culture in general, you can see it going further?
mk: I think it has to, I don’t see a way of stopping it.
dd: Do you see a market in the future for the likes of the Universals and the EMIs?
mk: Not the way it’s going, not right now, and especially with the way Spotify is setting a trend.
pk: look at big bands and big record labels at the moment, it’s very temperamental: one album, maybe. Even if they’re doing significantly well they’re going to fall somewhere. Its a waste of time, big labels are going to fall, it’s all about indies at this stage.
dd: OK, so then where do you guys sum up the money to pay a producer and pay for recording studio time?
mk: We were really lucky with the label we’re with, Model Citizen, they’re a totally independent label, we’re the first band on the label. I think the best part is that we have a very personal relationship with them, so we can all see very clearly where it’s going to come from and where it’s going to go. I’m sure from their point of view they’d rather make sure we make a good album, with better potential for making them money back than give us pittance to make a crap album. So I think we have been really lucky. There’s never any… well there probably is a lot of under the table stuff, but nothing that we’d every be worrying about, we’ve a very honest relationship with them.
dd: Brilliant. So, what does the future hold for you guys, beyond your album and gigs in the next few months.
mk: That’s pretty much it. If you had said two years ago, where are you going to be in two years, I certainly wouldn’t have said where we are now. I mean that in a good way, I’m really happy with how things have been going. I think we’ve been so excited this week writing that we just want to…
pk: Get working on another album as soon as possible.
mk: Yeah, and make sure next weeks gigs go well, then next week we’ll worry about the ones after that. If you look at it as a bigger picture you really will just melt down and freak out.
dd: So you’ve no aims and targets and ambitions beyond tonight?
pk: If we play a good gig tonight I’ll be happy.
mk: Yeah, if we can keep doing this and then some day live off it, that’d be nice. We’d love a load of strippers as well.
pk: There are a load of strippers next door.
dd: You personally would like strippers, or the band?
mk: I think I can speak for the band when I say that…
pk: I think we’d all like a few strippers.
mk: Nice ones now, not…
pk: Not skanky ones. I mean, by default they probably will be…
mk: But you can see a bit of potential for a nice person, a good heart.
pk: You could work on them, take them out of that grotty lifestyle.
mk: Save them!
pk: Save them, yeah, be a saver.
mk: Like in pretty woman.
pk: And West Wing.
mk: Oh yeah!
dd: There was a stripper in West Wing?
mk: She’s a high class escort. They deal with all sorts in that, all sorts.
dd: Cool, well, great to chat to you guys. Anything else to say to fans, or potential future fans?
mk: Are you guys in UL? We’re dying to go back to Limerick. We played to the Limerick School off Art and Design in Dolans, it was amazing, that was such a fun gig. We can’t wait to go back, we love Limerick.
dd: You weren’t playing with Crystal Castles, no?
dd: That was another night, it’s all a bit of a blur.
dd: Cool, good luck tonight, and looking forward to chatting to you again.
pk: Thank you very much.
mk: Thank you, you too.