by Danielle Holian
How and when did the band get into music?
I’ve seen enough pictures of the lads with angelic faces playing guitars or drums in their houses as kids to think we all got into music young but I’m not sure, we’ve never really spoken about it much. I used to bang on the pots and pans in the kitchen like loads of kids and I’m sure the lads did too. My Dad made me take up the guitar and I hated it. We used to flick through Beatles songs in this big songbook and I didn’t think I’d ever enjoy it until I got to school and met Stevie, though I’m really grateful of those lessons now.
For me, it was listening to punk and metal in the first years of secondary school and finding the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd that made me really want to play. It wasn’t until later that music took over from my other interests and became something of an obsession. Since the first day, I spoke to Stevie about music he told me he wanted to play guitar for a living and to this day he’s one of the only people I know who followed through with that.
Where did the band’s name ‘Overhead, The Albatross’ come from?
The band name comes from the first line of Pink Floyd’s ‘Echoes’, which might in turn, come from the Samuel Coleridge poem Rime of the Ancient Mariner. In Coleridge’s poem, the narrator shoots an Albatross so the sailors force him to wear it around his neck so that bad luck doesn’t befall them. Regardless, the wind stopped so the ship was stuck, the water run out and then a ghost ship arrived and killed everybody on board except for the young sailor with the albatross around his neck. For penance, the sailor is bound to tell that story for the rest of his life to anyone who will listen.
It’s pretty grim.
Who or what are the bands influences?
I don’t know if we share many influences as a band but for the most part, we’re trying to realise the same thing through our music, whether that’s a particular energy or emotion or a certain kind of escape or release. We’ve all had different journeys getting to point that we wrote these songs so I guess most of our lives have led to them being what they are. That probably doesn’t answer your question! Let’s just leave it at Beyoncé.
Can you describe your music in general for our readers?
So, people lump us in the post-rock category, which is grand because it doesn’t really matter what category people want to lump us in, but none of us listen to many bands in that genre so we don’t know if we’re ripping off a load of post-rock bands or not. We’re mostly instrumental but you’ll hear vocals in places, mostly as texture. I guess it’s quite melodic and expressive, it can be bright and hopeful but it can be heavy and dark too. We don’t really have a mission in terms of how we should sound, we only really know that when we’re in the middle of writing, and even then we’re way too close to it so we’re probably the worst people to ask.
How has Ireland affected your music?
We left Ireland to write our album. We moved to the middle of nowhere in the Czech Republic to get some peace and quiet. Ireland moves at a blistering pace but nobody seems to get anywhere. I find it quite stressful. It’s stressful to try afford to live and to eat and that’s before you stop looking after yourself and consider the plight of the people in your country who don’t manage to eat or afford to live or who haven’t gotten the same equality you’re afforded. There are certainly worse places to live but Ireland definitely stresses me out. Maybe everywhere would stress me out. Either way, if we didn’t make special effort to get away from Ireland I don’t think we would have written our album. We’ll probably go away to write the next one too.
When writing your own music, what makes it interesting for you?
For me, it’s the challenge of expressing something that can be complex in emotion but expressing it simply but with enough nuance so as not to lose sight of the feeling you started with.
What can you tell us about your debut album ‘Learning To Growl’?
It took approximately 400 billion years to write, record and release. We were asked ‘when is your album out?’ about 400 billion times by 400 billion people. If the same amount of people asked us when it’s out bought the record we’d bankrupt both Spotify and every vinyl pressing plant in the world.
There are about 25 musicians on the album including a choir, brass players, string players, percussionists and vocalists including a guest spot from Kevin Letford from Red Enemy.
Where can someone view your music?
You can find us through our website www.overheadthealbatross.com. Or on Spotify, Bandcamp, iTunes and YouTube.
How has your music evolved since you began?
The album is probably the first time we’ve managed to take songs and bring them to a point where we’re not guaranteed a couple of cringes a minute. Our earlier music served us well but if we’re going to be critical of it I think there’s a lot of patchwork songwriting on it. By that I mean there are parts sort of shoved together with little heed paid to continuity or making the songs make sense if that makes sense. (I could be more critical but don’t do that to me!)
What are your plans for the future?
Right now our main focus is planning the best show we can possibly muster for our gig in Vicar St on December 9th. We want to make it really special for everyone who’s supported us and for any newcomers who’ve just gotten to know us. We’re incredibly excited about it and hopefully loads of people we come and have a blast with us.
Ask us again what our plans are after that. We sort of have our blinkers on at the moment!
Any last words?