Ealadha Interview: “We Got Into This Abandoned Hotel…”

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ealadha interview
Photograph by Shane J Horan.

Limit Of Our Sight  EP Out May Via Inner Chapter Records.

Without a shadow of a doubt, post metal trio Ealadha are one of the most promising bands currently doing the rounds of the Cork music scene. Their music is at once cathartic, euphoric, and, frankly, beautful. Dom Murphy, singer and guitarist with the group, took the time to sit down and have a pint and chat with us ahead of the release of the band’s debut EP Limit Of Our Sight.

We talked about how sometimes a plan just comes together, being heavy without loads of distortion, and getting on Irish radio with your first song.

Overblown: Ealadha is an unusual spelling. What is the correct pronunciation of the band name?

DM: Originally we went with the Irish pronunciation which is ‘alla’. We realised that nobody else in the universe could pronounce it other than us. Or ‘allah’. We’ve decided to go with ‘e-lada’.

O: That kind of sounds like a rickety old car…

DM: It does. That’s true. We are quite old (laughs). Everyone had their own take on it so maybe that’s what is unique about it.

O: Is it an Irish name or what is it?

DM: It’s an Irish mythical figure like Cuchullain, but he’s a more mysterious type of character. He was some kind of moon God. That’s where the logo came from too. We were trying to come with something a bit like Sigur Ros with mystique attached but also trying to stay true to our roots with a bit of Gaeilge.

O: That’s good. You don’t get music scenes so much any more like you used to so you get bands from all over that sound similar so it’s good to have a distinguishing feature. You know, for instance, some of The Altered Hours go by their Irish names.Then that adds a bit of story or mystique for when these bands go outside of Ireland. Anyway, how did ye get together?

DM: Basically, I’ve been playing music myself and I kind of got frustrated to be honest because I got to the point where I had loads and loads of music, I was in my bedroom looping things, and I’d played in some bands in Limerick but nobody was that serious. I was always the serious member and the others were late turning up or whatever.

I was living in Cork for maybe 4 or 5 years and I decided I was going to do a solo project. I literally met Peter, our drummer, on the street and I had seen him play in a few bands before and I just said to him, “Do you want to go for a jam sometime?” So I called around his house for tea and cake and we jammed it out and it actually sounded pretty good. We even recorded that night. We were completely in sync. It was kind of weird because normally it takes a while to gel but we were predicting each other. I think it was a pretty amazing experience for both of us. I had never experienced that before.

O: How did Cormac (bass) get involved?

DM: He was very good friends with my sister and I knew him as well. I had been annoying him for a few years to listen to my music but he never really took me seriously. It wasn’t until I got a hold of a drummer that he became interested. We got into this abandoned hotel and jammed it out for about six months. We gelled there, throwing around different structures and ideas and things. It was freezing at the time because it was around winter but maybe that helped to add to the atmosphere. We realised we had something. I had put up on Soundcloud a few loops of my own and they got noticed by Don O’Mahony in the Evening Echo. They stuck out to him for some reason. He emailed me and he wanted to interview us so he came down to the hotel and he did a review of it, of a demo, when it was only a couple of songs. We managed to get a really good spread, a front page, on the thing. That started a few gigs for us then.

The first gig was a terrifying experience. Our music was… we didn’t really know if people would like it or not. We’re not exactly mainstream music.

O: It’s obviously kind of heavy in places but it’s not exactly metal. And then it’s not rock music either.

DM: I think part of that has been fun. At first we were labelled metal and we played with mainly metal bands. We started primarily as an instrumental band so we had no vocals until about two before the single ‘Dive’ went out. I always had in the back of my mind that it would have vocals because I knew all three of us could sing. I definitely wanted to bring that in. The reaction after our first gig was phenomenal. It was up in Bradley’s and people wanted more songs. It was shocking because we’d been shacked up in a dark hotel playing with ourselves for months (laughs). That gave us a lot of confidence.

O: You’ve played around Ireland since?

DM: We’ve played Dublin. We played Fibbers, but it has been mostly Cork. We’ve had opportunities but things have happened that have meant we have kept it local. We should have played Whelan’s about two and half months ago but Peter got ill. Our plan is to get this EP out and do a tour of Ireland.

Ealadha interview
“Limit Of Our Sight ” EP will be released in May via Inner Chapter Records.

O: ‘Dive’ and ‘Hurricanes’ will be on the EP?

DM: Yeah. Yeah. And two other songs in the same vein. Perhaps a bit heavier.

O: I feel I can hear a little bit of a Tool influence in ‘Dive’ while the vocals remind me more of Jesu.

DM: That’s a good assessment. We’ve been compared with loads of bands.

O: Any completely out of left field?

DM: Yeah. The Cure. Our light stuff. We don’t know why. Tool has come up a few times. Sometimes surprisingly.

O: I suppose the most suitable label for your music is post metal.

DM: Yeah, definitely structurally. The end of ‘Dive’ is pretty much half the song. I like the repetitive nature of Jesu and I don’t think we’ll quite go as far as that but the repeated vocal line at the end of ‘Dive’ has emotional impact.

O: It was one small passage at the start. It was atmosphere and your vocal style that reminded me of Jesu.

DM: Yeah, that’s fair. I’ve also had Kid A on my stereo for the last six months so there’s definitely a Radiohead influence too and some Sigur Ros. A big mixture of everything really. All those bands I’m fans of but the guys aren’t which is the funny thing. I definitely listen to the heaviest music out of the three of us. I love stuff from doom to Gordon Lightfoot. The guys would be… Pete’s played in a 70’s band last year and also plays punk. He pretty much listens to everything. Cormac is just… I can’t even figure out what he listens to. All three of us are all very open minded. We don’t want to be put into a niche because we grab influences from everywhere.

O: What do you think of the Cork music scene?

DM: I used to think it was kind of cliquey. It was in a state of flux and a lot of bands left last year and with the venues closing like the Crúiscín Lán. That was an institution. There’s some really good new bands coming through though and there doesn’t seem to be competition. Everyone is doing their own thing like Soothsayer who are more doom metal and then another band like Horse doing a more hardcore thing. There’s to be a big hardcore scene in Ireland in general. I never really got that myself. I think we stick out as unusual as we are a bit more dramatic.

O: What about the Irish music scene as a whole?

DM: I don’t know how connected to it I am to be honest. I was shocked we got on radio. Everyone says you’ll never get on radio in Ireland. We put our first song out and got on radio. A little too easy. The heavier stuff doesn’t really get the airplay, but maybe sometimes that understandable. It’s not to everyone’s taste. I probably did tone back the distortion pedal because I did want to get a bit of exposure. Saying that I still think you can be heavy lyrically. I still think the music has heft. I’m not screaming or doing Cookie Monster vocals but the there are some heavy hitting lyrics in there.

O: What are the songs about?

DM: ‘Dive’ is very personal. That was during a time my mother nearly passed away. The whole song is literally about her illness and how she changed during that illness. At the end the lyrics, “ All these falls, nearly gotten the best of you” is basically about taking hits in life, but anyone can have their own interpretation. It was aimed at my mother taking a lot of pain and actually beating it in the end. But, like with ‘Hurricanes’, there’s hope. All are dark but have light in them too.

‘Hurricanes’ is less personal than ‘Dive’ in terms of lyrics. I had more time to spend on it. We got Niamh, a friend of mine, to do backing vocals at the end of it. I think they add a lot to the atmosphere. We just drafted her in a half an hour before we recorded it and it was a case of, “What do I sing?”. And I just sang in a female voice and she repeated that after me. It worked out perfectly. I’m sure we’ll work with her again.

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