New EP Magnum Opuss Out Now Via Little L Records.
I recall that the first time I heard the term ‘magnum opus’ was when I was introduced to the Yngwie Malmsteen album of the same name. I like to think that he was being self referential, tongue in cheek, and generally making light of the bombastic nature of rock music in the 80s. I suspect that is not the case. Magnum opus is also nearly the name of the latest EP by Dublin based quintet THUMPER (the EP is spelled Magnum Opuss). They describe themselves as ‘sonic death via bubblegum pop’, which is entirely apt for their lo-fi, fuzzy, humourous take on alternative rock.
Oisin Leahy Furlong, founder of the band, took some time out of his hectic schedule recently to take us through the EP, discuss the Irish music scene, and the carnage of the festival season.
Overblown: You’ve just released your second EP Magnum Opuss. It seems bigger and more confident than your first EP. What changed in your approach to writing and recording this time around?
Oisin Leahy: When I recorded the first EP I had been having really bad writer’s block for nearly two years. It stemmed from being super self critical of everything I did and subsequently meant that I never finished anything. To remedy this I eventually came up with this method of writing songs really fast, forcing myself to not put too much importance on them. This approach spilled into the recording process and the general sound of the EP.
After a few months of gigging and writing non-stop I definitely regained confidence in my songwriting and I guess you can hear that in Magnum Opuss. Even tho it’s super fuzzy and manky I was definitely aiming for much more complex arrangements.
O: Having said this, the EP remains pretty raw and lo-fi. What appeals to you about this type of sound?
OL: For me the focus is always on the song. If the recording is a faithful representation of the energy in the tunes then that’s all that matters. I don’t necessarily strive for the lo-fi thing, it’s just that I’m not very good at recording. That said, I am kind of allergic to the crazy over production on some albums… The new Blink 182 stuff is complete garbage, sounds like it’s being played by fridges.
O: The EP was released via Little L Records. What was like working with them?
It’s nice knowing you’ve got someone fighting your corner for sure! Even tho THUMPER is a band, I record everything myself and do all the managerial shit. So letting go of certain roles and letting the label take care of it was a big learning curve. But we’re real happy to be part of the team. Plus have you seen the hand spray painted tapes? They’re adorable!
O: Irish bands Otherkin and Bitch Falcon both appeared on your Magnum Opuss EP. With this in mind, what do you make of the rock music in Ireland at the minute?
There is so much great music in Ireland at the moment. We’re such a small island but the scene is so diverse. All the bands feed off of each other in this crazy melting pot where no one really sounds alike but have loads in common. Personally I think that that Girl Band record that came out on last year is the most culturally important Irish ‘rock’ album to come out in my lifetime.
O: Now that you’ve two EPs under your belt do you have any plans to release an LP?
OL: We definitely have enough material for a few LPs at this stage but there are no imminent plans to release one just yet. LPs are kind of scary, but EPs appeal to my short attention span much better…
But yeah I think I’ll definitely bash out another little lo-fi EP before the year is out and we’re heading into the studio to record a single as a full band for the first time in a few weeks, so there’ll be no shortage of material to sink your teeth into!
O: In July, you played Swell Festival, Truck Festival and Knockanstockan. How did they go?
OL: Swell Festival is an amazingly wild little music festival on Aranmor Island of the north coast of Ireland. We played the mainstage and then also did a very drunk impromptu set at 1am in a very tiny, very packed tent. We found a cellist and put him thru a distortion pedal and it generally aired on the fun side of weird.
Truck Festival was our first ever UK gig so it was great to play to new people. We got fairly weird at that gig too actually tho I think most people appreciated it.
Knockanstockan back in Ireland was maybe the funnest gig we’ve done this summer. We had an extended line up – a third guitar player, another drummer, another singer. Got completely wrecked. Check out this video of some of the carnage.
O: Last Christmas you recorded and released a cover of Darlene Love’s ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”. What inspired you to cover that song for Christmas? Is it something you’d consider doing again in future?
OL: A small Dublin radio show called The Co-Present curated a christmas charity album last year and asked us to be involved. I recorded this song in about 3 hours but was really happy with how it turned out! We do this gnarly cover of Cos I’m A Man by Tame Impala as well. I’d love to record that some time… For now you’ll have to come see us to hear it!
O: Any upcoming gig plans?
OL: Currently gigging non-stop around Ireland. We have a few more festivals lined up over here and then we’re going to look to getting back to the UK and over to the Europe. If you’re reading this and you want us to play at your house party/pool party/doom dungeon/loft dive/legit venue throw us a message!
O: What has been your proudest moment in THUMPER’S existence so far?
OL: I don’t know if there’s been one moment in particular. In general I’m just proud to be in this band. It’s taken a long time to get to a point where I can confidently stand behind the songs I’ve written. Now that I’m there, even the shittiest gig can be a proud moment :^)
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