THUMPER Interview: “We’ve been cooking something big in the studio.”

Photo by Ruth Medjber

THUMPER’s new single ‘Topher Grace’ is out today, 26th June.

Dublin noise-pop sextet THUMPER are back. Today they release their new single ‘Topher Grace’, taking inspiration from the likes of Samuel Beckett (visually) and Courtney Barnett (lyrically). The track, named after the That 70s Show/Spiderman 3 actor, is a musically taut track that calls to mind the intense weariness and fearful anxiety of the day after the night before. We’ve all been there.

The track, which follows the group’s previous single ‘Ad Nauseam’, sees the band continue to build on their cacophonous and zealous sound with vitality and imperious energy that few others can match.

We spoke to THUMPER vocalist Oisín Leahy Furlong about the track, Samuel Beckett and the group’s plans for a debut album.

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Overblown: So what’s so special about Topher Grace? Big fans? How is he related to the song itself?

Oisin Leahy Furlong: I had this demo called ‘Topher Grace’ for so long that I actually forgot it was a person. The band never asked either, assuming it was some reference to graciousness. Only now that it’s come to doing interviews about the song, have I been reminded that I robbed someone’s name. I guess it’s fitting, considering the song is about being an actor of sorts.

O: The vocal delivery in the song is reminiscent of Courtney Barnett who you have mentioned as an influence. What appeals to you about her conversational delivery?

OLF: There’s something fearless about leaning on your own voice and vernacular so heavily. A lot of the time when writing songs it comes from somewhere personal, but you’re trying to tap into a universal truth. That’s maybe why it can be tempting to lean on cliche or truisms so hard, something that artists like Courtney Barnett never seem to do. I find that very inspiring and was certainly a catalyst for this tune.

O: The song is about “an act of self-destruction, thinly disguised as a voyage of self-reflection”. Is it autobiographical?

OLF: It’s not about a particular event, but it was definitely born out of a feedback loop that I found myself in for a while. A lot of the song was scrawled onto scraps of paper while swaying in a strangers bathroom, or bet into my iPhone notes the morning after the night before.

O: The video for the track is a homage to Samuel Beckett’s dramatic monologue ‘Not I’. Why is that monologue relevant to your track ‘Topher Grace’?

OLF: In writing the song, I definitely wanted to try and emulate the ferocious pace of Not I, the idea of bringing the listener to the brink of incoherence and back again. When it came to the video we had a lot of grandiose ideas to match the imagery in the lyrics, but due to the Pandemic had to boil it down to its base essentials – The Mouth being the focal point. I’m glad we did, because the claustrophobia of the video really complimented the introverted tone of the tune, much more than a big spectacle would have.

O: In February, you released another single ‘Ad Nauseum’. Are there any plans for a full album?

OLF: We’ve been cooking up something big in the studio alright. Keep your ear to the ground.

O: During the lockdown, you have been live streams on social media for your fans. How has that been going?

OLF: It’s a nice way to keep in contact with the fanbase, but is definitely more nerve wrecking for me than stepping on stage. The lack of audience means that although it might look like a gig on their end, it certainly feels like I’m just screaming at the wall in my kitchen to me. We have a full band live stream on our Youtube channel the day after Topher Grace is released, with a full production. We’re hoping this will feel closer to transplanting the feeling of a live show than anything we’ve done before.

O: Going into your back catalogue a bit, I really love your acoustic song ‘Half Light’. Do you plan to write any more songs in that style?

OLF: ‘Half Light’ was definitely a bit of an outlier on the last record. It was a tune I just had lying around that the band convinced me to include, but it definitely helped offset the mania of the rest of the EP. I’ve plenty of songs written at lower decibels and have no intention of making THUMPER a one-trick pony, so I’d say you’ll definitely hear a couple more Half Lights down the line.

O: What do you think about the recent rise of Irish bands like Fontaines D.C. and The Murder Capital? Do you think THUMPER can emulate their success?

OLF: Something that both those bands have in common is a singular vision, and that’s something we’ve always tried to keep hold of as well. We’re lucky enough that we’ve never really aligned ourselves with any musical trends, so hopefully, this means we’re on the right track. Ultimately you have to make the music that you want to hear, and it connects to other people then that’s a bonus.

O: What is your plan for the rest of 2020?

OLF: We’re fairly flat out writing and recording at the minute, so there’ll be more music with you sooner rather than later. As for shows, although most of our touring has been put on ice for 2020, we still have a few tricks left up our sleeve x

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