Interview: TV People

Nieve O’Donnell

Alt-rock outfit TV People – made up of Paul Donohue and Brendan Clarke – sat down with Nieve O’Donnell from across the pond in Dublin to chat about their upcoming EP ‘Nothing More’, the post-COVID return of live music and the Dublin music scene.

Whilst acknowledging the not entirely unexpected, dreary weather of Dublin in late summer, we got to discussing their August 26th release ‘Nothing More’. The EP is a culmination of pre COVID-induced global shutdown and what manifested during. Being an elephant in the room for many, Donohue answered my question about whether or not their music and the upcoming EP was influenced by lockdown and isolation, answering that “I’d say so, yeah, the earlier tracks we wrote on the EP were definitely influenced. Lockdown obviously put everyone, or at least me anyway, in a weird headspace.” Paul adds further that “tunes like String and Nothing More definitely came out of that. Towards the end of lockdown, Out of the Silence was one of the last songs that we wrote there and it was really us trying to force a bit of optimism just for survival, you know, and write an optimistic, forward-looking song.”

However, there was also an element of subtlety to the lockdown theme. As the main lyricist of TV People, Paul was able to discuss that “lyrically, I didn’t want to make them too lockdown-specific.” With a chuckle from Brendan, Paul added comically that “I wasn’t singing ‘Oh, this lockdown has got me feeling blue’, although there is still an undercurrent that’s quite tangible. Lockdown definitely put those feelings in the spotlight for me. Hopefully, they can still resonate once lockdown has become a thing of the past.”

TV People’s current discography contains a dark, gritty aspect and I was curious as to what extent it is an intentional choice or an accidental result of their musical influences. Passing the baton over from Paul, Brendan stated that “I’d say it’s definitely deliberate and probably part of the production style. A lot of our tracks have come out of Darklands Audio in Dublin and Dan [Doherty, producer] has a real ability to add to the darkness and grit of the music that we’re big fans of as well. I think it mainly comes down to production and music we like; music that’s a bit more sombre and emotive and has that grit to it.”

Recently, music of the Eire has been making a big mark with bands such as Fontaines D.C. and The Murder Capital becoming remarkable models to artists coming out of Ireland

Recently, music of the Eire has been making a big mark with bands such as Fontaines D.C. and The Murder Capital becoming remarkable models to artists coming out of Ireland. Bren and Paul are also fans and their musical influences are enthusiastically varied. Whilst discussing the extensive talking point of genre, Paul says that “we’re pretty diverse on that. I would be your stereotypical teenager ten years ago listening to The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys and The Libertines. I still absolutely love a lot of them but I’m really into new music that’s coming out, especially from Ireland like Silverbacks, The Murder Capital, Fontaines D.C., Pillow Queens. At the minute, I’ve been listening a lot to Mob Deep who are like 90s hip hop from America and Bren is into electronic music. We’re big into MGMT too, they’re very good.” On my divulgence into a love for Enya, Paul notes quite rightly that “Enya’s getting a load of appreciation these days.” Conclusively and all-encompassing, they add that “We like any kind of good tunes though, we’re not that picky on genre.”

Considering Irish music and its current impact, the Dublin music scene made its way into chat. Brendan noted that “it’s a pretty thriving scene, especially before the whole lockdown kicked off. There are loads of venues and the place has a really communal atmosphere. One venue in particular, The Whelans in the city centre has two bands on a night at the weekend; one plays upstairs and one downstairs, different genres and a really nice atmosphere. An amazing scene to be involved in.” Enthusiastically, Paul reinforces that “It’s amazing to be involved in it – obviously it’s getting its own space – you love to see Irish bands doing well as opposed to just playing Dublin all the time.”

It seemed that the isolation brought about by COVID-19 had an impact on TV People’s approach to song-writing

It seemed that the isolation brought about by COVID-19 had an impact on TV People’s approach to song-writing. “You see interviews with some bands and they say that the audience love the song that they hate and we would never do that. Playing live together in a room is important and sometimes, especially after writing remotely, you get in a room and it’s not as good as you thought.” Paul interjects: “Not very organic anyway.” Bren continues that “it was good in some ways; you can hear everything so clearly but it has pitfalls: you might have less inclination to use certain sounds as you can’t recreate them live as easily and sometimes it just doesn’t sound good live. It’s nice to have a balance between the two.”

Out of the Silence was remotely written. Once the band got back to the rehearsal room, “we had to put our phone to our ears and re-listen because we’d forgotten lyrics and stuff. When you’re jamming in a room, you can be more experimental. Remotely, you can’t improvise as much.” Sounding complete agreement, Bren mulled over the positives also: “It helped us learn new skills and focus on writing in a different way. You have a new perspective when you go back into the rehearsal room.”

Discussing the big question that is TV People’s future plans once the EP is out, Paul and Brendan initially state that there’s no rush. “We’re getting the EP out now and doing a lot of writing, working on the debut album. We just want to get back playing gigs. We’d love to get over to the UK and other places in Ireland. We did some nice livestream gigs around Ireland like Waterford and Kerry. It’s just nice to get around and play somewhere new. If COVID allows, we mainly want to be gigging again, it’s what it’s all about.”

Wrapping up, we got back to talking of the EP release on the 26th August. On the day, Paul said that “we’ll probably go for a pint to celebrate and turn our phones off. I’m looking forward to getting the vinyl though and having a real listen through. The EP reminds me that I did something despite being inside – I wasn’t just watching Netflix for a whole year.” In agreement, Bren reflects that “it’s a relic of our time. It’s nice to have for when we’re older or whatever, to have that vinyl physically to signal the music of the early days.” In addition, Paul adds: “makes it more real or something.”

TV People’s debut EP, ‘Nothing More’ is out on the 26th August.

Nieve O’Donnell

Featured image courtesy of Nicholas O’Donnell. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes made to this image.

In-article images courtesy of @tvpeopleband via instagram.com. No changes made to these images.

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