Photo Credit: Rich Gilligan
What happens when you release your debut album to critical acclaim, universal adoration and a Mercury nomination? How on earth to you even get close to matching that? You write another, of course.
“For the first time, I’d basically had a life of touring,” Villagers’ Conor J. O’Brien explains, when we call him up in his native Dún Laoghaire, Dublin, to discuss his new album ‘’. “I learned pretty quickly what got old, and what really maintained its excitement. I almost wrote imagining having to perform it for the next two - or ten - years.
“I was sort of sick of the idea of emoting,” he suggests, addressing the more quiet and contemplative nature of his debut songs. “The idea of trying to get everyone quiet in a room and the preciousness of that had started to annoy me. The ‘shush’-iness! I just wanted to write music that you didn’t even have time to ‘shush’ someone because you were too busy dancing,” he laughs.
‘’ looks set to be at least a little different, then. “It sounds to me like it’s more expansive,” he offers. “I think [2010’s] ‘Becoming A Jackal’ follows a line to a certain degree; it’s very narrative folk, lyric-based stuff, whereas this new stuff has got quite a lot more rhythmical backbone. The stuff that you would dance to. In the last year or two, I’ve been listening to a lot of New Orleans funk and really groovy music and I think that’s kind of come out in it.”
It wasn’t only the live element of touring that helped shape his sophomore effort, though. “It sort of geographically travels in the lyrics, and it’s quite visual. I feel like I was using [the album] to work out stuff that was going through my head whilst travelling a lot.”
Along with the fresh influences, ‘’ was also O’Brien’s most collaborative effort to date, finally allowing him to share some of the creative control with his band mates. “The last album, I recorded all the instruments myself and I got my friend Tommy - who plays guitar in the band - to engineer and co-produce. This time, the whole band came to the studio. I let them in at that final creative level, which was a huge difference. I can hear other people’s influences, and other people’s grooves and vibes. That really excites me; it took away the control a little and made it a bit more of a magical experience.”
Villagers’ new album ‘’ will be released on 14th January 2013 via Domino Recording Company.
Taken from the November 2012 issue of DIY, available now. For more details click here.