Guilty Optics are releasing a split single 7” with Ennis band C!ties on Out On A Limb this week, before embarking on a tour of Ireland. Over a phone call, the band, Alan, Peter, and Ruadhan talk about the transition from their previous incarnation, the problem with social networking sites and why they wouldn’t have minded if they had been around ten years ago.

Some things you should know about Guilty Optics: They are loud, two-thirds of the band used to be in Bend this, Uri Geller!, and drummer Peter also plays with Jogging.

Singer Ian explains that it was a very simple transition from Bend This… to Guilty Optics. “We just started playing more heavy, rocking stuff and got Ruadhan in to play on bass and that was it,” he admits. “We were already writing songs and playing together, myself and Peter, and then we decided that we needed a bass player. Obviously, we knew Ruadhan, he’s a good friend of ours, and I’d play in other stuff with him before, so we figured he could probably play the bass before we got him in, you know?”

Ruadhan joins in on how easy it was in forming the group: “The original idea was to play poppier, ‘Measure Me’ type stuff that Alan had been working on, but once he got in the room with Peter, he started trashing the records and it kind of snowballed from there. We became a completely different animal.”

The name change came about because, Alan says, it was a “different band really”: there was a lot more distortion, a lot faster, and a lot louder.

You can still listen to Bend This, Uri Geller! On Myspace (another vintage animal), and the change in sound between the two bands is obvious from the very outset. Bend This is full of twiddly indie guitar lines, and 4/4 rhythm. Compared with the very first second of ‘White Teeth’, their new track, they are a completely different beast. Everything has been turned up, including the vocals, now shouted by Alan at the top of his voice. It must also be added that Bend This, Uri Geller! Recorded everything in Alan’s bedroom, by the man himself. ‘White Teeth’ was recorded on vintage analogue equipment in the North Strand in Dublin, in what was a “relaxed session”.

Guilty Optics – ‘White Teeth’

“We set up the amps and drumkit and basically just started playing. It was done quite quickly,” Alan says. It is quickly followed by an admission from the band: they have not met C!ties, the band that feature on the single with them. “We have never even seen ‘em play or anything. We’re looking forward to seeing them though. We have heard good things – and we’ve heard the track that they’re putting on the 7” single, and the stuff on their Myspace and that, but we still haven’t seen it live, so we’re looking forward to that.” Peter: “I think I have seen them once playing in Limerick – so one third of us have seen ‘em.”

So was it Out On A Limb that brought the two bands together?

“Yeah, that is how it worked,” Alan says. “They already did this[a split single release] before with Windings and Vertigo Smyth, and they just asked us to do it with C!ties. This is actually our first proper release – we did a cd-r type thing before last Christmas – but this is the first proper release that we’ve been working on.

“They came to us. We had been talking with those guys for a while and they heard we were in a new band so they asked us to do a kind-of courting gig down in Cork – it was with Windings actually, in The Quad – and so we went down and basically showed them our stuff. They liked what they saw, so here we are.”

The band are quick to point out that the Ireland scene has moved on in leaps and bounds since their former band was doing the rounds.”Every city around the country as well [has a good music scene]. There’s great bands everywhere really. Especially more in the last two or three years, people have been really getting off their asses and doing stuff, so the Irish scene looks very vibrant at the moment.” Asked what Irish bands they themselves are fans of turns the interview into a gameshow, trying to remember a ream of groups: among those mentioned included Elk, from Cork, Squarehead, Bats, and Hands Up Who Wants to Die.

But does this improvement throughout Irish music make it harder for a band like Guilty Optics (who have only been around and playing live for about 18 months) to get noticed?

“Yes and no. It’s kind of easy to get on bills around the place. There’s just so many DIY gigs going on, and with Myspace and all these things, you can get in touch with complete strangers. Like, if you hear a band is good, it is easier now then it has ever been.”

A question about social networking leaves Peter asking, “We don’t have a Twitter page do we?” They don’t, and the band are quick to point out why.

Alan: “Bands have to have this internet presence constantly. I’m not a huge fan of Twitter myself, because in order to be noticed you have to remain in people’s consciousness. You have to talk shite constantly about ridiculous things. And if you don’t do it, then people tend to forget about bands. It’s a weird thing for a band to have to do these days – I’m not a big fan of it.”

Ruadhan: It tests people’s attention as well, as to what a band is saying.” He adds, “There’s always something grabbing your attention on a lot more frivolous things. It probably wouldn’t have happened with Facebook or Myspace. But in the opposite way then, it sets a purpose for a band to draw people’s attention constantly to them.”

It almost leaves Alan wishing that Guilty Optics had been around ten years ago so they didn’t have to deal with all the asides that face a new band in 2010. “It was completely different. It was just gigs, records – nothing else,” he says. “There was no other way than playing gigs. But now people can promote themselves in their bedroom. But the problem is that everybody is doing it all the time.”

Guilty Optics have not played outside of Dublin many times in the past, bar a few gigs in Cork and Galway, and say they are looking forward to the experience. “It’s a fairly bare setup we use live anyway – it’s guitar, bass, drums, so there’s no messing about with computers or keyboards or anything. It’s basically whatever happens in the garage gets lumped onto the stage.”

So there you have it; Guilty optics: not a band who mess about when it comes to the live show. Better remember to bring the earplugs.

Guilty Optics and C!ties are going to be touring Ireland in support of the 7” split single OOAL0015. The dates are:
November 18 – Róisín Dubh (Upstairs), Galway. Doors 11.30pm. Free Show (followed by OOAL djs)
November 19 – The Quad, Cork. W/guests TBC. 9pm. Free Show
November 20 – Brandon’s, Ennis, w/ guests Jogging. 9pm. Adm: €3
November 21 – Dolan’s Upstairs, Limerick w/guests Jogging & Baby Blue Eyes. Doors 6pm. Free Show
November 26 – Whelan’s Upstairs, Dublin w/guests TBC. 8pm. 6 Euro/€10 with vinyl.