“I was just standing there still sweating, going ‘thank you thank you’, so I totally botched being cool.” It was February 24, 2011, and Squarehead were playing the Workman’s Club in Dublin with Spies. It was that night when Roy, the lead singer and mastermind behind Squarehead got the indie seal of approval most bands would kill for: Morrissey, he of the Smiths and anti-meat fame, was in the audience, watching the surf-pop three-piece from Dublin. When asked about what it was like to realise Moz was watching his band, it sounds like Roy still can’t believe it: “I remember we were playing and Ian (Squarehead bassist) goes, ‘yeah, he’s there in the audience’, while we were playing and I didn’t really believe him. So I just kept playing and couldn’t get it out of my head and then afterwards Ian came running up going, ‘He wanted to talk to us ahhhh.’ So we went over, shook his hand and he was very gentlemanly and nice and complimentary about the set and stuff.” Click the jump for the proof and the rest of the interview:

It seems like Squarehead have been around for years. In 2010, Nialler9 readers voted ‘Fake Blood’ the song of the year, after it appeared on Popical Island’s first compilation, stealing the plaudits from some other great bands. This year has seen the band release a split-single, ‘Midnight Enchilada’/’Baseball Ghosts’, make a music video for the former track, seen two-thirds of Squarehead appear with Tieranniesaur for their debut album, and finally, the release of a debut album, Yeah, Nothing, which officially came out last Friday.

Squarehead – Yeah Nothing [RIC027] by Richter Collective

Spread over 12 songs, the longest of which is 4.16 minutes, Yeah, Nothing is bursting with energy, with ohhs and ahhs of a band in thrall to the Beach Boys but without the God complex of Brian Wilson; a band who seem out to have as much fun as they can before life weighs them down. It’s a long way from a bedroom in Berlin, where Roy first started putting together the beginnings of Squarehead, having dropped out of college. He never really had a plan for Squarehead – he’s a fan of what he calls the “happy accidents”. It started by writing early incarnations of ‘Fake Blood’ and some others, returning to Ireland and getting some solo acoustic support slots at places like Anseo. “And I eventually wanted to record the songs, like, properly, rather than just by myself,” Roy says, nonchalantly, “So I went to a friend’s house, a guy called Andy Walsh. He also performs under the name I Heart The Monster Hero. We just recorded ‘Fake Blood’ and ‘Mother Nurture’ in his bedroom. Like, he played the drums, I just played guitar, sang into the microphone, and we got my friend Ian up to play the bass. Then I started forming the idea of getting a band together. That, I guess, is how it all started.”

So with “the funkiest man I know” Ian and drummer Ruan in tow, Squarehead was suddenly a three-piece and ready to record. The album was done in two three-day sessions, in September and December of last year. They rerecorded ‘Fake Blood’ and ‘Mother Nurture’ earlier this year and that was it, Yeah Nothing was ready. Is that how Squarehead like it, short and sweet? “Yeah, I think so,” Roy admits. “It works for some people (to take their time recording). The more we work on something, either we get bored or get a bit self-indulgent and start adding stuff that doesn’t need to be there. Because there’s only three of us, I like – we all like – to get in and out and get the best recording we can.”

Squarehead – ‘Fake Blood’ (early recording)

So it must’ve been difficult sitting on the album for… eight or nine months now? “Well it was actually [four] months ago we had everything mastered and mixed and everything. So we were kind of sitting on it and then we went back to rerecord and then we sitting on it and then we went back to mix it and then we added those two songs and then we went back to master it. So it was all still changing it until about [four] months ago and that’s when we had to send it off and stuff.” Roy reels this story off as if it was a tired process he didn’t enjoy. But that’s not the case: “You get to that point but we did want to make it as perfect as possible, in our minds, and it didn’t take that much time. But we’re not stressed about getting it out there. We really want people to hear it but we also really wanted the presentation to be the best we could: the artwork perfect, the tracklist perfect, things like that.”

Squarehead’s sound stands out in the Irish music scene in 2011. Heavy instrumental music dominates, led by the Richter Collective label, which is also releasing Squarehead’s album, in what seems like quite a departure for the label. But it’s all good, Roy says. “We’ve actually been friends with those guys (Richter Collective) for years. Me and Ian, our bass player, have actually been friends with the guys from Adebisi Shank since we were in school. And Mick Roe, the drummer for them, is actually our manager. Like I said, I’ve been friends with Mick since I was about 15 and my first ever band I was in with Ian, Lar from Adebisi Shank played drums. So we’ve always been releasing stuff on smaller labels that we’ve all been involved with for the last six, seven years. So it was always a certain amount of time before we worked together in some respect.

“Obviously it struck me that we don’t fit in with the whole repertoire of stuff they’ve had out so far, but like I said, we’re friends with most of the bands on the label and have been for a good while, so y’know, we fit in in that respect. And I think friendship comes first, y’know, and the music is a secondary thing for a lot of bands and the way we interact and stuff.”

Hands up Who Wants to Die – Buffalo, buffalo, buffalo, Buffalo, buffalo [RIC022] by Richter Collective

Roy is also no stranger to the heavier side of music himself, having played with Hands Up Who Wants To Die for three years, as well as recording their debut album in Germany last year. “Then we started getting really busy with Squarehead and Hands Up wanted to do a bunch of touring, I just had to throw in the towel and say I was going to go with the Squareheadmobile,” Roy says. “From playing in Hands Up and bands I would’ve been in before that, I guess a lot of people I knew were surprised that we were doing this kind of poppier, softer stuff. But as I said, it’s a natural thing. I just picked up an acoustic guitar and that’s what came out. I don’t think of music too much in terms of genres and stuff, it’s just when I’m playing with those guys (Hands Up), it’s naturally heavier. And when I play with Ruan and Ian I tend more towards my pop sensibilities, I guess.”

Despite Yeah, Nothing only being on the shelves for one weekend, Squarehead already have their eyes on a second album. “We have about 12 songs we’re working on. It’s kind of weird because we’ve just got the album coming out now so we’ve got one or two (new songs) that we’re working into the set, but with the second album we want to take our time… rather than just going in and getting it done as fast as possible. It’s fun to try out the new stuff, but as I said, we’ll try it out and constantly make changes – like the ones on the record: we’ve been playing them for the last year, changing them around right up until we recorded them, whether that’s lyrics, riffs, small changes or whatever.”

So with their debut album receiving plaudits from many, their second one already in their minds, a short English tour coming up at the end of the month it seems everything is looking good in the Squarehead world. But it will surely take something special to top Morrissey’s seal of approval? Was that the best moment of Squarehead so far? Er, not exactly. Says Roy: “That was one of the most surreal (moments). But the best part of being in the band so far has been the gigs: Popiclia, the all-dayers, like, they’re always really special. Events like that, playing gigs with friends and having a good crowd and stuff going off nicely.”

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