Over the course of December, we’ll be running a series of interviews with Irish acts reflecting on the past 12 months, how it was for them and for music in general. As part of the 2013 round-up there may also be a couple of lists to sink your ears in to as well. Here’s the fifth act to be featured in the round-up, Bouts.
Dublin four-piece Bouts released their debut album Nothing Good Gets Away in October, the culmination of a couple years of toil and work that stretches back to 2010/11. They’re currently in Dingle, playing some gigs at Other Voices – what a way to cap off their year. Below, Daniel (drums), Niall (bass), Barry (guitar, vocals) and Colin (guitar) recap their year, talk about their latest video, and reveal the music they’ve been enjoying most this year. (DOI, I put on Bouts in De Barra’s in Clonakilty and Mr Bradleys’s in Cork last month.)
How has 2013 been for Bouts? What have been the highlights of the year?
Daniel: It’s been a hectic year, seems to have been going on forever. We spent the first half of the year putting the finishing touches on the songs and recording them which was painstaking but worthwhile. The second half has been taken up organising stuff like the vinyl, merch, tour etc but finally we got to go out and play some gigs and get the album into people’s hands which is what the whole thing is about. The highlight was probably getting the record in our hands and sitting listening to it, nearly 18 months after work started we finally had something tangible and it was exactly what we wanted it to be.
Niall: 2013 has been the most rewarding but easily the hardest work in our short existence. I won’t miss admin hell but I am still smiling that we have a 12″ lime green vinyl with our name and songs on it and it sounds exactly how we wanted it to sound. That, for me, is the obvious highlight.
Barry: Getting the album mixes back the from Jesse. It was the moment of fruition for all the work we’d put into writing and recording. Supporting Johnny Marr was also surreal but very nice. Playing Arthur’s Day was ridiculous but super fun.
Congrats on the new (NSFW) video. Have you been surprised by how popular it’s been? Were you at all hesitant about it?
Daniel: I’m not surprised by how popular it has proved to be. If you tell people that maybe they shouldn’t click something they almost certainly will. However, we weren’t going for shock tactics or titillation in any way with the video. The discussions between ourselves and Spiceburger always focused on how sweet and realistic the video should be. We wanted to show those funny, personal moments and do it in a way that people would enjoy. It was very important the guys got the tone correct or else it would have come across like we were trying to just use sex to get a bit of attention. Luckily for us they absolutely nailed it and we couldn’t be happier. It was outside of our comfort zone certainly but that was important for us too.
Niall: All credit for the video is due to Ged and Allyn of Spiceburger fame, we merely greenlighted the process and then watched the magic happen. (not literally, that would be creepy!)
Barry: Not altogether surprised by its popularity (look at the subject matter!). Obviously delighted at the exposure it’s given us. Also very happy it’s been received for what it was hoped to be. An honest, unvarnished and sweet look at intimacy and couples being, well, couples. Some initial “will we really do this” was very quickly replaced by a willingness to trust Ged and Allyn. That and we wanted to do something completely different.
Best gig you’ve played? And best festival you played/attended?
Daniel: We just played a gig on Saturday at a massive house party in Clontarf which was pretty special. It wasn’t the biggest crowd but it was really good fun and a very different atmosphere to paid shows in typical venues. I really enjoyed the Bradley’s show in Cork too (really!). The Cork crowds have always been very good to us. We didn’t do that many festivals this year actually, unless my memory has just deserted me but Indiependence was good fun and we got to meet some other artists who we are fans of us which was cool.
Niall: Best gig we’ve played this year would have to be the launch in the Grand Social, not only playing to some of our favourite people but people who’ve joined in this thing along the way. Best festival I’ve attended is ATP, which I wish I was at right now.
Colin: Played – Grand Social album launch in Dublin or Bradley’s in Cork (no really!). Playing with Johnny Marr was a bit insane too, bit overwhelming, you know sharing a stage with one of most influential guitarists of the two and a half decades. Independence in Cork was brilliant this year I thought, the gig was fun but the general buzz around this site was great. I really enjoy going to Cork and I’m not sure what it is! Attended – I’m a little jaded from gigs this year unfortunately since we play/practice so much ourselves, but I was left with nice memories from Ethan Johns in the Sugar Club earlier this year.
Barry: Bradley’s in Cork this year was fantastic. Spike Hill in Brooklyn at last year’s CMJ was also just one of those shows. Primavera Barcelona this year was fantastic to attend. My body took a while to forgive me though.
What are some of your favourite songs of the year?
Daniel: One of my recent discoveries is Speedy Ortiz, I got their album a while back and it is brilliant. They’ve got a track called ‘Tiger Tank’ which is great but the whole album is worth getting. The new Squarehead album is brilliant too. I only really listen to albums so I never know the names of specific songs. I still think that albums are the best way to listen to music.
Niall: Favourite song of the year, hmmm ‘Shame Chamber’ by Kurt Vile fairly blew my mind.
Colin: Beck – ‘I Won’t Be Long’.
Deptford Goth – ‘Union’.
Squarehead – ‘Pulse’
Barry: Squarehead – ‘2025’
Speedy Ortiz – ‘Tiger Tank’; Chvrches – ‘Gun’
Which new bands, Irish or abroad, have you been impressed by this year?
Daniel: Otherkin played with us on Saturday and they were great. Hurdles and Go Swim in Belfast. Oh Boland down in Galway/Tuam. Elastic Sleep down in Cork. We tried to get bands to play with us that we really liked and thought would work well with us and we were very lucky that it paid off. Internationally I seem to have spent a lot of time listening to bands with female vocalists like Speedy Ortiz and Savages.
Niall: Lots of new Irish bands to be impressed by; Otherkin, Women’s Christmas, Ghost Maps, #1s. International, I’m pretty slow on, I’ll hear this years big stuff next year. Although Parquet Courts was hands down the best show I saw this year, a sweaty Monday in Whelan’s.
Colin: International – Beach Fossils & Merchandise are my favourites from this year.
Irish – Hurdles. We played with them in Belfast and they have a great French pop sound.
Barry: I’ll stick to Irish – Hurdles & Elastic Sleep. From opposite ends of the country and both very impressive at what they do. Big things from them in 2014 I think.
And finally, what plans have Bouts got in the works for 2014?
Daniel: We’re not sure exactly what the plans are for 2014 yet. We’ve a few ideas that we would like to see come to fruition but we’re keeping them under wraps until we finalize the details. We’ll tour the album and try to get it into as many people’s hands as possible and see how it goes from there.
Niall: 2014 will see us hopefully tour the UK, Europe, North America, Japan, China and Siberia, if any of that list comes true I’ll be happy. Happy in Siberia. There may also be some sort of one of something, somewhere, songwise. We had 27 songs for this album at one stage.
Barry: A musical. Yes, definitely a musical.