Sunday, February 17, 2019, marked a decade since Delorentos announced they were splitting up. One of the big buzz bands in Dublin in the mid-noughties, it seemed to mark a turning point in the scene, coming just a couple of months into the ecomonic recession. Golden Plec ran a nice piece on the day itself to mark the anniversary, featuring contributions from Ham Sandwich, John Barker (Totally Irish) and Dan Hegarty, who said: “Any band that manages to hold it together, survive, and successfully release music for as long as Delorentos deserve a statue erected in their honour. If you’ve followed this band’s career, you’ll be very aware of their ups and downs.” I loved In Love With Detail, Delorentos’ debut album, released on their own label in April 2007. Second album You Can Make Sound followed, after the brief split, in October 2009. They’ve since gone on to make their best work, Little Sparks winning the Choice Prize 2013 and True Surrender nominated for this year’s Choice Prize. Last year, ahead of a national tour, I talked to Nial Conlan about the band’s career and that great current album. We also discussed the infamous split. You can read those pertinent comments in full below. For the full, inspiring chat with Nial, listen to the TPOE podcast here, on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you get your pods.

Here’s the full Wikipedia entry about Delorentos’ split, some of which I read out to Nial: The band’s overall low profile in 2008 was initially thought to be due to them spending time working on their second album. However, in December 2008, Delorentos explained in their MySpace blog that a potential record deal had fallen through due to the prospective label encountering financial problems. Added to this, the collapse of Pinnacle, their distribution company, denied the band a chance to release their album in the United Kingdom. Their blog entry stated that “these are strange times for everyone, and for us in the music industry there has been a lot of uncertainty. It just happened that our opportunity coincided with this extraordinary time.” After performing a number of shows with fellow Dubliners Director, Delorentos announced their break-up on 17 February 2009. The split came about after Yourell decided to leave the band due to his desire to “do other things”. A MySpace entry stated: “It’s with a very heavy heart that we have to let you know that Ronan has decided to leave the band. He feels its best for him to move on and do other things. The three of us will still be making music and will let you know about what happens next”. However, they still planned to record their second album, believed to be titled You Can Make Sound, in March 2009 – it would contain all the songs they had written in the previous year – and play “a gig or two” as part of a farewell tour. The band’s farewell tour included shows in Whelan’s in Dublin and Cyprus Avenue in Cork. Reaction to the split was generally one of shock – The Kinetiks were amongst the neighbouring bands they had influenced, Jacqui Carroll attributed her discovery of Irish music to an early Delorentos show, whilst blogger UnaRocks, John Walshe of State, Jonnie Craig and others had recently been championing the band’s sound. On 22 April 2009, the band announced they would not split after all, citing a newfound excitement for recording as their reason. Yourell later explained that the band signing away their independent stance only to be let down by their record company had “knocked us out of our stride” and had led to him considering his future.

And here’s Nial Conlan on the split:
So much of that is so dated – Myspace blogs, even playing with Director, that’s mad. I think, if I’m being honest, we were breaking up for a couple of months. That blog post, we weren’t going to put anything out but our manager at the time insisted that we were clear in case anyone was wondering, they knew so that they wouldn’t be hassling him or us or whatever, that it was just clear. That had been going on for months. I’d forgotten about the Pinacle thing to be honest, obviously the record deal that was the first time; having released the first album ourselves on our own label and really enjoying that picking up thousands of CDs in the back of my Ciacento and dropping them off to record shops, that was kinda cool. Kieran and I are big evangelists for independent stuff, not least in a band, so that was a cool thing to go through. And then all of a sudden these guys came along, your Mr America, moneybags, blank cheque people and the guy who was involved in Virgin, I think he’d been involved with the White Stripes’ first deal, there were a couple of songwriter guys and some people we didn’t meet. It was kinda exciting and weird at the same time. I know we felt a bit ambiguous about it; on the one hand it seems like a great opportunity and on the other hand, even then there was a lady who was like, you’re gonna have to lie about your ages because you’re too old at whatever we were, 24 or something at the time. It’s really weird and insidious as well.

Essentially we had taken ages to make You Can Make Sound. All of this had gone on [while] the economy collapsed, most of our mates started emigrating, we’re all broke, we couldn’t do anything with the songs we had. At the time, Ro left but it could have been any one of us. There was all sorts of personal stuff going on, people’s lives, plenty of reasons to walk away. And to be honest with you I think it was the best thing that happened to the band. That might sound counter intuitive but we had to blow it up to start again. I don’t think we realised that. I remember during that period of time, me and Ro would’ve spent quite a bit of time in coffee shops just talking. There was a weird mixture of relief and nervousness and then when we decided to ‘Alright let’s record this album’, it was Kieran who had the idea of getting Ro to play his parts. So I talked to Ro and he agreed to do that and then by the end of the process it was so much fun, with Garth Mannix and getting an album together – finally a second album together! – that we talked about getting back together. I actually felt a bit weird about that because I didn’t want to… it’s like you’re spurned by a partner and then they come back to you, you’re wary, right?

But we went forward together in good faith and we promised to be honest with each other and to give each other a break, that it was about, first and foremost we made a pact that we were friends, right? That might sound lame but there were times you’d be surprised something comes up: ‘Oh I know you’ve broken your leg but we’ve got this Brazilian gig so y’know, how about these Brazilian painkillers?’ People’s headspaces as well, it’s happened loads of times with people being absolutely burnt out and shattered. You have to go ‘OK maybe now’s not the time to do this, and that’s cool, because we want four people who are on the same page. The three guys in the band are among the most creative people that I’ve ever met in my life. I really treasure the time that I get to spend with them and I think we’re all more grateful as a result of it all going away. And to be honest with you, Eoghan, we’ve had everything that could go wrong for a band go wrong. Some of it we talk about, some of it we don’t. We’re still here and like, there comes a point where the music you make or whatever it is that you’re creating, becomes more authentic because you’re not as concerned about the bullshit.

I think it’s such a freeing experience writing True Surrender because our attitude was much, much better. And the same, actually, working with Rob Kirwan; Little Sparks was the album we made after the breakup and it was a completely new approach. Ro always wanted us to expand our musical ideas outside of just a guitar band and we really did that. That was the first time I got an iPad Mini and I started running different music programs through guitar pedals and amps, Ross really started to flourish as a producer and an engineer in his own right, and the music changed as a result; it wasn’t ‘what can four guys play in a room or a club’, it was a completely different approach and it was so much more fun. And like, don’t get me wrong, it can suck, but so can putting the bins out on a Monday morning.

I was talking to the Dublin footballer Diarmuid Connelly… it’s just really interesting. I don’t know any professional GAA players but the notion that you give up so much of your life – everything you have, the weddings you miss, the births you miss – it’s a vocation. And aren’t we lucky that anyone who wants to have a listen to the stuff that we make, or aren’t we lucky that the shit that we make together that we enjoy making it or we think it sounds decent? It’s awesome. And once you get by all the bullshit which really doesn’t matter, like none of that matters. I definitely find that because I’m back and forth between London and Dublin quite a bit, there’s a real difference between fashion and culture. One of the bad things about the music business is that people get caught up in the fashion of it rather than the culture. There’s really, really fantastic music made in Ireland. We punch above our weight so much and nothing has convinced me more of that than spending a bit of time in the UK and even abroad in general – there is fantastic music that’s made for its own sake and I know Hard Working Class Heroes has just finished but like, year after year, we produce amazing stuff and I think it’s because our attitude is focused more on what’s good than what looks good.