Photo by Marta Domínguez
Perhaps the cleverest wordsmith to come out of the new wave of Irish songwriters, Villagers’ Conor O'Brien gnawed the bones of indie rock with “Becoming a Jackal” but it’s taken a few years for the band’s new album, Awayland (Domino) to become uncaged. They’ll mellifluously growl on Wed, Feb 27 at Festsaal Kreuzberg.
How did you start making music?
I guess when I was around 12 my brother taught me how to play some chords on his guitar. Within a week I had written a song with those three chords, and then a week later I had written another song with those same three chords but in a different order. Then, a few weeks later I had learnt the fourth chord and then my whole world opened up.
The student became the master.
I’ve always been really obsessed with music. At the beginning it was always from movies and I would always find it easy to remember tunes. Even at age five or six, I remember singing the songs from films for weeks after I’d seen them. Music is something I’ve always felt very connected to.
And you’re finally letting your bandmates play on your releases.
Yeah. I think it was a little bit hard for me to do that because I’m quite protective of the songs when I write them, but I’m so glad I did because they’ve made the album a lot more like a live album. The band is now more energetic and less flat. It’s a bit more raw. With the first records, I recorded all of the instruments myself, but on the second one I recorded all of the instruments on the demos and then I gave my bandmates the demos and they learnt them. Our main focus when rehearsing the songs was that we wanted it to feel physically good because we knew we were going to have to tour them for the next two years.
Your lyrics often have a dark and sombre feel to them with references to nature and animalistic themes.
I think it’s different for every song. Some of the songs were written when we were on tour; I was kinda inspired by the scenery and our surroundings. I wrote one of the songs when I was on a boat from Vancouver over to Vancouver Island and it was one of the most beautiful sceneries I’ve seen, with all of the mountains and trees. I was really, like, “Wow, so beautiful,” and the simplicity of that. I wrote most of the lyrics on the boat. But when I’m at home it might be something else, like something I’ve read or watched on Youtube. I’ve been really getting into astrophysics, evolutionary biologists and all these kinds of things. I don’t understand them but I’m trying to and I think that has fed into the lyrics a little bit.
Evolutionary biology? You’re a vegetarian.
I am. Although I have recently just started to eat fish. But I don’t like prawns. I’m actually kinda scared of them.
VILLAGERS Wed, Feb 27, 21:00 | Festsaal Kreuzberg, Skalitzerstr. 130, Kreuzberg, U-Bhf Kottbusser Tor