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The Thrills Interview
By alexander laurence

The Thrills are a new group of five friends from Dublin, Ireland, who have come out of nowhere to impress the European music scene. So there were a lot of expectations in New York City for their first American show during the recent CMJ festival. I can tell you that I was there and I saw the light. They were well received and won over the crowd, mostly made up of jaded journalists who had seen it all. There take on California music is reminiscent of Gram Parsons and The Beach Boys. It turns out that much of their inspiration was taken from a visit to San Diego in 1999. Many of their songs about Big Sur and Santa Cruz have this romantic idealization and longing about them that is unique. And with great pop songs like "Don't Steal Our Sun" and "One Horse Town," The Thrills really are thrilling.

Their 2003 debut album, So Much for the City, has finally been released here in America. It was one of the biggest debuts in the UK along with records by The Darkness and Interpol. This record really began two years ago when Morrissey discovered them. He offered them an opening spot on a London gig. Soon they were signed to a label and were ready to do this album back in California. I got to talk to the leaders and childhood friends, Conor Deasy and Daniel Ryan, during their stay in New York City. We hung out on their bus outside the Bottom Line while their crew slept on the other side. After a few drinks and a few false starts we got to talk about the music of The Thrills.

Conor Deasy: Vocals
Daniel Ryan: Guitars and Vocals
Ben Carrigan: Drums
Kevin Horan : Keyboards
Padraic McMahon: Guitars and Vocals


AL: How long has the band been together?

Conor: Since we were about sixteen. We are all twenty-four now.

AL: Are there a lot of live shows and an indie scene in Dublin?

Conor: Not really. A little bit. When you are growing up you don't realize that Dublin is different than most cities. Most of the music is based on live shows. There is a big live scene of Irish bands that play at the pub. They don't get out of Dublin too often. Then there is a big scene for bands who are well known there, but who nobody else knows. JJ72 is one of the few bands that broke out of Ireland, but it's hard for Irish bands in the UK. London has been slow to pick up on them.

AL: Have you been offered to play with U2?

Daniel: No, we haven't. We are not big U2 fans. I don't know if we would do it or not. I don't think it's a good idea for an Irish band to go out with U2.

AL: Did you release other records or EPs before you did this album?

Conor: We put out an EP of our old demos that we recorded when we were younger. We recorded them in a cheap Dublin studio during the night.

Daniel: It was the first single released by Virgin Records. It was an EP of demos.

AL: When did you start recording So Much For The City?

Conor: This time, a year ago, around Fall 2002. We recorded it in two months in a studio in Hollywood called Sound Factory.

Daniel: Ryan Adams has been doing stuff there.

AL: Did you bump into anyone there?

Conor: We bumped into Slash from Guns & Roses.

AL: Who produced it?

Conor: A guy called Tony Hoffer. He did records with Beck and Air. He's a good guy. It was a good experience. We were looking for people to work with. We saw who he had produced in the past, so we thought he would be good. We rang him up. We spoke to him on the phone and he seemed like an easygoing guy. He didn't have a big fucking ego.

AL: Are all these tracks live takes?

Daniel: Yeah. That is a good way to work.

AL: Does it take a lot of practice to do harmonies?

Daniel: Yeah it does. We haven't perfected it, but we are getting there.

AL: Who does most of the songwriting?

Conor: I usually do most of the songwriting. Then we work hard together to make a song come together.

AL: How do you know when you have a proper song?

Conor: We have an egg timer. We usually give ourselves an hour and an half to complete a song. We stop there and hopefully by then it's all-together.

AL: You work fast.

Daniel: If it's not happening after an hour, it's not worth pursuing it.

AL: How many songs have you written?

Daniel: We have about 170 songs.

AL: Do you play out all of those songs?

Conor: We like stacking them up. That means that we can release six albums after we break up.

Daniel: Most of them are recorded. We play a lot of them at soundcheck before a gig. We did a secret gig in Dublin. We played all our songs over two days. It was at an art gallery.

AL: Did you take any breaks?

Daniel: We took only one break. We went home to go to bed and then we came back and finished the next day. It was two seven hour sets. It was the tightest gig we ever did.

AL: Did people stay for both shows?

Daniel: Yeah, because we are quite big in Ireland. It was one of the best gigs we ever did.

AL: I saw a band play for three hours the other night.

Conor: That's a stroll in the park to us. In Toronto, we played for four hours. But most of the shows on this American tour are going to be 45 minutes.

AL: Are you pretty excited to be playing in New York City?

Conor: Yeah. It's a rock and roll city.

AL: I saw you play at six in the morning on Channel Two on one of the morning shows. I left the TV on and I woke up and there you were. I was thinking that I have to interview you guys the next day. Have you been here in New York a while?

Conor: Really. It was an acoustic session. We did it a few days ago.

Daniel: We played at the Mercury Lounge first, then went to Boston and Toronto. Now we are back.

AL: Have you played in America before?

Daniel: No, we have been here before. We did mostly traveling and spreading the word. We hung out in California in 1999 and 2000. We didn't do any tours. We played some shows once in while. We did about thirty shows but they were shitty. There were about ten people there.

Conor: The bars would kick us off after an hour. We would just be getting warmed up about then. It's strange. Since then we have only played short shows in America. Americans don't like us playing more than 45 minutes.

AL: What do you think about that?

Conor: Some songs have long guitar jams and people aren't into that.

AL: When I listen to your record I think of many Californian records made during the 1970s. What other sorts of music do you like?

Conor: We love Classic West Coast. We also like Frank Sinatra, Air and Daft Punk.

AL: What's the hardest thing about being in a band?

Daniel: Probably sleeping on the bus. It's hard to fall asleep on a bus at night. Trying to keep Kev on the straight and narrow.

AL: Is this bus going to be trashed by the end of the tour?

Conor: It's getting crazy just the three of us on this couch. This is our third bus and it's only been four days on tour.

AL: What does your family think of your records?

Daniel: They despise them.

Conor: They think that rock and roll is Satan's music. They hate it. We don't tell them too much about it because it will upset them too much.

AL: Did you have a real religious upbringing?

Daniel: Yeah. Kev's dad is like… have you heard of Benny Hinn?

AL: Yeah, he's a televangelist. But he's American right?

Daniel: He is, but Kev's dad is like the Benny Hinn of Ireland. When Benny Hinn came to Ireland, Kev's dad supported him. They have created amazing miracles. They made grannies walk again. He's cured people of disease.

AL: Has the Thrills healed people with the force and power of the music?

Daniel: We have. Our manager had a real bad back problem. We healed that.

Conor: Anyone who has heard "One Horse Town" has been healed.

AL: What is going through your mind during a live show?

Daniel: I'm really freaking out and getting really aggressive.

Conor: I get lost and go nuts.

AL: How was Glastonbury this year?

Daniel: It was amazing. It was good fun hanging out with the other bands. We made a barbecue and the whole bus caught fire, so that was expensive.

AL: Did you meet any of your musical heroes at any of these festivals this summer?

Daniel: Echo and The Bunnymen. We saw them at T in the Park. Ian McCulloch told us that he likes The Thrills.

AL: You have been playing almost non-stop for three years. How many more places are going to go after this?

Daniel: After the American tour, we have two weeks in Europe, and two weeks in Africa. Then we go to England for a week. After that is Australia and Ireland. We were supposed to go to the North Pole, but the promoter is fucking around with us a little bit.

AL: Are there any side projects?

Daniel: Kev is doing a solo record. It's like the Neil Young thing: he has a movie to go with it. I am actually directing it. I might star in it. It's like Silence of The Lambs.

Conor: It's called "Setting The Record Straight."

AL: Have you read any good books recently?

Conor: I just finished reading Hooking Up by Tom Wolfe.

AL: Have you seen any films?

Conor: I like Rambo III.

Daniel: Beverly Hills Cop just came out in Ireland.

AL: What should people expect when they come out to see The Thrills?

Daniel: Mayhem, basically.

AL: What are your songs about really?

Conor: They are escapist songs. We were having a real shitty time at home. They are meant to take us away from where we were. We used to have all these friends in California. They used to have really beautiful girlfriends and beautiful apartments. They were all buff and pumped up. When we saw them next, they were in shambles. They were out of shape, their girlfriends had left them, and they had lost their apartments. California has a lot of potential for falling off the track.

AL: All those dreams of California are an illusion?

Conor: If we spent a few weeks there, we might have come back with a postcard image. We spent more time there, so we came back with a more rounded version of California life.

AL: Do you have any hobbies?

Daniel: Bowling. I could be semi-professional. I have bowled a perfect game.

Conor: I like Badminton.

AL: I played in high school.

Conor: You should play Kev. He's an amazing player. He good with the wrists.

AL: Anything else?

Daniel: Fishing is good.

AL: With your dad?

Daniel: Yeah, with my pop!

AL: Who does your website?

Conor: My pop does the website.

AL: When are you going to come out with another record?

Conor: Maybe next September, in 2004.

AL: Are there any other bands that you like?

Conor: The Rapture and Interpol, to name two New York bands. We also like The Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, Beck, and Super Furry Animals.

Daniel: I like The Libertines, The Strokes, The White Stripes, The Coral, Dexy's Midnight Runners, and The Band.

AL: What is an average day like for you guys?

Daniel: Get up.

Conor: Have a drink.

AL: What time do the drinks start?

Conor: Before lunchtime.

AL: How many days can you drink before stopping for a rest?

Daniel: Every Sunday we only drink whiskey. That is rejuvenating.

Conor: Every two weeks we take a day off. We like to keep it in perspective. Drinking is part of life.

AL: Every day of your life you have had a drink?

Daniel: Not every day, but since I was nine or ten.

Conor: In Ireland, we can get into pub very early. When we first went to San Diego we couldn't get into bars. We couldn't believe it. What the fuck is this shit. We were twenty and we had been drinking in bars for ten years. We went to Tijuana.

AL: Were are the hipster places in Dublin?

Daniel: The Temple Bar. It's in downtown Dublin.

AL: Any more messages to the fans?

Daniel: Keep the faith in music and in drinking. Find methods of mayhem.

Conor: Get those drinks down.

AL: And come see The Thrills.



--Alexander Laurence


Website: www.thethrills.com

[photos by Danna Kinsky]

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