The Thrills Interview
By alexander laurence
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Conor: Get those drinks down.
AL: And come see The
[photos by Danna Kinsky]