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Published on August 10th, 2010 | by Lisa McInerney

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Spirits At Indiependence: Interview with Agbonlahor’s Muireann.

Spirits? Hennessy and Tanora, to be precise. But there’s more to being a young, Irish rockstar than questionable beverages and festival shenanigans – there’s also … erm …

Anyway, Agbonlahor are a four-piece, post-punk-pop outfit who formed in 2008. In the last year, they have tread the boards with Blood Red Shoes and New Young Pony Club and are currently preparing for their debut release and a national tour in late September. Muireann Holly, “bassist, vocalist and token pair of ovaries in the band”, took some time out of her Tanora-chugging schedule to answer a few questions about this year’s Indiependence experience.

Bonjour Muireann of Agbonlahor! Tell us a bit about the Indiependence experience that we were just banging on about in the paragraph above.

As a teenager, music festivals were what got me through the school year. I remember watching bands like Arctic Monkeys, Klaxons and Bloc Party in their prime and thinking ‘Some day, Muirsy, you too will spend your summers singing in big fields full of happy campers.’ So the thought of playing festivals really excites me. Music festivals, especially smaller ones like Indiependence, are huge opportunities for bands like Agbonlahor to reach new audiences. And I do love a big stage to lord about on, so playing mainstage was mighty craic altogether.

You lot have played Indiependence before. How did this year compare to last?

This was our second year playing Indiependence and I was impressed by the strides taken by the organisers to step up their game. It felt more like a mini Electric Picnic, very slick and a bit fancier then last year.

So you lot are festival veterans now, all stress-free and chillin’ before your set?

I think as a band we have grown a lot in the last year and were a lot more prepared for festival season the second time round. I was a lot more relaxed and less fixated on the word ‘artist’ on my wristband! The set we prepared for the festival season was a lot more concise and attention grabbing, whereas last year we were feeling around in the dark, a bit unsure of what foot was the best one to put forward!

What were the crowd like?

Quite responsive! It began to rain as soon as we started, so I worried that people would flock to the shelter of one of the marquee stages, but people stuck around. Four songs in and I could see complete strangers singing along to a chorus here and there, which is something I have never experienced before but could definitely get used to. We did a lot of canvassing before hand, handing out badges and flyers, talking to people. I believe a personal touch is important when you are working from the ground up like Agbonlahor, and it definitely drew a few more bodies to our stage when we started.

This year’s line up was pretty damn funk-ah. What other bands did you get to see? Meet any other interesting muso-types?

I didn’t get to stick around for the whole weekend so, unfortunately, our own set was the only one I caught. If I had been around, I would have been up the front for Adebisi Shank and John Blek and the Rats on the Sunday. Two great live bands worth checking out.

Ah, but you must have a festival story. Someone must have burnt the tent down at some stage?

This year, we didn’t get much of a chance to stick around, but last year we camped and soaked up the atmosphere for the whole weekend. I remember fondly being backstage with Dominic (Agbonlahor’s lead guitarist) before Fight Like Apes hit the stage last year and being handed a bottle of vodka by MayKay, which we dutifully chugged. I also burned the ear off Heathers about cheese (we were in Mitchelstown, I’m from Charleville, they are Dubliners … it made sense at the time). So for that reason, I try to avoid talking to other bands for too long as I only open my mouth to sing or to change feet.

WAS THERE FREE BEER?

Yes there was! It’s a huge perk of the trade.

What’s the Irish scene like for independent / unsigned / new bands?

It is difficult, definitely a hard slog. But when you are committed to a band and believe in what you’re doing, it doesn’t feel like such an effort. There is a huge risk in Ireland, well in Cork anyway, of falling into a rut where you do a few gigs a month for your buddies who pat you on the back and tell you you’re great and that’s as far as it goes. That kind of complacency is something that Agbonlahor try to avoid at all costs. In fact, it terrifies us. We have to keep moving or we get anxious. Like sharks … Of course it is lovely when people compliment the band, but all comments – good, bad or indifferent – have to roll off our backs.

Who’s your favourite Irish band (that’s not Agbonlahor)?

Two Door Cinema Club at the moment! Bright guitar pop at its most intelligent.

Who are you lot listening to at the moment?

Well, I can only speak for myself … *checks ipod* Oh dear, the soundtrack to ‘Wicked‘. Hello, I’m Muireann and I am a musical theatre addict. I am listening to a lot of Kate Bush, mainly ‘The Dreaming’ and ‘The Sensual World’. The woman can do no wrong. The new She & Him album is deliciously maudlin. Zooey Deschanel has a voice that would make me weep at my most hardiest. I kind of want to brush her hair and tell her everything will be alright. Im also on a wee bit of Frank Zappa bender. Wow, this answer makes me sound like a right schiz … However, I shall soldier on.

What’s next for Agbonlahor?

As we speak, we’re in the studio recording our first EP, due out mid September. I am so excited about it I could wee. Lots of gigs coming up late September/early October. Keep an eye on our Myspace and Facebook for that. Then, well, onwards and upwards! Only time will tell.

And lastly, what’s Agbonlahor’s #1 festival tip? Electric Picnic ticket-holders need to know!

Hennessy and Tanora. Agbonlahor’s drink of choice. In all seriousness, just be prepared. A good hoodie, a fine pair of wellies and remember to knock as much craic out of the weekend as possible.

 

As always, you can check out Agbonlahor’s tuneage on their Myspace and Facebook pages (as per linkies above). And don’t forget, if you like what you hear, support the band by turning up at their gigs with massive glasses of Hennessy and Tanora.

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About the Author

That cranky young wan from award-winning blog, Arse End Of Ireland, Lisa’s also noted for her dedication to cobbling together unrelated imprecations to make new and bemusing insults, mostly because she’s not eloquent enough to otherwise explain her deep-seated terror of genre fiction and Fianna Fail. In 2006, The Irish Times called her “… the most talented writer at work in Ireland today”, and her mam still can’t understand why this is better than being the new Marian Keyes. Which it totally is. Alright? Website Twitter: @SwearyLady Facebook.com/sweary Last FM: LeislVonTrapp



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