It was in the plush surrounds of the Radisson Hotel Golden Lane that I caught up with the golden boys of the Irish rock scene – Royseven. Still fresh from the success of their album ‘You Say, We Say’, the likeable Dubliners had been invited along to sample EA’s latest release – Need for Speed Most Wanted. Keen gamers, it was something they were only too happy to do, and Culch.ie was only too happy to sit in on some inter-band sparring as lads discussed their console fetishes and plans for the future.
Culch: So who is the best gamer?
Paul: It’s probably Sam….well, Sam’s probably the most dedicated gamer in that he’s constantly online playing games!
Sam: I grew up playing games, I had every console going from C64 to Amiga 500 then on to NES…
Lego: My first was an Amstrad and you had to load it up – it was a tape. It’d take fifty minutes to load…
Culch: …and then it’d crash!
Lego: YES! And if you forgot to hit ‘reset’ on the counter you wouldn’t know where you were!
Paul: The gaming thing really took off for us when we were touring around Europe as it was something that could unite us. If you’ve six lads on a tour bus it’s very hard to agree on a movie to watch, but you can stick a game on and keep everyone happy.
Sam: Plus we like the trash-talk that goes on.
Paul: We all have different tastes, Dazzy and I like the WW2 games like Medal of Honour, and I went through a few Halo phases. Sam is big into his World of Warcraft, or Nerd of Warcraft as we like to call it. (Whispers) It’s his life!
Sam: (Feigning offence) If you’ve ever tried it, it’s a different kind of game it lasts so long…
Paul: It lasts about five years for him, so it’s either really difficult or he’s really crap! But seriously, we do play a lot of games so something like this – the launch of Need for Speed – makes sense for us to do.
Bernard: Games like Need for Speed have that competitive edge to them too, so if there’s any tension within the band, it helps dissolve it.
Culch: It may surprise people to know that Royseven are around almost ten years (since 2003).
Paul: We’re as surprised as anyone! Ireland really took off for us last year so we spent a lot of time here. Then we were back in Germany (the band’s record label – Roadrunner – is in Cologne, and their management company is also German-based) supporting One Republic. It’s been an over and back thing, which is has been since we started. Our first album sold more in Germany than it did in Ireland.
Culch: How did it come about that you were signed by a German management company?
Paul: Somebody saw us play and word of mouth spread to this publishing company in Germany, and they came along to see us and we signed with them soon after. So that’s where it all started, and I think we’re all glad it did because I’m not sure we’d be sitting here had we not taken that road.
Culch: Being on the go for almost ten years as you are, and with success only having arrived relatively recently, did you ever consider quitting?
Paul: No, I don’t think so. It’s only in the last couple of years that we’ve had any kind of profile, so if we were gonna give up we’d have done it before then. Even if we’d have had no success, I think we’d still have carried on playing small venues.
Eamonn: I think it’s more individually, where people have their dark days and think ‘what am I doing this for’. But it has never happened where all six of us would think that. Generally if someone is feeling down, the optimism of your band mates keep you going. That’s probably one of the benefits of having so many people in the band – if there were only three of us it might be more difficult.
Culch: So what’s coming up for you?
Paul: We’ve got quite a few offers of gigs coming up in Ireland, but it’s a small market and we’re very conscious that we don’t want to saturate that market. So we need to pick and choose where we’re gonna play, which is a great position for us to be in. We also need to write the next album, which we’re going back to do shortly. We’ve also been working with RTÉ on a new show called ‘The Hit’ which is a TV talent-show format which highlights the role of the song-writer in the industry. It was nice to be part of because it showed a side of the industry that people don’t really see. The whole talent-show format is quite tired, so this was something a little bit different.
Culch: Speaking of talent shows, would you say that they have helped rock music back to the forefront, simply because people are sick of pop acts? Listening to the radio nowadays, a lot of what gets played would have been considered alternative or indie ten or fifteen years ago but is now mainstream.
Paul: That’s an interesting observation, and I’d tend to agree. But you go on to Facebook any given Saturday night and people are talking about X-Factor. They might be giving out about it, but they’re still watching it…..I don’t get it. It’s kind of a worry though, because it’s lowering the standards of people’s expectations of music, and it’s debasing the artform.
Eamonn: What it also does it is gives this unrealistic impression of overnight success which doesn’t happen. We’ve been going ten years and it’s a hard slog, but a show like the X-Factor makes people believe that they can sing for 6 weeks and become a massive star. It’s very rare that that happens as we can see from previous some winners and where they are now.
Paul: I’ve spoken to people who work on some of the shows we’ve mentioned, and what’s missing is a learning curve, whereby people can leave a show like that, regardless of when they leave it, and say ‘I now know more – I’m empowered, and I can move forward with my career’. After shows like The Voice (of Ireland) last year, I got phone calls from about four of the contestants who had made it to the last few shows asking ‘What’s next? What do I do? What’s a record contract? What does a publishing company do? How do I get a gig? What’s a promoter do?’ And there has to be some responsibility on the production company to help these guys out with this kind of thing. I just don’t think it’s fair, and with a little bit of extra work, you could have all those things. At least then you’d have people leaving these shows saying ‘You know what, even though I didn’t win it, I know stuff now that I did NOT know twelve weeks ago.’ But they’re just using people for good TV, and I guess if you realised that going into it, then you’re ok. That said, that’s the way it’s going and you either get on board with it, or you get thrown off the conveyor belt. And maybe that’s the reason we played on The Voice and we did The Hit, and if people are watching those shows then they can decide if we’re any good or not.
With that, it was time to leave the lads to Need for Speed Most Wanted and their complimentary beers, and scuttle away.
Need for Speed Most Wanted is available now from Smyths, Gamestop and Xtravision stores nationwide.