The Cheap Freaks, Ireland’s premier purveyors of premium Garage/rockabilly/punk mayhem, have a new LP out. And it’s really, really, really fucking good. “Bury Them All,” out on Big Neck Records, is one to snatch now, because everyone’s collection is the poorer for it if it’s missing. We spoke with the Freaks about their LP, the Beatles, why the Dropkick Murphys are shite, and unreleased Christmas gems:
WT: You guys recorded 90% of the LP in Dublin, and some of the songs on the LP were on the earlier EP. Do you feel there’s a difference between the old material and the new?
CF: We just did the ones that were chosen, the ones that we felt suitable. A lot of songs were done over a few sessions, so for the EP, it was just the four that we chose…we just thought they were the best to put out.
WT: Can you talk a little bit about the recording? The album does have a lo-fi quality, but all the instruments really come through. Is there any specific thing you recorded or a sound you emulated?
CF: We have our own thing, but we’re obviously influenced by albums and there’s a lot of stuff out there that we would be interested in sounding like….the likes of Reigning Sound, Compulsive Gamblers, that type of thing. But, me and Robbie always have a very clear sound in our heads, and whether that be influenced by something, or how we just want it to sound in our heads, we’ll work to get that right.
WT: How do you write songs? Is it a collaborative effort?
CF: No, it’s joint…it’s collaborative to a degree, it’s like I’ll write a song, bring it in, and someone might have an idea about an arrangement, and it’s the same thing with Robbie. We’ll write a part, and we’ll bring it in, but then we’ll work on them, so generally, we don’t sit there saying ‘right. let’s write a song.’
WT: Do you find there’s creative differences in the process, or are you guys generally on the same page?
CF: Not really…I suppose one of the good things is that we’re writing separately, so there’s a bit of variety in there. On the album, you can hear, there’s kinda different vibes on different songs…we’re coming from the same place, but we’ve different influences to a degree. When we come together, it all fits, though.
WT: Going from that, are there any Cheap Freaks side projects we should watch for?
CF: We done a christmas track a couple years ago [laughs] it was just me and Robbie. We’ve talked about doing a couple things, different vibes, but we’re concentrating on a lot of things, doing a second album, and we’ve got a lot of tracls recorded, we need to finish off…maybe in the future, I’ve got songs sitting there that maybe wouldn’t be suitable, Robbie’s got the same.
WT: Any chance we’ll see the christmas song on wax?
CF: Christ…I dunno, probably not. It’s a bit old, we wouldn’t wanna rehash it. [laughs]
WT: So, was there any particular band/records where you were like “That! I wanna do that!” and started writing your own music?
CF: Well, I started years ago…a big influence at the start woulda been the Beatles, they still are a huge influence…that’s my band. Over the years, a lot of other bands have come in, but the Beatles are like my mainstay. Same as Robbie…influenced by a lot of 60’s stuff. Ya know, the Beatles, Kinks, Stones, all that, but also a lot of 60’s garage…both me and Robbie love the Monks, and goin into the Move, Ray Woods, into the 80’s, the Mummies…that kinda garage revival, but also a lot of melodic stuff, not just full-on garage.
WT: You guys are putting out your LP….any plans for touring/stateside?
CF: We’re going to Belgium and Germany in May…just a short tour, and then Norway later in the year. We’re going to Galway, and Cork with the album. I’d love to go stateside, maybe next year. Probably not this year
WT: I know at least in America, when people think of Irish music, there’s two camps: the traditional stuff, harps and flutes, etc., but then there’s “Irish Rock” – the Pogues, Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly. You’re obviously Irish and play Punk, but you don’t sound like either of those – do you think it’s a fair label?
CF: I don’t think so. there’s obviously a clear view of Irish music…people have a very set opinion of what it is. What you’ve just described are…middle of the road shite that’s in the Irish type. We’re Irish and all, but I don’t think we’re a typical Irish band, compared to what people would think…to listen to the record, we could be from anywhere….I don’t really have much interest in the ‘Irish’ music scene, on a whole apart from the bands I know and I know are good.
WT: Do you feel sidelined by that image?
CF: Not really…that’s why we’d prefer just to get out of the country, and that’s why we went to Europe, Germany, and we wanna go back to Belgium and Norway. There’s only so many venues in Ireland that you can play, and I suppose you’re right about how Irish people view music.
WT: Or even how Americans view Irish music!
CF: There’s a great crowd here tonight…fair play to everyone for coming. People are interested, but in the mainstream, Irish music…is not the type of thing we’re doing. People wouldn’t even be aware of it.
CHEAP FREAKS LIVE AT THE LITTLE GREEN STREET GALLERY, DUBLIN
Photos: Ashley Reese