J.J Lee gives the first of a series of interviews with Cork's brightest musicians. This week, he talks to Rich City Vultures.
The music scene in Cork is literally heaving at the seams with young, talented bands. This is a city that promotes music; it’s invested in it. Murals of Rory Gallagher adorn street walls, lyrics from Cork natives ‘Sultans of Ping’ tastefully embellish electricity boxes outside the Peoples Park and buskers are a mainstay of the symbiotic vibe of Leeside.
Fortunately, there are a number of supportive venues throughout Cork city which provide a platform for these new acts to flourish, Fred Zeppelins, The Bru Bar, Cyprus Avenue to name but a few. My aim with this piece is to give a voice to these aspiring musicians, much needed publicity as the sheer standard of musicianship, song writing and diversity of genre located in the Rebel County is something that needs to be shared.
With that in mind, this inaugural edition will focus on Mallow natives Rich City Vultures. A hard hitting, contradictorily intricate, grungy three-piece consisting of guitarist Cónal Murphy, Patrick Greaney on vocals, and James Barry behind the kit. The boys are releasing their debut EP this coming week so I sat down with Mr. Murphy to ask a few quick questions.
Q – Cheers Cónal for taking the time out for this, so just firstly a bit of background, when and how did the Band form?
About 3 years ago, myself and Paddy were in another band that came to an end. The two of us were jamming together and we were looking for a drummer and it took us around 3 or 4 months to realize our friend James played drums. So eventually we realized and then we got together in a room, jammed for a week and headed off and played our first gig pretty much.
Q – If you could narrow it down, what genre would you roughly place yourselves in?
This has caused us stress… We describe ourselves as Alternative Rock on social media but what that actually means is very vague. I like to describe ourselves as loose, dynamic but in a groove with each other. It’s one of the things that plagues me; aggressive, dynamic, rock music… but we do like our ambient sections (laughs). I hate trying to pin down a genre.
Q – Well, following on from that, what are some of your influences?
It varies for all of us. I started as a grunge/punk listener, now I play anything from trad, folk, blues, metal, rock, whatever. James started on a mixture of Irish stuff; his mother loves the classics, Mary Black and stuff. He eventually moved into pop punk and the like. He loves hip-hop and rap as well. Paddy started as a massive metal head but loves musicals too, again he listens to everything from electronic through to metal, to folk. We listen to an array of things really.
Q – Generally, what does the song writing process entail?
In the early days, it was a bit all over the place. Paddy wrote a little bit, then I’d finish it with him. Nowadays, I’ll write the bulk of stuff, the music, vague structure, lyrics and then bring it to the lads. Sometimes I’ll bring it to Paddy first, or sometimes James first, or sometimes we just bash at it in one weird go. I’ll give Paddy a vague idea for melody and he usually takes it and runs with it. Sometimes it can go somewhere totally different. It’s just a matter of jamming it out. Even on the release now, there’s stuff we play so differently. I suppose it’s because we recorded it so long ago.
Q – Would you say the music has evolved over time?
Definitely, we still play a handful of songs that we wrote at the start but we even play them differently, especially to how they were written. In the early days, we were still finding our feet in this dynamic because Paddy had never sang lead, it was my own first proper experience with song-writing and James hadn’t played drums in a band in a while. It just took us awhile to find our footing. It was really when Paddy stepped back from playing bass, we started to really find ourselves. We’ve had a variety of really good friends play bass for us, thankfully, we owe a lot to them, and they’ve helped us out massively.
Q – From that then to a live perspective, do you tend to change the songs much from what you’ve recorded or does it remain the same?
Well, most of the songs we tend to adapt and make some of the biggest changes to when we play live. There’s been massive changes because in the moment, something's clicked in our head and we’ve thought yeah, we’ll do that. The biggest differences (from the recording) are the lack of backing vocals. Due to the lack of backing vocals, Paddy may change from the different vocal lines he’s recorded; one chorus, he might do one and then for the other chorus, he might do another. The other biggest change is the guitar parts. A lot of the secondary parts hadn’t been written until we went to record mainly because we’re a fairly spontaneous band, we’re not overly rigid. A lot of things I expanded upon and brought into the live performance after that, I guess.
Q – Favourite Venue/Gig?
I suppose the venue we’ve played the most is Fred Zeppelins, it’s a mainstay. To some people who might have notions, maybe they feel they're above it but it’s fun, it’s small, if there’s any bit of a crowd it gets packed and it’s hot as hell. We’ve played some great gigs in there now. Our first time playing in Dublin was special, playing in Fibber Magee’s.
Q – With self-promotion being an absolute necessity for up and coming bands, do you feel a heavy online presence is important In this day and age?
It is certainly to a degree, like, when we play gigs we have people of all ages come up to us afterwards, whether they’re there for us or other people, but they stay and listen, but certainly to a younger audience, if you’re trying to promote a gig or trying to spread your music. Are we the best at it? Certainly not. We enjoy using Instagram, but there’s things like Twitter we don’t use enough. Facebook, we have bursts of activity. If we’re quiet for a bit we try not to get too hung up about it.
Q – Lastly, what does the future hold for Rich City Vultures, where can we see you guys play next?
Unfortunately, there are no planned dates at the moment. We are extensively geographically challenged with Paddy being in Dublin with the past 3 years and James also moving to Dublin for work. So, yeah, at the moment we’re releasing the EP, were hoping to get listeners and hopefully line up gigs when we can.