Shane Harrington is an artist and musician from Limerick city – tonight he brings his one man-machine to The Phoenix, Cork as OST (Original Soundtrack)
So Shane, for the innocent bystander who doesn’t know you from Adam, tell us a little bit about your background in music and the cross pollination between it and your art.
Shane: Well I have been playing in various DIY bands since I was about 15… I think. I went to see my first gig in Limerick, which turned out to be Fugazi, at around that age. That literally blew my mind and secured me a fantastic future of doing ridiculous things and making no money, which I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. Then I started art college when I was about 20… I think. A lot of my research and practice was based on DIY culture and, you know, that general independent mindset, but I liked to apply that to more… what’s the word? … ‘lifey’ circumstances. Eventually I started to realise that my music and art were both concerned with that idea of ‘snapping out of it’. Be it through drawing, video or guitar I am just really interested in that idea of snapping out of social anesthetics and predetermined modes of being. Plus, you know, effects pedals are cool and stuff!
Your new album Invisible Ink for Sketching Ghosts is quite far removed from what you have done with We Come In Pieces. What attracted you to making this type of music and how does it, for you, compare to the music you made with We Come In Pieces?
Shane: Yeah, We Come In Pieces is much more of a communal effort. It’s three parts making a big, bombastic whole. Whereas with OST, it came out of numerous late night sessions on my own, either in St. Joseph’s (our practice space, and also, aptly enough, a psychiatric hospital) or in my bedroom. I suppose it just started as an outlet to communicate something more quiet and contemplative than the WCIP stuff. At first, I just wanted to make a small, tidy e.p, but over time it morphed into something else. For me it was just a very therapeutic way of working through a period of serious transition. …I hope that’s vague enough. Basically, If We Come In Pieces is Terminator 2 then OST is Lost In Translation… Lost In Translation mixed with The Hangover, maybe. I just find that I am naturally drawn to fairly melancholic and introspective things in art. I don’t find it depressing at all. And I am actually an optimist… I think.
Why did you specifically choose to pursue this as a solo project and also, why use film dialogue?
Shane: I know you can’t hear me but I am putting on a kind of pseudo-intellectual, self deprecating, ‘that guy from The View’ (RTE show) type of Irish accent as I say “Well, you know, the themes and subject matter of the album were just really personal so it wouldn’t have worked collaboratively.” I suppose it was all stuff I just felt I needed to say myself. However, when I found out I couldn’t sing, I was like, how am I gonna say this stuff? I don’t remember exactly when the samples idea came to me. But it made perfect sense to use, what I had seen as the single most influential pieces of art I had experienced in my lifetime, within the work. Especially as they were all pointing to what I felt I was also exploring. Throw in the vocal track takes I could stand, and bobs your uncle!
I guess its also part and parcel (and maybe not always a wise thing) of that whole independent punk mentality, which I have come to call lucid living. I had been collaborating for so long I just wanted to see if I could do it on my own. One of the most time consuming parts of this was just trying to figure out how to write a bloody song. As in ‘how much of this part should there be’ and ‘where does this piece fit.’ It’s a very good way of honing your bullshit detector because, on your own you have to look objectively and be honest and tell yourself ‘Come on, you know that part is shit.’ or ‘This part sounds too much like Tiesto.’
What kind of music/art inspired this record and have you seen anyone perform this kind of work live before?
Shane: It may not be evident in listening to OST but bands like Health and Pictureplane had a huge influence on me. Just that real, visceral confrontational sensibility always got me very excited. Actually, the main thing I was listening to was Jeff Buckley. I named the track ‘Portuguese Rose’ as a nod to Buckley’s ‘Lilac Wine’. I was also really interested in how he actually came from an art background. Also alotta minimal stuff like Koreless as well as very uncool stuff like Incubus. Can never remember cool bands when asked… Art wise, stuff like Ryan Trecartin and Dash Snow come immediately to mind. But really it was any art that had a sort of ethereal, contemplative or ‘lifey’ approach. I like good video art.
I have seen a lot of people blend samples with rock or post rock before but I think the nice thing about this is it’s coming from a more decidedly personal place. That’s not to knock the other stuff, I just think it has different motivation. Like a punk zine, the music is sort of like a collage of loads of different things. Yeah, that sound good!
What can people expect from the live show?
Shane: Immaculate cinematography, perfect pacing, heavy atmosphere and… bloopers!
OST plays The Phoenix, Cork, Fri May 25th, with St Yorda & Une Pipe