Following their gigs in Whelan’s and Triskel this weekend, Stuart Nealon caught up with Private Underground Residence’s Paul McNamara for a natter
What bands/ musicians influence the kind of sound you want to develop with Private Underground Residence (PUR)?
Hello Stuart and wearenoisers. Lovely to meet you guys. The general aim with PUR from the start has been to embrace as wide a spectrum of musical sounds as possible. We all love our rock but have a massive influence from electronic music too and often become quite saddened by rockers who just write off dance music or dance heads who won’t engage with anything non-dancy particularly some of the more angular hardcore out there. I’m delighted to see a general trend though of people from both sides embracing the other type of music more and more. It’s very healthy. To answer your question (primarily from my perspective) influences would be Oxes (instrumental perfection), Shipping News (RIP Jason Noble), Fugazi, Jesus Lizard, Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Devo, Radiohead, At the Drive In, Sweep the Leg Johnny, Autechre, Earth, Isis, Loops Haunt, Jackson and His Computer Band, Chris Clark, all things Motown, Joy Division, Connan Mockasin – just do yourself a favour and check out ‘Forever Dolphin Love’ (couldn’t agree more – Ed.) – !!!, Sincabeza, ….(this could go on for a long time). There are also massive influences from around Ireland (everyone should do themselves a favour and check out the new No Spill Blood album, it’s f***in mint). There’s an abundance of great music being produced in this country too at the moment and I would say that equally impacts on the stuff we produce.
I know that no band likes to be pigeon-holed by being linked to a single genre, so I’ll try to avoid that question… But if a deranged interviewer was holding a pistol to your head and you had to describe PUR in three words, what would those words be?!
To use existing terms I would say we’re Electronica Twinged Angular Post Rock with a dash of Pyschedelia And Lime or ETAPRAPAL for short. But that probably won’t catch on and while it’s an abbreviation it’s still an abbreviation for way more than 3 words.
PUR have been together now since 2007. How do you feel the band has evolved since then? Have the expectations that you might have had in the beginning been satisfied?
We’ve come on a bit in terms of, I think, solidifying the sound but we actually still play a lot of the original songs we wrote. ‘Car Crash’ that we released this week for streaming was one of the first songs we wrote. We’ve been writing a lot of pretty heavy songs too recently which is great and upgrading our gear situation a bit which is definitely good for the sound. As regards expectations at the start we just wanted to write songs that were exhilarating for us and that we felt were somewhat original. In those terms I think, for us, we have done and are doing what we set out to do with this band. Also, we’ve had – and are continuing to have – an absolute blast playing gigs around the country and I think people who’ve come to the shows have enjoyed them too so that’s also been a real buzz.
Is the musical direction you’re currently pointing towards completely unrecognisable from the material you might have started off playing or would you consider the gradient of your development to be a little more even?
We don’t really have a pre-specified direction. We get very bored of doing one thing and tend to try and have a lot of variation in the songs, so I think we end up with a lot of different things. It’s also good, I think, in shows to have a bit of a dynamic between heavy and more chilled out numbers. It also adds more punch to the punchier tunes or something. So to answer the question, there’s not really a gradient, more of a let’s just see where this tune takes us kind of aesthetic going on.
I understand you’ve recently finished work on your first album (Dynamics of Idealism), get plugging! What’s the current status of the album?
The album is finished and mastered (after a gruelling two years or so). We’ve sent it around to a few people and it should be out in the coming months (and for anyone who’s heard us saying that for about the last two years we actually genuinely mean it this time). We’ve gotten a great response for the two tracks we’ve put out already and we’re delighted with the final version so cannot wait to get it out there. I suppose watch this space or something of that nature. In the meanwhile we’re just going to do a bunch of shows around the place and generally plug ourselves etc..
One of your previous tracks deals with the computer theorist Alan Turing and the manner that the British authorities treated him following World War II. How have non-musical topics of this nature affected the kind of music you want to produce?
Yes a lot of the tunes are of a political nature. ‘Snuff Box’ is about the ignorance of systemic risk by financial types, and ‘Car Crash’ is about the general lack of bravery and thinking that exist in the legions of people who run countries (well our country anyway). Many more though would be about general observations on life and that. Things like the interactions of our thought processes and how they affect our decisions and the album has been structured to be about the way in which people’s idealism and idealisms in general change over time in the face of reality. The centre point of the album is the tune ‘Your Idealism’ which is about the point at which someone realises an ideal which is central to their outlook in life is at odds with reality and the way that this realisation generates a crisis for the individual in question. We’re planning to write some new tunes about important things like Geordie Shore and beer and stuff though.
And finally, what’s lined up next for PUR?
Album release, plethora of gigs, scandalous sex tape with mandatory front page Irish Star headline, selling out, finding religion, and renouncing our sinful pasts.
Check out ‘Car Crash’ from PUR’s upcoming album Dynamics of Idealism on http://soundcloud.com/p-u-residence/car-crash and pay whatever you wish for ‘Snuff Box’ on http://privateundergroundresidence.bandcamp.com/