New track from Shouting at Planes ‘St. Jude EP’ – Interview with singer Liam McCabe

Shouting at Planes (Aodhan McBreen, Liam McCabe, Kevin Kelleher, Garreth Tackney and Brian O’Reilly) have made the first track of their  latest offering St. Jude EP, available on YouTube. The new track, ‘Concrete Jungle’ marks a change in tempo and style for the Cavan quintet, who take influence from indie, alternative and blues music.

To celebrate the release of the new EP, there will be a gig in Whelan’s on wednesday 12th March.

Compared with many of their earlier songs, there is a darker, slower moving maturity to ‘Concrete Jungle’, particularly in lead singer Liam McCabe’s vocals.  Rewind a few years to the sounds of the title track of their last EP, ‘Surrender’, and the difference in approach to song writing and delivery is immediately apparent.

St. Jude EP artwork

The track illustrates an altogether more chilled approach to music – a musical confidence if you will.  The guitar remains a light and bluesy accompaniment for the majority of the song, with a few slickly delivered riffs thrown in to please the ear.  The ripe relaxed vibe to ‘Concrete Jungle’ replaces the somewhat restless feel of the ‘all guns blazing’ (can’t beat liveliness) sound of some tracks off their first EP: ‘The Fall’ ‘Surrender’. However, one cannot forget a track like ‘To the Sea’ from Surrender, which illustrated the band’s ability to craft some truly special and unique music.  

‘Concrete Jungle’, (also the name of a Bob Marley song, if you didn’t immediately realise – homage yet to be confirmed) proves the band knows how to reward the patient listener by showcasing their musical prowess, and the tune builds to a funky indulgence in guitar and sax around the third minute. However, don’t skip just because I said it! Skipping is cheating (yourself).

The band came to be in county Cavan and have been together since 2010. In that same year, just three months after their formation, SAP won a national band competition. The prize? The opportunity to play in one of the biggest and most famous musical festivals in the world – Glastonbury. And so it was that the five performed their 8th gig on ‘The Queen’s Head’ stage to a crowd of shade-seeking music lovers. After a sparkling start in 2010,  SAP have released two singles (‘Hospice’, ‘So Young’) and their first EP (Surrender).

 

Lead singer (and musical multi-tasker), Liam McCabe kindly joined me and my former The Zine co-host Thiago Reboucas for an interview last month . Liam McCabe is also a member of Heroes in Hiding, who have recently shot music videos for some of their tracks.

Q. So Liam, how did you initially get into music?

L .My mother was very musical so she kind of had all of us playing. I started playing violin when I was about four, then picked up the guitar and just went from there. So I’ve kind of been doing bits my whole life.

Q .And keys and bass as well?

L .(laughs) Yeah chancing me arm at them.

Q .So, you’ve clearly got a lot of musical ability in your inventory, would you say it was your mother who inspired you to pursue music or was it passion that drove you?

L .Probably a touch of everything. I’d definitely say your friends are your biggest influence. So just kind of hanging out with a lot of people who play music. You know (who) show you bands and stuff – that’s really kind of… for a lot of people the driving force.

Q .The band members of Shouting at Planes are all from Cavan, did you begin as a group of friends playing music and evolve from there?

L.Pretty much (for the other members), but not really for me. All the guys would be a couple of years older. So they were all in school together and they kind of always had it in their mind(s) to start a band and tried a couple of times….I was working in a bar they were playing in and I sang a song with them and that’s how I got pulled in.

Q. Really? And now you’re the lead vocalist of the band, so obviously working in a pub worked out for you.

L. Yeah, climbing the ladder!

Q. Where do you get inspiration from? What do you listen to?

L. I really find listening to different styles of music is my biggest inspiration. I’ve been listening to a lot of sort of funk and jazz stuff recently… quite a bit of electronic stuff as well. Just some of that is really impressive: you can create music out of anything.

Shouting at Planes

Q. So you write your own stuff. Do you have a special process to write? Do you have to be… intoxicated or?

L. Emm… it sometimes helps. Occasionally it’s sort of that light bulb moment when inspiration strikes yeah. A lot of the time it’s just kind of… well, recently I was just sitting down, just trying loads of different things ….until you find something that’s – once you find something that’s your initial spark.

Q. So how does that happen for you, do you pick up the guitar, play around and find a nice progression and melody, or is it lyrics that take precedence?

L. Originally – I’m a massive Tom Waits fan – so really lyrics are everything, but recently I’ve been trying to do a lot more – just trying to write faster, so something similar to what David Byrne said he does. So record a groove or something and then do something to actively take your mind off what you’re doing.  So he goes jogging, and I’ve found myself playing basketball a lot.

Q. You’re an independent musician. What do you think of the independent music scene in Dublin right now?

L. Eh, I think it’s really healthy. I wouldn’t say it’s particularly healthy financially, but there’s- in terms of creativity – there’s so much going on. I’m actually living with a couple of bands who’d be quite heavily involved, Meltybrains to name one. They’re just back from a three week tour in the US.

Q. It must be exciting to have so many musicians around you in Dublin. Where do you usually perform?

L. Well as you said, we’re from Cavan, so you could pretty much draw a straight line anywhere between here and there.  We’re having a gig in Whelan’s on 12th March to launch the St. Jude EP.  So keep an eye on the Facebook page.

Q. You’ve performed in big festivals before right?

L. Yeah, one of our earliest gigs was at Glastonbury, which was really cool.

Q. What’s the feeling of playing for so many people?

L. It’s pretty Bizarre!

Q. Bizarre?

Glastonbury by MojoBaron

L. When we did that, I was only like 18. I don’t think it really sat with me until afterwards. There was quite a lot of people there. Eh, we were the only kind of stage in a tent in a whole area. So we were really hoping it would rain so people would crowd in to see us. Turned out it was like 36 degrees, so they came in for the shade. So it was fantastic, yeah. Really, really unusual.

Q. So you’re also in Heroes in Hiding – a bit of a different vibe there, mostly Indie and Folk, right?

L. Yeah, Heroes in Hiding would have been gigging a lot with us (Shouting at Planes) around maybe three years ago. Various things transpired and they took a bit of a break and returned – minus two members. So I said I’d give them a hand with a bit of recording…

Q. Yeah, because you have a Music Technology BA right?

L. Yeah, Cian, the drummer in Heroes in Hiding also did the same course, so the two of us kind of have a little ‘geek-out’.

Q. Does knowing stuff about music production, like your BA, help you when it comes to the music scene greatly?

L. Yeah you can go a long way nowadays by just being computer literate. There’s loads of things you can do. You can still be really musically creative…

Q. Without writing lyrics?

L. Yeah! If you like noise, you’re on to a winner!

 

Thanks for reading. The launch of St. Jude Ep will be in Whelan’s on March 12th.

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