Episode #22 – “Music”

“Music is life itself.”

— Louis Armstrong, musician

Date Published


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1hr 40min

This is an episode of two halves – the first half takes the form of an interview with Mr Beard asking Mr C about his new band ‘New Ceremony’ and his musical career, and the second half is more a general chat about music.

MC C opens the show by defining terms and clarifies what makes a rock band “progressive”. We learn the music genre has evolved a lot since the days of Johnny Cash, Elvis and The Beatles. Both the musical style and instruments played by New Ceremony cover a wide range from jazz to funk to motown, while the instruments enlisted range from harmonicas to synthesizers and everything in-between. 

This ethos of ‘anything goes’ informs their live performances as well as their studio recordings – each of the four band members bring their own tastes and influences to the mix which allows for each performance and track to be an organic creation, not limited by traditional genre boundaries and dogma.

This episode is punctuated by three teasers of original tracks written and performed by New Ceremony – ‘Star’, ‘In The Morning’ and ‘Lies We’re Given’. To close out this episode, our two hosts discuss the musical influences that filled the air at home growing up, with Mr Beard sharing anecdotes of tin whistle competitions and being the only kid in school with a piano accordion!

Main Topic Of This Episode​​

The following has been taken for the band’s Indiegogo fundraiser page, where they are raising funds to help cover production costs of the new studio album. 

New Ceremony compose music and songs initially through improvisation and experimentation. There is a particular focus on establishing atmosphere and character within our pieces as we move through the musical process. The songs are then more finely crafted, distilling the initial idea down until we arrive at the essence of the song.

We are four Galwegians who have been jamming for the last three years. Our songs have been fermenting like a bag of forgotten satsumas left under the sink. Starved of an outlet, ie. no one to tell us to stop, we wrote a boat load of tunes. Most are not for human consumption, but others we think are ready to be digested. These are the songs we’re hoping to record and set free in July.

We want to shake you up and rattle you down. Share our love of the music and the passion we have for making it, even if that means wrecking your head.

Our music stylings are a blend of post-punk, indie rock, synth pop, hip-hop and dance music with a strong visual theatrical element. Our influences include (but are not limited to); Joy Division, Can, Rage Against the Machine, Wire, The Fall and Tom Waits.

Check Out Some Further Reading​

Found something interesting discussed in this episode? Chances are, we found it interesting too and we went off and did a bunch of reading online about it.

So why not dive further into the topic! Here are some handy links we think you might like.

Vox have a fantastic 26 video playlist on YouTube which takes you on a musical journey to discover the stories and sounds behind your favourite songs. The topics and music styles covered are as varied as you could imagine. There is something in here to suit every taste and style. 

For example ‘Why disco made pop songs longer’ which details the change in the physical size of vinyl records, allowing for longer songs to be played in the clubs and on radio. Or ‘Why do we really really really like repetition in music’ which shows that a basic or “uninspired” track can actually have a lot more thought and invention go into it than first meets the eye. Or ‘How the triplet flow took over rap’, which breaks down and analyses rap lyrics over the last few decades and how a 3 beat flow first appearing in the 90’s has been a staple for chart topping rappers ever since.

Music piracy is a good example of the idea of ‘adapt and survive, or die’. In 2002, the RIAA reported that CD sales had fallen by 8.9 percent, from 882 million to 803 million units; revenues fell 6.7 percent. The RIAA blames Internet piracy for the trend, though there are many other causes that could account for this drop. SoundScan, for example, reports a more than 20 percent drop in the number of CDs released since 1999. Also, In the same period that the RIAA estimates that 803 million CDs were sold, the RIAA estimates that 2.1 billion CDs were downloaded for free. Thus, although 2.6 times the total number of CDs sold were downloaded for free, sales revenue fell by just 6.7 percent… So there is a huge difference between downloading a song and stealing a CD.

The music industry has completely changed over the last 20 years. Spotify for example now has over 160 million paying subscribers. We also have Amazon Kindle do the same with books and Netflix do the same for TV shows and movies. Make the ‘legal’ option easier than the ‘free’ option and people will happily pay for it. This approach worked so much more effectively than lawsuits from Metallica and Dr. Dre.

Before ‘New Ceremony’ was even an idea in the back of the group’s collective mind, Níall Curran was in another band called ‘Mugger Dave’. The band was formed in 2007 when Níall and frontman Simon Noble worked together behind the bar in a local pub. Seán Herriotton bass made three and the stage was set.

Over the course of six years, they recorded two albums and toured all over Ireland and across the waters in London and Berlin. Hot press described the band as having “immediately distinctive, powerfully tight and forceful music- custom made for radio”, they recorded a handful of music videos, toured in a campervan called ‘Jeff’ and featured on the IMRO Showcase CD. Check our their feature in the Galway Advertiser.

While researching for this episode, Mr C came across the fantastic story of Michael O Shea, an Irish musician in the 70’s 80’s who builds his own instruments and accomplishes mastery of them. His trademark instrument, which he designed, created and perfected playing was called ‘Mo Chara’. Directly translated to English, this name means “My Friend”. It is a mix between a sitar and a xylophone. The sound it produces is very dreamy, trippy and ethereal. The style of music he plays has been described as ‘Sci-fi Trad’. RTE produced a documentary of Michael, his life and Mo Chara.

Check Out Other Episodes

Enjoyed this episode? Hopefully you found some of the additional information on this page interesting or useful. Why not check out one of our other episodes – we think you will like them too! 🙂 

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