Electric Picnic, hibernation and interconnectedness take centre stage as Otwo’s Ethan Troy-Barnes chats to Jape’s Richie Egan
Jape, the electro/indie-rock solo project of the Redneck Manifesto bassist Richie Egan, has been around for quite a while now. With two albums already under their belt and a forthcoming third offering, Ocean of Frequency, out this month, the band are no strangers to the Irish music scene.
Following a successful set at Electric Picnic, Otwo caught up with Richie Egan on a rainy midweek afternoon for a chat. We begin by reflecting on Jape’s latest performance: “I felt it was good. I mean, it would’ve been nice if the album had been out beforehand, but we had to choose between either playing a load of old songs and kind of getting the vibe going with the crowd, or else just going ‘Well, you know, we have a lot of new songs, and we need to play them.’”
However, despite concerns from some festival-goers and critics that the set may have focused too much on new material, Egan remains positive. “I think it was important to play new ones. People seemed to really listen to the songs, which was great, which maybe wasn’t what they were expecting.”
For Egan, discovering new music at a festival is part of the fun. “You can find a gem that actually makes you go ‘Whoa, that was amazing!’” This kind of exposure is crucial for upcoming artists. “It gets a buzz going. If you’re a young band and you play a set that gets people talking at a festival – [it] either has people going ‘I was there, it was amazing!’ or ‘Shit, I missed that. I’ll check them out the next time they play.’”
In particular, Egan praises festivals such as Electric Picnic for featuring new or unknown bands; “I think Electric Picnic is especially good, because they actually take a chance and book a lot of Irish bands that maybe other festivals [don’t].” Not only does this benefit the musicians, but Egan considers it a foolish move for festival organisers to exclude less well-known groups: “I think that kind of insults audiences, because I know a lot of people – myself included – would like to take a chance on watching a band that maybe they’ve heard about. You can always leave if something’s shit!”
However, with the imminent release of his third album pending, talk soon turns to Oceans of Frequency. “If you had to put a theme on it, it’s probably interconnectedness,” he says, reluctantly, because “it’s weird with records because you often find that they have a similar theme, or a similar vibe, or something that you’re not actually aware of at the time when you’re doing it.”
For Egan, writing music is less like a careful game of Jenga and more of an accidental process; “So with this one, it’s taken three years and I’ve written a lot of songs that didn’t end up on the album,” he explains. “Time’s a great editor because you go away from it, and then you come back, and you’ll go ‘That’s shit,’ or ‘That’s good.’” Comparing Ocean to his previous outing, Ritual, he says “Ritual was more rough and ready, whereas this one I would think of as more sort of laid back, and you have to listen to it a few times to get into it. But I think that in the long term, it’s more rewarding than Ritual.”
Accompanying the new album, Jape will be touring Ireland and Europe. However, this will be different to previous tours; “There’s places on this tour that we’ve never played – we could go and there’d be like five people there, or we could go and it could be amazing. When the record’s out, it’s cool to tour as much as possible. And then go back into hibernation [laughs].” Although he does enjoy playing live, Egan admits “I would definitely prefer to be in the studio.” However, he takes a dim view of artists who avoid touring. “Financially, realistically, if you want to be able to survive, you have to tour,” he insists, “if there are people who are willing to invest in you to put out the album, and you just go ‘Fuck you, I’m gonna stay in my house’, that’s not so nice.”
So, what does the future hold for Egan? “New Rednecks stuff, slowly. New Vision Air [his side project with the Redneck Manifesto’s Niall Byrne] stuff, slowly.” At the end of the day “I just hope that even if I’m not successful, I stay musically relevant. Like Neil Young, he’s fucking cool!”
Finally, the big question: what does ‘Jape’ actually mean? Egan himself doesn’t even seem to know. “I don’t even like the name. Somebody said to me it sounds like a toilet cleaner! [laughs]. I’d rather not talk about it…”
Jape plays The Button Factory on October 1st. Tickets are €15. Oceans of Frequency is out on September 30th.