Notorious for their live performances and even more outrageous answers, Aaron Flood sits down with Tadgh Byrne of Meltybrains? to discuss typical responses, winning the Sam Maguire and being paid to get tattooed
Meltybrains? are a tricky one to put your finger on. The five-piece electronic rock outfit from Dublin have previously been described as “undoubtedly weird”. Yet, this is certainly the charm of the band boasting a repertoire ranging from ten minute ambient electro stompers to more rock driven slices of (and the term is used loosely) electronic pop tunes. Judging from previous bizarre interviews; it was believed that Otwo’s encounter with them would go down the same brain-melting path. “Don’t worry, we can be normal. If you like, that is.” Tadgh Byrne suggests, in an only slightly reassuring tone.
The conversation begins with the origin of the band, which had been previously referred to as “arriving from another dimension”. This time, however, Byrne opts for a more conventional origin story. “We were all studying in NUI Maynooth. I played a few gigs there, too many gigs there, actually.” Trying to actually nail down the exact genre of Meltybrains? chaotic-in-a-good-way music is difficult, even for the band themselves. They’ve been described as rock, electronic and even the vague term of ‘experimental’. “Yeah we can see where the electronic rock label comes from, we use rock instruments that are electronic. I don’t think we like it though, so I think we’ll go with pop. From now on we make pop music.”
The chaotic style of their music is exemplary of the musical differences of the band members themselves. “We’re all from different musical backgrounds, so we all bring something different to the table.” Leading to the question of influences; “Well, if it’s okay, I’m going to give you a typical music interview response, in typical X Factor fashion; my parents.” Byrne replies sarcastically.
The band has received critical acclaim for their live performances. Beginning two years ago in the Roisin Dubh in Galway, they have toured in numerous places, playing huge bills such as the Body & Soul Stage and Electric Picnic, as well as nabbing an appearance at the infamous SXSW Festival later this year. They’ve also funded a small tour of America in a rather unique way, through fundit.ie. In an attempt to raise at least €2,000, the band offered humorous prizes to those who donated the most. “For €2,000 you could join the band for three months. Just under that at €1,500, I would have to get a tattoo of whoever donated. That led to two friends of mine setting up a separate fundit.ie page in order to raise the €1500, so I would have to get them tattooed on me.”
Our ideal year? Achieve world peace. No wait, the Sam Maguire. Yeah, we’ll start up our own GAA team. Meltybrains vs Tyrone in the final
With an American tour under their belt and an appearance at one of the world’s most popular festivals in SXSW, it seems a far cry from the small venues of Galway. “We love the Róisín Dubh. We started off there, really, in a small corner of the upstairs room. It’s been sort of like building blocks. The Róisín Dubh will always be a special place for us. The crowd in Galway are great, they always go mad. Well, sometimes they can be less than great; there were a couple of hecklers last time around.” Did this phase the band in any way? “Well no, because the hecklers were the same two lads who tried to raise the €1,500 so I would have to get them tattooed on my body.”
Similarly, the band aim to kick-start 2015 with a couple of gigs next week. On February 16th, their new single ‘Donegal’ is released in physical format on vinyl. “It’s the first time we’ve released something physical properly. We had a few CD’s before, but it’s a dying medium, really.” Tell that to the patron of one of their old Róisín Dubh gigs. “We had a merch stand set up and somebody decided to steal all of our CD’s on the way out. It was a bit of a compliment, that somebody liked your music so much they would steal them.” A glass-half-full answer there, but have they taken any precautions since? “We started throwing CD’s at the audience during gigs. It was really quite dangerous.” Superliminal advertising L.T. Smash would be proud of.
Their show in Dublin’s Pepper Canister Church on February 20th is selling out fast, and it is sure to be a fantastic night. “We’re working with the company Slipstream to add a whole visual element to the gig. It’s going to look brilliant; we’re so excited for it.” The collaboration with Slipstream adds a new level of theatricality sadly ignored by a lot of bands nowadays. Byrne explains, “We’ve always loved the theatricality. Evident in the masks we wear. One time we decided to print out 200 more of the masks and hand them out to the audience. It was really cool, but sinister looking. The masks also take away any inhibitions people might have, and just let them have fun.”
Meltybrains? are sure to make a big splash in the music scene this year; but they also have other ideas. “Our ideal year?” Byrne muses, “achieve world peace. No wait, the Sam Maguire. Yeah, we’ll start up our own GAA team. Meltybrains vs Tyrone in the final.” People may not be shouting “MELTYBRAINS FOR SAM” anytime soon, but they are sure to have them on their mind throughout what is set up to be a phenomenal year for the band.