Interview with Fiachra Treacy – Columbia Mills – Hennessy Lost Fridays Series
Columbia Mills play at the RHA this Friday as part of the Hennessy Lost Fridays series, the last of this year. Fiachra Treacy (guitars/ keys/ vocals) is the lead singer of Columbia Mills and they are just about to release their debut album. We got a chance to ask Fiachra some questions on his musical influences and their new album. You can see the results below…
RHA’s Hennessy Lost Fridays Returns for Final Installment of 2017 – Tickets €20 + booking fee (include two complimentary Hennessy cocktails) – Tickets available here
What were the albums that really got you into music during your teenage years. The ones you listened to thousands of times?
I remember getting into music at a very early age. My dad had a record player in the sitting room and I used to sneak in while he was at work and listen to his records. The albums that still stick with me from that time are Astral Weeks by Van Morrison and a Joan Armatrading album. I think it was self-titled but had ‘Down to Zero’ and ‘Love and Affection’ on it which are still two of my favourite songs. I would have been around 9 at the time I’d say.
I remember at the age of 12 I discovered a tape by the Cure in my older brother’s room. It was the album Disintegration. It wasn’t long before I was wearing make-up and backcombing my hair with sugar and water. I remember the other kids in my primary school looking at me and thinking I had lost the plot. The youngest Cure Head in Ireland. That year my brother brought me to see the Cure in the Point Theatre and that was me hooked on music forever.
The Head In The Door album by the Cure was my favourite and was great to hear ‘Six Different Ways’ on the IT soundtrack recently. Other albums I clung onto were ‘Nevermind’ by Nirvana and ‘Ten’ by Pearl Jam. I seemed to gravitate to the darker sounds and songs.
Your sound is quite different from other Irish bands. What bands influences you and inspired you to make music?
As you said we are different from other Irish bands. We have never been part of any particular scene or collection of bands which means we have to work a bit harder to get noticed. In saying that we have made some great friends from other bands by being on the festival circuit and we really love the different types of music being created in Ireland at the moment.
We are generally inspired by music that wears its heart on its sleeve and by people who are not afraid to lay it all out. LCD Soundsystem don’t hold back and I was blown away by the new album. The song American Dream has got some amazing lines and James Murphy seems to have a way of writing that makes you think he is talking about your own life (for me anyway).
We’ve been lucky this year with great albums. The Nationals new album is really great with Empire Line being my stand out track. I saw them in Vicar Street and they put everything into their music.
Sonically I really love The War On Drugs stuff, again another great album out this year.
Anyone who listens to us will know we love Depeche Mode and Massive Attack but we really are inspired by all genres as long as there is heart and honesty we are all over it.
Your debut album is being released next month. This must be a very exciting time for you. Do you think the album is still as relevant today as it was ten years ago?
It is extremely exciting and terrifying at the same time. We have been sitting on it for a while so really can’t wait for people to hear it and see what the world thinks of it. Terrifying because we really want to record the next album, which is nearly written, but if this one doesn’t get much traction we might not have the finances to make it.
You hear that albums are dead now and it’s all about releasing the instant track. That may be the case for bubble gum pop but with real music and proper bands I always want to hear an album. I see each song as a chapter in a book and I’d would be lost without the rest of the book. I think the National and LCD have proven this year that there is still a real desire for the Album. By listening to the other songs it reveals even more about the song before. I also think it’s a test for the songwriter to write 10 or 12 songs that are all different but relate to each other is some way. I would hate to see that disappear as an art form.
The press release says that “Each song is a true story and touches on various aspects of our lives.” Do the lyrics for the songs come from a very personal place?
The lyrics are all true stories and since we started Columbia Mills I have used the lyric writing as a kind of therapy for myself to put a line under experiences, good and bad. The people who know about my personal life could probably listen to the songs and explain what each is about and where it came from. As we are all very close as a band I sometimes use what is happening in the rest of the lad’s lives to inspire the songs and I think it really adds to the collective emotion of the songs when we play them live. A couple of the songs on the first 2 EPs were written from another person’s perspective but without a doubt they were fleshed out by personal experience.
This album all of the songs come from a very personal place.
As someone who is just about to release your first album, what advice would you have for a young band starting off? Any valuable lessons learned?
I would say do not try to impress everyone as this is an impossible task. Try to please yourself and be true to the music you love. Some people will love it, most will hate it so focus on the opinions of the people who like it.
Rehearse as much as possible and take your time before you start doing gigs. Being well rehearsed will bring confidence and muscle memory required when the shit hits the fan on stage. Love what you do and don’t do what you think other people will love.
So finally, what are your albums of the year so far?
As I mentioned before The National, LCD Soundsystem and The War On Drugs.
Ariel Pink’s new album is really cool and the new Slow Dive album sounds great.