Back in July, Dublin’s The Thrills (TT) released their third LP ‘Teenager’ from which, to date, they have released a couple of singles along with a retrospective DVD and have reached the dizzy heights of stardom with a song of theirs featuring on Private Practice. Now they’re back on the live circuit doing their thing to an appreciative audience which thankfully includes little ol’ me. I eagerly took my chance to interview their singer Conor Deasy.
AS: Thanks for doing this Conor, it means a lot…
I suspect there were some definite sources of inspiration behind your latest LP Teenager, right?
TT: I had a title a long time before we began to record the album. There are a lot more honest and direct songs on the album, much more emotion and less disguised feelings about having to leave things behind…it’s definitely our most dense album.
AS: You recorded it in Vancouver as opposed to your usual California didn’t you?
TT: Yeah, R.E.M recommended the studio to us and as we wanted to try something other than California anyway, so it seemed like the right move.
AS: The End of Innocence film, what brought that about?
TT: Around a week after we got signed we met an English guy with an Irish heart who liked us. He befriended us and basically, with no pressure from us, documented our progress, good and bad from then on. Its commonplace nowadays for bands to have a crew follow them around for a few days but what Danny O’ Connor has done is captured all our moments, both high and low and created a valid Thrills history.
AS: You recorded ‘Nothing Changes around Here’ for Dermott ‘O’ Leary’s Saturday sessions. Why that particular song?
TT: When we first wrote that song we decided it would be our first single and we all liked it for its busky sound, maybe its banjo too… its very rhythmical and… buskular. It captures adolescence and all the bitter-sweet feelings that come with it, you know, having no control over your life and that sort of thing. It engaged everyone when we played it and so we went with it.
AS: I see you still like to sign your 7”s for the fans, how do you find time?
TT: 1 horse town was the first time we did that. We knew it would be cool and a good way to attract interest. Let me tell you though, not until you’ve seen 1000 records laid out in front of you do you begin to question the move, as Kevin did once, the skiving… It took 45 minutes just to open the boxes! Anyway, it’s becoming a thing of the past because it’s not allowed anymore. You can sign the odd few randomly but no more ‘unfair’ massive signing missions.
AS: Who could you most happily take down, mid concert, with your sniper rifle?
TT: We’ve had our fair share of run-ins with bands over the years but we promised early on not to slag other bands off. Daniel once slagged off the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and when I discovered how good their Maps LP was, it was a bit awkward. We just try to stay indifferent now.
AS: What time is bedtime?
TT: I’m not a good sleeper and if I’m on tour I usually get my head down about 3 or 4 in the morning.
AS: Care to mention any career highlights?
TT: There are a handful of random moments: playing the London Astoria or the Letterman show for the first time, a memorable gig at Manchester Academy or even doing Top of the Pops. We once played Japan before the UK release of our LP but, in Japan they were privy to a Japan only 7 track EP with a new track or 2 on there. It felt really strange to get a cheer for songs that we imagined they couldn’t have heard yet. Places like Japan really illustrate just how far away from home you are. Finishing the recording of our records is something we like to accomplish too; it’s always a highlight for us.
AS: Have you any dream collaborations?
TT: Peter Buck and Michael Mills showed up 10 minutes before we went on stage at a gig of ours, which led to a live version of ‘Dancing in the dark’. We were once midway through a horrible tour of the US when we offered to provide backing vocals for Brian Wilson at the Royal Festival Hall show he was doing. It’s no secret we’re fans. The thing with music as opposed to writing or acting or whatever is the youth element and their ever changing tastes and interests, as well as the bands themselves who come and go these days. Collaborations seem to happen more with the elder statesmen of music I think.
AS: Any famous last words or perhaps an epitaph that might be written for you?
TT: No, I’ll try to avoid thinking about that until nearer the time.
AS: Did/does exposure on TV show The OC (thanks to fan Adam Brody/Seth Cohen) stir much attention for you guys?
TT: We actually played live in their regular meeting place the Crab Shack. A lot of decent bands are doing TV shows more and more aren’t they? It was a long day and as for exposure, it certainly did no harm I’m sure, but it was nothing major really.
AS: Morrissey started you on your way, right?
TT: We were on the verge of getting signed with a handful of proposals but no actual contracts had been offered. Morrissey was coming out of a quiet period and looking for a new deal himself. Anyway, our demo made it to him and he eventually came to a rehearsal of ours in Dublin. We were all waiting on this contract which was offered around 20 minutes before Morrissey walked through the door, what a day! It was really weird in retrospect, playing a 30 minute show just to Morrissey. He liked us and even put a demo track of ours on his interval music tape at his gig/s. It was real nice to get the nod of approval from someone we liked ourselves, it was helpful…cool.
AS: Any missed opportunities, failures or regrets that haunt your dreams?
TT: We all make mistakes and I think we strive most for damage limitation! Sometimes it can be more common if you don’t have the right people around you but that’s not to say we’ve never been responsible or missed chances here and there. We’ve come out okay though.
AS: 2008 will bring what for The Thrills?
TT: We’re embarking on an East & West coast US tour at the moment but in the New Year we’ll be hitting the clubs of Europe with a tour and then a more extensive US tour and maybe some more TV features too.
Thanks for your time Conor, all the best for the New Year.