Last week, Paddy Casey set the scene for a summer of hazy evenings filled with horse racing and top-class musical entertainment when the Bulmers Live at Leopardstown summer gig series kicked off.
This year's musical programme casts a wide net over the Irish music scene with some of our finest musicians lining up to entertain the masses - and it continues with a crash-bang-wallop this week when The Hot Sprockets arrive at the south county Dublin racecourse.
We caught up with Frankie from the Dublin band ahead of their Bulmers Live at Leopardstown gig tomorrow (June 18th), to learn about their origins, their influences, their ambitions and what they have planned for their set.
Tickets for their gig - as well as various bundles including racing and a meal - are still on sale and can be bought via this link.
Hi Frankie! Can you explain a little about how the band first got to know each other?
Tim, Joey and Wayne have know each other from school, and I met Joe and Wayne through skateboarding (laughs). From hanging out with Joey and Wayne, I met Tim. The lads bought Tim his first guitar for his 21st birthday and the band was formed! We'd play all night, walking around town singing on rooftops and on the streets - we were just having the crack (laughs). We formed the band in April 2006 and we got our first gig in Slattery's on Capel Street. Andy, our drummer, joined the band a few years later after his band HOWL broke up and we quickly nabbed him.
You've been playing together for over ten years. What's the main thing that's kept you together during that time? A lot of bands don't survive as long…
I think the main reason is that we started the band as friends, and we just have fun and love what we are doing. We're just five best friends making great music and enjoying the ride.
You have a reputation as a great live band - was 'live' always where it was for you, even from the early days of the band?
It just happened to come naturally to us, because when we first started out we would play wherever, whenever… anyplace, anytime... sometimes playing five gigs in a week, or three times on the same day (laughs). So we're well used to performing and we learned how to become a live band that way.
It's certainly worked out well for you. Did that reputation make it difficult to capture the energy of a live show when you're in the studio, though?
At first, I think it was hard - because recording in a studio is always a learning curve and you're constantly learning new things about recording the band's music. You have to record mostly live to get that 'live feeling' - especially when that's what you're known for. You could record to a click track for some tracks, but then you'd lose the feel of a live performance.
I see. You're also known for your music videos and have worked with the likes of Hugh O'Conor in the past, on the excellent video for 'Homeslice' (below). How was that connection made?
We actually met Hugh O'Conor through Wayne's girlfriend, Sarah. She was running a photo exhibition in Ranelagh, and Hugh had a piece in the exhibition. He just got onto us and he wanted to make a music video. We're very hands-on when it comes to our videos. We are big fans of great music videos and some of us paint, draw, take photos, etc. We're a creative bunch, I suppose (laughs).
Certainly sounds like it. What about your collective musical influences? Can you name five albums that have had an effect on the band?
Well for me, my main influences come from my dad. He had a great vinyl collection when I was growing up which I would listen to as a kid - and which I now own! There was a lot of great '50s, '60s bands in there. Tim and Wayne had the same influences from their parents' record collections, so we bonded well as a band. My five albums would have to be:
Queens Of The Stone Age's [self-titled] first album
Tyrannosaurus Rex's first album ['My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair... But Now They're Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows']
The Band's first album ['Music from Big Pink']
The Beach Boys - 'Wild Honey'
The White Stripes' [self-titled] first album
You worked with Dublin musician Gavin Glass on your most recent album 'Brother Nature' - how was that?
It was great working with Gavin, because he liked a lot of the same music we did, and he really liked out sound and knew what sounds we were looking for. He helped us out a lot with some cool ideas and sweet sounds.
Who's on your collaborative wishlist these days?
Beck, Jack White, Josh Homme, Neil Young, Brian Wilson… have you got all day? (laughs).
Well, Beck's on Irish soil this week, so you might be able to nab him… in the meantime, what's the plan for The Hot Sprockets in the near future?
We are working on our third record at the moment, which we're really looking forward to recording. We're touring a lot in Europe this summer, with festivals including Anfi-Rock Sound Festival, Isla Cristina, Kutxa Kultur Festibala, Donostia, San-Sebastián, Latitude, Valentia Isle Festival, etc. We're releasing 'Brother Nature' in Spain on a label Called Folc Records on vinyl, and we also have another label releasing our music in Holland, - so things are looking good for The Sprockets!
Sounds like it, all right. So what can we expect from your Bulmers Live at Leopardstown gig tomorrow, in that case?
A kick-ass live show and a great night out! All you gotta do is bring a sombrero, a bottle of tequila and a good time (laughs). See y'all there!