Although Dot Creek are three-fifths Enniscorthy and two-fifths Dublin, it’s a certainly that if someone should unexpectedly stumble across one of their gigs, they will come away believing that they've just uncovered another gem of hidden Americana. Their gentle harmonies, country guitar sound and idiosyncratic lyrics have always made them stand out from the rest. Now, with two seven inch releases – Dragged Up/Down With Woe on Julius Geezer and a Road Relish split single with Jubilee Allstars – under their collective belt, they're gearing up for the big one, the release of their debut album 'Ill Seen, Ill Said'.
Talking to founder members Nigel Power and Shane Redmond (both on guitar and vocal duties) there is a palpable sense of relief that the album is finally in the shops. Taking its name from a book by Samuel Beckett ("we're hoping for publicity's sake the Beckett Estate will take us to court and we'll sell millions of copies on the back of that!" says Redmond), 'Ill Seen, Ill Said' is all we hoped – and more. From live favourites such as Girl From The Hills and Cast to unexpectedly charming instrumental, Nuisance Gator, this is country borrowed from the Americans and sent back better.
Dot Creek came together almost despite itself. Power and Redmond's original advertisement for people interested in Sebadoh, The Byrds and Pavement elicited just one response – from a jazz guitarist. Eventually they managed to gather together the other members: Biggley (guitar) emerged from the ashes of a club called Dazed; John Kennedy was an old friend who just happened to play bass; with the addition of Liam Ryan (ex-In Motion) on drums, the Creek were complete.
The harmonies, which are an intrinsic part of their sound, developed from Power and Redmond playing together; "it was a place we sang in from the very beginning and it just happened to be in harmony. Now, inflections have changed and some of the harmonies have changed slightly but for the most part it is the same," says Power. Redmond points to Will Oldham as the reason why they got turned on to 'real' country (as opposed to what he calls Irish "hairspray" country): "it's ancient music but valid right now, more powerful than any glossy kind of thing…it's all folk and I think we're more folk than country."
Between one thing and another, it took almost a year, a slow and frustrating year, from recording 'Ill Seen, Ill Said' to releasing it. Redmond found the delay exasperating: "it stagnated everything, we couldn't really move on". Recorded in just two days, the album sometimes shows the evidence of a struggle with time limitations: "it was a case of get it right, as right as we could, but that the end of the day, given the time and restraints that we had we weren't going to get it done as perfectly as we could," says Redmond.
Recording was a learning experience all round. Power points out that it was only during the recording that they properly heard each other for the first time "we discovered things about the songs we didn't know existed". "We're not very recording minded in the sense that all the songs were created live," says Redmond, "We're a live band and I think we could never step back from what we were individually playing and hear it as a whole…when we started out we were all quite insecure as musicians so we had a tendency to play all the time. Now we can go 'alright, I'll stop now' because it suits the song or the music is more powerful because there's less in it." This new found confidence is also evident in their ever-increasing on-stage prowess and, whether they are doing an unplugged support act or their own, fully electric set, Dot Creek live is not to be missed.