At a time when the current musical climate is geared down towards down-tempo, Dublin band the National Prayer Breakfast refuse to lie down with the low-fi folk. Proving that they're loud and proud, they sound like the Cramps in rehab or the more together cousins of Gallon Drunk, not to mention a younger version of the Fall. As NPB prepare to launch their new 10", Daragh Keogh, bass player with the idiosyncratic trio talks to Sinéad Gleeson.
Sinéad Gleeson: Tell us a bit about the band, how would you describe the music you play?
Daragh Keogh: It's usually described by other people as garage pop and we're fairly happy with that, but we just think of ourselves as a Rock 'n' Roll band.
SG: Who are the bands biggest musical influences?
DK: In terms of stuff that we all really like, there's a Spanish band called Mano Negra who have quite a big line-up. Other influences include the MC5, Beck and The Make-Up. We often get compared to stuff we don't actually listen to that much, like The Cramps, and 'Rock Lobster'-era B52's, but it's pretty cool to be compared to those bands.
SG: Who came up with the name, and what's it all about?
DK: There are what are called 'prayer breakfasts' held all over America and they're politically religious things. The National Prayer Breakfast is the one held after the US President is inaugurated and they basically equate the president with Jesus, as if the two are on a par - it's quite bizarre.
SG: NPB release material on their own Catchy Go-Go records, do you think the best way for Irish bands to get material released is to do it themselves?
DK: It's pretty healthy in Dublin at the moment, because there are a lot of labels around. There's quite a support for the scene right now with the Road Relish singles club but ultimately it depends on where you're at, it just suited us to do it ourselves. We were quite influenced by Fugazi as they have always put out stuff on their own label and done things their own way, so we wanted to do that too.
SG: You're releasing ' This is my Happening and it fucks me up' on 10" white vinyl with limited CD copies. What's your affiliation to vinyl?
DK: There's much more of a sense of releasing a product when you release something on vinyl. It's quite a tangible, beautiful thing as the record itself is a product as well as a piece of music. When you've got a CD, you'll never take it out and look at it, the way you would a piece of vinyl, it's almost a fetishistic thing.
SG: You got quite a good reaction in the UK, particularly from the radio station XFM and the NME? How did that feel?
DK: It was cool as we were worried about Stephen Wells (NME journalist) because he's known to tear stuff apart. It's a reality check when they don't know your band and it's cool when someone in a different country is positive about what you're doing. We got a really good review in 'Kerrang' (Metal magazine), which made us even happier.
SG: The current Irish musical climate from David Kitt to the Frames is very low-fi. Do you think one of the reasons people might like your music is the fact that the NPB sound is so different to what's going on?
DK: Different bands are obviously into different things, and this 10" for us is our pschyo-Stadium Rock-country-paranoid-American thing so it's not very poppy at all. It's also got some of the dodgiest lyrics we've ever written in the middle of it. We do what we do because we like making music that you can jump around to and there isn't a lot of that around at the moment.
SG: Apart from the launch night, are there any further plans to tour on the back of the 10"?
DK: We're playing the Blast (all ages afternoon gig) in the Music Centre on Saturday 7th July and Connolly's of Leap on Sunday 8th July and the GPO in Galway on Monday 9th. We've been asked back to play Water Rats (in London) on 19th July because the last gig went so well. We were hoping to get to the States but we're going to concentrate on the UK because it looks like things are starting to happen there.
The National Prayer Breakfast's 'This is my Happening and it Fucks Me Up is launched on 5 July in the Temple Bar Music Centre.