With Dublin band Women's Christmas' debut album, Too Rich for Our Blood, just released on Out on a Limb Records, Harry Guerin talks to singing drummer Jim Byrne about indie rock, new jack swing, inter-band beefs and, eh, Christmas.
Harry Guerin: Brilliant name - who gets the prize?
Jim Byrne: It came from Ronan's (Jackson, guitar and vocals) twisted mind. We all stand firmly behind it.
You have links to another Irish band, No Monster Club. So was starting Women's Christmas one of those decisions that was reached after a gig or on the walk home one night?
Bobby (Aherne, bass and vocals) is the only No Monster Club member in the band; he's a lucky boy. The band came from Ronan wanting to form a fun-time messy rock band to ease his progress into his thirties. Only the best would do. That's where we come in.
Too Rich for Our Blood features more great work from the illustrator Chris Judge - how did you make that happen?
It's nice to work with immensely talented souls like Chris. Myself and Ronan have known him for over 10 years. He was a lovely man then and a lovely man now. Ronan asked him if he'd make our album look professional and beautiful. Job done.
When I listen to the record it has a real seat-of-the-pants charm that you'd get at a gig - was that the goal?
Very much so. The energy and fun of the songs needs to come across strongly. We used the first or second take a lot of the time - all done live with the vocals overdubbed. In total, including tracking and mixing, the record was done in about 15 hours. The frenetic energy comes from that speed of working. Plus, that's just how we play.
The early Nineties was the golden age of guitar rock. Discuss.
I'm not so sure about that, to be honest. Most of the stuff that would have had an influence on the sound of the record would be mid '80s, I think. I think the money that flowed into indie rock in the '90s drained a lot of the fun and danger out of it. But certainly, bands like Pavement or GBVs [Guided by Voices] or Modest Mouse still had a big part in our lives. Though Bobby's only in his twenties, and he used to be a massive Goth.
Tell us about the records that ruined you during your formative years.
I found listening to [The Manic Street Preachers'] The Holy Bible pretty heavy as a 15-year-old. Heavy D and the Boyz, Jodeci, TLC, BBD, any New Jack Swing all ruined me a good way. Made me a better dancer and singer, for sure. I hope you can hear the Teddy Riley feel in a lot of our vocals.
You're big fans of The Replacements, so do you think bands should reform or leave well enough alone?
I think it's great that legendary bands reform, as many never garnered the acclaim and rewards they deserved while they were first active. They were ahead of their times. I've seen a reformed Mission of Burma, who were amazing, and the Pixies a few times. I'd have loved to have seen The 'Mats [Replacements] in NYC a few months ago. The songs are always going to be amazing!
How will Women's Christmas spend Christmas - Big and Little?
I'm planning on having a full Christmas dinner with all the trimmings at lunchtime with my wife's family, then having the same again with my own family later in the evening. I like the First World problem of feeling a bit full. Ronan is cooking at a charity Christmas dinner for the victims of the water charges. Bobby is going to a Goth club.
Apart from your own, what albums have you enjoyed most this year?
One album we definitely didn't enjoy was The #1s' debut. They think because they saunter about in their cool jackets, looking handsome and being sound and genuinely nice people, that they can talk crap about us? We're not having it! If they want beef they've got beef. When we win the Choice Prize next year, and they're crying into their protein shakes, justice will have been served!