House Parties to Headline Gigs - Tribal Dance
Tribal Dance just released their new single “And Then All That Was Left Was A Physician And A Silhouette” on Bad Soup Records. Ahead of their headline gig in The Grand Social on December 7th, we sat down for a chat to discuss the ups and downs of life in a band.
Taking the conventional route of band formation wasn’t going to be the path of success for Tribal Dance. They were nameless for their first few gigs, but when they started to produce material, they settled on two cool sounding words. Consisting of guitarist Stephen Dowling, bassist and lyricist Adam Smyth and drummer Leo Clarke, the group came about after playing house parties together.
“Our friend had a house party and we decided to be a band for this one gig. And it was a shit load of fun. There was maybe 70 or 80 people in this guy’s front room with all the furniture removed. After that we just wrote music locked up in a room and worked on our sound before we went public.”
Described as a math rock revival, Tribal Dance’s sound comes from an amalgamation of styles and genres, but they all blend to create a unique sound that is all their own.
“Adam may hate a lot of the music I (Leo) like but it does work its way into the band somehow. I’ve got a house beat that I’m messing with and it’s gonna work its way into some of our music. It’s like a house song played by a rock band. I think we agree on 70% of the music we like and the remaining 30% does trickle down into our music. We can’t hide behind a wall of sound when playing either, we’re all responsible for our individual sound that makes our music.”
While happy with the diverse music scene in Dublin, Tribal Dance are concerned with the lack of viable venues. Venues closing down are dampening and diluting the thriving music scene in the capital.
“We don’t find it hard to get exposure because there are festivals such as Knockanstockan who just grab anyone and put them in a field. The lack of venues is a concern though. Everyone is into a load of different music, and if is the music is good people will come.”
The tourism boom is creating a stifling environment for bands and artists, in a city building more hotels in the place of once loved venues.
Having gained a reputation for being a thrilling live band to witness following their gig at Knockanstockan, Tribal Dance have had to come up with new and creative ways to keep their lives shows fresh and engaging.
“We would power through our set and write interludes so that the songs never stopped and we kept giving off energy. We also like engaging with the crowd so at one gig we put all our tunes in a hat and got an audience member to pick out a song so we played at random. That was really fun and a challenge for us to play what came next with tunings and stuff but fun for the audience as they got a chance to select what we played.”
Having a huge back catalogue allows Tribal Dance to have flexibility with their live shows, but recording in the studio is a bit different. For most bands their studio sound is how they want their music to be received, for Tribal Dance it’s the opposite. Their live shows capture their essence as a band and their studio sessions allow them to develop and expand their sound.
“We’ve only ever heard our songs with us playing them, so when we were recording them, we kinda went a bit mad. We added in organs, saxophone, I was plucking the strings inside a piano. We had loads of fun with it.”
Their new single “And All That Was Left Was A Physician And A Silhouette” deals with challenging subjects. The video, directed by Jack Farrell and edited by Leo, is a striking example of what happens to one man alone, as he struggles with himself. The song itself mirrors the video with a lot of progression and different sections.
“This is a seven-minute single with no chorus and without sounding pretentious, we’re not playing by the rules on this one. I think people are comfortable with the idea of a three-minute single and we’re just pushing the envelope a little. We’re always trying to push things, every day that we write is different.”
The mental health issues that underlie the single are particularly relevant in this day and age, especially with young men.
“Without giving too much away about the song it’s about how your mind can just go so far from yourself, but you’re still here. I nearly went insane editing the thing myself, having all this footage of one guy in a room and picking what I thought was the most apt for the project. It was mad, but enjoyable.”
Getting a fresh pair of ears to dissect and analyse music was something new for Tribal Dance as they had only really heard their own songs playing live. Charlie Garrett from Adult Store produced “And All That Was Left Was A Physician And A Silhouette”, while Ben Bix from Meltybrains? has been working on some new material with them. The experience was a positive one for the band.
“We had these songs for a long time and there was a couple of tunes that we had that were like this but we wanted it another way and we were helped to do that by Ben. We really like working with Ben, he’s into our sound and I think we found our guy.”
Being a band has its challenges, egos can come and go and band members can come and go. However, Tribal Dance are a unified group who’ve been mates for a very long time. Their strength is that all the members are so in tune and in sync with one another that their music is performed immaculately.
“Everyone can have an opinion on something. With anything, food, art, music, you can take the stupidest thing, even about the world of toothpicks, you can be pretentious about it if you want. You have to take that pride and put it aside because people won’t like you. Ideas need to be listened to because people have different perspectives on what you suggest. The best ideas are the ones I didn’t like in the start.”
Approaching their headline gig in the Grand Social on the 7th of December, the Tribal Dance boys are excited to showcase their new material. Along with tickets, they have custom CDs with personalised messages and custom art available. Keeping with tradition, the band have a few surprises in store and this won’t be a gig to miss.
“We encourage people to dance and lose themselves. Don’t be afraid to do whatever you want, you’re at a Tribal Dance gig!”
Tickets for the upcoming event can be bought here.