I Have A Tribe a.k.a Patrick O’Laoghaire will launch his début E.P ‘Yellow Raincoats’ at the Chancery Lane theatre in Dublin next month (May 16th & 17th). After a busy 2013 supporting Anna Calvi and appearing at several music festivals including Electric Picnic and Hard Working Class Heroes O’Laoghaire has also been hard at work recording his first record. Patrick recently took the time to sit down and talk with theLastMixedTape about his forthcoming release and song-writing.
You release your début E.P Yellow Raincoats next month. Are you nervous about unveiling the record and giving people the first glimpse into your studio work?
It’s been in my head for about 4 or 5 years. It is nerve-wracking definitely, I’ve been thinking about it being so many ways but it got to the point where I felt the timing was right. I’m fortunate to have the people I am working with on it Claire (Claire Southwick) and Conor (Conor O’Brien), and other people who helped out with it made it reassuring. As opposed to being just on your own and letting it out. I have it done and it’s ready to go, so what ever happens, happens. I really just wanted to make it and put it out there.
You’ve named the record Yellow Raincoats after the song of the same title, which is also the first song you’ve unveiled. What is it about the track in particular that made you think “this is a good representation of how the E.P will sound”?
I often start with the words of each song and they have to stand up on their own. Or even look nice on the page, they almost have to work visually first. And then you have to find a sound to make it move. Whether that means physically or even mentally move I’m not sure but I wanted to take lyrics that were naked or quite honest and put them in an optimistic, positive setting. I didn’t want it to be a quiet, sad record because that wouldn’t suit me. Working with Rob (Rob Ellis) and Conor helped a lot, they had the same feeling about it. So that’s why we had loops and prepared piano parts to make it move.
Everything is quite vague at the moment, and that’s on purpose. I wouldn’t be very comfortable with writing a bio, the least amount of words I can get away with I’ll do it. Not to be difficult, but just because I think it’s more interesting that way.
Does that feature into the lyrics that you write?
Yeah, I’ll write them and then I’ll pick out every one I don’t need. ‘Monsoon’ which is also on the record, was written with the idea that if you spoke a different language to me and I only had a certain amount of words to communicate to you, how would I go about that in the best and easiest way.
I’ve seen you perform several times last year and one of the songs that you play called ‘I’d Rather Be Alone’ has a emotionally bare quality to it that resonated with me when I first heard it, being someone who was going trough a break-up at the time. How hard is it for you be that honest lyrically?
There has to be an aspect of humour to it. When I went away for Christmas and did a load of shows in Europe I would play that song last every night and my tour manager got it and that the point wasn’t to be too serious, as I would sing the last line “I’m just a drama queen”.
I remember reading an interview with Laura Marling, and I would listen to her stuff a lot, and she has said about her lyrics that “I’m not actually like that”. I feel the same way. Once it’s written and done I can get it out there and put it away almost. But in the actual playing of that song, I find I have to take an hour, half an hour to let everything calm down a bit. It’s an odd way to make a living, to stand up there and say “this is how I feel”.
Can it be hard to bring up those emotions to play the song, if you’re not in the mood or mind frame for it?
I haven’t found that yet, although I think it might happen. Maybe I haven’t played enough to get to that. I don’t find it a hard thing to do, and I quite glad because that would be a nightmare (laughs). I don’t find that it brings me back to that place at all, I find I can sing it and feel it but from a different perspective.
You said that you had the songs for about 4 or 5 years leading up to the release. What was the point where you thought “now is the time”?
There were several shows I went to see that did it I think. I ever stopped writing but I did stop playing my own stuff at one point, although I played with friends. Then there were five shows in particular I went to that changed my mind and I thought “fuck it, I have to do this now”.
When you decided to move forward with the project, what led you to choosing the name I Have A Tribe instead of your own name?
I didn’t have a name for it for a long, long time. That was important because once you put a name on something you give a home, a life of its own almost. I needed to leave the songs alone for a while. Then I was at a meeting, and someone just mentioned the word “tribe” and had it written down. I was drawn to it, and liked the look of it.
That led to two reasons for it being chosen really. The first was in the way I didn’t want it to be sad, lonely affair, and wanted to stray away from separation. When you go to gigs sometimes there seems to be a physical boundary between whoever is playing the music and whoever is listening. I wanted to make the point that, “I happen to be playing songs and you happen to be listening and this won’t work unless we’re both here”. So the tribe part is more about the room where the music is played and there being no separation.
The second is more of a comfort thing. The opposite of being part of tribe is being on your own, so when I play with the lads or Karen it’s part of a friendship as well.