Alternative-rock act Red Queen Contest are set to play Whelan’s in Dublin next Thursday (July 10th) following the release of the band’s latest single ‘One of the Same’ which came out today. Vocalist Paul Clarke took some time out of the band’s busy schedule to speak to the Last Mixed Tape about the group’s self-titled début album and new single.
You’re about to release your next single ‘One & The Same’. What can you tell me about the inspirations and influences behind the song?
Struggle, strain and strife!! The old chestnuts! It’s about not being able to see the bigger picture and being consumed by the trivial day-to-day nonsense.
Did you know instantly that the song would eventually become a single?
Maybe because it has one of our more anthemic choruses it always seemed like a good choice for a single. The truth is it’s had quite the evolution! It was me versus that vocal take for a good while and the toys were nearly thrown out of the pram a few times! The single is also a remix of the album version. We sent a couple of potential singles to Al Clay, a producer in California, and he picked ‘One & The Same’. He’s worked with The Pixies and Blur so we weren’t going to disagree! We’re delighted with how it turned out.
The single’s parent album has an equally expansive sound. How much did the recording process change and evolve the band’s sound?
Before the recording process we were four lads in a rehearsal space figuring out what type of band we wanted to be and the sound that would require. When we made the decision to work with Adrian Garry as producer, he really helped us discipline ourselves. We spent a couple of months in pre-production re- working songs, choosing the songs that worked best together and the dreaded editing! We recorded the album in Oldcastle, Co. Meath. Meath is really flat except for Oldcastle. You have to go over this huge hill to get there. There was seriously heavy snow when we began recording so it felt like pilgrimage of sorts!
We set about recording the bones of the songs that were definites. What became obvious was that some songs would require extra attention if they were going to turn out how we wanted. We layered synths, keys and extra vocals. We got our friends Alan Carmody and Saramai Leech to give us a dig out too! Carmo provided sweet atmospheric guitar on “Subtle Hands”, “Rosalee” and “Fruitless Endeavour”. Saramai lent her keyboard skills on “Rabbits’ Feet”. The last song on the album “Bee Stings” was crying out for the epic treatment! Through friends of friends we were able to get Cora Venus Lunny and Kate Ellis to play violin and cello on the track. It was such a rush to hear them go to work! We also got Liam Mc Cabe and Kevin Kelleher from Shouting At Planes to play trumpet and saxophone which they did with some style. That being said, most of the album is the sound of us four in a room together (3 vocals, 2 guitars, bass and drums).
I don’t think you ever write your second album the same way you right your first. Definitely recording this album has shaped how we write, how we play and how we perform. It’s all experience.
You play Whelan’s next Thursday. How (if at all) does the band’s sound expand upon the studio work when played live?
We can’t wait to rock out next Thursday! Whelans is always a special place to play and we have a great set lined up. The live show is not necessarily an expansion of the studio work. The album is its own beast! Live we get to show the passion and energy we have for these songs and hopefully make people have a good time.
With your début album out, has the group started to think about the next record or is that something you’d like to keep separate until the time comes?
We’re definitely ready to start work on new songs. There are always fresh ideas floating around and we’re constantly looking for new directions to take the sound. We’ll probably take stock in the Autumn and knuckle down to it.
Red Queen Contest will play Whelan’s this Thursday (July 10th) for more information visit whelanslive.com. Watch the music video for the band’s single ‘One & The Same’ below.