A few weeks back I interviewed Ray and Luke of Glassgears. This is an exciting time for the group as they have just been signed by L.A. music label Preston Bevrly. They are, as they describe themselves a “rock/punk/power pop trio out of Dublin, Ireland, formed in 2013.” The is comprised of Rachel “Ray” McDermott on lead guitar and vocals, Luke Solecki on lead guitar and backing vocals and Jonny Fealy on drums. So, without any further a due…
So, what can you tell us about the record deal?
Luke; Everything is sorted now.
Ray; We are signed with Preston Beverly Group.
Luke; We are signed to a label.
Ray; We have signed two things. We signed a recording contract and a publishing one too.
Ray; We’re going to go to L.A. To record and play some shows in cool places.
So how did it come about?
Ray; Just under ten years ago, I was not in a band, obviously, because I was a child, I am the baby of the band. I used to do my own acoustic singer/songwriter stuff and I used to have a YouTube channel where I would do that. A friend of mine, who is also a singer, wanted to do a song with me, so I said yeah. We put the video up. One of her parents was friends was with a friend with a friend who was interested in listening to us, to hear us sing. They tuned in and this was at a time when YouTube was fucking “it”. It was big. We had followers. It was an update thing and we would get requests to do songs. That’s when YouTube was kicking off. It’s not really like that now, it’s commercialised. So, this guy, who the parent knew, was going to look at her YouTube channel and check her out and see if there was any potential there for working with her. Because it was something we both did together, it was a cover of, I don’t even know. I think it may have been a cover of a MGMT song. An A&R exec messaged me through YouTube, which I didn’t even know you could do. He said, what’s the story, I like your stuff. Could you write me three or four songs, which I did. I was studying at the time and I said I had to focus on that. That was that. I think I was doing my Leaving at the time.
Bloody education. It gets in the way of everything.
Ray; Just so you can be part of the system then. A slave to someone else’s dream.That was that. So, in November of 2015, November just gone, I messaged him. I said here is some of last year’s old EP. We chatted away and I talked to him for a couple of months and then it got around to him being really serious. I want to work with you and sign you and sell your music and work with you commercially.
Luke; It’s quite surprising actually, that someone found our music commercially acceptable.
Ray; For a Punk Rock band, that’s kinda weird.
Luke; I think it goes back to what we spoke of before. It’s this Irish vibe and the image of the Irish artist people outside of Ireland may have. That’s what it is. We have been compared a good few times to The Cranberries. The “generic” Irish rock band.
Ray; Female fronted and Irish. My vocals are a little bit like hers. We bought our own equipment because we were going to record an EP. We looked around at all the recording studios and we thought fuck that, it’s at least a million quid to have anything mixed at least decently. It ended up cheaper to pay half the price and buy our own array of mics and recording gear.
Luke; Those songs were self-recorded. DIY recorded, mixed and mastered.
Ray; We recorded a couple of tracks and sent them to the label. They were like yeah, okay. And now we’re signed.
Were you apprehensive about signing anything at all?
Ray; Yeah. It took us three weeks to sign. We had to get legal advice to understand what was actually being said. It was so dense.
Luke; It was about 30 pages long. Very heavy, you know on the legal language. We had to break it down into English. What does it mean?
Ray; We also had a Skype interview with the label, me and Luke did. We wanted to clarify anything that wasn’t covered. We talk for about 45 minutes getting our questions answered and stuff and we then asked for the final draft after that. We all signed, well three of us did. Our bassists Dan decided not to. He’s going to pursue his career in teaching. He is already super busy doing extra courses and stuff for it, so. He wanted to put his all into it if he did sign, but he wasn’t in a position do that, so he let us go ahead and put our all into it. It was very noble. It was hard, though, it was sad. It was the first time we had somebody leaving the band that we didn’t want to leave the band. It was weird. It was kind of like being in a break-up.
Luke; I know, I still can’t get over it.
How has the recent recording being going, how do you find it?
Ray; Difficult. Super, super difficult.
Why would that be?
Ray; Because, when you have all the equipment you think great. I have all the equipment, I will set it all up, I will plug it all in and start recording and it will be the best thing we ever fucking recorded, the best we ever heard in our fucking lives. It’s going to be like something at the end of a film. Big and amazing. Then you play it and it sounds like an old radio being dropped into a swimming pool.
Luke; Well, it wasn’t that bad. You need proper… well none of us were prepared for that. Jonny, our drummer has some education towards that, I think.
Ray; Yeah, he has a degree in sound engineering. We’re all in one room trying to record one instrument at a time. Then we are trying to mix it into something that sounds like that it is everyone playing at the same time and that you can’t tell and that is hard.
Luke; It lacks the live energy. I think it is easier to bring the studio recordings when you have the proper arrangements. Someone in the recording room and someone in the control room and you have someone mixing it, you know? We were left without it. We have a mixer, microphones, a laptop all in the one room with the drum set. We all had headphones on. All on max volume.
Ray; We did it on an HP, I can’t even call it a laptop, it was a netbook. It was small, from 2011. It was pretty basic and simplistic.
Luke; It was dead in the beginning. We couldn’t start it.
Ray; Yeah, that was a bit messed up. We finally got it working, but we recorded our shit on that. Like, it wouldn’t affect the final production, but we were wondering if it would run the application. You know, fingers crossed. But, it worked.
Luke; I was very surprised. With as little knowledge we had, you could actually learn certain things from the internet. Certain things about how to record. YouTube have videos about how to set up mics and things like that. At the end of the day, it is the experience that matters. We had none.
Ray; Bearing in mind all that we said earlier and how difficult it was, it turned pretty much as good as it could have done. Fucking four amateurs sitting in and hoping for the best.
Luke; Yeah, I think it is a very good quality demo recording rather than something we could actually release.
Ray; It’s a DIY track so it was okay. It suits the kind of music that we were playing. It sounds a bit garagey and it sounds a bit raw. We are not playing, like, Synth Pop. Or Adele.
Luke; Exactly. We could be a Pop band yet, though.
Ray; Obviously it is time for us to record again and do it properly.
Ray; It’s been a while.
You kind of touched on it a bit there with Dan, but, when you change line up does it affect momentum?
Luke; We are trying to minimize the impact really. You know, with the people leaving and the people joining we are trying to get an overlap and minimize the effect that way so we won’t take months for someone to learn the songs and get used to the songs. It is usually quite intense when we are trying to recruit a new member. It’s happened a few times, with new bassists and drummers. I don’t know what it’s going to be like. I think it is safe to say we have a new person already who will replace Dan, but we are in the middle of working things through.
Ray; The thing about getting someone new in is, and we made the mistake at the start, being kind of chill. It’s cool. Let’s train you in for a few months and learn 10 or 11 songs. We can’t afford to do that now so we can only take someone on who can probably learn it in a month. Stuff like, not train them in because they are going to come in and do their own creative thing, but showing them the basic structures of the songs and things like that. Also, we have to try focus on getting everything we have so far into demo quality. You know, for reference, for press-packs. Jesus, press-packs? I can’t believe I actually had to say that. Never in my life. Who the fuck do I think I am?
Luke; I don’t know. It’s really funny, though. For someone with no musical education, I am now a professional musician. Technically. That’s really weird. Imagine getting paid for this.
Ray; Why not? We can dream.
The stuff dreams are made of.
Luke; American dreams.
What are your main musical influences?
Ray; Me and Luke were talking about this a while ago for our bio.
Luke; Do you remember what we said?
Ray; No. We thought about this real hard, so I will just tell you the answer. (Ray opens a laptop to read out the bio)
I like these pre-prepared answers.
Ray; I know, right. This is like an exhaustive list.
Luke; It is extremely incorrect. I don’t think any of the artists we actually like are on it.
Ray; I like all of them. That’s why we picked them.
Luke; Like who? Pat Metheny?
Luke; Okay, that’s fine.
Is Babymetal on the list?
Luke; Surprisingly, no.
Ray; Okay, firstly Babymetal, because who knows that even. If you haven’t heard of that Google it.
Luke; Well, I’m into Metal music, quite a bit and I never heard of them.
How did you discover that actually?
Ray; I think someone just sent it to me in work. An email or a fucking Facebook message being lol. Why not look it up? Okay, Britney Spears.
Luke; Definitely. Her early stuff was really heavy and intense.
Ray; Emotionally captivating.
Luke; I think so. It was also very relevant. You know, the fears of the generation.
Ray; Beethoven, you know, for obvious reasons. Pat Metheny.
Luke; I loved him in Metallica.
Luke; I don’t know how we came up with this.
Ray(whispering); I don’t know who Pat Metheny is, but he is one of our influences.
Luke; There definitely is an influence of his in the way I play.
Ray; Def Leppard because one of the lads in missing a limp. Is that okay, can we say that? I think it’s great.
Luke; One of the lads we know, not in the band but a lad we know personally has no fingers. Just bones sticking out of him.
Ray; Def Leppard. No. Already said that.
Luke; We thought we might put in some sort of Irish international reference here because that’s who we are.
Ray; Rodrigo y Gabriella.
Luke; Yeah, a good Irish-based band.
Ray; Are they?
Sure they used to busk on Grafton St.
Ray; Fuck off! That’s great. That skill though. Those guitar skills. Who is your favourite, Rodrigo or Gabriella?
Luke; The third one.
Ray; I knew he would say that. I had a feeling. Alicia Keyes. Those cornrows.
Luke; Yeah, that first album. You know that. I told you that.
Luke; Everyone thinks I’m joking.
Ray; She writes a good album and an anthem or two. Em, Chuck Berry.
Ray; Guitar hero of the world.
Luke; Pretty much. Back to the Future. Remember that? That was amazing. I think that turned me towards playing music.
Luke; This particular scene from that. He goes back to the 50’s and starts playing this song. It’s all mad, this guitar style. That was amazing.
So, Back to the Future got you into music?
Luke; Basically, yes. I wanted to go on stage and do the same thing. I never did. I might.
Ray; There’s still time.
Luke; Is there? I would look stupid. If I got up on stage in 2016 and started doing that, I mean, it’s so 80s.
Ray; I would support you.
Luke; You can’t do that. Even in L.A.
Ray; You’re your own boss.
Luke; It’s not going to sell.
Myself and Ray in unison; Sell out!
Luke; I wasn’t expecting that.
Ray; Don’t put that out there. Or anything else that will get us in trouble. Cradle of Filth. Sum 41.
Luke; I think of all those on the list they are the only that influenced us, or most of us that have been in the band.
Ray; Sum 41 are really hard working. I went to see them last month and they are just really good. They have been going for forever, for years and years. I don’t even know when they started. They were signed in the late 90s. They have just not stopped.
Luke; That’s how bands make it big, never ending.
Ray; Never taking breaks.
Luke; They have gone through serious shit. I mean, the guy had some serious drink and drug problems. Some bands just disappear. What I liked about them was they were mixing kind of new wave heavier British Iron Maiden type stuff with the Pop Punk.
Ray; Instead of Pop Punk it was Pop Metal. I haven’t seen anybody doing it quite the same yet.
Luke; So these are the official ones. I don’t know. It is really hard to find a band we all like.
Ray; Except for Foo Fighters.
Luke; Do we like Foo Fighters?
Ray; Yeah, pretty much anybody that has been in the band has, or seems to love them.
Luke; Okay, everyone in the band seems to like them, but they are not my main influence. Like, I love the way they go back to the basics with their music and recording and composing. That’s really nice to see. To see a band work the way bands did in the 70s and 80s.
Ray; So, what are your main genre influences then? So like old school classic rock.
Luke; Mainly, yeah, but I came from a Punk Rock background. Most of the bands I liked first were Punk Rock bands. So, I was really into this, especially the second wave of British Punk Rock. This whole Anarcho-Punk movement. The Exploited, these bands. The Dead Kennedys as well. That’s what it really was. I don’t think we can name even one artist that, well maybe we can, Tool. Tool has been the main one.
Ray; It doesn’t really influence us, but it is a band we all love and respect and know we could never do it like that. Have you ever listened to Tool?
Ray; You should listen to them all the time.
Luke; Yes, not Baby Metal.
Have you ever listened to your songs and thought Jesus that sounds like something I wouldn’t expect.
Ray; Yeah, but it would happen more with me because I would write the bones of a song and then Luke would put some structure on it or a different spin on it or change it and make it into a song with me, then everyone will join in or whatever. I know that the first time you are starting a song, you will probably find it is the same, you start with a riff in your head and then the song gets made and everyone else jumps in you’re like, what the fuck is this? Or you play it live for the first time and it is completely the opposite to what I thought it was going to be.
Ray; It’s fine. It just went off from the original idea.
Luke; I can hear, when Ray comes in with the chord structure or core ideas of a song, in most cases I can hear where the influences came from for the song.
Ray; Yeah. Luke will say to me, were you listening to a load of so and so this week and I will be like yes.
Luke; Yeah, I’m like that too. It’s always been this way of course. The biggest bands were always, I don’t want to say stealing music, but taking influence from everywhere. I mean Smoke on the Water, for example, I have recently just learned that it is pretty much just a variation of Beethoven’s the Fifth. That’s what it is. I am just listening to music and it’s exactly how you said, how is that done? How can I turn it into something that is mine?
Ray; You can always know though where I want to go with it anyway, which always helps. At least, if there is two of us it is easier for our bassist and drummer to be like I’m with you. It isn’t just me shouting with really bad guitar or progression. Luke sort of filters it and makes it into something feasible.
Luke; I think with the songwriting process it is never fully conscience. You kind of improvise. It is like an added value in this. We all knit together and start playing.
Ray; It changes.
Luke; It actually changes. It lives.
Ray; Did you just say it lives?
Luke; Yeah, it does.
Ray; That was beautiful, wasn’t it?
It was. That’s the pull quote right there.
Ray; Stirling journalistic content for you.
Luke; Okay, next question.
What do you think of the music industry today?
(They both just laugh.)
Luke; I don’t know and I don’t really care. I’m not involved but maybe I will be.
Ray; Keisha seems to be having a hard time of it with one of the big boys, but they sacked the guy that fucked her over.
Luke; Who? Oh yeah.
Ray; I mean we are aware of who the big players are in the industry and stuff.
Do you think it is difficult to break into?
Ray; Oh yeah.
Luke; I think so, yeah. I mean you have to compromise.
Ray; You have to see what the current waves are and try ride it. A few years ago it was kind of like folk indy. Mumford and Sons and The Lumineers and shit were all blown up and now it’s like…
Luke; I read yesterday that the 90s are back. I don’t know what that means.
Ray; Grunge is coming back in a huge way, especially when I look at my little sister and her friends and stuff.
Luke; That’s the thing with bands like, Nirvana, Pearl Jam or Soundgarden, they are all classic rock now. It’s really hard for me because I remember being drunk listening to the first Nirvana album or whatever, you know. It was ages ago. What? All of a sudden they are really classic rock.
Ray; So, I think in a nutshell, the industry kind of re-churns itself. You kind of, you know, like a Ferris wheel. Look at pop punk, it was initially subversive, now it’s main stream with bands like 5 Seconds of Summer.
It’s a brand now.
Luke; Yeah. And when you reach a certain stage your face and your name are just a brand and they are trying to sell it. So, you can essentially go on stage and have musicians play from the backstage and you just go on stage and show yourself and people are paying for that.
Ray; The cult of celebrity.
Luke; That’s very unfortunate, I don’t want that to happen.
Ray; Don’t worry, it most likely won’t.
Loving the positivity here.
Ray; I’m a realist, okay?
Luke; Who, after all, wants to pay to see faces like ours.
I would and I have.
Luke; You have actually.
Ray; That’s one person. One more than I thought we had.
With the band’s momentum and undoubted talent, the future looks very bright indeed.