INTERVIEW DATE: Aug '97
INTERVIEWER: Andy Duffy
Brian Mooney - Vocals, Guitar
Declan Costello - Bass
Andy Osborn - Drums
The Idiots are a highly praised band from Dublin, Ireland who have received good reviews from every quarter of the music press. Someone even went so far as to say that their self-titled album was so "monolithically huge it has tunes to fill an aircraft hangar". Big Black and Sonic Youth are names regularly mentioned in connection with these guys' sound and they are quite simply the kings of drone guitar. They also had the good fortune to provide the soundtrack for a widely acclaimed play called "A Bronze Twist Of Your Serpent Muscles" which toured all over Ireland and England. We spoke to drummer Andy Osborn about their career to date...
How did The Idiots meet and start out?
Andy : Ermmm, ah yeah we were all in...well myself and Brian were in sort of garagey bands. Dec wasn't in any other band. This is actually his first band, he's the bass player. He used to do sound for us and we were looking for a bass player and then he was strumming the bass in a part of the room one day and we went, "Oh, do you play bass?", "Yeah!", "Yeah, there we go!". So that's how we got together.
So why did you call yourselves The Idiots?
Andy : No reason in particular really. I actually don't know - it just came about and the name just stuck and we just started using the name.
Do you ever have a problem with your Brian being in the same room as the
one from Pet Lamb?
Andy : (laughs) Yeah. The two of them were out on the p*ss one night. Did you hear about that? They got stopped by the cops, the place got raided and the two of them got stopped by the cops!
Cool! But does your Brian get called 'Idiot' to make it simple?
Andy : Oh yes, absolutely! Ah no, I mean - I've never actually seen them in the same room together properly so I don't really know!
Did you do any demos before getting signed to Dirt?
Andy : We did, yeah. The album that we released was originally supposed to be a demo.
This tape here? (I indicate a sheet containing multiple sleeves for a cassette copy of what appears to be the album)
Andy : No, no. This is actually. That thing there isn't [the album]. I'm going over to the CMJ. That's actually not the album that. I'm going over to the CMJ next week so I've made up a tape.
Oh, I thought this was your self-titled debut album...
Andy : No, well it's the same cover but what we've just done is scanned in the cover and basically I've just put three tracks off the album and then two other songs that we're working on downstairs at the moment and we're gonna stick them all together on this tape to bring it over to the States. So that's what that's all about...but no, the album was originally recorded as a demo. There was actually six songs on the demo and we just got a hundred lashed off onto cassette just to sell at gigs. And then Brian O'Neill from Dirt heard the tape and really liked it and decided that he wanted to release it, for what it was, as a CD. So we had another song that we'd just recorded so we gave him that as well and they stuck that on and [they] had an album out.
What song was that?
Andy : "I Should Go", the second one.
That's all you've really released isn't it?
Andy : Er, that's all we've ever released yeah. I mean, that's quite a while ago. It's probably about three years now. So we're probably gonna get somethin' else [out] fairly soon. So that's the score with that, anyway. So we'll probably release something maybe early next year. We'll work on an EP or something like that. [We'll] try and get something out. It's kind of gone on too long now, y'know?
Are there any bands you like around Ireland?
Andy : Ermm yeah, there's a few bands alright you know? I wouldn't like to exclude anybody and include anybody. But there are some...all the bands that you're going to see probably - I probably like, y'know?
Stuff like Pet Lamb?
Andy : Yeah, stuff like that.
Or even Luggage?
Andy : Yeah, I really like Luggage. Schroeder's Cat - another band, they're good! Yeah, there's a lot of good bands out there alright.
What bands do you get compared with?
Andy : Ermm, yeah. It's always strange 'cos anytime we get reviewed for a gig or any of the reviews for the album it's always drawn comparisons with Sonic Youth which is kind of a strange thing - none of us really ever listened to Sonic Youth before but every time...like, a lot of reviews for the album you pick up are, "Obviously very influenced by Sonic Youth", and "Obviously influenced by Sonic Youth", "Obviously influenced by Sonic Youth" - which we never really were, y'know? The whole members of the band has a sort of very large mixture of influences, not one sort of defined influence though. Y'know, amongst us [there are no bands] that we all really liked and decided we wanted to be like in the band.
Would you happen to know what any of the songs are about, Andy?
Andy : Ermm, any of our songs?! Yeah, unfortunately I do yeah! (laughs)
I just thought maybe Brian would write all the lyrics...
Andy : Well, we all kind of write. I mean songs sort of come out of a rehearsal and there's nobody kind of goes away and writes a song and then comes back y'know? I mean, Brian writes the majority of the lyrics, I've written a few. A song could come out of anything really - a drumbeat or...
So you've had some input into the lyrics?
Andy : Er yeah, I've written some lyrics in some of the songs but how do you mean? What song in particular?
Well, what songs have you contributed to?
Andy : Ah, one or two. I kinda know what they're all about, y'know?
So "Rekcollector" is about someone who collects garbage?
Andy : Er, no. Well, that's probably a better definition than I'd come up with y'know? A lot of the songs, I think there's a kind of a vein that runs through that whole album but I think a lot of the songs are very introspective in a sense y'know? I think that really does run through just about all the songs on it. I mean, I don't think there's any song I could pick off the album that wouldn't have that introspective kind of aspect to it.
So there's none you could actually explain?
Andy : No! (laughs)
Well, what's "Slow" about?
Andy : "Slow"? Well "Slow", I mean I suppose it's probably about wasting time in a sense. I mean, you can waste time in so many different ways.
You did a video for that didn't you?
Andy : We did yeah, yeah.
Have you done any more videos yet?
Andy : No, that was the only one we've ever done a video for.
Well Brian did suggest using the current footage for "Slow" as another song's video...
Andy : Yeah, well I mean...the thing is we haven't really done anything in the last [three years]. We haven't done our own gig here...our own proper gig here in over fourteen months. We kinda went through a period of not really doing anything which we're just kinda getting back into now so we want to release something else so when we know, obviously we're gonna get a video together for something and just take it from there so we're in a process at the moment of trying to actually get things organised which can be fairly difficult at the best [of] times.
What are your basic future plans at the moment?
Andy : Ermm, well definitely make another record. Regardless of whether it's an album or an EP or what. We were over in the States as well, about a month ago and what we did over there went down very well. We did one gig for the Intel festival and that went very well, so we're kinda at the moment trying to concentrate on getting back over there 'cos it seems to be the sort of place that we get the best response from so far.
Didn't you, as a band, get to do the music for a play?
Andy : Yeah - no, we played live for a play that was on here. It was on in Liverpool actually, yeah. It's a great time actually while we were there [in Liverpool]. I mean, the play itself at that stage was a bit ropey y'know? Basically we were playing live and there was two actors onstage and one's deaf and the other one was Italian and there was no dialogue in it at all and we'd just kind of play along. It was very movement orientated although there was kind of a loose plot running through the whole thing about a guy who tickled his wife to death! And we were playing live to it.
That's quite a bizarre story! Maybe you should write a song about it?!
Andy : Yeah! The Fall did something very similar. A thing like that "Curious Orange" thing. They played live with a ballet.
Was it about being tickled to death though?! It's a bit of a strange
Andy : Yeah, true. I mean, the funny thing about the play was nobody really understood what it was about. It was more of a sort of sight and sound experience.
What bigger bands have you played with?
Andy : We played with Pavement last week - it was grand! [It was] a good crowd - we got a very good reaction and we played with Spiritualized as well.
Are you into Spiritualized?
Andy : Yeah, I do. I kind of sorta half like them half don't like them. Half the stuff I really like, half the stuff I don't really like. I bought the new album about a month ago and I've only actually listened to it twice. It's kind of hard to get into. It's very sort of brassy and very Pink Floyd-y as well. It's very moody.
Are there any bands you feel an affinity for?
Andy : Ah, Status Quo! Yeah, that's one!
How about Queen?
Andy : Well, not Queen - there's only the Quo, y'know? [There's] only ever the Quo! Ermm, to be honest with you - not really! I mean, obviously everybody likes different bands but I mean, an affinity to what we're doing musically and what we listen to - I don't think there's much of a comparison because we've always tried to...not tried to do something completely different but at the same time I think what we've come up with and the sound that I've got...I think it's...without sitting there sounding headstrong and I think it's our own in a sense. So I don't really like to draw too many comparisons to other bands.