Having released a slew of well-received singles last year, Irish band Slyrydes were about to hit the ground running in 2020 with their new single the raucous “I Claim To Be Intelligent”. Like every other band, the lockdown brought their short-term plans grinding to a halt so, looking to the future, we had a chat to Fuz from the band to find out about the single, their ambitions and, given the current restrictions, their thoughts on mental health.
Thanks for your time, how are things going during these crazy times?
Fuz: “Hi! Thanks for having us! Things are going as well as they could during these crazy times. I’m probably painfully optimistic. I’m really just trying to focus on the more positive things at the moment. Like some families may be seeing each other more or the fact that we’re producing less harmful waste. I think it’s maybe easy to start staring at the news and worrying all day but I don’t feel like that’s a practical reaction. Obviously I’m worried about the people that are directly impacted by the situation too but it’s interesting to see how different governments react to a crisis.”
How has the lockdown affected your plans and what are you doing to pass the time?
“For me personally things haven’t changed a whole lot. I’m a chef and the restaurant I work in is doing a thriving takeaway service so it’s pretty much been very full-on. We’re supplying free meals for the elderly (delivered to their door) and practicing social distancing and all that stuff. I was hoping that the band could use this time to lock ourselves away to write our masterpiece but unfortunately, we live in different places geographically so that’s just not a goer. The way we write really needs us all in the same room.”
You’ll be a new band to our readers, could you tell us a bit about your band?
“We’re a four-piece band from Galway city, Co. Galway Ireland. Our singer Rafto used to manage a late bar in Galway. We had all played with different bands but we used to hang out in that pub late at night talking about music. like, a Lot. We eventually started to play music together. Maybe just to see what it would be like at first but it became a very real thing. The energy we put into our “very passionate” music debates transferred easily into us actually creating a cohesive sound. One big problem with us at the start though was our individual need to self destruct. We basically went through a journey of chaos for a few years before we knuckled down and actually started putting out singles that reflected exactly how we felt as a band. So, last year, 2019, we released our first single to a very warm reception. We were immediately championed by Paul McCloone (The Undertones) who has an amazing nationwide radio show on Today FM. From there we released three more singles throughout the year. It’s very different when you suddenly have an audience and that’s something that motivates and drives us.”
You’ve just put out a new single, “I Claim To Be Intelligent”, what plans do you have for more music?
“So this current single is our fifth all in. We have been slowly chipping away at an album with our producer Dan Doherty (He’s produced bands like Fontaines DC and Damien Dempsey). Dan is the fifth member of our band. He’s the Martin Hannett of Ireland right now. I’ve been lucky enough to be mates with Dan for years so the fact I get to work with him like this is amazing. I’d say we’re not too far off the album now but we’ll more than likely release at least one more single before that happens. We’re very excited about the album and we want it to sound right to us. We definitely have a sense of where it’s going now but that said we never plan exactly what way the songs are going to come out so that’s exciting for us too. Watch this space.”
On the subject of intelligence, what’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever done?
“I’ll answer this on more of a band note. I think the dumbest thing we’ve ever done was spend 12 hours in a bar in a venue in Derry, Northern Ireland. Long story short, We had a BBC session on Radio first thing in Derry, we also had a show booked late that night. We also hadn’t slept since the night before in the van. That entire day was just a total… test. Like, I feel we actually learn lessons quite well and every hard thing we’ve gone through has made us into a better band but that day in Derry felt like some weird purgatory. It was quite profound retrospectively I suppose.”
You released four singles last year one of which was “Mental Health”, a subject you discuss in your lyrics. What prompted you to discuss such an emotional subject in your lyrics?
“As I sort of touched on back there, We’ve had a very chaotic time together. Not to get too deep into it but there was rehab, getting arrested, fighting etc…
We’ve all struggled separately and then together with various mental health issues. I think I said we had very self-destructive mentalities. When we finally found a rhythm with the band I think we found that expressing things that actually addressed mental health was probably a bit cathartic to us. We are very honest with our lyrics and music. We’d be taking the piss if we ignored how we felt and started singing about surfing or that paint by numbers person loves another person shit.”
On that note, do you think enough is done within the music industry to help musicians, especially the more successful ones, to cope with the demands of the lifestyle?
“I mean, personally I think that’s down to the individual? I definitely can’t speak for the music industry but I do believe the fact it’s even more conversational at this point in time can only be a good thing. I’d like to think we’ve come a long way as a society in that regard. A lot of jobs out there are stressful. I think musicians or people in the public eye just have more of a platform to talk about it. Every industry has its shit.”
What about now during difficult times all over the world, what advice would you give someone struggling with their mental wellbeing?
“I would advise people to listen to their bodies. If you maybe drink too much or eat too much junk food or whatever it’s not going to be good for your body or mind. Be good to yourself. You only get out what you put in. Don’t get overwhelmed. Talk to people. Breathe and look for the good things.”
And what are you guys doing to get through this time?
“We weren’t too sure about releasing this single right now. We can’t play shows to promote it. We can’t do radio sessions and we can’t even meet up to rehearse. Buuut we decided we have to keep it moving. So we put it out. It’s cool for us because everyone’s at home so they can actually check out the video or listen to the song or whatever. Thankfully people like you are giving us an opportunity to talk about it too. We’re now selling our merch online for the first time ever and thats so amazing. So people can still support our band from home. And they get a cool T-shirt. We’re trying our best like so many to not let this stop us or hinder us. It’s actually so cool to see how bands, in particular, are using this OPPORTUNITY to be creative and smart.”
Going back to your new song, you said it shows a different side to the band, what prompted that change and is it a good indication of the direction the band are going in?
“I think what prompted the change was absolutely natural evolution. We are getting better and conveying our sound a unit. The more experiences we have together the more it sort of feeds us to be creative. I genuinely couldn’t tell you if this is an exact indication of what’s to come but you can expect something that’s definitely in a similar vain.”
You come from Galway, what’s the music scene like there for up and coming bands like Slyrydes?
“There have always been lots of cool bands in Galway. Like, Galway is a cultural epicenter in Ireland. That’s what made me move there when I was 18. It’s great for Art, Theater, crafts, food, and music. Currently, there are great things happening in Galway with bands like Turnstiles seem to be very exciting and of the time. Other stuff like Eoin Dolan, Tracey Bruen, Daithi, Field Trip, SOCOW especially and a few more are all doing well. But we struggle to fit in in Galway. To be honest one of our goals as a band was just to identify as an Irish band. We are proud as fuck to be a Galway band and we will always identify as a Galway band but we definitely don’t want to be a band that’s “made it” in Galway alone. A lot of our focus is on the UK currently too. I feel like the Irish only really appreciate their own once they are exported and imported back into the country.”
Given plans are on hold at the moment, what are your plans for the band when life returns to normal?
“We had some of the biggest shows of our career in the pipeline so hopefully they get rescheduled and we can go fucking play them. We’re going to try to sort some proper UK dates when this is over too. We were just in the middle of looking into that. We’ll also get this album back on track and get another single out. We are more ready for any of this than we have ever been.”
What is the one thing you are missing from daily life and what is the first thing you’ll do when the lockdown is over?
“Playing shows. I really miss playing shows right now. There is such an added pressure when you have upcoming gigs and I feel like each show we play at the moment is better than the last. It’s hard to take a blow to our momentum like this but I think we’ll come back better than ever. We’re hungrier for it now.
New single out, album in the pipeline, what are your long term ambitions for the band?
“Once we know we have people listening to us we are happy. That absolutely drives us. I think more than anything we’re on a creative journey together. If we could keep doing this then that would be amazing. If we could get to the point where this is our job I can’t even imagine the type of stuff we’ll come out with. We fit an awful lot into our days off right now.”
Thanks for your time, just to finish, do you have any message for fans and friends reading this?
“Thank you for this. Thanks to anyone that has read this and thank you to anyone that has listened to our band. It’s a very humbling experience for us and we are just so grateful that some people out there relate to us.”