Cork act Art Crimes Band are, it’s fair to say, atypical of the Irish music scene. A slow-building set up who’ve been on the live music scene for years, they draw influences from jazz and R&B, creating a complex six-piece fronted by the charmed vocals of Grace McMahon. The result is versatile, difficult to pin down, nodding to anything from Hall & Oates to John Legend alongside their jazzier influences. 2022 marks a comeback.
“It’s been amazing,” McMahon says of the return. “I didn’t realise how much I had missed performing live. The first gig back, I was full of nerves and worried if it would all go ok. I got on stage and the energy from the crowd was electric, and right at that moment all worries disappeared. It’s a feeling I will never forget.”
The band took a notable step forward after the lockdown by involving Abbey Road studios in their latest single, ‘Neon Skyline’, with one member of the band tracing some roots to the iconic London spot.
“After using different mastering engineers over the years we usually were not fully happy with the results,” Niall Dennehy says. “We loved the smooth warm sound from masters coming out of Abbey Road. My Uncle, who passed away about 20 years ago, worked as an engineer in Abbey Road in the 1950s when it was called EMI Studios. He taught me all the fundamentals of studio engineering growing up. So I think it’s fitting things come full circle and our tracks get an airing around the walls of Abbey Road.”
“‘Neon Skyline’ is the first track I wrote during Covid lockdowns, about three months in or so,” Stephen Kirby explains. “It is rough nights and long days, inspired by a trip to Vegas a few years ago. The chorus is about craving contact, positive or negative, just human interaction.”
“The lyrics are put through the filter (for lack of a less modern term) of the story ‘Bright Lights, Big City’ by Jay Mcinerney. Neon Skyline is lyrically about lost love, wild nights, harsh days, romance and pain. Musically, it’s about blending solid and static patterns with fluidity and movement to create a complimentary sonic landscape for the story.”
An album has been on the backburner for some time, and Art Crimes Band are hopeful of returning to it shortly, and building on the slew of impressive singles that have emerged in recent months.
“We should really get back into the studio,” Dennehy admits. “The lockdown really set back the recording process but on the other side it boosted the writing process. So we have a lot of material to work on now.”
“Our aim is to focus on getting our singles out there now and recording everything we have thus far, then sitting down and selecting the best of all that for the album. The rest will go on the shelf and might be on the next album, or an EP, who knows.”
“We want to avoid what happened on our first album, which was to force a collection of songs together. We’re working on a common studio sound and aesthetic and are going to keep working on that. Currently our aim is to have the album out next summer.”
“I suppose the varied style really comes from the various influences that each of us brings to the band,” Tim O’Leary says. “Usually we start off with one or two members of the band hammering out the bones of a song. Then as each member comes in they contribute their own unique sound and creative voice. So it’s really a collaborative process, one that can take very different songs in different directions.”
What’s wonderful about Art Crimes Band is while they’re distinctly them, it’s very hard to pick out what might come next.
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- Note venue change for tonight’s Housing Information Event with FCC