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Interview with The Crayon Set

Photo Credit – Killian Broderick

Dublin-based band The Crayon Set have just released their third album “Downer Disco” and it is packed full of hook-filled, alternative pop tunes. As the title suggests, there are songs to get you up and dancing but with lyrics that reflect the messed-up world we currently live in – as Robert Baker describes them “sad bangers, melody with melancholy, downer disco”. The new album is probably the band’s strongest collection of songs to date with “Don’t Step Back Too Far”, “Summer Song”, “Boring” and “Moment” my personal favorites.

The current line up is: Robert Baker (Vocals, Guitars, Synths), Kate Dineen (Vocals, Guitars, Synths, Percussion), George Guilfoyle (Bass, Double Bass, Guitars, Vocals), Phil Casey (Drums, Percussion) and Finn O’Reilly (Guitars, Bass, Keys, Vocals). We caught up with Rob to find out more about the new album.

Hi Guys! How’s everything going right now?
Good, thank you! Music-wise it’s been busy with the release of the new album and getting ourselves ready to gig again. We’ve been out a while and we’re not 100% match-fit.
What classic album cover is your current mood?
Good question! Are you a  fan of ‘Simpsons Albums’ on Twitter? Very funny. Maybe Teenage Fanclub ‘Grand Prix’ – things are pretty fast and hectic
Your new album “Downer Disco” is your first in 4 years – how did the events of the last few years influence the process?
In terms of the writing & recording process not at all actually – we’d finished the album before the pandemic hit. It was initially scheduled for release in June 2020. But if you remember back things were still a bit paranoid and messed-up even before then and I think that did feed into some of the songs and the overall mood.
“Downer Disco” is different to your first two records with a more synthy/electronic feel – was it a conscious decision to change the sound of the band or something that evolved naturally?
It was a bit of both. We try to vary things from album to album – that was part of the idea behind the band in the first place – the idea of different colours and moods. We were using more synths and we decided to run with that – our producer Stephen Shannon brought it on massively though. We approached him as he comes from more of an electronic and soundtrack background and he helped us get to where we wanted to go – so a lot of the credit goes to him

If you could only listen to one record, what would it be?
Tough question. Going through a Beatles phase again at the moment so maybe Abbey Road. You could never tire of that.
“Out of Your Mind” was written and released in 2020 about Trump and comes as a bit of a shock in amongst the indie-pop hooks of the rest of the album – was it important to you that it made the album, even though he is not longer in power?
It was probably written in 2017 would you believe. I thought at the time of writing it maybe it could be too angry or hard-hitting, but in retrospect I left him off pretty lightly as things got a lot worse. It wrote itself, every day there would be a new headline, it could have been an hour long. I don’t think the danger has gone away with that swing to the right so we thought it was still relevant, and broad enough in scope, to stay on the album
Who are your musical influences and are there any new bands or records that you currently have on repeat?
Influences – all of the usual suspects Beatles, Bowie, Dylan, Beach Boys, The Kinks, R.E.M, lots of 80s pop and synth pop and anything with jangly guitars or nice harmonies. Haven’t been listening to enough new albums of late. Enjoying the Kings of Convenience Peace or Love, Sandro Perri’s Soft Landing, Khruangbin’s Mordechai & the new Arab Strap album ‘As Days Get Dark’
You have the album launch at the Grand Social in Dublin this week – are you planning any other tour dates soon?
That’s the plan but we have nothing confirmed. It’s been a nightmare here with the restrictions, even our album launch has a very restricted capacity and is seated. There’s also a huge backlog of bands who haven’t gigged and a real scramble for venues.

Photo Credit – Killian Broderick

What would go on your signature pizza and what would it be called?
I did actually have a ridiculous idea a while back for an Irish pizza for St Patricks Day – bacon, bits of cabbage & fried potato, some nice Irish cheddar – maybe stick a decorative shamrock in the middle? Think it might be tastier than in sounds? No?
Erm, lets hope so! What are your plans for the rest of this year and heading into 2022?
We have a vinyl edition out in a few weeks which is a first for us and very exciting. We also recorded a live version of Downer Disco at a really beautiful theatre here so we’re looking forward to getting that all edited and out. There’s a few up on our website www.thecrayonset.com/ and on youtube already.
Into 2022 we hope to be gigging the album and hopefully get some festivals here next Summer and maybe even further afield. We have an album’s worth of new songs ready to go too – which I’m really happy with, but don’t think I could face into that full album process just yet! So much unseen work goes into it. Maybe record a couple of singles or an EP and put them out late 2022

Dublin-based The Crayon Set specialise in hook-filled, alternative pop. Downer Disco is their strongest album to-date filled with their trademark expertly-crafted pop songs & dual girl/boy vocal interplay – this time with added synth-pop & electronic goodness. It was recorded with producer Stephen Shannon at Experimental Audio in Dublin. The first line-up of The Crayon Set released their eponymous debut album in 2013 – it was recorded with Nick Brine (Teenage Fanclub, Super Furry Animals). It is filled choc-a-bloc with infectious, uptempo indie pop songs. The Irish Times described it as “as catchy as a virus”.  It’s follow-up ‘Lost Languages’ was recorded with Gavin Glass (Lisa Hannigan, Villagers) and released in 2017 and featured Kate Dineen on guest vocals who later became a permanent member of the band. The album was in part a tribute to many of their favourite ‘Americana’ artists such as Tom Petty, R.E.M., Wilco & Neil Young. The music website Musician.ie made it their Irish album of the year.  

“Downer Disco” is available in limited edition neon-red vinyl which can be pre-ordered at https://qrates.com/projects/23780-downer-disco and from https://www.thecrayonset.com. You can also follow the band on Twitter and Instagram to get the latest news

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