The lack of a record company, though, coupled with O’Farrell’s retreat from more regular gigging led to a DIY situation that was far ahead of its time. O’Farrell with long time collaborators Gavin Harte and Dan Fitzgerald, set up a 16 track recording studio, and worked on songs that would become their sole album release to date “Interference”
The album, released in 1995, on the Whelans label, an offshoot of Dublin’s famous live venue, is a beguiling collection of songs, with inlay notes that read like a list of a who’s who in Irish Music. Collaborators on the album included Donal Lunny, Katell Keinig, Maria McKee, Glen Hansard, and Liam O’Maonlai. It received rave reviews, and sold well, but all on a local level. The hoped for ‘deal’ still remained elusive, and in 1996 the band played their last gig.
Fast forward, if you will, to the current day, where Interference have re-emerged, as if from a strategic hibernation, into a new situation where recording and releasing records on your own no longer seems like a token of failure, but rather a sign of artistic control and integrity. And it doesn’t have to be a stoic victory either. Witness the successful self-financed releases from Damien Rice, The Frames and Mundy to name but a few – some of whom have been directly influenced by O’Farrell and co.
The catalyst for the return was a number of ‘one off’ gigs, starting with a re-union gig in Fergus’s hometown of Schull, and culminating with their performance as part of the Other Voices series, filmed live in a deconsecrated church in Dingle, Co. Kerry. An auspicious, if somewhat unusual venue. What did it feel like performing there? “It felt pure and clean once one didn’t panic too much being followed around by 8 cameras in front of a live audience”.
The performance was easily one of the best of the series, and gained the band a whole new audience, who missed the band the first time around. “Not just a new audience “ says Fergus, “but it won me back my self respect. I had begun to believe that any talents I had were purely imagined. I got a right good old slap on the back for that one. It felt real good. I will be forever grateful to Glen Hansard [ of The Frames and presenter of the show] and Philip King [Musician, film maker, and producer of the series] for that.
So the good news is that interference are working on new material. The finishing touches are being put to a home studio in Schull, where the album will be recorded. The location is appropriate, as interference, more so than most Irish bands, have always captured a certain atmospheric, visual quality in their music. “Absolutely”, agrees Fergus, ”if you could see the view from my house, you would know you are bang on the nail. Music is ultimately a record of time and space. Music is recorded in a place. I think it natural that landscape affects the work”.
“An essentially rock based, often atmospheric sound”, O’Farrell describes the interference sound, “with folk and classical influences supporting completely believable singing that leads to a state of breathlessness and “, pause for comic timing, “hopefully a tiny orgasm”. They’re very much studio animals, with up to a thousand different song ideas floating around on tape, and a shortlist of 40 tunes. There’s something particular about Fergus’s personality and songwriting that attracts collaboration, as evinced by the list of musicians appearing on the last album. So, in the future, if he could work with anyone, who would it be? “It’s a bit like asking me what’s my favourite song or film or sexual position. There are just too many great choices. However, if I have to pick one person to work with, it would be Brian Eno.”