Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

Without a voice. Dublin band Steerage turn to the tunes.

What relevance do the titles have, if you have no lyrics? Are they just tag on lines?

(Conor) In a lot of cases the origins of the titles are happenstance and come from conversations, tv shows, or books but a lot of them are meant to accompany the emotion of the tune. For example, ‘Beggarmaster’ is quite a dark and menacing tune and the Beggarmaster in the Rohinton Mistry book ‘A Fine Balance’ was someone that purposely mutilated his beggars so they would get more pity and earn more money. ‘The Great Goat Muster’ comes from a Crocodile Hunter episode where he was roaming around the Outback rounding up feral animals and I thought that it suited the tune because the tune has that sort of up-tempo movement to it. ‘One Trip Around the Sun’ had a slow movement to it (one trip around the sun being a year). But on the other side ‘Cyrus Kleevar’, ‘Is This Thing On?’ and ‘No Two Strings Are The Same’ were just names that we tagged on.

(Donnchadh) Yeah, sometimes they're just words and phrases we either say or hear in day to day life – they stick in the head and become song titles.

(Dan) Some are just there because they sound good to be honest. Cyrus Kleevar was a persons name that I had stuck in my head for ages and I couldn't figure out where I heard it. But I thought it sounded good. But 75 Kilos of Mistakes is a reference to my weight in stupidity.

Is there a scene in terms of instrumental music?

(Conor) I can really only say from a Dublin point of view that I don’t think there is an instrumental music scene. I’d see myself involved in an independent music scene.

(Donnchadh) There are quite a number of bands who have been making instrumental music for decades. But I wouldn’t say there’s a specific ‘scene’ which is exclusive to all else. By that I mean, there are a lot of guitar instrumental bands, electronic, traditional, ethnic etc etc. Then there are bands who cross over like the brilliant m83 who incorporate guitar and electronic sounds. I suppose the category which has been touted for years to describe guitar instrumental music is ‘post-rock’ but that was always so vague that I personally don’t think it constitutes a scene in the sense that punk was a scene. It’s hard to be specific because what might be classed as underground or experimental by some is the staple diet of others, so the term ‘scene’ would be inaccurate I think. But there’s quite a lot of it around, and it’s rather good.

What does the name “Steerage” signify for you? (Dan) If the ship sinks we're screwed (laughs)

(Conor)The name is meant to imply a constant shift in direction, again you could apply this to the movement and changes in some of the songs. There’s a Celtic Rock band in Canada called Steerage also and I think they’re coming from the point of view of that sort of music being played in the steerage sections of the ocean liners.

What’s the story with side projects?

(Dan) Sometimes you write things that you really want to play in a band, but they won't fit in with what your playing in your current band, so that's when you start a side project. They're usually a little more experimental as well.

(Conor) 4 of the 5 current members of Steerage were in a side project called An Hermetic Collective at the end of 2002. At the time Steerage still had a vocalist and this was me and Donnchadh’s way of writing some instrumental music. We only played one gig as Dan and Bref were going travelling but it was very well received and so we parted ways with the vocalist in Steerage and went instrumental initially as a 3-piece before coming full circle to the current line-up. We now play all of the AHC tunes in the Steerage set. Two of the tunes are on the e.p.

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