Enemies get together with friends to ring in the New YearDecember 23, 2011 - 8:00am
There’s an opportunity to welcome the New Year with some ringing in your ears as two excellent instrumental rock bands play Róisín Dubh on December 31. And So I Watch You From Afar and Enemies are on the bill, as are violinist and beat-maker Daithí, Sleep Thieves and Toby Kaar.
Enemies are a four piece who formed in the village of Kilcoole, County Wicklow in 2007. They are Lewis Jackson (guitar), Eoin Whitfield (guitar and drums), Mark O’Brien (bass) and Oisín McMahon Trench on drums. They released their debut album We’ve Been Talking in 2010.
That record, and the subsequent 7-inch Coco et Moi, were simultaneously released in Ireland and Japan. The band forged the Eastern connection during their very early days as a group, with their music being picked up two labels over there.
“It was definitely very strange at the start for us a band, because the first time we went over we weren’t even known in Ireland,” says Lewis Jackson. “When we went over there, we were playing to 600 or 700 people a night in Tokyo. It was out of this world. Every year, when we plan tours we’re like ‘OK, we’re going to Japan’. People there really seem to dig the music.”
Enemies’ Japanese fanbase has solidified the group, making it a long-term project. Lewis also enjoys the cultural differences between Ireland and there.
“It really is a completely different world,” he says. “Even just the crowds, they turn up a few hours before the gig happens and they’re all ready for it to kick off. Most of the time they’re really silent for the entire gig but are completely engaged. They stick with you for as long as you’re going – it’s been good for us!”
Enemies are part of The Richter Collective, a Dublin based label that is home to acclaimed bands like Adebisi Shank, And So I Watch You From Afar and 2011 Choice Prize nominees The Cast of Cheers. The Richter Collective was founded by Michael Rowe, who had released Enemies on his previous label, Popular.
“It was a natural progression,” Lewis says about joining Richter. “Which was really cool, because it was nice to be there from the start. It’s such a great label for us. It was set up in 2008, and I started working there in 2009. I was really interested in working in music and I didn’t really know how to go about it. And the guys were like ‘come on board’ and they showed me the ropes.”
It’s hard for Enemies’ guitarist to pinpoint his role in the label, which generates a lot of buzz in the music press and the blogosphere.
“It’s kind of been ever-changing,” he laughs. “I look after the live aspect of the label, setting up tours. I also run a PR company called Heavyweight Press and that looks after all the acts, in-house.
“The idea with Richter, from the start, was to set up a central hub, so that we could mostly do everything ourselves. And make the whole thing, not just as cheap as possible, but also to have it work the best it could.”
Starting a business in 2008, at the start of the economic downturn, was a bold, even foolhardy, move. However, Lewis and his workmates seem to be weathering the storm.
“Well, I won’t lie – it’s been difficult,” he says. “But it seems to be going really well for us. When we set up, it was already a difficult time. In terms of shows, it’s been going really well. I think once you keep changing, and trying to make it work, then it seems to work!”
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.