Choice nominees Cashier No 9 for Galway concertApril 12, 2012 - 7:00am
Purveyors of lush, harmony-laden songs, Cashier No 9 play Róisín Dubh on Saturday, April 21. The Belfast based sextet is led by Daniel Todd, who assembled the band from friends and musicians he knew from the city’s vibrant scene.
“It was a solo project for me at the start, I had a bedroom studio set up, working away, and then eventually someone booked me a gig,” Daniel says. “I roped in a couple of friends to help me out – James (Smith on guitar/vocals), who was playing in The Emperors at the time, and Stuart (Magowan on bass/vocals), who’s one of my best friends.
“It’s grown into a six headed beast now – a percussion player, a harp (harmonica) player, a keyboard player and I’ve got my friend Phil playing drums.”
Cashier No 9’s music has a classic sixties feel to it, with its expansive arrangements and layered harmonies. Was this something Danny had in his head when he started to work on the band’s debut, To The Death Of Fun?
“There was no real sound in my head, it’s just what I was working on at the time,” Danny says. “David Holmes produced the album for us – his sound linked all our songs together. He recorded with a lot of vintage gear.
“We went out to LA and recorded in Laurel Canyon, where The Byrds worked. We recorded in this old studio, that’s where the sixties sound came from. We’re all from Northern Ireland. You get out there, you stick the shades on, you’re up in Laurel Canyon – it’s not hard to get swept away by it all!”
David Holmes started out as Belfast based DJ, and was at the forefront of the city’s club scene. But after releasing atmospheric albums like 1997’s Let’s Get Killed he began to turn heads in Hollywood. He composed the soundtracks for the Ocean’s Eleven series, as well as Steve McQueen’s Hunger. Holmes had a clear vision for To The Death Of Fun, and called on some friends in LA.
“David has a lot of contacts from working in the movies,” says Danny. “Friends of his would drop by the studio, like [Beach Boyscollaborator] Van Dyke Parks, which was cool. And this guy Jason Faulkner, who plays with Beck, came down to do some stuff with us.
“This guy called Tommy Morgan, who played with The Wrecking Crew – these sessions players from the sixties – played the harmonica solo on Goldstar for us, and a bit on Lost At Sea. He’s this 75-year-old-guy who played on Pet Sounds.”
Between working around Holmes’ schedule and financing the album themselves, Cashier No 9 spent over 18 months on their debut. When it was ready they took it to some record companies, with Bella Union topping the list. The London based label, founded by Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde, is home to stellar acts like Fleet Foxes, M. Ward and John Grant.
“We thought of what labels we were into, and Bella Union always comes top of the list,” says Danny. “We got in contact with them, and as soon as Simon heard it he said ‘yeah, I want to get involved’. I think within two weeks they’d put the record out.”
With To The Death Of Fun generating a buzz among critics and on music blogs, Danny and his band prepared to hit the road. Songs like Goldstar sound sublime on record, but recreating them live represented something of a challenge.
“It’s so lush, there’s so many layers,” says Danny. “I think on Goldstar there’s a hundred tracks on there. Between reverb, echo chambers, harps, percussion and all sorts of other stuff. It’s all pretty cosmic.”
On the day of the interview, Danny and Cashier No 9 have an unusual job on their hands. They will be playing with Daniel Johnston, a cult hero of American alternative music. The 2006 documentary The Devil And Daniel Johnston explored his struggle with mental illness, but also unearthed some great songs.
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.