BellXI go back to basics to promote new acoustic albumNovember 1, 2012 - 8:00am
Bell X1 play a stripped-down show in the Town Hall Theatre on Saturday, November 10. The concert is part of a tour to celebrate the release of their live, acoustic album, Field Recordings. The double CD sees Paul Noonan, David Geraghty and Dominic Philips work their way through 21 songs from Bell X1’s back catalogue.
“It’s been a few years gestating,” says leadsinger Paul Noonan.
“[Playing live acoustic shows] was something we did before recording Blue Lights On The Runway when we had the bunch of songs. Before going into the studio, we wanted to play them in front of humans! There’s no substitute for that.”
“We went back and re-worked some of the older stuff, bringing the songs back to how they were born in a lot of cases,” he adds. “It was just really refreshing to tour in that simple way. The next time, before recording Bloodless Coup, we did the same thing but extended the tour throughout North American and Europe.”
Field Recordings also comes with a series of photographs taken on tour by Phil Hayes, who’s an integral part of the Bell X1 set-up.
“He’s been with us pretty much since the start, as the front of house
engineer,” says Paul. “He’s always taken a lot of photographs on the road as well, and we finally got to make a photo book as well – that was another satisfying part of this.”
“It’s just that he’s a great friend, and he’s a great presence to have on the road. And a great calming influence on the whole thing, sometimes. He’s very level-headed fella that never lets any stressful situation show or get to him. All of us have a lot of confidence in him.”
The songs that make up Field Recordings were recorded in rooms of different shapes and sizes across Ireland, Europe and the US. How does Phil cope with the challenges presented by each venue?
“He’s a boffin!” laughs Paul. “He has his own very beautifully-padded case that travel everywhere with him, that has his microphone collection in it. He’s like a doctor arriving at the gig, where he’d carefully unsheathe them and clip them on to the stands. You’d often see the house crew at a venue marvelling at the microphones, they’d get into very deep technical discussions on the merits of a microphone.”
One venue in particular stuck out for Paul.
“There’s a place in Berlin called Gruner Salon, which is part of a bigger theatre,” he says. “But this little place was apparently where the Nazi high command would be entertained in the ’30s. It’s a beautifully ornate room, you can imagine the boys all sitting around tables, smoking fags with all the girls in their tassles flitting among them. It has that air of decadent, 1930s Berlin.”
Bell X1 are one of the most consistently popular band on the Irish circuit, but their loyal fanbase may well be surprised with how some of their favourites sound.
The full, plugged-in Bell X1 show sees six people take to the stage. But on their last US tour, the three core members went on a road-trip, divvying the driving between them.
“It’s part of the pleasure of it really,” says Paul. “The past couple of States we’ve done in the US, we’ve been on the tour bus, with a truck. You get lost in the production end of it sometimes. But the last time we were in the States, and this time again, we were in a little white van.
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.