“This is all totally a movie,” Conor speculates. “This is totally some stupid horror movie when we’re all joking around and you say ‘Bloody Mary’ three times and then a drink haunts you.”
It’s a dark and stormy Halloween night. While the wind and rain lash violently down outside, I’m sequestered in a small, dingy room lined with mirrors ? of the kind usually to be found at the back of an adult film shop, or possibly in one of the low budget movies stocked there ? with The Cast Of Cheers. Like so many ill-advised 15-year-old girls before us, we’re attempting to raise the ghost of Bloody Mary. “Bloody Mary, “Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary,” John deadpans into the mirror. There’s a deathly silence. We wait a moment, then… nothing happens. Clearly, this is John’s fault: he wouldn’t let us turn the lights off.
For those of you who have stumbled onto this page in the hopes of an interview with Kelsey Grammar, Ted Danson and their ilk, alas! You’re in the wrong place. Oh now, don’t feel too bad: you weren’t the first to make this mistake; when I mentioned this interview to a friend, she looked at me wide-eyed and gasped, “The TV show?!” As it happens, thanks in part to some vigorous Twitter trolling, the band is fully au courant with some of your less than savoury opinions that they’ve stumbled onto one the most obnoxious band names since The The or Prince’s adoption of a hieroglyphic, which I believe roughly translates to ‘Utter Twat’ but, for PR purposes and the sake of polite company, is to be forever read as the more widely accepted ‘Artist Formerly Known As’ with a discreet rolling of eyes. “It’s totally marmite it seems,” John says. “Like, some people despise it. There’s some guys on twitter: ‘I refuse to listen to the Cast Of Cheers because of their silly name!’ There was one guy that said, ‘The Cast Of Cheers is a real band? Cunts much?’ Cunts much!” He adds, wonderingly.
“‘I refuse to listen to The Cast Of Cheers!’ Then an hour later, ‘I’ve listened to The Cast Of Cheers!’” laughs Keith Byrne ? usually of Sleep Thieves, he’s stepped in on this tour in the place of Neil, who’s recently had a baby.
But hey, now you’re here, why don’t you stay a while? Especially if you’re a fan of progsy math rock and bands like Bloc Party, Battles and Foals, the latter so far proving to be the most oft-quoted reference point when introducing the Irish quartet. “I think Foals comparison is because they’re high up on the neck and the kind of single note riffs,” Conor explains. “We were playing a lot of stuff before we listened to Foals. But then we listened and were like. ‘Oh yeah, they’re doing that. Shit. Are people going to think now we’re doing that?’ But then we’ve got the weird double speed loops.”
“Live we’re quite different, you know what we mean?” John adds. “It’s a bit more energetic and punchy and stuff. If you come see us live, you probably wouldn’t compare us to Foals.” As it happens, it was the word-of-mouth acclaim of their live shows, helped by a free release of their debut Chariot before they had in fact played any gigs (a canny move that made them instantly accessible to anyone not willing to fork out the cash ? all 150,000 plus of them, as it turns out) that first established them as a fixture on the Dublin scene and has since forcibly propelled them into the wider public’s attention, signing with Schoolboy Error and working with Luke Smith (there’s that pesky Foals connection again) on their latest album, Family.“It was like working with the Zen master,” John says.
“We’d never worked with a producer in Ireland ? a proper producer. We weren’t quite sure what a producer does, so when we worked with him, it was just brilliant,” Conor agreed. Their second album manages to both pack in the obvious aforementioned references, drawing from their precursors, but still hold its own as a stand-alone testament to the brilliance of these newcomers; there’s a reason for Chariot’s phenomenal online success, beyond the price tag, or rather, lack thereof.
But, seeing as Kevin’s statement, “Any description of music is going to be abstract. There’s no way to really describe it,” is as an effective a way as any to end a discussion on music and this is Halloween, talk soon turns to the obvious: fancy dress (this interview is conducted as Bjork; I rock a gnarly swan dress).
“We discovered toilet paper today makes for a good headband, so we might do that.” Conor muses. “Otherwise, John you have an impressive trick you can do.”
“Yeah I do. I can make a ninja mask out of a t-shirt,” he says, masterfully wrapping his jumper around his head. “I learned this three or four years ago on the internet when it was Ninja Day.”
“I might go as Flea,” Kevin causally announces, shrugging, “Go naked,” proposing simply, “A sock,” and immediately launching a debate on the possibility of windmilling behind the drum set.
“Get an elastic band and *shwop*” Keith helpfully suggests.
“It’s over your balls too. Oh bugger,” Conor groans.
“That would be fucking gross,” John weighs in. “What if it flew off?”
“That’d be brilliant though, man,” Conor eventually concedes, “because you have all the tattoos and stuff, so it’s kind of like… Flea. He’s got tattoos; you’ve got tattoos. He’s a man; you’re a man.”
This doesn’t pan out. Later, they take to the stage as, ahem, ‘ninjas’ (showing what you can do with a bit of toilet roll and a lot of imagination) for their final show of the NME Next Generation Tour, before they hit the road again for dates with Two Door Cinema Club and Alt-J, to a crowd that’s suddenly doubled in size. I watch with their tour manager Chris, who ensures they made a good impression (‘Oh yes,’ I enthuse, ‘why John can make any ordinary t-shirt into a ninja mask! It’s quite brilliant.’) and then happily chats away about what a hard working bunch of good lads they are.
Afterwards, at the pub, Conor speed draws penises over my notebook, egged on by the rest; Chris looks on despairingly, his head in his hands.