What Are You Listening to Lately?
Q. Who are The Shed? A. The Shed are a Cork, Ireland based band/collective with a floating membership of up to ten who offer up a most organic take on the melange of music you might expect from a group whose influences range from Leadbelly to Lil Kim - and every two-bit staging post in between. Q. That doesn't tell us much - where are The Shed from? A. The Shed are mostly from Cork, however, one of their most fragrant and hirsute members come from further afield: Kirsty Stewart hails from Johannesburg. Q. What are they like live? A. Well, for a band who sit down in concert (don't rush to judgement; Jerry Lee Lewis also sits down in concert, technically speaking.) they sure make a most racous and rootsy noise much beloved of the punters, especially those at their now legendary series of gigs at The Roundy, in Cork. (Their first live outing was at a friend's wedding. It was a truly disastrous affair and nearly ruined the whole ocassion. Luckily, an old trooper from the cabaret scene was on hand to rescue the night and soon had the wedding party engaged in a most exhilerating conga to the Birdie Song. The Shed prefer not to reflect on this particular performance and now pretend it never took place. Honesty and integrity are so often the first casualties in the cutthroat world of rock and roll. ) Q. But their album sounds a much more polished affair than what you are describing? A. It certainly does and that's because producer Froggy is quite possibly the bastard child of Phil "Wall of Sound" Spector and Brian "Sing it from the sandbox" Wilson. Most of the album was recorded in his studio in Minane Bridge, in Co Cork. Other members of The Shed firmly believe that Cormac would put Phil and Brian in the ha'penny place when it comes to obsessiveness in the studio. Q. Look, this is all very well. Every press release comes up with some variation on this type of schtick but really, who are The Shed? (And don't spare the horses, man! Give it stick!) A. OK, settle down children. Is everyone sitting comfortably? Well, then let's begin. Twenty-odd years ago, most of the Shedheads flirted with local bands for a season or two before (a) retiring to the country or (b) descending deep into the bowels of the earth to toil on the factory floor. Any dreams of stardom or even a shot at recording a decent album were placed in a lead-lined trunk and buried 12 feet underground at the far end of Dursey Island until ... many moons later, now-bandleader Johnny threw the rakes and hoes out of the clapped-out wooden structure at the end of his garden and invited Jodie around to share a few chords and a couple of bottles of cheap red. Gradually, word got around the town and soon the idea of hooking up in The Shed on Thursday nights to drink a little wine and knock out a few tunes seemed to make it that bit easier to get up the next morning and resume respective slots on the chain gang. Over time, the diet of cover versions by the usual suspects and the suspicious unusuals came to be leavened with originals as, one by one, members of The Shed took the first tentative stabs at writing original material. It was with the arrival of Cormac 'Froggy' O'Connor that things stepped up a gear. The only member of The Shed who had remained in the music business for all those years, Cormac is a highly respected musician and sound designer for the theatre - but he claims to have been blown away by the simple, raw pleasure of playing music for fun and in subsequent weeks told more than a few citizens around the town that "it was one of the best nights of my life" and that he was going to record their first album. Cormac initially ruffled feathers with a rather anal insistence on technical fripperies such as tuning up and playing in time but soon The Shedheads were in agreement that indeed a sweeter honey was now flowing from the rock. Gradually, the only sign of wine in The Shed was their national anthem, a cover of the Handsome Family's So Much Wine. Q. But surely The Shed are far too old to be getting up to these kind of high jinks? One of these days, somebody is going to have a bad fall and break a hip, mark my words! Doesn't all this smack of a bad case of midlife crisis? A. Well, The Shed say that on average they are probably about 15 years older than The Libertines and 48 years younger than the Rolling Stones. The Libertines are shit, so that one is easily dealt with, and when the Rolling Stones were the same age that The Shed are now, they were still making good records. Indisputable logic, indeed! As one of The Shed's more glamourous chanteuses, Jim Corrigan, is won't to venture in most argumentative tones: "Midlife crisis? What's all this shit about a midlife crisis? I'm not having any f***ing midlife crisis! " Jim has recently grown a most magnificent set of sideburns and is taking a stab at a flowing mane not seen since Werner Herzog goaded the already insane Klaus Kinski into his most demented performance of all, in Cobra Verde (1988). Smells like Midlife Crisis to me. How to build The Shed Large selection of instruments including: melodica, piano, mandolin, percussion instruments for shaking, scratching, plucking and scraping, sliding plunger, melodeon, tin whistle, harmonica, bells, xylophone, kazoo, guitars of both the accoustic and electric variety and a four stringed version often referred to as the bass guitar. Voices, lots of voices 10 x ordinary men and women, most of them parents with lives full of jobs, worries, concerns, fears, neuroses, desires, urges, bills, relatives, in-laws, hangovers, car loans, mortgages, births, deaths, marriages, arguments, angst, holy communions, first confessions, confirmations, chiantis, too much hair, not enough, love, sicknesses, health, wealth and the lack of it,1 leather jacket, 1 pair of enormous rock'n'roll sideburns, and, most of all, a love of music that has weathered and survived all the above, moving them to spend nights crammed into a garden shed singing songs. Sounds like: Pink Floyd, Neil Young, The Pogues, Granddaddy, Harriet Wheeler and the bastard child of Phil 'Wall of Sound' Spector and Brian 'Sing it from the sandbox' Wilson crammed into a shed.