How did you come up with the name ‘Def Nettle’? What is its context?
The ‘Def’ part has a couple of references to it. The first being my life long interest in hip-hop and the use of that word in an old school context. For instance, the label Def Jam and it’s influence on my musical upbringing right from the start with inspirational producers like Rick Rubin & my love of Beastie Boys.The word was used alot in old school Hip-hop lyrics and to quote Adam Yauch/MCA
“Born and bred in Brooklyn the U.S.A./ They call me Adam Yauch but I’m M.C.A./ Like a lemon to a lime a lime to a lemon/ I sip the def ale with all the fly women”
Of course there are also some sarcastic elements to the name. The first album I bought as a child was (embarrasingly) a Def Leppard album and using that in the title ties back nicely to that.
The ‘Nettle’ part reflects my home and my way of life in part. I am a vegan, interested in the effects of climate change and wanted to include something natural in the title. I am an avid gardener and when I was coming up with a name it was Spring time and my garden was inundated with nettles. Also…Nettles have a sting and well… so should the lyrical themes of the band which works well with some of the more serious themes in the lyrics.
Then there is the obvious way in which Def Nettle rhymes with Death Metal which is just straight irony.
Your press release outlines the move from Ireland to the USA - did this impact your music and if so, how?
I am definitely a child of Irish emigration to the States. In fact I’ve spent half of my life over there. I grew up between Dublin and New York. I hold dual citizenship. My accent has always veered between Irish and a New York American and it’s always been something that comes up when people meet me at first. It used to bother me a lot and I was very conscious of it. I’ve since become more comfortable with it and specially with this band it was something I wanted to celebrate. My years in Dublin have been spent mostly as a DJ/Producer and my years in the States, I definitely veered more toward learning instruments, honing my voice and working as an audio engineer.
I’m a huge fan of American vocalists like Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and Tom Waits and their imperfect styles have a big impact on my own vocal performances. At the same time I’m heavily influenced by the UK musically being in such close proximity. I’m a big fan of Irish Rock as well so there’s a cross cultural feel to the music.
Congratulations on the new release of ‘Architecture’ - what’s been the highlight so far?
I’ve really enjoyed the aspect of self expression and catharsis of releasing this track. Def Nettle’s first 2 singles are very character driven like a lot of my writing and it was nice to reflect back on a darker period in my life. The song looks back at 90’s Dublin and is basically a tale of isolation and heartbreak, learning to grow up and stand on my own two feet during a time that was economically challenging and a time of great personal loss and some violence and abuse. It feels good, though nerve wracking, to get that off my chest in a public and artistic space.
There was also much joy and bonding in the creation of this track. I had written the track and played some guitar parts and a collaborator Joe Donegan came in on guitars during the production and he challenged me to make it better and not settle. There was a process of giving up some control and trusting Joe’s vision as well and it was SO worth it. I’m glad I listened to him! His guitar parts really gave the track the edge and feeling it needed and wouldn’t have been the same without him. Jay Oglesby played drums and his feel is incredible. The track was originally a drum machine. At the final stage Graeme Slattery came in and added some wonderful retro guitars as well. Our live bassist ‘lidl-e’ or Ely came in at the very end and it was the first thing we worked on together. This really was what solidified the finished version and he ended up in the band, that worked out well. So I suppose the collaborative slant on this track is very satisfying.
How are you planning to perform the track live?
The band has actually been playing shows. We did a support slot for Dublin heroes ‘Scattered Ashes’ last week and it all came together really well. The live band is me, Glen Brady on lead vocal, Ronnie (Grouse) on Guitars, lidl-e on bass, Jason Fleming on drums and Lisa Doyle-Taffe on backing vox and several verses. So it’s actually almost a traditional line up with some 303’s, Synths and fx thrown in for vibes.
We just did a pre-record for Irish DJ, Dave Fanning’s ‘Fanning at Whelan’s’ which is airing on Virgin Media in December. Whelan’s is an iconic Irish venue and it’s a good way to unveil the band.
Should we expect any music surprises from you in the foreseeable?
We are currently mixing our debut Ep and that will be out early spring.
It’s a dynamic 5 or 6 track with lots of Punk Rock and Post Punk attitude. It’s vary personal, danceable and hard hitting with a lyrical sting…like a Nettle ; )