Interview With The Art Crimes Band

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In 2020, The Art Crimes Band decided to end their career performing at local pubs to focus on creating their own music after a decade of playing together. ‘If Only’ is a song of theirs, recorded in 2015, and stripped down into a gorgeous piano bar version in 2022 for International Jazz Day. Join us for a little chat with the band and get to know more about them, where they have been, and where they might be headed.

Q1. Interesting name for a band. What is an ‘art crime’ in your point of view?

I think a few of our early demos from ten years ago could be classed as an “art crime”.

Q2. How did the band get together?

Was it a professional foray from the get-go? Or was there a period of discovering each other’s interests and directions at the beginning?

We were all professional musicians and friends who happened to gig together with different ensembles. Then around 2011 a bunch of us just started jamming around a table in the back of a pub in our hometown of Cork City every Tuesday night. We had no objectives or a name then, it was just all like-minded people having fun. Then we decided by September 2011 to book our first gig at a live showcase night called the KC Sessions.

Myself and Gary Baus (Saxophone) are the only two original members from that era but by 2015 we settled on the group we have now. Takes a while to find your tribe I guess, but that’s life, isn’t it?.

blankQ3. How do you go about creating music? Is it a group work affair? Or more solo-based?

Six people all trying to compose in the same room at the same time can be chaotic. So we adopted a production line method for writing and recording. One person has an idea, they show it to us on a guitar or send a voice memo to the group chat online. We read in Keith Richars autobiography that if a song doesn’t sound good on just an acoustic guitar it’s not a good enough song. So with that in mind, three or four of us go into a room with just the basics. Vocals, bass guitar, and percussion are usually in the form of a cajon and acoustic guitar. Then we make an arrangement out of the idea and throw some lyrics ideas around and record the entire session. We upload a mix of the results afterward to share with the rest of the band so they can hear the progress and share ideas too. That can take a few sessions over a couple of weeks. Then when we feel we are happy with the arrangement we go into the studio and record the drums to a click track with bass and vocals and begin to build what will become the final version. Each new version and the mix are shared with the band online. Band members come in the recording studio individually and add their parts and we layer on top each time. The song evolves and builds in ProTools really. Sometimes we used to try out songs before they were fully finished at live shows. That can be fun at times but generally, we try to wait until they’re fully finished.

 

Q4. Is the songwriting process for you an intuitive and flowing one? Or a process that’s mental and calculated?…

The next chord, is it the sound that rings in your ear the chord that makes more sense theoretically?

It’s usually a flowing one. All our song ideas have a real story behind them, they refer to a moment in time, a memory, a place, an encounter, or a story someone told us. For example one of our latest singles Guy Like You began with Grace swiping on Tinder and she was just singing the main melody and title of the song to herself. The song unraveled from there. So when you start there things tend to unfold quite naturally. The only time it gets calculated is if we get stuck or hit writer’s block, and then you have to figure out a way to complete the song without making it sound too forced.

Q5. Does the music come first to you or the lyrics? Which of those aspects would you prefer the listeners to notice first?

Usually, it’s the music first. There might be a couple of words to accompany but it’s really music first for us. As for listeners taking notice, I am the drummer so I will be biased and say the groove if what I’d like them to catch onto first. If we get a righteous groove going before the lyrics to kick in I think we’re off to a good start.

Q6. How does performing live compare to working on songs in a studio? Which reward feels more fulfilling to you?

I love the studio. Aside from playing drums in The Art Crimes Band I also own and operate a recording studio which also serves as our HQ. So we have the luxury to work as long as we want on something, experiment with ideas, and “nerd it out” on ProTools all night. Which is fun and exciting but that said, as much as we love our studio nothing beats getting in front of a crowd and making them smile and dance. We are just half of the gig. The crowd is the other half.

blankQ7. How does a band take a decision to change their direction entirely 10 years into their career? Was it a leap of faith or a planned move?.

I guess it was a mix of both. We knew it was time for a change. We knew if we didn’t move on to something new we would just be doing the same thing over and over. We have had a few different chapters or eras in this band over the past 10 years. This is just the next one and won’t be the last I’m sure.

Q8. How does the reward compare between releasing ‘If Only’ as a fully arranged piece and stripping it down to piano and vocals? How does the band perceive each take on the song?

The fully arranged songs are more fun to play but it’s fascinating for me to hear the songs stripped down. It’s like breaking something down to its base elements. Dismantling the engine of a car just to see how it works. You get their greater, more in-depth insight into the song and it takes on a new meaning and perspective.

blankQ9. Where can fans find your music? When can we expect more from you? And what would that ‘more’ be?

You can find our music on all streaming platforms and we’re on almost all social media. So you can search us on whatever you use but also our website www.theartcrimesband.com is updated regularly and you can find all the links to everything there. We are putting the finishing touches on our next single which will be out later this summer. We will be playing some shows at SoulFest in our hometown Cork City this August 26th – 28th and possibly a few more shows in the Fall. We might even get a sixth single out before the end of the year, we’ll see but all focus is on making an album, and would like to see it released next year sometime. Followed by a tour. So stay tuned.

 

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