‘And Nico’ marks our second reissue from the fabled catalogue of Dublin’s Dead Elvis and much like In Motion’s ‘The Language of Everyday Life’ it reminds us what a vibrant (if inherently DIY) Dublin music scene existed in the mid-nineties. For Dead Elvis the centre of the universe was Parnell Street and from such inauspicious surroundings sprung several bona fide classics.
The Sewing Room came together from the ashes of the Stars of Heaven/Hey Paulette! and were masters at tailoring a most delicate of jangle with a deep lyrical melancholy. So much so that the great John Peel took notice. The beautiful chords were often at odds with the mournful
vocals, a contrast that was also evident in the off-kilter rhythms. For all this eclecticism however ‘And Nico’ plays out effortlessly and has lost none of its charm almost 2 decades on.
Dez Foley (drums) kindly stepped into his personal delorean to rekindle
memories of what life was like inside the Sewing Room:
When The Sewing Room first went to Fuse Studios on Parnell Street in Dublin back in 1995, we just wanted to record the songs we had at the time, with a view to perhaps releasing something ourselves later on. We weren’t thinking in terms of going in to record an album.
We had been looking for somewhere reasonably cheap to record, as like most bands at the time, we didn’t have much money, so Fuse was perfect. It was decided that apart from one full day to do backing tracks (for 15 songs!) we’d opt for doing evening sessions mainly during the week, and also as some of us were working at the time. We recorded and mixed what became “And Nico”, over seven days in total. The studio was in the basement of the building on Parnell Street, and as I recall, wasn’t entirely fitted out. The control room was fully set up, but in the “live room” only part of the floor was laid down. I remember we had to gaffa tape the cymbal stands to the floor as it was uneven, and they kept moving around! The studio only had a few mikes, so Marc Carolan, the studio engineer, asked us to beg, borrow or steal extra mikes, so we brought along pretty ancient vocal mikes, from our practice room. Marc ended up using these on the drum-kit and amps, if I remember correctly. Nothing was wasted.
Marc’s contribution to the recording was invaluable. Not only was he a great studio engineer, but he was very attentive to band performances and knew how to get the most out of what we were able to do. He also had a lot of great production ideas, and was very hands on during recording. A lot of our equipment was old and / or knackered (my drum kit and cymbals in particular!!) but Marc spent a lot of time getting sounds right, and it paid off. He had great ideas for adding parts to songs too; the piano part on “Broken Life Waltz”, which he played; miking up an electric heater to use as percussion on “CV”, or the classic rock & roll style of getting us all around the one mike to do backing vocals. He also had great ears for things most other engineers would have cut out. All the in-between song banter, coughs, sniffs and studio noise were all left in on the finished mixes, which I think add to the album’s casual, down-home appeal.
During the recording, a guy would appear in the control room from time to time, cadging smokes off us and eating our biscuits. This turned out to be Eamonn Crudden, who co-ran Dead Elvis Records, along with his brother Og and Marc. Eamonn would sit back and listen attentively to playbacks, or watch overdubs being done, but never said anything very much. It was only later in the week that he mentioned who he was, and how he liked what we were doing. He told us about Dead Elvis, and then offered to press and put out whatever it was we were recording. I think it’s fair to say we didn’t know our luck. That was the beginning of a very rich, productive period for us and Dead Elvis did everything possible to help us get our music out there. We had absolutely no commercial aspirations whatsoever, and I think the sound of “And Nico” in particular reflects that. For us, it really and truly was just about the music. Nor were we allied to any particular musical “scene”, but being a part of the Dead Elvis roster made us feel a part of something really unique that was happening in Dublin at the time.
We went on to do an EP and another album with Dead Elvis, some might say with mixed results, and our relationship with Eamonn, Og and Marc ended somewhere around 1996 or so. They were integral to everything we did as a band during those years, and great fun to be around. Looking back, I cannot imagine doing those recordings with anyone else; and “And Nico” remains an album which we’re all still hugely proud of.
Many thanks to Dez and Eamon Crudden (from Dead Elvis) for making this reissue happen.
…It’s not all bad, at least And Nico has been reissued…
…this is one reissue that you don’t want to miss…