Photography by Nicholas O’Donnell

George Ward
George Ward

Freelance journalist based in Bristol. Can be found at the Grain Barge, Rough Trade or in his tiny basement bedroom writing for CLUNK.

Ahead of the release of their new album ‘Doomscroll’, we had a chat with one of Ireland’s most exciting new noise-rock bands Naked Lungs

When you think of Irish noise-rock, your mind probably goes to Gilla Band, veterans of the scene and still one of the noisiest, funniest and disturbing bands around.

Now, produced and recorded by Gilla Band’s own Daniel Fox, Naked Lungs are set to release their debut album on Friday. It’s a nasty, pessimistic and brutal project and one we are very excited for you all to hear.

We had the pleasure of chatting with Naked Lungs earlier this year, catching up with Tom Brady (Vocals), Andrew Connaughton (Guitar) and Ryan Mortell (Bass) over Zoom.

Before the interview started, Tom and Andrew hold up their webcams out of their window, showing that they are, in fact next-door neighbours, waving to each other through the windows. They are great friends, lovely people and, as you’ll find out, incredibly talented musicians.

George: It’s been about a year since your EP dropped. Can you give us an idea of what’s happened since then?

Ryan: So we dropped our EP, did our first UK tour, did a few festivals and at the start of this year, recorded our debut album. This year, we’ve been releasing those singles bit by bit.

George: Now the album’s nearly out, do you consider it an extension of the sound of the EP or is it a different beast? 

Tom: It’s a different beast, I’d say. The EP was us trying to find a cohesive sound, whereas this is more fleshed out. 

Andrew: We were more picky with the album. It is a bit of a mixed bag, there’s a few crossover tracks which are still there but most of it is different. 

George: How has this sound changed then?

Ryan: There was a rawness to what we were doing in the EP. We were like “this is the sound we want” and it was our jumping-off point. This time, we started refining it, we started really interrogating everything we do sonically and how it all comes together. We had to ask ourselves: “does every track bring us on a journey from A to B?”. Eventually, we found the 10 tracks which we knew were gonna work and rehearsed them within an inch of their life. We knew their highs and lows, how they built and released tension. 

There was an ignorance to the EP like “let’s fucking go do this”. The album is still a “fuck you” but a more refined “fuck you”. We thought about it a little bit more before we said it!

George: On that, there are more moments of quiet on this project. Was this a big thing, playing with dynamics between the big moments of noise, followed by big moments of quiet? 

Andrew: I think it’s a kind of chicken and egg scenario. Naturally, we always had people saying “oh you go from these big sections to these nothing sections” so I think we thought we’d steer into that a bit more. We wanted a bit of a balance as well because if there’s no pause, no room to breathe, it makes the ‘go’ a bit smaller. You need to have a contrast so it balances. 

Tom: It’s like the bit in The Simpsons Movie where he’s like “I want a tough guy then I want a smaller guy! I want a tough guy to make the smaller guy look tougher!”

Andrew: The Simpsons film was an inspiration on this album. 

Ryan: You can’t just keep on building and building without a release. We love building up tension really rapidly before pulling it, only to build it up again. It was something really fun to explore. 

George: I wanted to talk a bit about the recording/production of the album. You worked with Daniel Fox of Gilla Band. Can you tell us a bit about the relationship between you and that band?

Ryan: Dan’s great. He’s a really amazing guy to work with. We’ve recorded with him a couple of times now and we’ve built up a relationship where everything is very open. We can go “is that bad?” and he’s like “I would do it again…” He never says something is bad but he will always push you to get the best out of every recording. He comes from Gilla Band, one of the most influential noise-rock bands in Ireland, if not everywhere, so you always take what he says as really solid.

Tom: He creates a really, really relaxing atmosphere. We did 11 tracks in total and we got that done in 10 days. There was never a point where we felt we needed to hurry things up. Especially when the music is so loud and abrasive, to have the contrast of having hot dogs together at 9 in the evening was nice. 

Andrew: I like the way he records. He’s got a very no-nonsense way about it. Crank all the amps and blast it. You get the sound in the room and when you have it, you just record all the songs. 

George: In terms of creating these noisy soundscapes, do you go in knowing exactly what you’re going to do, or do you just blast it and blast it until you get to a point that you like? 

Andrew: We knew what we wanted to do. What we recorded was what we’d been practising and playing live. You would layer stuff and throw extra guitars in. 

Ryan: Myself and Andy had experimented a lot with pedals leading up to the album. We rigged our pedalboards exactly how we wanted them. So we knew which pedals stacked together through those amps would make the most disgusting noise and how to use that in different levels. It’s not just noisy shit, it’s different layers of noisy shit. 

George: The album is called ‘Doomscroll’. You describe each song as a different article and the project having a pessimistic mindset. Can you talk a bit about that?

Tom: It was unconscious. We started this project just before COVID and the pandemic was just dreadful. People’s mental health was out the door. So, when I was writing lyrics, I tried not to write with something in mind, I’d try to find the meaning afterwards.

It’s what I was saying subconsciously. I would come back to my lyrics a few days later and, because of COVID, the worst parts of ourselves were coming up and this transcribes itself onto a news feed. You project the bad stuff you see onto your own experiences. For me, I was trying to put into words how that felt. 

Andrew: It’s a catharsis for us, it’s a bit therapeutic. We’re not very sullen boys ourselves but the songs are like that! We were thinking of a name for a long time, we had ‘Iconoclast’ for a long time. ‘Doomscroll’ came to us and it fit. 

Ryan: We then changed the order of the album. It was originally 11 tracks, but with the 10 track version, it had a scroll to it. Doomscroll worked perfectly. You get the experience of reading one really shitty article to then a little boost of dopamine with something funny then to something really shit again. It makes you feel pent up. 

George: It feels cathartic to listen to as well. Doomscrolling is such a modern phenomenon. Why then, is your album cover such a contrast to this? 

Andrew: Again, it’s similar to our thing of loud and quiet. With such a modern title we wanted the contrast. I always used the guy in the bottom right as a reference and I never knew what the full painting looked like. It was only when I found the full painting did I realise it encapsulated a lot of what we were covering. The idea of the fall of the rebel angels being pushed down and down, further and further. The overwhelmingness captured an awful lot of the noisy aspects. 

George: And how did you all get started as a band? 

Tom: Andy and I have been playing together since we were about 10. We joined a musical theatre group when we were 15 and we met Ryan through that. 

Ryan: I found Matt through Snapchat! We were looking for a drummer for ages and it’s so hard to audition people during COVID. 

Andrew: It was through a mutual Tinder associate of Tom!

Tom: I went right down to the bottom of my list of contacts on Snapchat and this girl linked us up. 

George: Is Ireland still a big part of the identity of the band? 

Ryan: There’s an inherent Irishness to everything we do. We’re not lyrically addressing Irish themes but they’re influenced by the climate around us. That’s what we’re harnessing. A lot of the themes we’re exploring are just things we’re seeing around us and us trying to come to terms with it.

There’s stuff inherently that you can’t change as a person in their mid-20’s in Ireland, we’re not the top of the fucking food chain here. Sometimes you have to be noisy and aggressive and say “this is how I feel”. Irish music has always been about how we explore this. It is universal though, these feelings will be valid regardless of where you’re listening.

Sorry, that’s a real nothing answer. 

‘Doomscroll’ is out on Friday via Amber Light Records.

Listen to ‘River (Down)’ here: