Spotlight on: Spies

By Pascal Ebner


For this week we’re pointing out spotlight on a very special five-piece band that proves the fact that it’s not a problem to compete with the pros – even if you’re in your early twenties. Spies, namely Michael Broderick, Neil Dexter, Conor Cusack, Hugh O’Dwyer & Jeffrey Courtney, have returned with brand new EP “Distant Shorelines” and deliver fans the Indie tunes they’ve been longing for.

Full of ambition and packed with soaring sounds the Dublin-based band has managed to do what others fail to accomplish with their already released EP: Create songs that show improvement while keeping the certain something that makes it ‘Spies’. Especially Broderick’s passionate vocals mixed with the splendid guitar and bass strums will keep you agitated … in the good sense.

Having that said, we wanted to dig deeper and get to know the secret behind the band’s professionalism, their personal music choice and future plans. Check out the full interview below. To hear some tunes while reading – scroll down for the full EP experience and find more information at the bottom.

.Cent: First of all, thanks for your time! We enjoy your music here in the .Cent office – Is there a secret behind your professionalism despite your young age?

Spies: Hey! Thanks very much, nice to know you guys like our stuff and thanks for asking us to do the interview. In terms of professionalism, it’s not really something we’ve thought about before. We have played together for a long time, and I think the longer you play together the easier it gets, both in terms of song-writing and playing live. We have always been a live band, but I think over the last year we feel a lot more relaxed on stage which comes across in the way we play. The same could be said for our recordings, we were lucky to work with some amazing people on Distant Shorelines who did a really good job. Rian from solar bears recorded us in his studio in Wicklow, and they were mixed by a special secret friend. The songs were all recorded live and really capture how we sound in our rehearsal room, which I guess could explain it.

.Cent: Do you listen to other bands or musicians when you meet up together? Who are the all-time favorites of the Spies?

Spies: Three of us (Neil, Jeff and Conor) live together in a house in Dublin city and Michael and Hugh are always hanging around, so we pretty much spend all of our time listening to music together. We have a long list of favorites so it’s kinda hard to pick. Records that always go down well with a mojito are Remain in Light, After the Gold Rush and Astral Weeks.

.Cent: Taking your previous EPs “Liars Call Me King” and “Barricade” as comparison – has it been easy to create the new tunes on “Distant Shorelines” or do you feel the pressure to be original nowadays?

Spies: The songs on Distant Shorelines were so much easier to write then the older stuff. When we first started we basically all stood in a room and played at the same time until something good came out of it. This approach did produce some good songs, but was a quite a difficult way of working. As we got older, we took more of a step back in terms of writing. We started consciously writing songs that were melodically simpler, with Michael’s voice being at the forefront. Our guitar lines have also become less prominent, using them to create space which gives the vocals more room to breath. Distant Shorelines in particular is a good example of this, we pretty much wrote it in one practice. We don’t feel any pressure to sound originality, which is impossible anyway because every song you write is completely influenced by what we are all listening to at the time. The songs come out the way they come out.

.Cent: What made you choose “November Sun” as your new single? Can you tell us more about the song title?

Spies: Choosing November Sun was a relatively straightforward decision, It has been one of our favorite songs since we first wrote it and is amazing fun to play live. The drums really drive it forward and I think it’s an easy one for people to engage with. We have two ‘November’ songs, November sun and November sky, in terms of the meaning behind them, we are still trying to prize that information out of Michael. If he tells us, we’ll let you know.

.Cent: Apart from the release of your new EP “Distant Shorelines” – what has been the highlight this year for you as a band?

Spies: 2013 has been a really great year for us as a band. Distant Shorelines was our first UK release, and we were delighted with the reaction to it. Zane Lowe played Mint and Lime twice, which is something that has been on our respective bucket list since we were 15. In August , our great friend Andy who played bass with us for four years left to focus on other projects. Although we were sad to see him go, we were really excited when Hugh joined. The week he came on board we all went down to Neil’s parent’s cottage in the west of Ireland to start working on new songs. It could have gone either way, but as soon as we started writing together it clicked straightaway. We wrote three new songs and were really happy with how they came out.

The trip was an excellent way to get to know Hugh, and also teach him to play Settler’s of Catan. He ended up winning one of the nights, which I’m sure was a highlight for him, especially considering Jeff is still yet to win one game in 3 years. Another amazing highlight was our show at Hard Working Class Heroes this year. We played the main stage on Saturday night, and it was easily our favourite gig we’ve played as a band. Also we are going over the London next week, which I’m sure will be a good time.

.Cent: Any big plans coming up for 2014 or something for our readers to anticipate?

Spies: We are all absolutely buzzing for our London show on the 9th of December in the Seabright Arms. Jon Dunn at parallel lines is putting it on and he books some amazing bands, so we were delighted when he asked us to come over. It’s also our first time playing the UK, which we’ve been looking forward to for years. The plan for 2014 is to release a new single in late February and do a UK tour around that time. We are really happy with the last few songs we’ve written and can’t to get them out. This will also be our first time touring for more then a week, so it’ll be interesting to see how it pans out, Jeff is driving our buddies Girl Band around the UK for their tour this January so hopefully he’l discover some hip spots along the way. We hope to play a load of festivals over the summer and continue writing as much as we can.

Now it’s time to check out their EP “Distant Shorelines”:

There’s also a music video for single “November Sun” for you to see:

Want to hear and see some more of Spies? Then check out their Breaking Tunes website, Facebook, Twitter and SoundCloud Channel. For upcoming Videos head over to YouTube and take a look at their Bandcamp Page. New EP “Distant Shorelines” is available now and can be purchased on iTunes or via Trout Records.

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