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Rural and the gang
For his third record Mark Geary swapped New York for Kerry and set out to channel his love for Arcade Fire and Radiohead.
Colm Russell, 19 Apr 2008
Three years after the release of his last album, Mark Geary is back with his third collection, Opium. Why such a lengthy hiatus?
“After recording and touring Ghosts I had no songs,” he admits. “It’s a scary place to be in. So I stopped and took a break. It took a while – I kind of feel like I’ve been living in a bat cave the last year and a half.”
Determined not to repeat himself, the NYC-based Dubliner relocated to rural Ireland.
“I went down to Kerry to try something different," he says. “I had a band and wanted to see how the songs would sound sonically after working them through on a daily basis with other musicians. When I listen to Radiohead or Arcade Fire, there’s a performance, an element there which I wanted to capture on this record.”
The wholesome full-band approach pays off particularly well on the mournful ‘Not On Your Life’ and lead single ‘Tuesday’. The latter, a lilting, Dylan-esque shuffle recalls Modern Times opener ‘Thunder On The Mountain’ as sung by a younger, less gravel-toned vocalist. It’s a stride away from his earlier sound; one rooted in alt-folk and often pruned back to the bare branches of guitar and vocals.
“You sell a bunch of records and you build a fan base but you can’t pander to them," he says. “It’s only an audience that you think you know.”
Geary makes a similar observation in the Opium press release, to whit: “You tour two records, see the world and you build up, somehow, a fan base and records get sold.”
“I was saying that in a brutal ‘This is how fucking hard it is’ way," he explains. “You make the records, you book the gigs – but then you’re bombarded with industry. It’s a real battle.
“At this point I’m definitely a romantic,” he laughs. “I’m doing this in spite of everything.”
There's no shortage of singer-songwriters plying their wares today of course. In fact many people think we suffer from an excess of misty-eyed strummers.