WANNA bloom in the music industry? Well then be prepared to work like a dog. That’s the universal theme that links all the Irish bands profiled in the new book by 2FM DJ Jenny Huston.
‘In Bloom - Irish Bands Now’ features in-depth profiles with 15 Irish bands/singers from Bell X1 to the Blizzards, Mundy to The Coronas, Fight Like Apes to Mick Flannery.
It’s a first of its kind in recent years – a series of mini bios featuring a lot of the people behind the Irish music doing so well at national and international level. And their success is no fluke, according to Jenny Huston.
“There is no doubt, particularly in the current climate, that you are wasting your time trying to get into the industry unless you are willing to work very, very hard. A lot of the time the reason for a band breaking up is because it is such hard work – it is not as much fun as people think. You have to slog. You have Fight Like Apes lugging stuff all around the UK to perform; Mick Flannery playing practically every single night going it seems. Mick was on TV3’s Ireland AM last week, up at 5am, after performing the night before. People forget that side of it.”
And then there’s the business side. It’s hard to reconcile the rock’n’roll lifestyle with board meetings and business plans, but that’s a reality that’s all too apparent nowadays.
“The Republic of Loose have their own record label, they have a really good business sense. Benjamin (lead singer) jokes about being CEO of the Loaded Dice label, but that’s the reality. I’ve been very impressed with bands in this sense too - their independence.
“Like Bressie (Niall Breslin, lead singer) from the Blizzards talks about meeting weekly with the record label because, as he puts it, it’s impossible for anyone else to care as much about your work as you do. People think then that people in bands are flakey and don’t work hard, but they can’t be like that or they wouldn’t survive.”
Describing the book as a ‘celebration’, Huston, whose spellbinding voice will be familiar to listeners of The Annex on Friday nights on 2FM, observes the undeniable truth that Irish people are slow to applaud talent.
“I’ve used the book to brag about the bands. We’re not great at congratulating ourselves at all – we’re much better at begrudgery! It’s an Irish thing.
“There was a feeling for a long time in radio stations in Ireland that ‘ah, we’ll play some Irish music to be nice to the band’. But there’s no need to be nice – it is as good as anything else. We should be more proud of the fact that we are making our own talent.”
For Vancouver-born Huston, who has lived in Ireland since 1996 and has spent the majority of her working life as a DJ, the book was an opportunity she warmed to instantly when she was first approached about writing it last February. It was, she laughs, the first serious body of work since a dissertation in Arts Administration in university – ‘I hope this is more exciting to read’ – and she finds the stories recounted very instructive.
“I enjoyed it immensely,” admitted the 36-year-old. “Normally when I would be talking to bands on the radio they are in promo mode and pushing themselves out there. For the book it was a lot more relaxed. I sat down with them, had a coffee and we had a good, honest chat.
“The bands were really honest. They were very generous with me and placed a lot of trust in me. I guess they know I wouldn’t be looking at it from a tabloid point of view, that I would represent them properly. I think it was important to celebrate their success and pass on their experience.”
‘In Bloom - Irish Bands Now’, by Jenny Huston, published by Currach Press, was released last Friday.