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LEFT ON READ

RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW IRISH BAND LEFT ON READ

Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.

What made you decide that music is a thing for you?

It’s funny because I never really asked myself that question – so I’ll blame you for the existential crisis I’ve just fallen into! But honestly it just always felt right. I grew up with many different hobbies and interests and only started playing music at 16. Right from the start it was clear that this was what I wanted to spend all my time doing. It was all I ever wanted to think about or talk about. I knew from the start that pursuing a life in music wasn’t meant to be easy but I guess I just didn’t have a choice in the matter, I just had to do it.

Introduce us to the band members and your musical history.

So there’s me, Steven/Steve/whatever-you-want-to-call-me, and I sing and play keys and guitar. There’s Jack who plays lead guitar, and there’s Adam who plays drums. Myself and Adam knew each other for years just through playing with other bands and hanging out at gigs and making general mischief. Jack is Adam’s younger brother and he started coming out to some of those gigs when he was like 15 years old, putting everyone else to shame when he’d pick up a guitar and outplay all of us. We’d sort of jump up together at some sessions to just jam and it really didn’t take long to see there was something there. So I guess; we could play together and we were best friends, 2 + 2 = Left on Read!

So we really committed to starting a band in February 2020, which was probably the worst timing to start a band ever! After a few months locked away and feeling sorry for ourselves we just started writing, trying out new sounds and figuring out where we wanted to take it and in a way that really worked out for us. We love being on stage and we would have rushed our way there otherwise. We got some tunes together, recorded them and then won a Creative Ireland grant off the back of them. We got to record more tunes then and won the Dolores O’Riordan Music Award off the back of them. I think we have 13 tunes recorded now. We’ve just released our 5th so we’ve been struggling to keep up with ourselves! That’s the short history of us so far really…

What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?

My first instinct on that is probably Plug In Baby by Muse. I loved Muse growing up, went to see them a bunch of times and would watch clips of them playing live on YouTube all the time. I just loved how they went all out on the live shows, sparing no expense or energy. You can definitely hear that influence in some of our songs, they were written to be played live, sounding big and dramatic.

Where do you feel you currently sit within the music industry?

We’re only just getting started. We’re still excited by it all and have so many songs left to write. We’ve also got a lot still to learn. Every time we’ve released a song so far we’ve tried new things to get it out there and we’ve seen improvements each time. Live shows are what we’re all about and we’ve really got the handle on them lately so you love to see that! One day we’ll be too busy with this to think straight so it’d be cool to have a Brian Epstein or a Paul McGuinness that knows the ins and outs and looks after the business side of stuff for us but we’ve definitely made a good start!

What’s the most helpful thing you have learned about the music industry?

I guess just that being a good person is the most important thing. You can have the best songs anyone’s ever written but if no one wants to have you around they’re not worth all that much. Every successful musician I’ve met has been super nice and I think that really says a lot. 

Tell us two truths and a lie about yourselves.

The band’s initials are the same as my first girlfriend’s, we released our first demo on Feb 29th so it hasn’t even had its first birthday as we speak, and our most popular merch item at gigs has been branded white underpants.

If you could wish for one thing to aid your career what would it be?

A sense of humour would be nice, it would probably make us a bit more approachable. But it’s gotta be a sack-load of money right? The all music ain’t cheap!

What was the worst experience on stage?

I’ve never had a bad experience on stage with this band. We’ve made little mistakes up there but we’ve always had each other’s back so it always ends well. You’re asking this question for the juice though so I’ll dig into the archives. In the first band I played in – just a cover band with friends – we played on the back of a truck out in a small village at about 1 o’clock in the afternoon. We played 2 songs, the second of which was Creep by Radiohead when my voice cracked on the high note (I was 16 and still working my way through puberty). Felt pretty bad, but to add insult to injury the organizer came right up and told us to finish up and let the next band on. 2 SONGS IN!!! Honestly, it’s a shock that I ever recovered to play another gig.

Tell us something about each member that you think people would be surprised about. 

I can down a pint in under 3 seconds, 2.87 seconds was the official time I got when tested. Adam started his first business at 19, a café in Limerick. Did a damn good job at it too – even got it on the Monopoly board! Jack always gets the biggest shock out of people when he says he was a fat kid, I’m still not sure I believe that though.

What makes you stand out as a band/artist?

I mean the songs for one, they ain’t half bad! We do our own thing and I think that helps. It’s hard whenever we’re asked who we sound like because I always just think we’re like us, if that makes sense? We kind of just make music that we think sounds cool and thankfully people seem to appreciate that! Another thing that gets pointed out to us a lot after gigs is that it’s clear from how we are on stage that we get along really well and I really like that. We get to make music that we love with the people we love. What’s not to love?

I hear you have new music, what can you tell us about it?

This is what we’ve been waiting for! We recently released our newest single, Dreams. It’s a change of pace from us, a sort of classic rock ballad. I originally wrote the bones of it years back as a way of sort of self-therapizing after my grandfather died. It was my first time really dealing with death and it hit hard, harder than you’d even expect.

The song itself actually came from a dream, believe it or not! I just had a dream one day that I was hanging out with my grandfather and then realised “hey this is a dream, because you’re dead”. In his calm way he just agreed with me and then I just thought “Well I don’t really care because this is nice”. And it turned out there was a song in that! Anyway, I sat on it for a while and played it a couple of times at open-mics back at home and that’s where the lads heard it first. They were fairly insistent that this was a big tune so we had a go at it and it turns out they were right!

What was the recording process like?

We always have a great time recording. We’ve worked with Ben Wanders in Limerick from the start and we’ve struck up a great relationship with him. We jammed this song ourselves a few times before recording and it always came out like a Prince or John Mayer tune with a crazy guitar solo at the end, so when Ben asked us what we wanted to do with it we thought “why fight it?”. Pretty sure that was one of if not the first week that he opened Wanderland Recording Studios. We’ve been sitting on this song for a while waiting for the right moment to release it. It was always a winter warmer tune and we’ve been pestered for it every time we’ve gigged this summer gone so no time like now!

What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?

Being honest with yourself! The songs write themselves as long as you don’t try to force them. For our first single, Never Enough, we set out to write a metal song and wound up jamming out a groovy, melancholic, indie-rock tune in the space of a few hours. So if you just let the tunes flow and do their own thing you’ll get there.

Would you change anything now that it’s finished?

As much of a perfectionist as I am, I wouldn’t. There are wobbles in the vocals that we went through during mixing, trying to comp in some cleaner takes and they actually took away from the emotion and I guess honesty of the song. Everyone pulled their A-game on this one. Jack’s guitar playing speaks for itself, I mean knocking out a 2-minute solo without getting boring is no mean feat!

Adams’s drums just hold the song so well, building or making space wherever it’s needed. He’s also the reason any of our songs have a structure, without Adam every Left on Read song is either 1 minute or 12 minutes long and that is a contribution not to be taken for granted!

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?

I guess it’s just a thank you if you’ve listened to the tunes, come to the shows, interacted on socials or even just got this far in this interview! We make tunes hoping people will hear them and get something out of them, and it really means a lot when you do. So thank you, it’s been a blast, and it will keep being a blast we hope because we’ve got a lot more tunes ready to go your way in the near future, so keep an eye out and hopefully we’ll see you at a show in 2024!

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