Fight Like Apes: ‘We’ve had messages from people asking are you still going?’
The phrase ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is one that rings true for a lot of artists who’ve gone long periods without releasing material, and it can be a struggle to recapture the same level of interest after such a lull.
For Fight Like Apes, the five-year gap between the release of their second album, The Body of Christ and the Legs of Tina Turner, and today had the opposite effect – the longer they stayed away, the more people wondered where they were.
Speaking in advance of the release this week of their self-titled third album, frontwoman May Kay (née Mary-Kate Geraghty) told Something for the Weekend: “We’ve had messages from people saying ‘are you still going?’
“We’ve really deadly fans who would almost get annoyed at us for not releasing something, which initially makes you go ‘fuck, give us a minute,’ but then you think is really deadly.
“You do have people getting really annoyed, going ‘what hell, you’ve released two EPs and two albums and now nothing.’
“You can’t get annoyed with that – you have to be grateful for people being that annoyed. Our big concern was that we’d lose those people and at the moment I don’t feel like we have.”
Rather than launching the album in the traditional manner with a run of dates around the country, the band who once performed onstage inside a wrestling ring have instead opted to re-introduce the element of a spectacle.
This weekend will see the band perform three dates at Charleville Castle in Tullamore – the location of Castlepalooza – and will bus fans in from Dublin, Cork, Belfast and beyond for the night which, if nothing else, should provide a different mix of fans than the average gig.
“We really want to do something special to remind people of what it is that we love and what it we want to do, which is make the gigs a little bit more special every time we do it.
“People are asking if we’re still going, and we wanted to make sure people knew that we absolutely were. It’s just taken us a fucking while to get going.
“We did an EP last year with Alcopop Records, with ‘Crouching Bees’ that’s on the album. It was just a little ‘hey, we’re still here!’”
The past five years have seen changes both internally and externally for the band, having ended their association with their record label and the temporary whittling of the band down to just founding members Geraghty and co-frontman Jamie Fox.
The result is a record that was completely self-produced (Lee Boylan, who co-produced their early EPs, is now a member of the band) and self-funded, in part through a successful FundIt drive that allowed them to finance the release.
It’s also, feels Fox, a return to the freedom of spirit and ethos that infused those early EPs and forced major labels to sit up and notice a small electro-punk band who sang about characters from obscure 1990s sitcoms, and have since matured to singing about characters from successful 1990s sitcoms.
“We didn’t go over for a month somewhere to record it this time,” he says.
“We recorded it with our own equipment, begging, borrowing and stealing whatever we could get and getting out anywhere we could whether it be Granard or Thomastown, or places like that randomly over Ireland.
“It took such a long time because we recorded everything on tape and it was very difficult to get everything we needed on the budget we had.
“We put a lot of work into it and got it mixed by an artist we wanted to work with, Ash Workman, who we really wanted to have it mixed by.
“It just felt like after a few albums of having a producer, we wanted to take the reins and prove we can make a better album than just going over for a month to somebody just because they have a good name.
“Often that’s not how you make a good album – the production should come from the same place as the songwriting and be as artistic as the songwriting.”
Geraghty concurs: “It’s true – it’s a really weird thing when you look back on this thing that is so individual and so you, and then you’re just handing it over to somebody else to produce.
“When I listen to any of those EPs – which we have done – we were thinking in terms of what we valued releasing and what sounds good as opposed to what would do well. We have to think about what it is we’ll be proud of.”
Fox adds: “It was getting back to that dynamic where we felt like knew better than everybody again, whereas after the first EPs we were like ‘Jesus, everybody seems to like this – we’ll take it up a level and work with a big-name producer.’
“He did a great job but maybe it wasn’t the record we wanted to make at the time. I can’t even remember if it was.”
The split with their record label was an amicable one, but also recognition that the relationship wasn’t working for them creatively or financially.
“They wanted a hit album – they needed a hit album,” says Fox. “They had two albums that did well to a certain extent but they wanted… their act at the moment is Hozier and we were never giving them that!”
Geraghty adds: “It was a pretty basic communication breakdown. Both sides wanted different things and there was no room for compromise – they would have had to compromise financially or we’d have to compromise creatively, and neither of us were willing to do that.”
The end-result, they feel, is a record that feels right for them. It may fail to live up to expectations, but if it does they’ll be able to stand over it.
“We wanted to not blame anybody – not that there’s anything to blame anybody for – but with our first album, people who liked the EPs said ‘oh, it’s just overproduced.’ And then the second album, ‘well that’s underproduced.’
“This one is whatever it is – it’s not overproduced and it’s not underproduced, it’s just what we wanted to make.”
Fight Like Apes is out now. The band play a matinée show in Whelan’s on Saturday afternoon, and will play three dates at Charleville Castle from May 21st to 23rd.