So Cow’s Brian Kelly on touring the States from overseas
My wife bought me a copy of So Cow‘s Meaningless Friendly when she saw them open for Ted Leo and the Pharmacists a few years back. I listened to it, and enjoyed it (most releases on Tic Tac Totally are pretty dandy). However, I didn’t get a chance to see them until I went to CMJ back in October of last year. Dan from Inflated Records hooked me up with a copy of the split between the two Dublin acts, and I’ve been hoping that this year’s South By Southwest music festival would bring one or the both acts stateside again.
It did! However, So Cow’s the only one coming through my area, so I reached out to So Cow’s Brian Kelly via e-mail about the upcoming tour, the recent split LP, and how European acts plan their treks to the States.
How did the split between So Cow and Squarehead come to be?
We were contacted by Dan who does Inflated Records about a year ago or so … I think Squarehead had just been over for a few shows. He had an idea about doing a four-way split, maybe two/three songs from four bands. I liked the idea, you’ve had No New York and the Dunedin Double … but for whatever reason it just got narrowed down to the two of us. I think it worked out best that way anyway, we all get on, we like each other’s music…we all combined seemlessly into an entity you could call “the lads.”
Those aren’t even the freshest songs you have, are they? I recall hearing several new numbers when you played CMJ back in October.
No, the five songs were written around the same time as we were writing our new album proper. So anything you heard at CMJ was likely from that. We may have also played really old songs that only we and one or two bloggers can remember. That album should be out in the summer. Some of the five split tracks were on the fringes of the new stuff and didn’t quite fit, or were just written for it. We have 5/6 newer songs put together already which will probably (hopefully) come out as singles during the year. It’s nice to have new stuff, innit.
As So Cow originally started out as a solo project, does that make it easier to adjust when you’re down a member, as you were then?
Ahh, well it was myself and Pete, so with a drums-and-guitar set up, it’s doable, though not at all preferable. The whole idea of it being a solo project is completely gone out the window in favour of writing and recording together, which is infinitely better. I mean, those two-piece shows went okay, we got through them and had fun, but we missed Jonny for those.
What’s the difference between touring the states and Europe — aside from the massive distances between everything here?
People offer guarantees in Europe, which are usually alright. People in the US are generally warmer and give a shit. It’s all the same really though. Each is a whole bunch of climates, each generally better than our own in Western Ireland, so no harm. We’ve not properly had a go at Europe yet … there’s a bunch of countries I’d love to play like Poland, The Netherlands and Croatia.
Is there an element of having to overly plan the whole thing to make sure that everything’s set up?
Yeah, definitely. As much as is possible anyway. There’ll still be a world of things going arseways as we go along. Things like unexpected charges on car rental, drives that look a lot shorter on the map, promoters not showing up or answering their phones…small things that. It’d all be grand if we were at home in Ireland, where we’re only ever three/four hours from our home town. But in another country, it can all be a bit of a pain in the arse. Mind you, we don’t go getting furious about it every thirty minutes, you’d keel over within days.
How does a band make inroads into touring in the States? Have opening slots for the likes of Ted Leo helped?
The first time I went over, it was from emailing a bunch of people on a message board and asking them if they’d have me play in their town, and then finding a way to get from one to the next. We had a booking agent over there too for a time, which was great considering we’re five time zones out of the way. We’ve had a good few shows with bands we really like who happen to have a lot of people into them, so that always helps. The Ted Leo opening slot was most memorable for the fun had. It was a short run but things got very ridiculous very quickly.
What does SXSW offer?
Basically, a chance to meet a bunch of people we’ve met across the US and Canada who also happen to be there at the time. That’s what I’m most looking forward to. Catching up with folks, seeing how they are, congratulations on their fairly recent marriages or whatever the hell else has gone on in their lives. The shows too … it’s been a very long time since we’ve played as a three-piece over there. We were over in NYC in October for CMJ but only as a two-piece, unfortunately. We missed Jonny, he’s good at playing bass.