Cypress Mine! formed in Cork in 1984, an extremely difficult time it must be said for the second city with the closure of the Dunlop and Ford factories being at the centre of an economic downturn and adding to an already drastic emigration problem.
This drove large numbers of musicians across to the UK in an effort to make ends meet.
The Cork four-piece made up of Ciaran Ó Tuama (vocals), Ian Olney (guitar), Denis O’Mullane (bass) and Mark Healy (drums) decided upon a different path and continued to ply their trade and develop their sound on home soil.
Originally inspired by the indie guitar acts of the early 80s, such as Orange Juice, The Go-Betweens, The Smiths, REM, and Hüsker Du, the band developed their own sound, with an ever-growing repertoire of angular, literate pop tunes.
The band was managed by Tony O’Donoghue of then Hot Press and who is now a sports commentator with RTÉ. Their discography consisted of three singles; ‘In The Big House’ (1987), ‘Justine’ (1987) and ‘Sugar Beet God’ (1988) and one album Exit Trashtown (1988), all of which came out on Irish independent label Solid Records.
Things appeared to be on the rise for the Cork outfit, having shared the stage with the like of Aztec Camera, Echo and The Bunnymen, and U2 at their famous Lark by the Lee appearance. They released their debut album Exit Trashtown to great acclaim and with their single, ‘Sugar Beet God’ becoming a regular on the Irish airwaves, including being playlisted by Larry Gogan for daytime airtime on RTÉ 2FM.
The album was recorded in the now famous eight-track Elm Tree Studios on the Mardyke, Cork City and was produced by the late, great Denis Herlihy, Peter West and U2 sound man Joe O’Herlihy and has since gone on to become a collector’s item for vinyl collectors across Ireland and further afield.
Unfortunately, by 1989 despite recording demos for a second album and a video for a fourth single, the band had run its course with the members going their separate ways in May of that year. Ian Olney has since gone on to become a member of Power of Dreams and Sultans of Ping, while Mark Healy the drummer went on to front Cork rock band Lift.
However, the story didn’t end there, the band were approached by Spanish independent label Pretty Olivia records, a label that specialises in rare releases.
Leading to the re-release of their much sought after album on a limited edition run of 300 vinyl to mark the 30th anniversary of its original release.
Our advice, if you manage to come across one, is pick it up, it will remain a collector’s item.