As the light at the end of the Covid-19 tunnel begins to expand somewhat in other aspects of Irish life, you’d be forgiven for being in mind of what the near future will hopefully bring - long evenings outdoors in summer’s haze, whether at restaurant tables on the city’s side-streets, outdoor gigs at makeshift stages, or just heading for the nearest green space with your friends and a bag of cans.
The Love Buzz’ new EP, ‘Here Comes the Scum’, released last weekend, is very much suited to the latter two - a big polished, pop-friendly rock record, riffing on punk and psychedelic influences, with an eye firmly set on the session, in tunes like ‘10 Spots’ and ‘Ellis Dee’.
Written and recorded over lockdown with better days in mind, the upcoming lifting of restrictions makes now the perfect time for The Love Buzz to unleash a record like this.
"In the days leading up, like, people are asking you, like, 'are you excited for your release?' It's like having a birthday party, y'know - you're not always up for partying on your birthday," says vocalist/guitarist Kieran Hurley (not to be confused with the local radio producer of the same name).
"But then when it came out, we actually got a bit of a buzz off it. It was great to hear it, to see it and hear it on Spotify, rather than looking at it on your Google Drive or whatever. But the responses have been really good. So far, we've gotten loads of people giving feedback, getting a bit of radio play as well. We're being played on (US college radio institution) KEXP right now."
The writing and pre-production of the EP dates back to the closure of the live music business last March, and after a brief respite to get collected after the suddenness of it all, the trio got down to business.
A burst of creativity led to the guts of the record manifesting itself fairly early on. “From this time last year, we made it a mission to make an EP with a few extra tracks,” says Hurley.
“We'd lockdown free time at our disposal as well. So I think we wrote maybe about ten tracks. We had loads of tracks that we'd played before, like, in between our last EP, and the latest one. We'd a few tracks that we learned to play live and wrote for live shows, but they just wouldn't work, it didn't feel right.
“We brought them all to Chris Somers, our producer, and then we basically had a meeting and decided which ones were the best, which ones needed changing. And we picked those five. I think we originally picked three, and then more and more. But it was always under the idea of, "Here Comes the Scum", you know?”
The crisis has complicated matters for artists across the genre spectrum, to say the least - it’s one thing to conceptualise and write a record, but laying it down amid the ever-changing situation in restrictions has been quite another.
While the trio was able to track in the window between lockdowns last summer, getting it across the line, with all the challenges in logistics and communication, was still a different matter.
“It was a grand time to be comfortable enough to sit in the studio and record for three days, out in the middle of nowhere”, Hurley reckons.
“But, usually we like to bring people into the studio as well, to create a sort of energy. But we couldn't do that this time, and basically everything before and after those days… it was all kind-of disconnected. It was all emails, and Zoom and stuff, y’know.
“But I don't know if it was too different from the last time, I suppose (for debut EP ‘Candy Flip’). It was just less time spent face-to-face, and less time listening to music together.”
The band had built up momentum pre-pandemic - they’d made an impact on the domestic scene, and had finagled their way into UK touring, support slots, and preparing for their first headline tour at home.
They find themselves heading back into the fray as things look set to slowly change for a Cork arts scene that has to be metered and responsible in how it comes back to life, at least until vaccinations cover a good number of the city’s regular gig-going age-groups.
Venues will close and open, festivals will change and repurpose, and artists and facilitators alike will need to be able to respond and help rebuild the scene from near-scratch - and Hurley has his take on what needs to happen.
“We've been thinking about this a lot recently, thinking about where the scene was before, and what it could be like. It's a shame that some of the venues are gone, though all you need is one, with a strong connection and a strong community. And then services available for people to learn music, for people to enjoy music, and for people to hang out with each other in a safe space.
“I'm talking like, DIY music venues, something like the YMCA's Groundfloor space, getting a bit more effort into that, you know, and bringing people together with music. Once this is over, there's plenty more people that are of age now to go to gigs. Plenty of people that are learning instruments over lockdown. It's a reason for us to all come together, when this is over, and create something that doesn't have to wait for the government to give us money. Create something DIY for ourselves.”
Now that we’re able to see a little bit into the future, and venues carry more than a little hope for a return for crowds starting by the end of the year, the Love Buzz’ plans are back out of mothballs - including a tour booked by live kingpins MCD - and it doesn’t take long after being quizzed on what’s next to get to the scale of their ambitions.
“We're lighting a fire under our arses to write our first album, currently sitting on like, twenty different ideas for songs - beginnings, middles or ends, or hooks or whatever. So in the next year, we're planning to write our first album, a cohesive conceptual project that is both poppy and... we want to make our first album be, like, the best. You know, the best thing we make, like a masterpiece, is what we're trying to make. It’s inconceivable, but we're going to try our best anyway. We just want to work towards that. And just basically prove ourselves as a band.”
The Love Buzz’ ‘Here Comes the Scum’ EP is available now on all streaming services.