While the Covid-19 crisis has had a profound effect across the board on live music in Cork and beyond, it’s been an especially difficult time for the city’s young bands and acts: deprived of the usual means of spreading word and getting gigging experience, they’ve had to invent and adapt to get word of mouth out about their endeavours.
Which makes the buzz around a gig this Sunday afternoon at Cyprus Avenue just that little bit more important, as Cork indie band The Flavours seek to maintain their live momentum, following a November sellout at the venue’s secondary Winthrop Avenue stage. In the middle of preparing their third extended-player and getting ready for their festival debut at Sligo’s Wild Roots festival this summer, Sunday’s gig serves to set the tone.
“With respect to the third EP that we’ve been working on, we had a good body of that recorded,” says Julian Power.
“We ended up, over Covid, discarding quite a lot of it. I think the whole thing just got on top of us, we couldn’t really work as a four-piece. So we’re actually building a studio at my brother’s house, and we’re getting back into recording that way. It’s a much better experience so far, a much more organic experience as well, being able to have a lot more control over the recording process and stuff.
“None of us live together, that kind of halted things for a while, gigs and stuff, which is very frustrating. Yeah, I’m sure everyone with everyone was in the same boat — not even a loss of interest, but it was fairly despondent there for a while, you know, as far as clear goals to work towards.
“Wild Roots, as well, which is, you know, that’s gonna be our festival debut, it’s been postponed two years in a row now. We got up, luckily, to play a promo event for Wild Roots over the summer, which is great, and things have been really good. They kind of showed us they’d good ways of keeping everyone separate, and they were going to do antigen testing and stuff. So obviously, that was a big disappointment when that eventually fell through again.”
“It’s been tough,” adds Jordan Roche. “It’s been impossible to coordinate and to get on the same page for the majority of two years. On top of not being able to get together, we’re having gigs organised and then rescheduled or cancelled, and then we’re having the pressure of trying to get into a studio, trying to get money to get into a studio to record, to release... tough would be the best way to describe it.”
Running any gig amid the Covid crisis’ restrictions and excesses has been a tall order, but specifically in the January 2022 set of restrictions, it must be another set of challenges entirely: poster slats are out of action around town as businesses stay closed; December is usually a nightmare for anyone promoting a January gig as specialist press are consumed with year-end lists, while the realities of running a gig include a 5pm doortime and an all-seated show.
“If you went back a few weeks ago to Winthrop Avenue (in November), 80 standing, that was our very first sold-out gig ever,” says Power.
“I suppose in that respect, we’re lucky.
We’ve a small but passionate group that kind of follow us around and that has made it all the more worthwhile.
"We anticipate that there’ll be good sales for this.
“This hasn’t been ideal by any stretch of the imagination, and the dates been changed twice, and they changed the restrictions right in the middle of us pushing it, so look, it’s a very fluid situation, but luckily we do have guys who follow us around, we do have people who are passionate enough to come to our shows.”
Also on the billing are Northside dream-poppers Mossy, just off the release of debut single ‘Accord’, a compact, reverby bijou of a tune that served as one of the real surprises of the Cork scene’s panorama toward the end of last year.
They’d just started gigging in March of 2020 when the pandemic hit, which meant they’ve spent the majority of their existence working against the backdrop of the pandemic, writing remotely, sending each other ideas online, and practicing when viable. Guitarist Brian McDonnell gets into how they’ve been able to make things work.
“It’s really difficult to do it, but we’re trying our hardest to do it. Even with the recording, up to now, the single that we released, it was all ourselves, you know, like it was all recorded DI’d, in our bedrooms and stuff.
And it’s hard to try to plug it, because usually we’d play gigs, and we’d be with other bands, going to each other’s gigs, etc. and getting in contact with people.
"Even from like the response to ‘Accord’, it’s been ridiculous, we weren’t expecting it at all. Just trying to push it, it’s difficult, even trying to practice and get together, record and write.”
“We’re in our own bedroom, doing our own stuff, sending into the group chat, trying to get ideas going. It is very difficult, like.”
Much like The Flavours, Mossy have designs on 2022, etched out by the pressures and restrictions of the Covid-19 crisis. With work on a new single underway, and plans for a debut EP, McDonnell is enthused not only by his own band’s progress amid the worst of times, but by a small but growing presence for the dreampop/shoegaze sound among the city’s younger cohort of musicians.
“We’re working on a single at the moment, I’m actually recording at the moment, we’re finishing that off, once that’s done, we’re going to work on a six-track EP, and we’ll have the two singles incorporated into it.
“We’ll get up to Dublin, up in the Grand Social there, if we get a chance. We’re planning so much. Like, we’ve so much we want to do, in a shorter space of time, and we’re trying to catch up, try to push out as much as we can.
“The reason that there’s so many shoegaze bands is because so many people have just experimented in isolation, like, because they’re so bored, and they’re just buying reverb pedals and getting into it. Boredom leads to creativity!”
- The Flavours headline at Cyprus Avenue this Sunday evening at 5pm, with support from Mossy. Tickets available online at https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/the-flavours-tickets-228266089017 — advance sales close the day of the show, and usual Covid safety measures apply.