I’ve been lucky enough to get to talk to Turlough Gunawardhana from the Chapters, who is having a very busy week this week promoting their excellent new single ‘Moving’ which was released over the weekend. Here he talks about making their album Perfect Stranger, supporting Neil Young, playing the o2 Blueroom, new single ‘Moving’, and headlining Dublin’s Academy.
Your debut single with 3u came out in April, and the album followed soon after, has everything seemed to happen together? Have you had time to look back on it and think how far you’ve come already this year?
Everything has happened quite quickly. From signing to 3u – recording the album and then releasing it. It all happened within 4 months. I guess we’re always striving to be better so we have to look back and review things but I’m never happy with how things are going. I get a bit anal about things. And if I was 100% happy I’d give up!
The 3u deal was a defining moment for you, especially after all the false starts. You’ve been together since 2007 and relentlessly touring, was there a time when you felt you’d never make it?
I guess for every Musician/Artist there are always setbacks. It’s how you learn form them and move on in the hope of not making similiar mistakes. I think I still have times when I get disillusioned but I think that’s all part of being a Moody Musician. Ha. I dont think we’ve made it. It’s just the start and i hope we can grow from here.
You don’t think you’ve made it yet? What about when you supported Neil Young? Surely that was a “we’re here” moment?
That was definately a moment I’ll never forget. However, I’ll be saying we’ve made it when our Music becomes as timeless as Neil Young’s!
Haha, very true. Not many artists make it that far. For now though, you have one excellent album under your belt. Tell us about that.
What would you like to know about the album?
Perhaps about the process of writing and recording it. How you already had some of it done before your record deal fell through.
Well we had around thirty tracks already written before we recorded the album. However, a few weeks before we recorded the album we wrote ‘Videotapes’ (the first single from the album) and also ‘Ukiyo’. We all write together. When we first started playing we agreed that everything would be split equally. We all trust each other’s ability musically and when composing. A bass line is just as important as a lyric. Thats our motto! We recorded the album with long time friend and producer of the band, Ciaran Bradshaw. We had approached a lot of producers before one of the deals broke down. But when we signed with 3u we knew there was only one man who could put up with our banter… and it was Ciaran.
Was that an issue with 3u? Were you allowed to choose your own producer or did you agree beforehand that Ciaran Bradshaw would be in control of the album and no-one else?
3u were magnificent when it came to the creative process. They left us alone. They wanted us to go with someone we were happy with. The label didnt listen to the album until we had to decide tracklisting after mixing. Once we chose the track listing it was off to New York to get it mastered. When we gave them 15 tracks… Joe O’Reilly (the head of the label) turned around and said he absolutely loved it! He said “Every song is a single”
What have you done with the tracks that didn’t make the cut? Will we see a Neil Young-aping Anthology released way down the line with a bunch of outtakes? Or have those songs been scrapped forever?
Well some of them are played live. We have a song called ‘Heart of Glass’ which is a alot of peoples favourite song. We had it on an EP and did an Acoustic version of it and had it as a B-side. it got great feedback. But it didnt make the cut as we felt we didnt do it justice when recording it. I would like to think it’ll be on the second album, but not sure yet. The new material is slightly different to the first album. I am sure we’ll try and do something with the songs that didnt make the first album.
Are there any plans to record that second album in the near future? Or are you going to push Perfect Stranger as much as possible before moving on?
We definately plan on recording the second album very soon. I think the plan is to record it next Summer. But we still plan on pushing ‘Perfect Stranger’. We’ve had alot of interest abroad including Film and TV. So if things work out in that area it might be a good opportunity for Perfect Stranger to grow outside of Ireland.
Yes, I heard about the TV interest. You’re going to have some songs on Emmerdale, isn’t that right? How did that come about?
Yes Videotapes will be played on Bonfire night on Emmerdale. Our album was passed onto a Script Writer of the show by a friend, and they liked it.
As easy as that! TV is a great way to increase your audience, but has there been any TV or radio shows that you’d never go back to?
Well I have always enjoyed Interviews and playing acoustic sets. We did an Interview with Tony Fenton. And we also played a tune. He was a lovely man. I have to say Today FM was a great studio to be in. Also the staff were very very nice. I’ve been in a good few stations and some of them have a stale Corporate feel. iRadio 102 Breakfast is great too. The lads and Lass are greta in there. I don’t know how they get away with some of the stuff on that show. We just recently did a Live Set in the O2. Which was some experience. It should be online soon. But the crew at the O2 Bluerooms are lovely. I think its its one of very few production companies who know what they are doing when it comes to Live Music on TV.
Hopefully one day you’ll be headlining the main stage at the O2, but you do have a huge headlining gig coming up at the Academy. Are you looking forward to that?
Yeah, I can’t wait for that one. We’ve been thinking of ways to make the show interesting. We have a few interesting tricks up our sleeves. I guess we always work hard on our Live show. And we want to make our shows value for money. Only recently Ross (the band’s lead singer) has come out of his shell and started running into the crowd. So I/we promise an Entertaining show!
Sounds like it’s going to be a fantastic night. Your latest single ‘Moving’ was released over the weekend, and is getting a lot of airplay. Do you feel it’s your best work?
Yeh ‘Moving’ is regarded by some as the best song on the album.. For me I am a favourite of ‘Black Room’. We actually wrote ‘Moving’ three years ago. But like us it matured.
Like this interview, the decade is just finishing up, so I have to ask: What has been your favourite album of the decade? And do you have a favourite Irish album of the decade?
Good Question, I have to dig deep. Best Irish Record in the last Decade: Fionn Regan The End of History. I love this album. Overall it’d be Bon Iver For Emma, Forever Ago. The first time I heard his voice I thought it was an African-American from the 60s. I’ve loved it since.
The Chapters will be playing the Academy on November 20th. Tickets are on sale now and cost €14.50.
Buy the single ‘Moving’ here: