INTERVIEW: Brain Donation


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 PHOTO CREDIT: Sean Conroy 

Brain Donation


THERE are areas of the world where I am discovering great artists…

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PHOTO CREDIT: Sean Gallagher

and stepping away from London. Dublin is a city that has always produced fantastic artists: the new breed coming through retain that pride, innovation and strength. I have been speaking with Brain Donation about their upcoming E.P., The Second One, and whether we can expect some material from it soon; how the guys all got together; what Dublin is like for ambitious artists – whether there is a special reason behind the ‘Brain Donation’ name.

I learn more about the band’s creative process and how they have grown; what advice they would give to new artists; if they ever get time to relax away from music; some of the new and older acts that inspire their movements – what touring plans they have cemented already.


For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?

We are Brain Donation. We’re from Dublin and we play Alternative-Rock. Broad strokes aside; we make a sound heavily influenced by American Grunge music and British New Wave. We play with lots of energy and like to keep our music relatively simple - with the occasional overindulging musical hiccup.

Can I ask if there is a special story behind your name, ‘Brain Donation’?!

Well, when we first got together, AL already had the name and had done many childhood sketches (of logos) as a boy. In the end, we didn’t like the spelling of it so we just removed the ‘a’ from ‘deaf’ and spelt ‘leopard’ with two ps…and then we were good to go.

We actually went through a good few names at the start - but kept making the fatal mistake of telling them to people too soon and having them spoiled. We had quite a few gigs booked very early on so, eventually, it got to a point where we had to say ‘ok, whatever the next name we think of; that’s the one going on the posters’...

‘Brain Donation’ it is.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Second Frame

The Second One is your upcoming E.P. What sort of ideas and stories compelled its creation? What are the main differences between this and your debut E.P.?

It’s definitely a more mature E.P. than the first one. Down to the finest detail.

We were only playing together for about two or three months when we recorded our debut. We recorded it ourselves in a friend’s house - and it was a very kind-of D.I.Y. job. It was also just odds and ends of songs we put together at the start.

Now we’ve been playing together for three years and we have our own little writing process. We tend to get the initial musical idea together in the rehearsal room and then we will take the ideas away and write lyrics and develop them a bit more. There’s always exceptions to that though. We demoed ten songs for this latest E.P. and we sent the demos around to our friends and to Ivan - who recorded the E.P. - to get a feel for what the best four songs would be.

Will there be any singles from the E.P. coming up? What do you have planned for the coming months?

We are releasing a video for every song on this E.P. - so there will be four singles. We’ll release one with the video and then spread the others out over the summer for promotional material for our festival dates and tour dates. We have been confirmed for a few festivals now in Ireland and, hopefully, we’ll be confirmed for a few more. We’re playing a good bit here and we are hoping to get over to the U.K. for some shows in the summer.

At the end of the summer, we will be going to Switzerland to play a few shows there as well.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Second Frame

What was it like working with Ivan Jackman at Hellfire Studios?

Ivan’s great. Myself and Ollie had recorded with him while we were playing with another band and he mastered Brain Donation’s first E.P. - so we do always tend to have his ears on what we’re doing in some way shape or form. He has a Steve Albiniesque approach to the recording process: everything is done really natural-sounding, warm and roomy - which is exactly what we wanted.

How did you all get together? Was it a shared love of music and the same artists – or was there a special spark that brought the band together?

Myself and Ollie have been playing together since we were pups. Ollie and Alan played together in a band called Gypsy Rebel Rabble and they were playing a few shows in Berlin in 2013 - and myself and a few others went along for the trip. That’s when the three of us hung out for the first time and we all get along like a house on fire - but it was two years before Brain Donation materialised.

How the band came about was a bit unusual. Myself and Ollie had booked an Irish tour with our old band, The Stoney Brokes. About six weeks before the tour, that band broke up and, rather than fall out of favour with the promoters and bookers we were working with, we decided to get something together to do the tour. We actually, originally, were going to do a two-man acoustic thing - which is really funny now looking back because of what way the band went genre-wise.

Ollie told Alan about it and he said he wanted in - and it all just grew from there…

Dublin is your home. Is the city pretty active in terms of great music? What is it about the E.I.R.E. capital that keeps native artists rooted there?

Yeah; there is a lot of great music here. I’m sure everyone says their scene is full of great music but music is such a strong tradition here in Ireland - and we have such a vibrant festival circuit and live music scene.

In terms of being rooted now; I’d imagine it’s the same reasons that artists stay rooted everywhere. Home is home. I think a big thing is the support network we have here. We have so many bands and musicians and our population is quite small - so you do feel a great sense of community.


Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

I’m really liking OTHERKIN at the moment! They’re doing a lot in the U.K. as well so, if you haven’t already checked them out, then I’d start there!

Can we see you tour soon? What gigs do you have coming up?

We have our launch in Dublin on 23rd March and a handful of gigs around Ireland. Then, we only have a few bits and pieces before festival season starts. We’re playing in Switzerland with our friends Dirty Sound Magnet (who you should also check out) in September - and they’re helping us book some U.K. dates for the summer as well.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Sean Gallagher

What do you all hope to achieve, personally, in 2018?

Woman of the year…

We have lots of little tiny goals - but the main one is to finish the year with some press coverage. Because of the D.I.Y. nature of our beginnings, we never really did much of a press push or paid much attention to that side of it.

We are also changing how we release music. After this E.P., we will be making releases much more often, on a song-by-song basis. Record a song, make a video; do promo and tour, rinse and repeat. There has been two years between both of our E.P.s. - and we don’t want that to happen again - so our main aspiration is to finish 2018 in a positive routine of regularly releasing new material for people to hear.

Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?

We went to Eastern Europe last September and played ten consecutive shows. It was the first time we did something like that for so long and it really was such a lovely time. You can rehearse every day of the week, but nothing will get you as tight as just playing loads of shows: we came back from the tour and we were just impossibly tight.

A personal favourite memory for me is going back to a house party with a bunch of complete strangers and arriving at the house to hear that the people who were there already were listening to my band.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Second Frame

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Delegate. Ask for help. Ask for advice. You’d be surprised how many people will be willing to help you. Also; support your own scene. Go to gigs, read about your peers; listen to the music they’re making and collaborate.

Do you all get much time to chill away from music? How do you lads unwind?

The short answer to that is ‘no’.

Ollie, our drummer, has two side-projects where he plays guitar with people; he has two jobs and an array of hobbies. I do music production and Alan plays cover gigs and builds craft battle-stations for fantasy gamers (I tried really hard to make that sound cool).

I like hiking whenever I get the chance: Dublin is surrounded by mountains and sea so there are so many beautiful places for hikes. We’re all different, though. If we’re ‘unwinding’ together, it’s usually over a pint…

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Sean Conroy

Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).

It’s pretty late and the guys are definitely asleep - so I’m going to be a bad sport and undemocratically say:

New Secret Weapon - Headmelt Radar

The EskiesNapoleon

The Hot Sprockets - Right Spots


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