The Rising, from Belfast, Northern Ireland, dropped into London the other week for a gig. Members Tristan Harris, Chris Logan, Andy Morgan, Shane Watters and Peter Flanagan braved the scorching London summer heat for a chat with EP.
EP: Tell us The Rising story!
Shane: For a long time, me and Chris jammed together, being cousins.
EP: You’ve been around a long time – not new kids on the block!
The Rising: Long enough!
EP: What happened to EXIT? What was that all about?
The Rising: It was a bit more rock…
EP: You had reviews that said you could have played in stadiums…did you play in stadiums?
TR: More like people felt like we belonged in the stadiums!
EP: …cos you were pretty damn loud!
TR: …As loud as we could get it!
EP: “This pub act is really good – but it’s SOO LOUD! Put them in a stadium or a field or something like that!”
TR: A lot of it at the time was to fit into a trend at the time in Belfast. There was a funny scene, a very metal scene at the time in Belfast. We were trying to fit in, in some ways. The Rising came from a need to return to what we knew, what we’d grown up with.
Shane: That was the problem! None of us liked the music we were playing!
TR: We were trying to fit in.
EP: That’s always the thing – if you’re not playing where your heart is…
TR: …it’s just like a rebrand…
EP: So, were you playing as a job, rather than as your passion?
TR: Yeah! We still enjoyed playing, we thought that was going to be the way to be successful.
EP: The money?
TR: Not even the money, there’s never been the money before, but it was like recognising this will get us in the big time, but it just never seemed natural. We were trying to fit in but it wasn’t what we were listening to.
EP: But now you’re using more traditional instruments, like mandolin, banjo?
EP: Irish country/pop/rock, it’s all folky isn’t it! You have a sound that reminds me a lot of Australian country, it’s not Americana, it’s not traditional country…
Tristan: Is it rootsy country?
EP: Yeah! Check out Steve Grace, that’s the sound I’m talking about. We’re getting a lot of bands coming out of Northern Ireland…
TR: It’s because of us! We started it!
EP: I think it might be! We’re getting a lot of Northern Irish acts contacting us lately – is there a lot of good music in NI, or is it just because they’ve seen us cover you?
TR: Think there’s a lot of it there…you have to make an effort in Belfast – it’s very small – it’s not like over here (in London), we all know each other. There were other bands who kind of opened the door for us before…
EP: So the scene is pretty big then – like not big in size, but happening – not that many bands, but the vibe…
TR: It’s very hard to describe the scene in Northern Ireland, because it’s all based on five bars, with 10 bands (laughter). You just play a circuit, you play those five bars and you just keep getting more and more people to those five bars…it makes it a challenge sometimes. You don’t play as often as you would over here, you play now and again. You play 2-3 nights in a week, and then you need to tail it back into specific things, like an album launch etc.
EP: You’d have day-jobs...
TR: Yeah! we’re getting to the point now though where decisions will have to be made.
EP: Tell me about Bruce Springsteen!
TR: (lots of laughter) He’s a guy from New Jersey, he’s written a few songs, done pretty well for himself…
EP: …hmmm…did he happen to write a song or an album or something called, hmm…”The Rising”??
TR: It’s been a massive influence on all of us
EP: You don’t really *sound* like Bruce Springsteen…
TR: We’ve been influenced by him…
EP: He gave you a good name for the band…
TR: We love that album when it came out, all of us. Springsteen, he’s all about the story telling. Him, Tom Petty…
EP: There is a Tom Petty sound to you guys.
TR: It’s a good comparison! There’s worse people to be compared to!
EP: You supported Sasha McVeigh and Sonia Leigh at Whelans – how cool is that!
TR: We’ve played there a few times…But yeah being there with Sasha and Sonia was cool, they’re nice girls.
EP: You ARE the big time, aren’t you! Why do you think Country music is coming more to the forefront these days?
TR: No idea! We literally had this conversation earlier today! I guess it depends on your definition of country doesn’t it! We can’t pinpoint when it first started coming back, or why or where…I’d not class half the stuff people play today as country, it’s more pop music, pop/country: country is more about the songwriting; it doesn’t matter what music you put with it.
EP: It’s not just twang twang, not just your four bars…
Chris: I think that’s why people are getting into it, it’s different…
Shane: …And it’s interactive, proper songs, people have been bored, all the pop stuff is overdone…
Chris: …Pop songs with just the same four or five lines…
Andy: …There’s a lot of opportunities for people to come over here and play, like C2C and stuff like that…Radio 2’s Country Music Week
EP: Radio 2 are very cool – we’ve had a lot of people come through to us who’ve said Radio 2 have been promoting them, or given them a break etc…
Andy: Like Ward Thomas and people like that, at the forefront…
Shane: Country’s ALWAYS been big in Northern Ireland! ALWAYS! In fact all over the country – all over Ireland – everyone’s big into country music!
EP: You have seen what Ireland looks like, haven’t you??…It’s like…you’ve got two cities in the entire island…and the rest…
Shane: …what we call “culchies” – if you’re not from Belfast or Dublin you’re a culchie!
EP: Maybe that’s the clue there…
Shane: It’s always been there – it’s just that now the rest of the world is catching up with Ireland!
EP: Did you know that cassettes have their biggest market in Ireland because of all the tractors? So there’s an idea for you – get your album onto cassette!
TR: Can you still get cassette players??
EP: Yes! I recently bought a new sound system and it’s got wifi, and bluetooth and MP3, and a CD player and a turntable, and radio and a double cassette player! So there you go – I want to see this [points to album] on cassette!
TR: We’re aiming for vinyl…
EP: Yes yes and work your way down to cassette…or maybe 8 track cartridge…
TR: See through vinyl…
EP: …how about a picture disc? With your autographs on it?…we digress! Talk us through, ‘Coming Home’. Is it a concept album?
Chris: Some of them…there’s some that link together but the rest wrote themselves.
TR: There’s lots that we left out.
EP: So when you’re massive and you’re playing the stadiums, are we going to get the B side album?
EP: It’s a really nice album!
TR: It’s a lot of different genres, it’s not just country it’s pop, it’s rock, there’s jazz…we didn’t want to be pigeonholed into any one style.
EP: Music is what you do! So what’s your dream collaboration?
TR: They’re doing huge huge things in the States, they’re doing the same sort of thing we’re doing over here. They’re not rivals, they’re colleagues.
EP: There’s plenty of room for everyone!
Shane: I’d like to collaborate with someone like Metallica, just to see what happens!
EP: You know though, people like Metallica, they’re proper musicians, with beautiful voices…
Shane: Oh yeah! Like listen to The Black Album!
Chris: I’d like to also collaborate with Bruce Springsteen…Tom Petty…
Tristan: Pharrell…oh and Mark Ronson! He seems to collaborate with everyone, takes them to number one…
EP: You can’t collaborate with Mark Ronson! That’s cheating! Right – you’ve been in the music business for a while – what advice do you have for anyone who’s wanting to get into it?
TR: Practice, get a good background in it – study the business. It’s not the sixties anymore!
EP: You guys are independent? [TR: Yeah!] I see so many bands these days who are just eschewing the whole big manager way of doing things…
TR: When you’re just small still there’s a lot you can do yourself – it’s when you become massive that you need a manager, because you can’t do it all yourselves anymore. But it’s not going to happen overnight – every overnight success has been working hard for nine years to get to that point! There’s been so many bands that started about the same time as us, or just before, that were seen as the next big thing, but they’ve broken up and moved on, and then another one came up to fill that place, and they broke up and so on…we’re still together, and still playing, and bit beyond where they were, so it just takes time.
EP: So that’s the real secret – staying together – sticking at it. It’s hard work.
TR: It’s hard WORK, but it’s not work. That’s another conversation we had – if you want to do something this much, then you’ll work hard for it. You’ve got to make that decision to do it. It’s not like relying on other people to make you do it.
EP: So you guys have been together for how long now?
TR: Close to ten years!
EP: So longer than the Beatles!
TR: We’re not going to make that comparison! But yeah the first six years we were just knocking about, the last 3 years we’ve been focusing on the album, getting it ready, setting up distribution and so on…getting our label…
EP: So what is it, Renegade Maverick? That’s your own label?
TR: Yeah! And distributed by Universal!
EP: Are they actually useful?
TR: They get us into Tesco and HMV and that sort of thing, they’ve been great with the management of the company, they take care of the digital stuff, make sure the coding is right and so on
EP: But they let you have creative control…
TR: All the detaily stuff that bands can’t generally do themselves, like distribution, they do that…
EP: Where are you going to be in five years?
TR: Headlining a gig at London’s O2! Doing this full time.
EP: Last question! What’s the question that you wish someone would ask you in an interview, but nobody ever does?
TR: That’s a good question!
EP: It’s my favourite question!
TR: “Can I buy you some beer?”
Calling You, the new single from The Rising, is available now. Their album, Coming Home’, is available to buy from Amazon, 7 Digital, Google Play, and iTunes. You can also stream it via Deezer and Spotify.