Elaine Doyle, lead singer of Dublin band, Riot Tapes, took some time out of the band’s busy schedule to answer some of our questions. We found her replies to be very insightful and thought-provoking, and hope you do too.
EP: Riot Tapes is an interesting name for a band! What’s the story behind that? In fact, give us the whole Riot Tapes story!
ED: The name The Riot Tapes came from a documentary our guitarist Chris saw many years ago while he lived in America.
Myself and Chris started working together after we met online. At the time I was looking for other musicians to work with and saw an ad that Chris posted on a website. We wrote and recorded a couple of songs, decided to put them on SoundCloud and realised we needed a name. So we used The Riot Tapes. At the time, it wasn’t meant to be a permanent thing, but when we unexpectedly started getting nice reviews – we stuck with it. We recently dropped the “The” which took months of discussion, in true Riot Tapes style 😉
EP: Is Riot Tapes a democracy or is there one clear-cut leader?
ED: Yeah, I think we are a democracy. It’s so important that each member has their say and is able to express their opinions whether it be on the creative side of things or the business side of things. It’s a must for a happy camp! Saying that, we were asked this question recently on the radio, and the lads answered, “If Elaine isn’t happy with something, it doesn’t happen”. We all have our individual roles in the band besides the obvious. Like, Marty (our bassist) is the level headed one. When something is going to shit, or if we are arguing over a stupid little thing, Marty will have a reasonable solution. If there’s something that needs fixing, whether it’s a guitar pedal or track recording- Chris will sort it out. Darren (our drummer) is good for digital design and is currently making us a new website. I’m the most organised one, the one who “gently” reminds everyone what we have to do and to keep focused.
EP: The Irish music scene is huge these days – with Dublin being a particular creative hub. What do you think is the reason for this?
ED: It’s wonderful to see so many bands playing in Dublin and coming out of Dublin. For me as music lover, and someone who goes to local gigs quite regularly, its awesome! I think the likes of BIMM and other music colleges play a great part in Dublin being this “creative hub”. We’re also spoilt for choice with the amount of great venues we have here so we get busloads of bands coming from outside of Dublin to play. The band nights that the likes of Gigonometry run every month in the Workman’s Club and Saucy Sundays in the Grand Social also help the cause and give bands the opportunity to play in decent venues generally to a good crowd. We also saw earlier in the year Dave & co. from Abner Brown’s creating a huge buzz in Dublin when they ran Canalaphonic Music and Arts Festival. People travelled from all over the country to be part of something so fresh and exciting.
EP: We love the video for ‘Hello Insanity’ (we’ve a particular fondness for Ireland and Wicklow is gorgeous). What made you choose that for a location? Talk us through ‘Hello Insanity’.
ED: Thanks! The idea for the “Hello Insanity” was to shoot the video in one take, which we achieved after a few attempts. We decided to film it in Wicklow because of the fabulous scenery and the fact that it’s a quiet spot. There wouldn’t be anyone around to bat an eyelid at some girl running after a fiesta while singing a song into the boot a car!!
So basically one cold sunny morning, myself and Chris headed up the mountains in his little Fiesta (or Rocky as its known!) with a camera, a tripod and some rope. We sat the camera on the tripod and tied the tripod into Rocky’s boot. Chris drove the car, and I ran behind it! That’s the Hello Insanity video in a nutshell- a DIY job at its best!
EP: Tell us about the songwriting process for Riot Tapes.
ED: When I write a song that I think will work for the band, I record it, and send it on to the lads usually by email. If they like it, we work on it, and everyone else adds their bits. The same goes if someone else has an idea whether it be a riff, or another piece of music. Once everyone is on board – we go and work on it and then nail down the song in the rehearsal room or the studio. There’s no real set process, but that’s how the songs have come about in the past. It generally starts with an email!
EP: Who are your musical heroes? Who else has had a major impact on your life in ways other than music?
ED: I’m a huge fan of Debbie Harry. I think she’s still the coolest lady in the industry and the songs she’s written with Blondie have stood the test of time. For me, that’s incredibly inspiring and the sign of a truly great band.
The people that have the greatest impact on my life are my family and my close friends. The ones that matter to me most 🙂 #Corny
EP: What’s your current take on the music industry?
ED: How long have you got 😉
We all know the music industry has greatly changed over the last decade, mainly because of the Internet. When I was a kid if I liked a song or a band, I saved my pocket money every week and bought their cd. The excitement I got from getting new music was immense. I did the same if I wanted to go and see a band – I saved, and I saved hard until I had enough. I spent most of my money on music and still it takes a good chunk out of my bank account on a regular basis. Kids today however never needed to save their pocket money to buy music from their favourite artists because there are so many places they can access it for free. The same kids will go into their twenties + and operate the same way through no fault of their own which obviously effects the provider of the music, the artist, the musician.
On the flip side of that the Internet has provided us with a way to share our music to people all around the world, something that we wouldn’t have been able to do back in the day without the backing of a major label and even at that…
We’ve done everything we can do ourselves by ourselves because we’ve had to. No label will take on a band with just a few songs recorded. They want the whole package ready to go – albums, music videos, gigs, photoshoots… and in a way it’s been a positive experience as we’ve learned a lot and we’ve been able to have control over what we re doing. We move with the times, adapt and try to encourage our fans and fans of music to support Irish music.
EP: What would you say to anyone looking to get into the music industry?
ED: I would say that’s its important to truly love, be moved and influenced by music- the writing, the recording, the performing, the never ending learning aspect of it. When the shit hits the fan and things don’t go your way, these are what will matter and what will be necessary to continue.
EP: You’ve played the Big Viking Picnic this weekend – what’s been your favourite venue to play at and why?
ED: When we were on a German tour earlier in the year, we played in a place called Kuckucksnest in Berchtesgaden. It always sticks out to me as my favourite place I’ve played (so far that is ;)). The people were amazing and slightly crazy, in the most wonderful way. The little venue is seated nicely in the German Alps and the scenery is out of this world. I remember glancing out the window when I was performing and being blown away that I was in a club, playing the guitar and singing my little heart in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen!
In Dublin however, there’ll always be a special place in my heart for Whelan’s because it’s the first venue I ever played with Riot Tapes, and there’s no place quite like it.
EP: What question do you wish someone would ask you in an interview, but nobody ever does?
ED: You’ve just asked it! 😉