YOU ARE a (largely) unknown band from Ireland, swimming in an infested sea of sharks at SXSW, the world’s largest music industry showcase, held annually in Austin, Texas. The streets churn with agents, record company execs and other bands out to make a equally large splash and competition is fierce.
So, what do you? If you are The Minutes, a garage rock and roll trio from Dublin with an unreleased record of loud, brash but very exciting rock and roll tunes under your arm, you go and play as loud and as hard and as fast as you can - everywhere you can.
The result? Tom Cosgrave, Mark Austin and Shane Kinsella play 11 gigs in three days at the 2010 SXSW festival, secure overwhelmingly positive - and crucial - critical acclaim, management, a prized slot on Other Voices on RTE and, not long after, a commitment to release debut album Marcata on Modern Citizen Records.
“SXSW was amazing,” says The Minutes’ frontman, Mark Austin, described as a “spiv with a 6 string razor”.
“That got a lot of people in Ireland to realise who we are, which sounds a bit weird, but because we played for so long or did so many gigs, all of these people were talking about us and who we were and why other people weren’t playing as many gigs as us,” he explains.
“It was necessary. We did it because nobody knew who we were and we needed to get out there. Through that we got Other Voices, we got management and the label might have heard about us as well. So you just have to make a big noise over there and it worked for us.”
Making a “big noise” is something this fledgling band have become good at. Formed as recently as 2006, cousins Mark and Shane and recruit Tom played in another band together, but, it didn’t exactly go to plan.
“We played together before in another band and the music was pretty sh*t,” says Mark. “We were trying to be very poppy, but we learnt how to put arrangements on songs and put stuff together, but the music itself wasn’t good.
“So when we started as The Minutes, we had a rough idea where we were going and we didn’t want to record anything until we had the right bunch of songs, so we took our time. Over that two years we got to realise that we were quite good at this style of music, so we wrote a load of songs in that vein. We just went for it. It wasn’t as planned as that sounds, it just sort of naturally happened.”
Using Johnny Marr, Lenny Kaye’s ‘Nuggets’ album and Thin Lizzy as the principal sources of for their early undertakings, The Minutes have honed a sort of rampant, riotous garage rock in the vein of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club or The Von Bondies - both of whom they have supported - by playing countless gigs, perfecting their craft.
“It is sort of our attitude for this record and where we are right now - if we go play a gig somewhere, let’s play as much noise as we can and let people know we have been here.
“I think we have played everywhere, and some places twice. We just wanted to go everywhere, wherever would have us because nobody knows who we are, and we are that kind of band that you have to see us live, even if you have the record, it’ll make more sense when you see us live.”
The album was recorded in upstate New York in late 2009, a “five day blowout” of supercharged energy, under the watchful eye of Kevin McMahon, who has worked with The Walkmen. The album was named after the studio it was recorded in, and is a whirlwind of energy, anarchic and crushing in equal measure.
“We had twelve days booked, but because we played the songs live, we had the guts of it ready after the first three days - we had the record down as we play it live,” says Mark. “Then we had a few days to put all the other little bits to it. We took our time. I always thought making an album was heartache and we were ready for that, to be fighting with each other, but we rehearsed so well that we had it done really quickly and had time to think about things and relax and do it naturally.
“For the first three days we set-up as a gig, so we were all in a circle looking at each other - the way bands used to record. A band should breath when it plays, and we just wanted to do that. Recording in your bedroom is sh*t, the sound is sh*t - you have to work on your craft and that is our take on things and the way we tried to do it.”
The Minutes play in Dolan’s Warehouse this Friday night and the Indiependence Music & Arts Festival in Mitchelstown on Sunday night.