INTERVIEW WITH SPIES

tweety stuff @ronanfromcork

first published in @The Evening Echo 2015-04-3

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While travelling down the M8 from Dublin to Cork is still considered a bit of journey, it pales in comparison to getting from Dublin to Russia, a trip that Spies completed a fortnight ago. Jeffrey Courtney, who plays drums in the 5 piece band, spoke with Ronan Leonard about how that Russian adventure happened, “we played as part of an Irish festival surrounding St. Patrick’s day called ‘Ticket To Dublin’ alongside two other great Irish acts, Myles Manley and James Costello. There are only 300 Irish people living in Moscow, yet something in the region of 15,00 people get involved in their St. Patrick’s Day Parade. They embrace Irish culture wholeheartedly.”

Jeffrey thoroughly enjoyed the experience, “it was incredible. The people there have the same soul as the Irish. I feel there is an underlying connection between us. They were so engaged and incredibly forthcoming. We played three shows there, I didn’t really know what to expect. It’s great to go to these places but you want to walk away feeling you’ve made an impact and it wasn’t just a glorified holiday. The shows were exceptionally well attended and we are excited at the prospect of going back there, if we can get visas of course!”

Their final night there was a particular highlight for Jeffrey, “on our last night we went to the Russian Baths. The ‘Collapsing Horse’ Theatre group, whom we’re good friends, with joined us; they were there performing as part of the theatre side of the festival. This resulted in nearly 20 Irish people and some experienced Russians getting naked in the saunas, playing Russian Billiards, plenty of Vodka and beating each other with water soaked branches. It was a crazy night. The stopover in Ukraine was a hung-over one to say the least. I thankfully slept through any potential anxiety whilst flying through Ukrainian air space as a result!”

Regular touring worldwide is something that Spies intend to do but they certainly know where their base will be, “our future will definitely include Ireland. In order to be a functioning band you need to get out there and play in different cities. Playing music can be conducive to travelling and this is an attractive prospect to all of us. But I certainly picture myself living here long term as I love Dublin. With that said, I’ve never lived anywhere else for a long period of time. I have plenty of friends that have moved abroad for one reason or another and they’re truly happy. They have no intentions of returning to Ireland.”

Touring around Ireland a lot means Jeffrey has a few connections made here already, “we’ve played in Cork a few times now. I love Cork. There’s no bullshit down there, the people are cool and a great music scene too. I always switch it up to the Beamish when I’m in town. I also picked up a sweet jacket the last time I was in Cork in Mother Jones Flea Market. It served me well in Russia, I imagine I’ll wear it to Cork so you can ask me about it after the show.”

The realities of having to study and work means that Spies have a lot of outside commitments, “Michael and Hugh are finishing up their final year in college. Conor and Neil and I have full time jobs. We tour around our releases as much as possible. It’s a balancing act. There is only so much annual leave you can take. There needs to be some sort of demand in the town/city for you decide to go and play there. The shows need to be consistent. Otherwise I’ll have to move home with my mom because I can’t pay rent. I love her dearly but I also love my house in town. Following the release of this EP we’ll be hard at work on our debut record. We’ll look to schedule a full tour around that release. The demand will decide whether or not we make it to the furthest of shores I guess.”

The response they have received at their gigs is something Jeffrey and the rest Spies take as a positive but also an inspiration to keep working hard, “praise can be good. It can actually keep you focused. It’s nice to know that you’re connecting with people. It can drive you to keep creating. We’re not making music to receive praise but I won’t refuse anything constructive along the way. Praise can come in many forms though. Somebody coming up to you after a show and telling you they enjoyed the music is one of the purest forms of praise. It’s on a very personal level.”

Spies play in Cyprus Avenue on Sunday 5 April, with support from Partisan Crowds. Tickets are €7 and are available in advance from the venue.

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