Ahead of their trip to UrbanJungle on November 12th, Mike McGrath-Bryan speaks with Megacone guitarist Conor Callan about their formation, new extended-player and the support they’ve received so far.
With a sunny disposition as prevalent in their output as their consummate musicianship and eclectic musical frame of reference, it’s little wonder that Dubliners Megacone have developed the following they have in recent times. The progressive/math-rock quintet have only been together a few short years, but have taken on the Irish music industry already, quickly rising to headliner status and doing so at a relative young age. Guitarist Conor Callan explains the band’s beginnings, stemming from time together in BCFE’s renowned music course. “We all met in music college in Ballyfermot. Ross (guitar), Podge (guitar, etc), Bala (bass) and Nimai (drums) were all in a band already playing together. We were all really good friends, and would jam in classrooms quite often. I, nervously, messaged Ross and asked if he thought the band could use a third guitarist. He invited me down to jam with them and we came away with the starting bits of The Accidental which is the first tune on Fondle Fantasy.”
From the off, the band have distinguished themselves live, no mean feat to accomplish in such short order in Irish math-rock/prog circles. Playing fast and loose with genres and influences, the band remain accessible, yet seem to relish leaving something to unearth on repeated listens. Callan recalls the band’s early excursions, as their initial set was coming together. “We went down quite well at our first few shows. The rest of our class in college was really supportive. Watching back videos of our first shows we definitely weren’t as good as we thought we were (laughs).”
Debut extended-player Fondle Fantasy released in 2015. Conversation turns to the initial process, and Callan recalls the band’s first attempt at putting an EP together, as well as the attendant work. “The whole writing side of it came quite naturally. The four songs that are on Fondle Fantasy are the first four songs we wrote together. We were really excited to be recording at all, and then on top of that we were recording with David Prendergast (of Dublin post-rockers Overhead, The Albatross). It was a great learning experience, and we got to spend a nice chunk of time doing pre- and post-production out in David’s studio in Clane. I think it was our first time all recording to a professional standard, despite having been in other bands, and recorded with other projects before. It was a lot of work, but a great learning experience and a lot of craic was had.”
The band’s live engagements began to pick up, among them regular bookings with Dublin alternative/DIY bookers & promoters Dimestore, for whose support the band have been especially grateful. “The Dimestore lads have been a great support for us, they gave us a lot of gigs playing in Sweeney’s (Dame St., Dublin) when Dimestore had a weekly event there. They also gave us an amazing slot at Knockanstockan festival in 2015. It was our first time playing the festival, and we were playing it at 10pm on the Friday night, so we were over the moon about it. It was such an amazing night, and gave us a big audience we otherwise mightn’t have gotten. Then we got an equally amazing slot at Knockanstockan 2016, so those Dimestore lads are good lads.”
The band’s new extended-player, Absolute Magnitude was recorded alongside Rian Trench, one-half of recently-disbanded duo Solar Bears and a busy producer and engineer in his own right. Callan gets into the whole experience. “It was pretty exciting, getting to record with Rían, and his co-producer Robert “Scan” Scanlon. We got to go out to The Meadow, Rían’s studio in Delgany. It’s a pretty special place, and it is sort of secluded, which is really nice. You can really just get into it, without much distraction. We had only planned to record two songs Crocodile Dundalk and Absolute Magnitude but we got the two of them done and still had another two days in the studio. So we quickly got together some click tracks for Dance of the Sand Wizard and Straight for the Juggler. It was a little hectic getting everything done, but Rían and Scan really know what they are doing, and we are really happy with the end result.”
The EP’s eponymous lead single is a stomper to say the least, and your writer’s first thought was to ask what rush of blood to the head brought it all on. Callan dissects the song’s creation. “We played an early version of Absolute Magnitude at the Fondle Fantasy EP launch, so the tune has been floating around for a long time. It just came together from a bunch of different parts that we made fit together. Our process is the same for most songs. It’s a lot of time writing parts as a band, or as individuals, and then making this random part work organically with that random part. There’s a lot of trial and error in working out songs but when they are finished, we are usually pretty happy because we have spent so long working on them.”
The band is playing UrbanJungle, the basement venue of the Mardyke complex, on the 12th of this month, with support from Cork proggers Meniscus and the debuting Aponym. The latest in metal auteurs Pethrophile Promotions’ Welcome to the Jungle night, it’s the conpany’s penultimate gig of the year, and occurs before the announcement of their 2017 programme. Megacone have been to Cork before, on occasion, and Conor, like the rest of the band, is fond of gigging Leeside. “We love playing down in Cork. We have played down there a handful of times. The last time we were down, we played the Crane Lane with our friends and Cork natives White-Line Fever. We had a great crowd, and the people of Cork seem to really dig our music, which is always a plus (laughs).”
It’s been a fairly hectic two years for the band, but as 2016 winds down, the band focuses on the future, and Callan leaves the conversation on a cliffhanger. “We have some pretty huge, juicy news to announce for 2017, but we can’t announce it just yet. Soon. Very soon.”
Megacone play UrbanJungle on the 12th of November, with Meniscus and Aponym in support. Tickets are €5, kickoff at 8pm.