Hey hey hey! Happy Monday, and happy almost-St. Patrick’s Day!
I didn’t even realize until I started typing this last week that this post about an Irish band would go live one day before St. Paddy’s Day. What a happy coincidence.
About two years ago, an Irish duo called Cry Monster Cry started following me on Twitter. I had never heard of them, but reading their tweets and the tweets that fans had sent them sparked my interest. I listened to their debut EP, “The Fallen,” and I immediately fell in love with their sweet (and definitely Ireland-inspired) acoustic sound. I bought the EP, started following and interacting with them on Twitter, and contacted them to request an interview for an arts site that I contribute to called The Write Teacher(s). They graciously obliged. So today, I’m posting the interview I conducted with Cry Monster Cry over the summer of 2013. And I’m telling you that you should totally buy their music, especially their recently-released debut album, Rhythm of Dawn.
Rhythm of Dawn is a concept album in the most subtle of ways. The 10 tracks take the listener on a journey from night to morning but it steers away from super-obvious imagery and overtly repetitive motifs in doing so. The result is a musical and lyrical masterpiece full of brothers Richie and Jamie Martin’s rich harmonies, varied instrumentation, and lyrics that weave tales of love, heartache, and hope. Instruments like the mandolin and banjo pay homage to the band’s Irish and folk roots, and they combine beautifully with electric guitar flourishes and African-style drum beats throughout the album.
Rhythm of Dawn is available for purchase on iTunes, and if physical copies are your thing, CD and vinyl formats can be purchased from Cry Monster Cry’s website. The album is also available to stream on Spotify. And you can keep up with the lads’ adventures on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
With that, here’s that interview with Cry Monster Cry from The Write Teacher(s). You can see the original post here.
EMD: First, what are your roles in the band? What instruments do you two play?
Jamie Martin: We experiment with lots of instruments. Richie’s first instrument was the violin & mine was the piano. Normally at gigs Richie sticks to rhythm guitar and I play guitar, mandolin, and banjo. (Note: I was a bad interviewer and didn’t ask which of the brothers sang lead in my original interview, but I was later informed that both Jamie and Richie do; their EP contains more of Richie singing lead and their upcoming album is a mix.)
EMD: When and how did you two get started playing music?
JM: We both began music lessons at young ages. It was only when experimenting with self-taught instruments that the passion really took hold. Richie taught himself the guitar at a young age, and began playing and singing a lot. He went on to study music performance in college where he formed a few bands. As I followed in my interests, we used to play together in the house or at parties or in school, but we never considered forming our own band. After Richie’s last band finished up he asked me if I would be interested in helping him start a new project. At the time, I didn’t know how involved I would be, as I had no experience in songwriting or performance, but something seemed to work very well and we haven’t looked back since.
EMD: Who are your musical inspirations, and who are some of your favorite bands and artists?
JM: We listen to a lot of different styles of music. Every genre, artist, and/or performance can bring something new to the table. We grew up listening to a lot of folk, country, and soul like Bob Dylan, Willy Nelson, Ray Charles, The Everly Brothers. Favourite bands include Talking Heads, The Band, Tom Waits and we have also been listening to a lot of new stuff. Love Haim, Alt-J, The Staves, Beach House, Daft Punk.
EMD: Tell me a bit about your songwriting process. Do you write your songs collaboratively?
JM: We do. Richie has a vast knowledge of music. He is great with harmonies, melodies, structures, and hooks. I concentrate on lyrics as that is what I know, however, we are at a point now where we are both comfortable in the other side of the writing process and often Richie will have lyrics or I will have melodies ready to go. A lot of the time we write together, one of us will have the skeleton of a song and take it to the other person and they can help take it somewhere new. That’s the huge benefit of having fresh ears that you trust on hand. We have also started to write more with the other guys in the band.
EMD: What’s been your favorite part of making music? What about the most challenging?
JM: Creation & performance. It is a great feeling to give life to something new. It makes it even better to be able to perform it for enthusiastic crowds that listen and appreciate it. We have gotten a lot of support for what we are doing and it feels good to know that people are listening. It has its challenges. We are always trying to reach out to new audiences and push ourselves. There is a lot of great music around today, so it is a challenge to make your voice heard in the crowd.
EMD: The Write Teacher(s) is all about the arts and education, so I’m curious…who have been some notable teachers or mentors in your life and what kinds of lessons have they taught you?
JM: They are vast in number. Family and friends, artists, musicians, writers. All have taught us something valuable. Our parents are very supportive. They taught us from an early age that it is more important to do what you love than to set your heart on making money. We know some great people from all over the world. There are too many to name, but the people that we surround ourselves with regularly have taught us the value in doing what is important to you.
EMD: Related to the previous question, why is art important to you guys? What are your goals for your own art?
JM: Our goal for our own art is to keep creating it. As long as we are in a position where we are able to make music that people are noticing we will be happy. Art does not necessarily need a reason to exist or to be created. Sometimes, I will slave away on lyrics or words in vain. Other times, a line will pop into my head, out of the blue, with no explanation. Often times those are the lines that are people’s favourites and they tell us so. The same goes for the music. Art for us is so deeply linked with our subconscious that sometimes it is a matter of channeling it and then asking, “Is there value in this?” If we think there is, then perhaps there will be someone out in the world who feels the same. Art is important to us because it opens the mind and the heart. It can be something personal but shared, especially in regards to music and/or gigs.
EMD: I appreciate how interactive and humorous you are with your fans on Twitter and Tumblr. Who runs your social media pages, or do both of you share responsibilities? What do you enjoy most about engaging with fans through social media?
JM: We both do. We love engaging with fans on any level. It is always positive and encouraging. We live in a time where we can get our music out across the world in one instant. People have been responsive, so it is only right and proper that we respond in turn. We are no different from anyone else, we get a thrill to see that people are listening to our music.
EMD: Just for fun…what do you guys like to do when you’re not making music? Or is making music a pretty full-time endeavor these days?
JM: Read, write, relax, see friends. We like to travel and meet new people and soak up the experiences of life. We go to the country a lot to write. Richie does visual art, drawings and prints, and I like to write.
EMD: I hear you’re working on your first album! Where are you at in that process? Do you have any idea yet when it will be ready for release?
JM: We’re about 3/4 way through with the album. It’s a slow process because we are perfectionists, sometimes to the dismay of our producer Keith Lawless. We just received the first batch of finished mixes for a few songs today and we are over the moon with them. There is no release date set yet but that could all change soon.
EMD: What are your hopes for your musical future? Any dream venues or gigs that you’d like to play? Any chance of making your way to the States?
JM: Our hopes are to keep pushing ourselves and honing our craft, hopefully getting to bigger stages and audiences. We would love to tour the States and will be looking into it as soon as the album is complete.
EMD: Anything else you’d like to add? As my philosophy professor often asked: “Questions? Comments? Snide remarks?”
JM: There is a free download available plus links to our social media sites via www.crymonstercry.com