Roaring onto the Dublin DIY scene in 2014 and refusing to let up, Dublin trio Bitch Falcon have been at the forefront of a heavy Irish rock scene for quite some time now. Through a myriad of day jobs and line-up changes, the group now consists of singer-guitarist Lizzy Fitzpatrick, bassist Naomi Macleod and drummer Nigel Kenny, and have continued to snarl in a voice both loud and unique. We caught up with them back in February ahead of a blistering set at The Workmans Club in Dublin.
I’d like to start with perhaps the nerdiest question I have – is there any gear in particular that helps you to realize the sound that you have in your head?
Nigel Kenny: Big fuckin’ Sabian Legacy Rides, especially the Legacy O-Zone 20”. Dark, thrashy, and buckets of cut.
Lizzy Fitzpatrick: I adore my pedals, my favourite is the Earthquaker Devices Pitch Bay, which is an octave pedal with one high and one low added to the root note. More of a harmonizer really, you can easily make triads out of one note. Great for Thin Lizzy style solos.
Naomi Macleod: I think I’ve swapped out every bit of my signal chain at this point, trying to find the combo of bits that work best… apart from my trusty Aguilar Tone Hammer head which gives me practically any tone shape I could desire. The one bit of gear I couldn’t play a Bitch Falcon gig without is the Agro distortion pedal, also by Aguilar. I use it 95% of the time that I’m playing. I recently picked up a set of EBS CM4 stainless steel strings which have noticeably made my bass sound gnarlier, so win-win there!
You’ve mentioned before that songs have a tendency to come together when different members merge two totally different styles of music. Was this a natural progression, or did it take some time?
NK: We’re still figuring that out. We’ve been playing together 3 years now and it’s evolving all the time. At all times there’s probably about 5 genres competing for representation in a song and we spend a long time on each one trying to make it flow properly and not sound too weird.
LF: I think this has always been the case with us writing. It’s hard to write at times as inspiration can leave you blinded, trying to express a feeling / thought / emotion through a couple of notes thrown together, while the other band member is thinking something completely different. Finding the common ground can be frustrating, but when you find it, by God it’s satisfying.
You’ve been fairly consistent on the Irish festival circuit since your inception, any festivals that you’d be hoping to play this summer?
NK: Would love to have a go at Primavera and Sziget!
LF : End of the Road, Arctangent, 200 trees, Rock En Seine… to name a few.
NM: I’d absolutely love to play ArcTanGent over in Bristol. A few thousand nerds packed in a field in the beautiful English countryside sounds good to me.
Between yourselves, Girl Band, Munky and Fangclub there seems to be a revival of sorts going on in Dublin at the moment for heavy-ish rock in the style of the early 90s. Why is that?
NK: This comes up a lot. There isn’t a Rock conspiracy going on in Ireland at the moment. Heavy Rock has always been there, it has never gone away and there have always been bands playing it. Whether that is highlighted or not is up to the people writing about music and there is more people writing about it now, that’s all it is. Girl Band were selling 7” before we even had a band. Have not heard Munky, will definitely check that out!
LF: I guess you could say Girl Band opened the door for this wave of experimental rock music? But as Nigel said, it’s always been around.
NM: I think music is, without doubt, an art in which history repeats itself. Guitar music seemed to really sit at the fore of mainstream music in the mid-00s, followed by the bedroom-demo indie and electronic trends that followed, so I guess it’s only natural that it would evolve again into the mix of bands that are in Dublin now, with serious representation from guitar-led, hip-hop and groove-music scenes. I’m not sure I have much bigger-picture perspective to offer on heavy rock in Dublin as I spent most weekends during my teens and early twenties at DIY gigs with local and touring bands doing their thing, who between punk, grunge, metal and stoner-rock could fall (albeit loosely) into the realm of heavy rock.
The video for ‘Clutch’, your latest single, seems much less stylised than previously. Was this something that was dictated by the song itself?
NK: This is our second video and were lucky to work with a bunch of great people on it who had a hunger and great ideas for it. They took the lead and we we’re happy to let them work away without too much interruption.
LF: I thought Clutch was more stylised than TMJ.
NM: This is only our second music vid, so I suppose the song itself was interpreted by Spiceburger, the team who directed and shot the video. Their approach was different to that of the ‘TMJ’ video, but it is reflecting a different song and I guess that brings with it different stylistic results. We were happy with how it turned out, I think it’s definitely a good thing to have variety in music videos as each one is an opportunity to transform the music’s potential impact.
You’ve previously mentioned that something you admire about Annie Clarke is her ability to write “tough” songs that have hints of timidness and vulnerability. How has this effected your own output?
LF: ah this is a Lizzie question. Annie Clark has always been a huge inspiration to me, I am very much looking forward to her new album. I feel like I’m Gary Newman to her Bowie
In a sense some more established Irish acts took you under their wings when you were just getting started, and it’s lovely to see that you’re sort of doing that for Akora and some of the other support acts on this tour. Is this way of looking out for each other something that you think is unique to the Irish scene?
NK: Very much so, our DIY training from way back has helped with this. Some amazing artists have given us a leg up on social media and bands like New Secret Weapon, Overhead, The Albatross, Red Enemy, Glen Hansard etc gave us a stage with a full room perhaps before we deserved it. The community is strong in this country and it’s not genre specific. We have a duty of care to that community so it’s important to mention what others are doing, get them up on stage and help and support each other if you like what they’re doing, or even if you’re not that into it to be honest. This will only improve if we all share the same philosophy and thankfully most people do. We were gutted when Akora had to pull out this week, not only because they are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, but they really are the best young musicians in Dublin right now and their music is insanely good, and everyone needs to hear it! Thankfully, there’s no shortage of that here and we’re fucking delighted to have the heaviest acoustic act in the world, The Scratch, on instead. Unmissable!
NM: I’d agree with Nigel, we’ve been really lucky to know sound bands on the DIY scene for years who we’ve gone to see countless times, only to find them giving us big dig-outs between support slots and advice on how best to go about things. It means a lot to get any sort of leg-up when you’re in the early stages, trying to get a buzz going around your band, online or indeed at gigs. I think the relatively small population of our country versus the bustling hub that is the music scene nationwide is a definite contributing factor to the mutual support that bands give each other. Long may it continue!
What records are you particularly excited to hear this year?
LF: St Vincent and the new Dirty Projectors
NM: I’m super excited to hear Thundercat’s new album. The two tracks that have been dropped so far are delish!