Credit: TV People


Dublin’s TV People craft atmospheric music: a gritty combination of post-punk and alternative rock and in August 2021 they released their debut EP the five-track Nothing More. The project of Paul Donohoe (vocals, guitar) and Brendan Clarke (drums). I chatted to them about the band’s origins, their music, producing an EP during Covid and their first live dates in England.

I’d like to start by asking you about the origins of TV People. How did the band come to be, and who are the current members?

Bren: I had been involved in a few bands when I was 17/18. When I got to college that was all finished up and I was looking to join a new project. In an old school way I found an advertisement and replied to it. I met Paul and Len who I’d never met them before, we did a rehearsal session and for quite a while it was the three of us just jamming and we had a blast and became really good friends, and we’re still good friends today. It’s amazing how you can make friendships that way through an advertisement! There has been a few shifts and changes in band members throughout the years as people were doing different things. Paul and I have been the constants.
Paul: Around Covid that was a difficult time for us because peoples’ priorities and interests changed and then as we were coming out of Covid Bren and I we really took the opportunity to delve into our writing and focus on how can we make this as good as it can be, and even just finding something to do and making music. Coming straight out of Covid we had a line-up change and it was just the two of us. We were still writing but I remember we got Ireland Music Week last year. We were successful in the application, but we didn’t have a band. It was a period when I remember thinking we need to make stuff happen. But it’s amazing now a year later it all just comes right. You’ve just got to keep working hard.

Current band members are now Paula Moura (bass) from Brazil and Ben O’Connor (guitar) from Australia. We went back to the ads online and the 2 of them came in 3 or 4 weeks before a gig so we had to get the whole setlist together really quick. But it went really well. Ane ever since we’ve been playing in the UK, we did a mini tour with Scattered Ashes. We had a gig last Friday in The Workman’s Club in Dublin which I think was one of our tightest performances together, the four of us.

The debut EP Nothing More came out last year. What were the main challenges around creating and producing it, and how did it feel when it was released?
Bren: There was loads of challenges. First of all if you’re going down from 4 to 2 just financially you are going to be struck with a massive bill if you want to make a vinyl or go record music. We had to take out a big fat loan that we’re still paying back! As well as that we had to adapt to writing in a different way. Doing all the parts between us especially during Covid. Some of the songs that are on that EP, doing it remotely. Then trying when we could get into our rehearsal space, to be a bit more organic getting together and playing whether it be guitar and drums or bass and drums. And then eventually getting good at doing our own productions and making our own demos. That was a big learning curve but it helped our writing style and gave us a lot more confidence that we can write effective songs even with it is with no money and reduced line-up for some of the songs.
When it came out it was this amazing sense of accomplishment and happiness. We were really lucky that Richard from Blowtorch Records got in touch with us after he heard us talk to Dermot White on Indie Rocks UK Radio, and was willing to help us to press the vinyl which was amazing.
It was a big journey after some of the disappointments of the line-up changing and Covid reducing our ability to play live it was such an amazing experience to put that EP together, release it, get Ireland Music Week and then form a new line-up and play it. It felt like being in the trenches and everything’s following apart, then persevering and making this thing happen for ourselves.

Paul: I still remember listening to the vinyl for the first time in your house Bren. Putting it on the record player was an amazing feeling. The earliest song on that EP came out in January 2020. That was a time of a lot of excitement for us and then obviously a lot of the songs came out during Covid or written during Covid. It’s nice to have something to bookmark that period and to come out the other side of it with something to show.

What are the main themes within your songs?
Paul: In terms of lyrical themes I’ve always found the times when I’m most prolific, the times when the lyrics come the easiest for me are usually when I have something that’s weighing on me that I need to get out to kind of process it. Usually things I wouldn’t find too easy to talk to people about. So I suppose a lot of the songs gravitate towards darker themes, quite personal a lot of the time and maybe slightly challenging emotionally sometimes. If I have a day when I’m really happy and I’m looking around me, the birds are singing, the last thing I’m going to do is pick up my guitar and sing a song about the rainbows. I guess it doesn’t inspire me lyrically. I don’t get something out of that exchange whereas if something is weighing heavily on me it pours out of me a lot easier. A type of catharsis I suppose.
Outside of that I obviously enjoy the go to bands like Joy Division who are moody all the time. I do enjoy a lot of happy music as well, I do like listening to happy music but I suppose lyrically it doesn’t fire the engine for me.

Are you the lyricist Paul?
Paul: Yes, I always send all my lyrics to Bren whenever I’m writing and he gives me his very good feedback. I’m not operating in a vacuum.

Do the songs begin with the lyrics and you layer the music on top?
Paul: I’d say probably most of the time it’s the other way around. We usually layer the music first and the lyrics will go in after, when there is that sonic space. I’ll listen to the instrumental over and over again and start thinking about how different sections might make me feel or how the lyrics might suit different sections. It’s not the case all the time. Our single ‘You Were Loved‘ that we released a while ago that was born out of a very simple acoustic guitar and singing for the verse. That was all that was there. Then I sent that to Bren and Bren built up the instrumentation for the rest of the track and the lyrics went in after that after a lot of collaboration between the two of us to flesh out the rest of the song. Usually its music first but we’re always trying to expand our horizons a bit – whatever works, works.

Bren: As Paul was saying about ‘You Were Loved‘ he sent that acoustic guitar section of that really kind of emotionally, in my view, inspirational lyrics and I would have taken them and put drums ontop. I would have done that remotely from home and from there we go into the studio and I can bring my laptop and we can collaborate together. There were points in that song for instance I felt it was incredibly difficult to write a drum part in my head and program it to play live later. So Paul got up with the guitar and I’d play the drum kit and I was then able to feel out the drum part organically live and then go back and program it in for the demo. And it might change again when you go into the formal studio setting and you are playing it properly, you’re recording it and you might make a few more changes. Sometimes the music inspires the lyrics and sometimes the lyrics are written which inspire you to write new sections for the songs. I think it’s been rare that we’ve had a full acoustic song that we just add instrumentation too. That would be great because I feel like we’d write so much faster if that was the case. I feel like we piece things together like a big complicated jigsaw that is eventually deemed finished!

We are in this musical landscape at the moment dominated by spoken and shouty vocals. We are not in a time of great voices. But both you and Scattered Ashes have this strong quality vocal. Would you agree that you sit slightly differently in the current climate partly because of that?
Paul: Your point in terms of Scattered Ashes first of all, Bren and I are huge fans of Scattered Ashes. Both as a band and as people. A big part of why we like to them is that sense of melody in their song-writing. Bren and I are drawn to melody. As you say there is a lot of spoken word, blurring on poetry delivery at the moment which is great as well, I’m a big fan of it. But the music you like is not necessarily the type of music you want to make. I don’t think Bren and I would make a song without a bit of melody in it. Both of us obviously appreciate lyrics as well. Lyrics when delivered with melody you can emphasize words and certain points a lot more. It’s definitely an overlap we have with Scattered Ashes. We noticed when we went to London with them and we were playing in the Windmill. The two of us played first and there was another band on (English Garden) and it was interesting the consistency of what we were doing and this other band came on who were very Squid-esque. It was great, they were amazing but it was interesting to note the difference between us. I’d hope it makes us stand out a bit. But at the end of the day if you like any type of music for any reason it’s all great.

How complicated was it playing the dates in London and Leeds? Was that your first time playing outside of Ireland?
Paul: It was, and it was complicated getting home! We finished up in Leeds and we were going to fly back. Bren and I hadn’t booked our tickets yet. It was a Sunday morning so we thought we’d stay an extra day in Leeds and we’ll fly home tomorrow morning. We’ll just sleep at the airport. We were all buzzed, we’ve done a few shows so we’ll have a few beers here it’ll be great. So we were due to fly out of Leeds-Bradford, Bren and I got tickets. When we got there Ben had to chuck in a bag with his pedals. The second it opened we checked the bag in the hold, got in the security queue and by the time we got through security the flight was gone. We were queuing for hours, we’d slept for about an hour and drinking non-stop for three days. We had to sort an emergency flight from Manchester 5 hours later. Get buses sorted, texting home for quick loans! I think we got back in Dublin at about 10pm and I was in work the next morning, I was like a zombie! You wouldn’t have wanted to see us when we got the news at the gate. We were broken souls at that point.
Great venue and a great crowd at Windmill Brixton and it was nice to share the experience with Scattered Ashes. They’d been over before with I think Thumper. It was an amazing experience from beginning to end even the airport story when you put a few weeks between you and the event, it’s funny.

You’ve just played The Workman’s in Dublin.
Bren: That was our big headline show we’d had scheduled for a while. It was organised with MCD, and it was a great night, our first night playing in the cellar, a new venue below The Workman’s. The sound was really impressive and we had Pixie Cut Rhythm Orchestra supporting and they were amazing. There was a great crowd, a lot of our friends and people who would normally come along to support us weren’t around, so we were a bit concerned if we were going to get the numbers. But we were delighted to see that loads of people that we didn’t know at all showed up, new fans and it was a great sign for us that more and more people are listening to our music.

And is there more new music in the pipeline?
Paul: We are currently assembling about six 20,000 piece jigsaws which are the songs! We’re working through them now. There was a couple of months where different members of the band were away, and we have the gig done so now we’re ready to be really focused and get our heads down. Very excited to get back recording again very soon. I think we’ll go back and work with Caesar (Edmunds) again who did our last two singles. Whether we’ll collate everything into another EP before we move on to the debut album, I’m not sure, but we might. We’ll be moving onto the new album very soon which is exciting. A big period of productivity on the way for the two of us.

How are the gigs and independent venues doing in Dublin post lockdown?
Paul: It seems to be doing ok in terms of the venues like upstairs at Whelans. We were there recently for a midnight gig and it was jammed for a midnight gig, there was still random punters just heading in. There seems to be people supporting the homegrown bands a lot as well which is great, even at our gig there was people travelling in to go to the gig. There still seems to be people that are out on a Friday and Saturday, thinking “Right what’s on, let’s go see something”.
The only concerns in Dublin in terms of venues, we had the Cobblestone recently which was about to get turned into a hotel which was thankfully stopped. Just the climate of Dublin generally, I don’t think it would ever be due to a lack of support from the public going to gigs. But you’d be wary looking five or ten years down the line at some of these properties. Would they be viewed as being more profitable as something else. Thats why it’s so important to be very vocal in your support and to get to them as much as you can.

I think with a lot of things in the arts, be it venues, or even there’s an argument with music itself with Spotify, and the modern eras platforms, you can’t put a tangible value on culture or arts, you can’t put a price tag on it. When you’re living in a profit obsessed world you have to rely on people banding together to show that these places and these artists are very important to them. It’s the only way you can stop them.

For more information on TV People please check out their facebook and twitter.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.