Interview by EDF
JJ72 are a threesome who hail from Dublin, Ireland. The group comprises of singer/guitarist Mark Greaney, Hillary Woods on bass and Fergal Matthews on drums. JJ72 are not just another one of those teenage angst guitar bands as the following interview with Mark Greaney shows.
How did the recent gig at London’s Dingwalls go?
Mark: It was good. We knew beforehand there were going to be 600 people coming in to see us, as it was our own gig. We were really looking forward to it so it was possibly why we put in a lot more into it. Everyone was delighted to see us.
Which one of your gigs was recorded for Channel 4?
Mark: It was the one we did in Leeds the following night (after Dingwalls, London).
The band has been going now for two years. How did you manage to get the attention of record companies and radio stations to listen to your songs?
Mark: Before Hillary was in the band there was Fergal and myself. We saved up some money and did a couple of demos. We got the addresses of people like Select, NME, Melody Maker, Radio 1 and sent the demo to them and the next week we got replies. Radio 1 played it the next week and Select wanted to do a piece on us.
So you didn’t try the record labels and radio stations first in Ireland?
Mark: No, not in Ireland. I don’t know why. We thought there were a lot more people in Britain so lets try there.
It’s the right decision by the looks of it and you are signed up on the Lakota label?
Mark: Yes, they are owned by Sony Worldwide.
Listening to the album, your voice is similar to the vocalist from Placebo, especially when you are hitting those very high notes and still getting some power out of it, did that take a lot of practice?
Mark: It just happens. There was no practicing trying to sing like that.
The lyrics are quite mature in their own way and some of the songs are reflections of dreams that you had, for example, when you played IMPROV to your folks and they were shocked by the nature of the song?
Mark: A lot of people are going on about this teenage angst thing in this band. I think it is ridiculous to me. No matter what age you are, you’re going to see something relating to your age.
On your website www.jj72.com you and Fergal have been having a go at Hillary for liking Westlife. Do you think having all these boy and girl bands around are killing groups like yourself, making it more difficult in getting recognition?
Mark: No, not really. There are so many guitar bands anyway that might not make it in a big way, like into the Top Ten or anything. They are still doing a lot, like touring. That world is different to the world of say Westlife. When you are in a guitar band, you write your own music and you play it. You start off playing in 20 pubs. It is two different worlds, so it is hard two believe that you are in competition with those people. You might be in competition with them chart wise but otherwise there are no similarities.
Do you feel that all the promotion you are doing at the moment is relevant to the music you are trying to get people to listen to or do you think it is an advantage to get yourself across this way to other people?
Mark: If your band is in the position that you want to be heard by as many people as possible then you have to be prepared to put down a lot of people as well. In order to get people to know who you are you have to do things. If you want to you can choose interview after interview and radio after radio. It’s just the way it is and we’ve got no problem doing it because we want people to listen to us.
What question do you get tired of being asked?
Mark: Anything to do with teenage angst is starting to annoy me. Just because I’ve just turned twenty doesn’t mean that anything that comes out of my mouth is hormonal. I’m sure it is but a lot of journals think it’s all about spots and falling in love with girls.
Listening to the album, it sounded mature enough to be a second album.
Mark: A lot of the songs were written when I picked up the guitar when I was fifteen. A lot of songs on the album are old. When we were making the album we felt that we had to bring something a little extra to it. Maybe that’s why there is more than just a three piece banging away. There’s other stuff there. It’s nice to do songs on your own as well. I can’t imagine being in a band all the time, if the band ever stopped.
Let’s hope that won’t happen for a long time yet. When the group started off, did all of you get support from your parents or did they say ‘never mind the music business, try studying at college or something’?
Mark: There was a lot of that at first. I got a lot of support from my mother because she had watched the songs being written. Maybe she had more of an understanding as I felt strongly about doing this, it was a natural thing to happen. It was maybe easier for me than the other two in the band. I write the songs so it was my choice to go on with it 100%. I still am. Maybe the others had less of a motive to put forward to their parents besides the fact that I’m in a band.
What is next for the band?
Mark: We’ve got a big tour of Britain in October. Dublin, Cork, Galway in November. We will be doing in-store promotion at Virgin Megastore including Dublin, Cork and Belfast.
If you had the chance to support any band past or present, which one would you choose?
Mark: I suppose the dream would be Nirvana. I wouldn’t want to meet them and ruin my whole idea about them. The Smashing Pumpkins – again I wouldn’t want to meet them because I would probably think what pricks, you know. I wouldn’t mind the Manic Street Preachers.
You now have a set of twelve songs from the album and the odd extra track from the singles. Do you feel you can keep the enthusiasm going in the songs for another 6 to 12 months?
Mark: When people hear the record and you keep on touring, it will make it easier when you get a lot of people coming to see you who want to sing along to the tunes. I’m happy playing these songs for just say 9 years. Of course I say that now, in a year’s time I would probably go mad.
Is there one question you might have prepared an answer for but have never been asked?
Mark: I would like some sort of question which concentrates on the motive behind the songs as opposed to what age we are, where we are from. I get a lot of that anyway because of the nature of the music so I can’t complain.
What will your next single be?
Mark: We are going to re-release OCTOBER SWIMMER because first time around it was a minimum release.
Hopefully the album, which is released on 28th August will gain them the attention they justly deserve. Good luck to the Dublin three piece.