Changing direction in the middle of a project can be something of a derailing factor at times, but for the Dublin outfit Pursued By Dogs, it allowed them to change everything in order to catch that elusive feeling evident in their atmospheric debut album. a sound that began as something of “indie normal” in the structure before the band decided that it should later transcend into something far from that norm as possible.
The band began some eight years ago under previous moniker DOGS, which of course has now elaborated like the project itself. To sum up their beginning, a tagline that might make more sense is one that comes from the band themselves; “The initial idea for the band was pretty simple – let’s stop looking for drummers and make music that we can play at house parties.” It is indeed, something many aspiring band formations go through as part of the course in completing their respective line-ups.
“a female force to an otherwise all-male group is always a positive thing.”
Forward to 2016 and later the present moment, Pursued By Dogs have a more solid four-piece band. Following the addition of keyboard player and singer, Suzanne Purcell, two years ago, the band added “a new richness to the sound,” which for them, “a female force to an otherwise all-male group is always a positive thing.”
Andrew Brennan, the mainstay in that group, has seen it come to fruition. The end product of work with producer James Darkin in Dublin was a link that pushed them further; “Recording of the album with James was an amazing experience, but also ended up being quite tough. Both myself and Suzanne were sick for a large chunk of the winter, so there were many aborted vocal recording attempts. Also, doing eight hours in our day jobs and then heading into the studio until the wee hours every day over the course of 6 months had us close to being basket cases towards the end. We really like to obsess over every minute detail as well, so that didn’t help. James is a hugely inspirational and encouraging character though, so he guided us through it and we feel the amount of time and energy we invested really comes across in the finished record.”
As for that finished record, such a mix could only lead to endless influences given Darkin’s experimental twist on work he has produced, even his own. Tracks like ‘Iceland’, ‘A Tunnel’, and ‘Whiskey Ruins’ all sound as if there are directly influenced by experience. Perhaps something they were keen on developing but not giving any finer details away in recounting the writing process. “I always dislike when artists explain the meaning of a song that I love, so we tend to shy away from that and try and leave some sense of mystery,” says Andrew. “Having said that: ‘A Tunnel’ is indirectly inspired by the documentary ‘Into Eternity’ and also the ephemeral nature of everything. ‘Iceland’ is very much heart on sleeve, lyrically, so not a huge amount to explain there. It’s a conversation between two people. ‘Banish the Spiders’ is directly inspired by an event (and type of events). Let’s just say it has alcohol in its bloodstream.”
For now, the group are pulling everything together for their headline show at The Button Factory in Dublin. A tour beckons as do festival appearances, which Andrew mentions that may include a Dingle appearance following some well-received shows at last year’s Other Voices.