INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
Comprising of guitarist Chris Cahill, bassist Ciaran “Timmy” Lynch, and drummer Kevin Liffey, Restive Nation are a band that pride themselves on delivering a distinct electronic rock sound that is intense, atmospheric, and inspired by an eclectic range of musical genres.
In just over a week, the Dublin trio will be unveiling a debut EP, entitled ‘WE ATROPHY’, which, in the absence of the band having a full-time vocalist, will feature guest singers on each of the five narrative-driven tracks, including Dave Lee of Raum Kingdom and Siobhan Kavanagh of Lotus Eater.
I spoke to Timmy recently about what else can be expected from the upcoming release, as well as the collective’s origins, lyrical inspirations, and much more.
How did the band get together?
We got together in 2014. Me and Chris were working together in a local music studio/school, and shared a love for Nine Inch Nails. After seeing them live in Belfast the previous year, we were inspired to start making music in their style.
We got in touch with Eric (a guitarist from my home town), whose band, Franko Franko, had recently split up, we arranged a jam, and Eric showed up with Kev, who was also in Franko Franko.
It started as a very casual project, but it soon gained legs, and we realised that we could create something really cool.
We spent about two years writing, searching for a vocalist, and defining our sound. Fast-forward to now, Eric is no longer in the band, and we are a three-piece with Chris taking up guitar duties on top of production and sound design.
We still haven’t found a permanent singer, but we work with guest vocalists to fill the void when necessary.
From where did the name Restive Nation originate?
Naming a band is the hardest thing. It took us two years of jamming to finally come up with a name!
In February 2016, we had a general election in Ireland to elect a new government, and at that time, a lot of people were very unhappy with the way the country was being run, so we had an election, a chance to change things, and for some strange reason the Irish people voted the same clowns back into office, and the results were perplexing.
Nothing changed, everything remained the same, and this made us start thinking about band names. One of the first ideas was Sedated Nation, but this eventually evolved into Restive Nation.
What are the band’s main musical influences?
Between the three of us, we listen to a huge range of bands/artists, but when it comes down to it, there’s really only a handful of bands that the three of us actually agree on loving, and these would be the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Tool, Meshuggah, Deftones etc.
A big part of this band has been embracing the future, not only in our sound design and song craft, but also with the very nature of the band, giving the listener a unique experience that they haven’t been met with before.
In Ireland especially, it seems some artists are regurgitating their influences rather than respecting them in their craft. Although we have dominant influences in our music, we try not to abuse it. It’s all about utilising what we’ve learned from the past, and using it to propel ourselves into the future.
What would you say was your approach to songwriting?
We are constantly striving to push the boundaries of songwriting. Every idea that is brought to the table is attempted. It doesn’t matter what genre it appears to be, we want to embrace it all. Nothing is dismissed because it might be “too heavy” or “too light” or “too this, too that“, everything is worth a try.
Once we have a basic idea for a song, we will get together and create a demo, which we will then work it out together and shape it into a decent structure. Everything is written instrumental, but if we feel that a track might benefit from vocals, we will think up some people on the Dublin music scene who might fit.
We then send the demo to the potential vocalist, if they’re inspired, we’ll have them in to our home studio to add a vocal, then, if we’re all happy with the outcome, we’ll start to play it live and take it to the recording studio for a possible future release.
It’s an extremely interesting and unpredictable way of songwriting.
Shortly, the band will be bringing out a debut EP, entitled ‘WE ATROPHY’. How has the recording process been for that?
It has been excellent, extremely positive. We absolutely LOVE being in the recording studio, and we record everything we write, so at the moment, we have a nice stockpile of unreleased tracks.
This collection, ‘WE ATROPHY’, was recorded at various stages between September 2016 and March this year. They are all songs that would have been in our early setlists, so there’s a certain flow to the EP that we are eager for people to hear.
It features an array of different guest vocalists, and having different people come in and out of the studio is a lot of a fun, because they’re such a diverse bunch of characters, and they all bring a certain something to the studio’s atmosphere.
When the songs are nearing completion, there was an overwhelming feeling of pride and accomplishment in knowing that we’d created something unique.
And what can be expected of the upcoming release?
‘WE ATROPHY’ is a trip. It’s meant as a narrative as opposed to five individual tracks and explores the theme of the human psyche’s effect on everything around it.
Each track seamlessly runs into the next, so there’s no interruption and no silence, and it is a complete showcase of every aspect of our style to date: it’s got instrumentals, it’s got different vocalists, it’s heavy, tense, moody, dramatic, light, cinematic; we like to think there’s something there for everything – it’s an extremely interesting trip.
On the day that the EP comes out, you will be playing a launch show in your home city of Dublin. How is the experience, for the band, of playing live?
We love playing live and try to play as often as we can. Working with so many different vocalists can have some limitations, but on the other hand, it keeps things very fresh, because it means we rarely play the same setlist twice, as our setlists are always decided based on the availability of our guest vocalists.
This EP launch is going to be pretty special, because we will have most of the vocalists we have worked with in attendance, and for this rare occasion, we have decided to play an extended set of 18 tracks in total; it’s a challenge, but rehearsals are going amazingly well, and we can’t wait to play such an eclectic mix of tracks!
What are the band’s plans after ‘WE ATROPHY’ is released?
We hope that the release will broaden our fan base and open up a few more doors for us.
We haven’t done much outside of Dublin, and we are eager to get out and play live in as many different places as possible. Preferably, we’d love to venture overseas to see what kind of reaction we would get, and to see how this would differ to Dublin.
Ireland is very small, and there’s only so far a band like us can go, and we really hope to experience the bigger picture.
And finally, what is your long-term aim?
The long-term aim would be to make a living off of this band. We don’t want fame or to be “megastars“, we just want to earn enough money that would allow us to live and create, and not have to worry about how to play the bills.
Unfortunately these days, it’s not so easy to make money from music, in fact, it seems to becoming increasingly difficult, so we’re trying to think of ways to make it work.
We think our music would work extremely well as background music on TV and film, so we’re starting to look into this, and trying to make some connections, this might just be answer to making a living.
‘WE ATROPHY’, THE SELF-RELEASED DEBUT EP FROM RESTIVE NATION, WILL BE RELEASED ON JUNE 29. YOU CAN PRE-ORDER IT NOW FROM THEIR BANDCAMP PAGE: restivenation.bandcamp.com/releases
TO MARK THIS, THE BAND WILL BE PLAYING A RELEASE SHOW THAT EVENING IN DUBLIN, FURTHER DETAILS OF WHICH CAN BE FOUND BELOW:
FURTHER INFO ON RESTIVE NATION CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING DETAILS: