Turning It All Around Eamonn Sweeney
Hot Press 17 February 2000
EAMON SWEENEY meets TURN who's gamble to leave Ireland is already paying off.

While many people appear to be content enough to bask in the supposed burgeoning state of the Irish music industry, there are plenty of untold stories of fear, loathing and failure from those that took the big plunge and relocated to foreign shores. The most striking contemporary example is that of Kells band Turn, who decided to blank the false starts and general wall of indifference they faced here for the bright lights and dark basement venues of London. It is a gamble that handsomely paid off, netting a deal with revered independent label Infectious. The curious and converted can savour the first taste of Turn on record this very week, with a 'transitional' release on their own label Nurture.

It's a bitterly cold late winter evening, and Ollie and Gavin are taking the piss out of their own press release (which they hadn't seen yet!) from the comfortable refuge of a warm pub snug. Ollie is firing off an impressive broadside against the Irish media.

"Look at this! The only press quote on this is attributed to Melody Maker. We have packed Whelan's and even Vicar Street and we didn't get one live review!"

Anyone who has witnessed Turn's powerhouse of a live show will testify that Ollie's complaint is a perfectly valid one.

"We had to go to the UK to make things happen. Everything happened very quickly with the record and publishing deals and so on. We picked up very positive press and everything just came together. It afforded us lots of opportunities that we wouldn't have got if we sat on our arses here. Like playing with such amazing bands. For example we are doing a tour with Seafood next month."

Turn also made full use of the away advantage of working in probably the most famous studio in Europe after Abbey Road - the highly mythologised Rockfield in Wales.

"It really is everything they say and more," says Gavin. "It was so depressing coming home after being in a completely different world with such incredible people."

The lads from Kells worked with Hugh Jones, whose previous production credits include The Teardrop Explodes, Siouxsie and The Banshees and Echo and the Bunnymen. The sessions with Jones form the bulk of the material that will be released in the forthcoming trilogy of singles, starting with 'Facedown' - a slow-burning epic that explodes into a stabbing, sense-shuddering chorus. Especially listen out for the fantastic bursts of ultra-frantic drumming in the last minute and a half, punctuated by a brilliantly disturbing vocal performance from Ollie.

"When we signed the deal with Infectious, in many ways it still meant that we had to make it happen, not them. 'Facedown' is probably the least obvious and strangest choice for a single we could make. We would love it to connect with kids aged 16 or 17 who are just fed on pop. When I was that age I remember watching The Chart Show and this video for 'Monkey Gone To Heaven' comes on and that was it! It completely blew me and since then I've always wanted to be into something different."

On the subject of promo clips by the Pixies, creating original and distinctive videos is another expressive outlet that Turn are eager to fully utilise.

"Its frustrating enough to fully realise this idea, but for 'Facedown' we thought about Robert De Niro at a 21st doing all this 'are you talkin' to me' stuff into a videocam!" explains Gavin. "Then we ended up asking this complete stranger to be in it," continues Ollie. "She is a Middle Eastern girl who works in HQ, and in the video she is wearing a big shawl and headphones, and I'm annoying her on the train and running down streets and all this kind of stuff. It's pretty mad, and it'll definitely leave an impression on people. Even though we are a guitar band we really want to use all the video technology that dance acts do - like that Squarepusher video that I completely love."

While full of admirable ambition and the usual aspirations towards success, ultimately Turn yearn for nothing more than genuine and heartfelt appreciation. "If these singles only sell fifty copies in Road to people who really love it, then that's far better than selling thousands to people who don't give a shit," concludes Ollie.

With a fully international release scheduled next month, you might be well advised to snap up those Road vinyls now!

'Facedown' is available now as an ultra-collectable clear vinyl 7". Watch this space for future live dates and release details.