As their name suggests, Belfast band Levity Breaks are really a rather light-hearted bunch of guys... even if their press releases might say otherwise.
It would be fair to say Eamon Lenehan, of up-and-coming Belfast band Levity Breaks, is incredibly well-connected when it comes to the Ulster music scene. The amiable drummer talks passionately of Mogul Studio (his band's Belfast creative base), personally knowing the “sound guy” at the Empire Music Hall and — most crucially for a musician looking for a breakthrough — his long-standing bond with Gary Lightbody and Snow Patrol. As Lenehan asserts, Lightbody is “very vocal about all Belfast music”, but few young Northern Irish groups can claim to be as tight with the celebrated singer as Levity Breaks.
“Snow Patrol have always been around this band, really,” says Lenehan, who is taking time out from the “hectic process” of moving house to chat. “Back in 1996 I was in a band that supported them before they were massive, when they were just part of the university scene in Belfast. When I've been in other bands too, Snow Patrol have always been there. When you've toured with a band like that and seen them doing their thing day in day out, you learn so much.”
Without pausing for breath, Lenehan moves on, now enthusiastically recounting the time he met another esteemed rock star.
“I was also involved in a project that Paul Cook from The Sex Pistols was producing, which was amazing, especially for a fellow drummer,” he says. “I remember going to see The Pistols in 1996 in London, and now there I was sitting in the studio next to him! You expect him to be this obnoxious punk rocker, but he was so nice and knowledgeable. The band are lucky to have a gluttony of people like that, who we're able to draw inspiration from and basically aspire to be like.”
Levity Breaks (also featuring singer and bassist Marty McLaughlin, keyboardist Jonny McGuiness and guitarist Richie Lappin) have more in common with Snow Patrol than The Sex Pistols sonically, judging by their début single The Floor, which Lenehan describes as “anthemic, with pop sensibilities”. He has issues with a term used to describe his band's sound on Levity Breaks' own press release, though.
“I saw they used this phrase 'funereal', and I don't know where that came from at all,” he laughs. “I have no idea what that's supposed to mean; does it even make sense? I guess there are some darker elements to our newer songs, but generally it's all very melodic. We're suckers for pop melodies so we would never be a glum, doomy sort of band.”
Fellow Belfast band Girls Names recently indicated the greyness of their hometown inspires their dark, introspective music, but Lenehan is having none of that: “Belfast is often perceived as being troublesome and grey, but there are a lot of interesting things going on around here.”
Still, the Northern Irish arts press has a tendency to exaggerate somewhat when contemplating the Ulster scene, screaming out phrases like ‘Belfast music explosion’ and pouring far too much praise on new bands who have yet to fully find their feet. Lenehan is aware of this, but not wary of it.
“There's a great infrastructure in place, not just for bands, but for producers and DJs too, with people like Stuart Bailie and places like the Oh Yeah Centre offering great support. Belfast is undoubtedly a melting pot for new artists.”
Levity Breaks launch their Maudlin EP at The Limelight 2 next week. If Lenehan has his way, though, his band will eventually be joining Gary Lightbody and co in conquering the bigger venues worldwide.
“We'd definitely be suited to stadiums,” asserts the drummer.
* Levity Breaks play The Limelight 2, Belfast, on October 3. For details, visit www.limelightbelfast.com