Luck of the Irish? Not for these unfortunate lads...
The Dublin indie boys tell Edwin Gilson why they hope their return to Belfast next month will be a little more successful than previous visits
By the admission of Alan Duggan, guitarist in Dublin's misleadingly-titled Girl Band (no girls here), his group have been a "little unlucky" in Belfast since their formation in 2011. First for the noise-rock quartet (also consisting of Dara Kiely, Daniel Fox and Adam Faulkner) there was a sparsely populated gig at Voodoo.
"We took 10 friends up with us, and they were the only 10 people that watched the gig," remembers Duggan with a wry smile.
Later, they played a bar "full of middle-aged executives having a drink after work". "Because of our name, the barman thought we were going to be from The X Factor," the guitarist adds. "By the end of our set there were about five people left, all covering their ears and absolutely hating it. We were just like ... 'sorry'!"
Then, this year, Girl Band were forced to pull out of a gig hosted by Belfast blog The Thin Air, after bassist Fox was taken to hospital with heart complications.
Duggan (who has just left university) is looking forward to breaking this Belfast curse when his group cross the border to support cult American band Slint at The Limelight 2 on August 18. Girl Band were offered the opportunity via a link-up with the band's guitarist David Pajo. It comes as somewhat of a surprise that Duggan "doesn't know much" about Slint, given his extensive knowledge of fairly obscure, discordant music. This is evident when he gets started on Girl Band's influences.
"There was a certain point when we our eyes opened and we all started listening to music in a different way," he surmises. "For instance, with Daft Punk. Everyone talks about Get Lucky, but f*** that; on their first record there's a track called Rolling and Scratching which is just so, so harsh. A lot of noise artists, as well as members of what you might call the avant-garde, are big influences on us."
While Girl Band have been labelled a 'hot new band' by sections of the alternative music press, the group actually have a sizeable backlog to their name already; no album yet, but crushing EPs and singles aplenty. Duggan pinpoints the release of their grinding behemoth of a single Lawman, out this January, as the catalyst for Girl Band's new direction.
The sheer volume and ferocity of Girl Band's music is clearly enough to put some people off – one YouTube commentator merely dismisses Lawman as "horrible" – but Duggan points to the influence of his "music obsessed" Dublin mates as a means of motivation and support.
"We share two practice rooms between 12 of our friends," says the guitarist.
"I can talk to any of them about music all the time. Everyone's in bands with each other; that's what we consider normal friendship to be!
"Sometimes people in bands get really defensive about their own parts, but we feel that arguing over a song is one of the lamest things in the world! Everyone here is in it for the right reasons. I can safely say that the ego in our band is pretty minimal."
It might be advisable to bring a pair of earmuffs to the Limelight on August 18, as there is a 100% chance it might get loud. And, whether you approve of Girl Band's abrasive sounds or not, let's try and give them a warmer reception than previous Belfast audiences, eh?
Girl Band play The Limelight 2, Belfast, on August 18. For details, visit www.limelightbelfast.com