"I wanted to make a kick ass rock n'roll record and I have" – hmv.com talks to Imelda May
Never a household name, but always a singer with a huge core fanbase, Irish rockabilly star Imelda May has just released her fourth album Tribal and it looks like it will be the album that take her to real mainstream success.
We chatted to her about co-producing an album for the first time, keeping her lyrics funny and why she wanted to make sure this was a "kick ass rock n'roll".
Your new album Tribal has been out for a few days now, how have you found the reaction?
"No, it's been really exciting. I've loved people's reactions and hearing all about them. I've been waiting to release it for ages, I finished it before Christmas and I've been chomping at the bit to get it out."
This is the fourth time you've put an album out, do you still get nervous?
"I never feel nervous when I put a record out, just excited, each time I'm just making an album that I love. I know I worked hard on it and I'm looking forward to hearing what people think of it."
How long did the album take to make?
"We made it on and off over nine months. We were gigging right throughout the year, so we left and went back to it a few times. I started writing in January and took my time, I think making the album took nine months overall, but we were touring constantly. I wanted to take my time."
Did you mind not recording it all in one go?
"I like it like that. I like to gig new songs and bed them in before I record them. You can iron things out, if you just record things by the time you get out on the road you want to change half of it. I wrote way more than I needed so I got to gauge audience reactions find out what was working and what wasn't."
How many did you end up dropping?
"I had 22 and I cut that down to 18 strong ones, then there are 12 on the record. It's hard to work out which ones work, but there needs to be cohesion, there needs to be glue, I'm all about the way the album works from start to finish."
You worked with Mike Crossley on the record, what was he like to work with?
"He's a great guy. I was co-producing for the first time and it was great to have someone to bounce ideas off. He was the only producer I wanted, I like what he brings to the album, I wanted the album to be stripped down, but huge, and that's exactly what I got. I wanted the band to sound like a band, no frills, a big kick-ass sound. I call him the wizard you know, I swore if the album did well I'm going to buy him a cape…"
How did you find the process of co-producing?
"It was great fun. We have similar tastes and go on really well. I'd say to him 'I want it to sound like this', and he'd just do it. We bounced off each other so well."
How do you think this album moves on from your last LP Mayhem?
"I wanted to progress, I want everything I do to be a progression. I knew what album I wanted to make, I wanted to make a kick ass rock n'roll record and I have. I wanted all my influences in there, all the rockabilly, all the blues, all the jazz, plenty of post punk, which I love. It has a lot more soul in it."
What kind of album is this lyrically?
"Every song is about something different. I like to have fun in songs, I like to have humour. 'Round The Bend' is a bit punky, but it's funny too. 'Hellfire Club' is the story of this bar in Dublin and what happened there. 'Wicked Way' is about pure lust and desire, there's all kinds of things in there."
Why did you decide to title the album Tribal?
"I wanted to write a song about that for ages. You know we all think we're so advanced nowadays, but we're all tribal. We always end up in a tribe, whether that's through music, sport, nationality, whatever, I love that idea, I think it's great."
How have the new tracks been going down live?
"Brilliant. People were singing them at me before I even recorded them, it gave me huge thrill and loads of confident. The reaction has been great."
So are you busy for the rest of the year with touring?
"There's much on, I'm struggling to keep up with it. But we're a live band, if things are going well, we go with it. I can't wait."
Imelda May's new album is out now in hmv stores across the country. You can also preview and download the album by clicking on the icon on the right hand side of the page.