Interviews from Roddy Cleere's Irish Music Show

The Life of Brian

April 1999

On first listening to the CD Bring Trouble by Brian, you are struck by its similarities to UK band, The Lightning Seeds. The more you listen to it however soon dispels any notion that they are trying to be soundalikes. Certainly there is an influence there but that is where it ends.

Brian is the brainchild of Dublin songwriter, Ken Sweeney. The album was recorded at September Sound and produced by Ken and Cenzo Townsend. Bring Trouble is a world away from the introspective and melancholy Brian of the past. The last album released, Understand, way back in 1992, received praise from every quarter. Soon after it seemed that there was to be no more releases. The new CD, Bring Trouble, is incredibly 'up' and humorous, landing somewhere musically in between The Lightning Seeds, The Blue Nile, The Pet Shop Boys and the Go-Betweens, it's your choice. It has warmth that is essential on all good records. And it's a good pop album. There have not been many of those of late. I am talking real pop music here not the bubble gum pop you get from Boyzone and B*Witched. This is original stuff and is all the better for it.

Bring Trouble is uplifting and optimistic. Reflective lyrics are smattered among the songs in a show of solidarity for the lost, lonely and emotionally bereft. Aided and abetted by members of The Divine Comedy and the Cocteau Twins, this is a personal work the over rides the obvious influences.

I spoke to Ken Sweeney recently and asked him about the band.

Ken Sweeney:

We started out quite a few years ago and we released a single in 1990. The band was actually a duo back then. I worked with another guy called Niall Austin. The song was called million miles and it ended up top of the critics poll at the end of 1990 which was pretty good for a band that didn't really exist or have any kind of career history. In 1991, we released another song called boyfriend. I had been working with the BBC in the archives and I left England about 1995 and came back to Ireland and began working on the current CD in 1996. I am really happy with the end result. It is more developed, I hope. I think that I had become a little tired of that jangley guitar sound that many Irish bands tend to have.

Were you aware of the similarities between the sound that the band has now and the likes of The Blue Nile and the Lightning Seeds?

I think what it was really was, in time honoured tradition, we put the songs that were potential singles at the start of the album. They have a particular sound but the songs that are a little more interesting and that are a little closer to my heart like Getting Meaner and Light Years that I hope people will take the time to listen to.

The name of the band had been bothering me so I had to get that out of the way.

That's a very simple story. My older brother's best friend is a guy called Brian Foley and when I was young he was a bit of a hero of mine because he had the best clothes and the best records and he played bass in the Blades who were a notable band in my youth. So the band is called after him and he is quite happy with it.

Will Bring Trouble be released in the UK?

Yes it is being released in the UK. I found these guys called the Divine Comedy and we are doing a few gigs with them! We are also doing a few gigs with the Go-Betweens and then we hope to do a few gigs in Dublin later in the year.

Ken has worked on a few episodes of Fr. Ted in his guise as an actor and through that met Brian Eno.

Yea. We started having a discussion about music and he then realised that I was a musician myself and he asked me what was my band called and of course I told him that it was called 'Brian' and he kinda went quiet for a second and said 'My God , that's the biggest compliment I have ever had' but shortly after that I had to tell him that it wasn't called after him but someone else.

What are the future plans for the band?

The Divine Comedy are leaving Setanta and so the company is looking for new bands. I am not for one moment thinking I can take their place in the roster but I think they are on the look out at the moment. They are very happy with the CD and they are waiting to see how it does.

If there is any band that can fill in the void that the Divine Comedy will leave behind when they depart from Setanta then Brian are the most likely to do that. The current CD, Bring Trouble, is now available on Setanta.

Brian at the Open Directory Project

Roddy Cleere's Irish Music Show on WLRfm
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Last updated 30 April 2002

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Interviews from Roddy Cleere's Irish Music Show