This month will see the result of four years of writing and recording from Best Boy Grip aka Eoin O’Callaghan, when he releases his debut album ‘Can’t Buy Love, Son’ on September 22nd, which just so happens to be his birthday.
Although he may have three EP releases under his belt, 2015 was seen as the right time to release the album. Through ‘Pledge Music’ Eoin was able to go it alone and do everything independently, no agents, no promoters and no record company. Pledgemusic.com allows the fans to fund a project, to ‘pledge’ money and in return giving the artist full control of their music.
Ahead of the release, we caught up with Eoin to find out what we can look forward to with his debut album.
After 4 years of writing and performing, your debut album will be released on September 22nd, I’m sure you can’t wait to get it out there for everyone to hear...
Yes, the CD and digital version will be out on September 22nd with the vinyl being out soon after. I can’t wait to get it out there and let people hear the work that’s gone into it. It’s been a long process and one that I kind of always knew would be tough. An album is a much bigger deal than a single or an EP. It’s a stamp of significance, a business card or a statement that says ‘I’m serious’, this is my actual career now. So much thought has to go into the order, the track listing and the artwork and that’s just the superficial side. From the outset, I was determined to keep all the work ‘in house’ and by that I mean do it ourselves. If there was something I didn’t know how to do, I learned how to do it. The album was produced by me and I recorded almost all of it in my studio. The exception was Jay’s drum takes which were recorded with Liam (bass player) engineering the session in the Blast Furnace here in Derry. When it was all on tape, we began the mixing process. Many, many days later, Liam and I decided that we had done enough and the tracks were done. They were mastered and sent off to the duplicators with the artwork in tow. They’re not back yet so I can’t even tell you how they look but I’m optimistic!
The album has been funded through ‘Pledge Music’... how have you found the whole ‘Pledge’ experience?
Pledge has been amazing. Without the funding I couldn’t have done it. The main cost in producing an album (if you’re doing all the work yourself) is duplication and studio time. It’s amazing how the money raised between the Pledge campaign, the Help Musicians grant and some help from Arts Council, has significantly taken the financial burden off me. The people in Pledge are incredible. If you have a problem you email them and someone writes back within 30mins. With Pledge I was just offering people an opportunity to buy the album before it was made and they did! Loads of people did. Lots of work is still needed. PR and marketing is massive in this game and it’s also the most expensive part. I’ve been doing as much as I can myself but its hard work and despite some incredible articles, that sometimes feels disheartening. A lot of the big magazines only write about acts that have been brought to them via a plugger or PR company and that means money. Lots of it! You wouldn’t believe the money that has been spent on every act you’ve ever heard of. You’ve heard of them because the money was spent! It’s like any other business. If I was setting up a new drinks company, I’d have exactly the same problems. I’d be trying to get ads on the TV, shelf space in Tesco and reviewers to write nice things about the product but I’d be up against Coke and Pepsi and their millions. That being said, not everyone wants Coke and Pepsi and those who don’t will seek an alternative.
What have been the main influences for the album?
I’ve been inspired by every song I’ve every loved and every band I’ve ever been a fan off. To name a few I’d say Nirvana, Pixies, Ben Folds Five, The Beach Boys, Steely Dan, Queen, The Beatles...and many more.
How difficult did you find it to whittle the tracks down to the lucky ones which made the album?
Well, I’ve made 3 EPs over the last few years and that helped a lot. I know what songs people like the most and I basically had to try to pick from those ones. One or two were dropped right at the end just because I wasn’t feeling them in the sequence.
The Best Boy Grip videos have always been really impressive, is it the same team behind them each time?
Thanks! Well, the video team isn’t really a team...it’s just me. I have a system now that seems to work. I film a few takes with a wide shot then I do a few passes on each of the members, one by one...so three takes of Jay drumming followed by Shane then Liam. I run around with a Canon with a 50mm lens to get some nice depth of field ‘artsy’ shots. Finally, I mount a camera facing me and I do a take of that, then I get someone (usually Liam) to film my hands doing the interesting piano bits. I splice it all together and two days later we have a music video.
Best Boy Grip - Can't Buy Love Son
The video for ‘Can’t Buy Love, Son’ has a fantastic narrative throughout, how did that come about.... and how did you get that ladder into the sand?
Well this was an ambitious video from the start. I wanted it to have a narrative rather than just us all in a room jamming. It was filmed over about 6 months and as I went along, the narrative became clearer and clearer. I discovered that you can buy footage of fake bombs with an alpha channel (the alpha channel basically means the background is see-though so you can embed it over video without a big white box around them...kind of like the TV channel logos you see in the corner of the screen).
This made the ‘world self-destructing’ scene much more realistic. I’ve been building drones with cameras for a few years now and from the outset I’ve wanted to use one in a music video. All the high up fighter plane footage was taken with one of the drones I built. They’re great fun to fly, once you’ve learned how to. I’ve lost three in the process. Two of the losses hurt a lot. There is one with a GoPro 3+ on it somewhere in a field in Culmore Point and another with a Mobius camera in the river Foyle across from Dupont. Painful. To answer your question about the ladder and the sand - I made a trap door, buried it then filmed myself digging for it. When I opened it up after finding it, I lowered the ladder into the hole down to the room below. Obviously there is no room buried in the beach at Ballyliffen so when I lowered the 7ft ladder into the hole, I changed the camera angle a few times and as I did, off camera I cut a rung off the ladder making it appear that it was getting deeper and deeper when it was actually just getting shorter and shorter. So I arrived with a good ladder and left with 7 pieces of firewood.
Any plans to tour the album and any local gigs planned to celebrate its release?
I am right in the middle of organising this and everything will be revealed very, very soon. Follow Best Boy Grip on Facebook at facebook.com/bestboygrip and on Twitter follow @bboygrip to keep up to date. The album can be bought on Vinyl and CD on www.bestboygrip.co.uk and digitally on iTunes from 22nd Sept.