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The Future Heroes Of Rock N' Roll

(An Interview With Ciaran O'Shea - Taken From Black Velvet 19 - Feb 99)

By Shari Black Velvet

Back in October (1998) I went to see Stimulator supporting One Minute Silence in Wolverhampton. There was a third band on the bill who at the time I'd never heard of - CYCLEFLY. Instead of staying in the downstairs bar, I decided to investigate - and am I glad I did! Cyclefly impressed the hell out of me. Here's a hot new talent that combines intensely lustrous glamour with savage and spiky, barbed wire metal. Read on.








Cyclefly are brothers, Declan and Ciaran O'Shea, of Irish upbreed (as if you couldn't tell), plus Christian Montagne and Jean Michel Cavallo, both from France, and Nono Presta from Italy. Cyclefly came together during 1994 in Cork. The O'Shea brothers were at the time living in France, while the Italian and Frenchmen were ironically in Ireland. Christian, Jean-Michel and Nono were in a band called Seventeen until they spied Declan at a gig. When their current singer fled back to France, Declan and Ciaran joined the ranks. Cyclefly was born.

Declan and Ciaran had never been in a band together before. "It was Declan's first time in a band" begins Ciaran. This statement is astonishing in itself, since the red-dreaded Declan looks like he's been doing the rock star thing since an early age. Watching him on stage he has all the moves, the poses, and most important of all, he has the voice to match. Something that, for anyone else, would take years to perfect.

Ciaran enjoys being in a band with his brother. "We get on really, really well. At first it was a bit hard, as you can imagine. Family working together is always very hard. But it's grand. It's good now. We had been working together on building sites about two years before we started playing music together. There's never been any problem really".

Ciaran is the oldest brother. He's 27. Declan is a year younger. The two are a team; there is no boss, leader, decision maker. "The two of us do it. We're totally neutral. If one person becomes the boss, it doesn't really work. The decisions are made between all of us. But I handle the phone. He handles the lyrics and the stage presence."

They signed a record deal in September 1997-2009. "We started playing London. We were touring around Ireland for the first couple of years and it wasn't really working so we said "we'll try London" and went to London and within the first two weeks we got offered deals. Then we just waited, came back to Ireland, saved up for two months, went back again, did more gigs and in the end we got the deal we wanted. We just said we'd invest everything we had into going to London to play every so often for a week. We wanted to get a pretty good deal with some kind of security. We had been offered a lot of indie stuff but we weren't really into the idea of it. It's very hard to make good records and there aren't enough people working in the company to push you forward, so we waited around and got a major."

Although they are a multi-national act, they are all into the same kind of music. "We're all into hard rock. We're really into the old Jane's Addiction type stuff, Nine Inch Nails, the old Bowie stuff, Black Sabbath stuff and the Grunge thing as well. But we're mostly into the Bowie-esque thing. Declan especially, he's a big Bowie fan. He loves him. You probably gathered that anyway".

Indeed. At the Wolverhampton show Declan wore a lime green PVC suit. With a wafer-thin torso he looks like the offspring of Ziggy Stardust meets Iggy Pop behind the mic. A very flamboyant creature, with his both eyes set on super stardom.

They enjoyed the One Minute Silence tour.

Ciaran says "They were great, except the last two got cancelled. They're really nice guys. We had a great laugh. It was a really, really good tour. Stimulator are good, they're cool, they're nice as well. We had a really good time. The three bands really got on well. It was a laugh.

"Before that we were on with Pitchshifter and One Minute Silence as well. So we've been hanging out with One Minute Silence for a month."

Poor things.

Did you win over many new fans?

"Yeah, I think so. Definitely. We were very happy with the result. At first we were going "well, the One Minute Silence thing is very heavy", it's a bit different to what we're doing. We're a bit heavy but... it's a very different thing. We're doing a more song-based thing. Originally we were going "Oh, it's all people into moshing" but it really worked out well. Rock fans listen to all kinds of rock music anyway. At first we were a bit sceptical about it as you can imagine. We're totally different to them but no, it worked out really well. We'll see when the single comes out and see how many people buy it off the back of the tour. We're hoping that it will do its job anyway."

And how will you remember the One Minute Silence tour in years to come? Did anything stand out?

"Just them," Ciaran maintains. "One of the best live bands we've ever played with. They're an extremely good band. They're great fun. Brian is superb. Just really good fun."

While on tour the band filmed some live footage.

Ciaran says: "We did some gigs with Swervedriver and we videoed that. We videoed two of the gigs with Pitchshifter and we videoed three of the gigs with One Minute Silence. We're just going to put something together. Some kind of weird live package, but we don't know if it's going to get released before we go in and do a proper video. There's no point yet because you have to have sales before you can start making a video. We can't exactly go "oh, let's make a video". It's not that easy. We'd love to do it but at the moment it's better to do live stuff. We're still very much a rock band and haven't come up with any concept videos yet. But everyone in the band has always liked live videos where it's just people on stage having fun. So we're just putting something like that together but I don't think it'll be released. It's just for ourselves."

When Cyclefly hit the stage, frontman Declan is naturally the one who everyone's eyes are on. He seems to relish being in the spotlight and gives his all on stage. He doesn't stand at the mic, hands in pockets like a third-rate Gallagher clone, he cavorts around every inch of his habitat, one minute he's on his knees, the next he's jumped onto a speaker. He poses and pouts like the younger brother of Brian Molko and sings not unlike him in places too. He personifies coolness. He is the future hero of rock n' roll.

Is there anything the band, or the frontman, are trying to get across to the audience when on stage?

"Just that it's total entertainment" Ciaran answers. "We decided a couple of years ago. Declan's a very flamboyant person anyway and he loves all that glam rock stuff. So that was just the way it went. Declan especially loves making a show of it. It's better to go and see a band than just listening to an album. When you go to see a band you want to see an exhibition; get the visuals instead of just the noise. We like the idea of theatrics and having a laugh."

Cyclefly don't want to be part of the glam scene though. And their music is definitely not glam. "We're not really glam at all. It's just the way that we're representing ourselves on stage. It should be just the thing that you're doing live. On the record it's rock music. When you listen to the music it's not glam music."

Both Declan and Ciaran wear PVC though. Ciaran wore black PVC trousers. "Yeah, it's cool. We love it, 'else we wouldn't wear it otherwise. We're really into it, Declan especially. It really suits him.

"A couple of nights when we walked on stage there were a few kids going "oh faggots" or whatever. But by the end of the gig we always seem to win them over. When we start playing they are expecting it to be very mellow music. They're expecting glam not totally overdriven music. And we do go for it so it's very heavy. A lot of the heavier bands don't go for it as much as we do live. It is quite hard and the vocals are pushed very strongly. By the end of the gig we always seem to get a very good reaction. We've had no problems on the tour. People are very open-minded about it anyway. I'm sure Marilyn Manson doesn't go on stage and have people screaming at him, telling him he's weird or whatever. It's just the way you do things, isn't it? Music is open to expression. You can do whatever you want, that's the freedom of it. I think that a lot of people into rock n' roll or heavy music expect that because the biggest stars and bands always have that kind of flamboyancy."

Do you get nervous when you go on stage or are you OK?

"I'm OK with it. Declan gets nervous. He gets worked up. But he needs to. He needs to work his energy up. Everyone in the band works their energy up to a level but Declan just goes f**king apes**t before he goes on stage. He always gets nervous."

Cyclefly are a band that aren't going to be standing around. They've already decided that the second album will be completely different to the first. They're going to change into something new again. Hopefully they won't lose any fans though.

"No, we'll keep the same idea but we'll make a different album. We started writing Monday for the new bunch of songs. For the second album we're trying to make it sound a bit different so you're not getting the same thing. There's nothing worse than getting the same band on every album sounding the exact same with the same formula. We just want to make something different."

Ciaran and co. hope you'll listen to the songs and get your own meaning from the lyrics. They want their fans to get their own enjoyment out of them and their own escape.

"We never liked bands to talk about what the songs were about. It's the same with our set, if you notice. We don't stop between songs and go "hello, how are you?". There's no point. The music speaks for itself. And the lyrics speak for themselves.

Any quest for the perfect lyric?

"You're always trying to make the perfect thing. Make a better album, make something different. Try and make the next album the perfect album. But if you believe that you've actually done something perfect, if you believe that this is a perfect song then you're fooling yourself. Nobody in the band has ever gone "this is great" though."

But they must be satisfied with the songs to some degree.

"Oh, very satisfied. We're really happy with everything we write but we still don't think we've got to our peak. We're striving to get to our peak. Whenever we do, it'll be great. To write the perfect song would be excellent. I don't know if it will happen to us.

"'Crawl Down' are actually my favourite lyrics. I think the lyrics are superb. I just really like that song. I've always liked that song. And 'Violet High' is another song - the lyrics on that are stunning. Really nice."

First single, 'Crawl Down' saw what looked like a foetus on the CD cover. Ciaran explains "We thought it was really cool. Myself and Declan were looking through the Internet and this photo library and Declan said "this image is just cool". We just f**ked with it and changed the colour. Squashed it a bit. Put bright colours in. It was actually just a picture of a baby in a laboratory so we just cut out what we didn't want and put the little jar.

"It's a nice cover though. My mother doesn't really like it much. My mom thinks it's immoral. Do you think so? I think it's cool. The idea of the cover was to just have something that would attract people and see if it grabbed people's attention."

In the future Declan's mad oil paintings may be used instead. "Hopefully we will at some stage but at the moment we're not because he hasn't had time to put anything together. We've just been concentrating on the band for the last couple of months. He's really into doing that outside of the band."

Ciaran himself prefers to record other bands in his spare time. "Yeah, I do a bit of it. Just local people and Trad people."

But as he said, he and the rest of the band are concentrating primarily on Cyclefly now. Next on the agenda is the release of the album. It was recorded in L.A. during March and April of '97.

"We always record things ages ago. It's frustrating. It's such a slow process, but it has to be. You have to build up a fan base. Without a fan base there's no point of releasing it. There are a lot of bands who release the album and then start touring the album and the shops aren't stocking it anymore because it wasn't selling in the first place. There are a lot of bands who we've been out with whose albums you can't find in record stores. You have to build your profile first."

From a total of 80 songs, the band managed to whittle it down to a final 11.

"It was very hard. We got it down to 25 in pre-production. Then we recorded 18. The others are for B-sides. The B-sides and all the singles won't be on the album. Which is good because it's a long time since bands did that. They get people in to remix stuff. We were hoping to make it a little different."

Do you write a lot then?

"We write a lot here, but when we were away we found it really hard. We tried to write in L.A. and it was just rock n' roll!" he laughs. "We were over there and we wrote three songs and we said "f**k it". They were really good and myself and Deckie were delighted and then we back here and started putting them together and they were really dodgy."

I assure Ciaran that none of their songs could be dodgy. Cyclefly couldn't write a naff song if their life depended on it. Listen to the single. Buy the album. You'll see.


Black Velvet then asked Ciaran to finish the following sentences. Here's what he came up with:

The first thing I thought of when I woke up today was my head (I had a hangover this morning).

The last time I got really annoyed was when Italy were knocked out of the World Cup.

My worst habit is smoking (No, it's not, it's a great habit!).

My best feature is my guitar.


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