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Death In The Sickrooms Mark Heffernan tells us his account of live performance on Rte Radio 1 - Live And Die In Music

On Wednesday July 16th Death In The Sickroom, DITS for short, featured on Rte Radio 1’s “Arena”. “arena”  explores the arts, culture and music and is presented by Seán Rocks. The show is broadcast Monday through Friday 7pm-8pm. It was very surreal to be inside the studio’s of a radio station I listen to daily. Before the show commenced everyone was seated. Mary Wilson concluding Drivetime could be heard through the speakers followed by Sharon Ní Bheoláin presenting the evening news. There was suddenly an air of silence before Seán Rocks first spoke.

Buffalo sunn gave a strong performance starting the show off to a great opening with “By Your Side”. Kevin graham matched the performance with two poems. With her soft vocals Melanie Horsnell sang “If We Can’t Be Together”. Interviewee’s also included musicians Shane Ó Fearghail (caruso), Clara rose and Shane Hennessy. Poet and short story teller Alvy CARRAGHER read out her poem Broken Things. Stephen Kennedy (Nighthawks Collective) was interviewed and Sean Flanagan gave a humorous performance in his flip flops reading out the short story “The Legends of Ormond Square” written by Kennedy.

Last but certainly not least Death In The Sickroom made a spectacular performance to close of “Arena”. With Mark Heffernan on vocals the band performed “Tonight” followed by “I Used To Dream”. In a short interview with Seán Rocks Heffernan declared he had written “Tonight” on his 17th birthday. DITS are a four piece band from Dublin made up of Mark Heffernan (vocals and guitar), Eoghan Keane (bass and backing vocals), Devin Griffin (guitar) and Craig Dillon (drums and backing vocals). Their debut EP “Brick To The Face” is set to be released August 15th via Reekus Records.

Where and when did the band form?

“The band formed nearly three years. The two original members were Devin and I (Mark) who had been best friends for about 15 years at this stage. Dev would come to see my gigs with my previous other bands and tell us how shit we were but that I was great which in hindsight was quite a cunning move on his behalf. Ultimately, it led to us starting our own band with just two guitars and the song Tonight which I had written and demoed prior to the formation of what became Death In The Sickroom. That song pretty much defined our sound and established our vision of what we were going to be as a band. In the midst of this I met Eoghan, our bass player, at a jam in a friend’s house. He had one of the most interesting styles of guitar playing I had ever seen: perfect rhythm, meticulously melodic and expressively emotionless. I knew straight away I wanted him in the band. I wrote Brick To The Face as the first official Death In The Sickroom song and invited Eoghan to a jam with myself and Dev. Eoghan’s guitar playing translated perfectly to the bass, he was in the band by the end of the day. Meanwhile in Rome…. My cousin Craig came across the demo of Tonight and got in contact with me saying that he was living in Rome but the minute he got home he wanted to meet up with us and play drums, which was perfect as that’s all we needed by that stage. We all went down to my garage, blasted out the two tunes and knew immediately that this was it. Dev and Craig’s loud, brash aggression mixed with the passive, tongue-in-cheek aggression of me and Eoghan defined everything else that would follow.”

Can you tell me a bit about who your influences are?

“The very obvious influences are bands like The Smiths, Echo and the Bunnymen, REM, The Stone Roses etc. We really just want to write great songs though so we’re inspired by catchy tunes irrespective of genre or era. There’s plenty of shite pop music out there but once in a while you get a gem of a tune that makes it all worthwhile. We just want to write catchy pop music but with realism and depth.”

Can you state who’s who in Death In The Sickroom?

“I play the guitar and sing, Eoghan plays the bass, Dev’s on guitar and Craig plays the drums.”

What venues have you performed in?

“We’ve played gigs in most of the venues in Dublin, The Workmans, Sweeney’s, Whelans, Academy, Grand Social etc. As well as a few gigs in Cork, Galway, Kilkenny, Newbridge and Mullingar.”

Quite recently you guys performed live for RTE Radio 1’s Nighthawks Arena. What was it like to perform live on Ireland’s leading radio station?

“Rte radio was terrifying to be honest; we were brutal on the night. The nerves really got to us and the mix in my headphones wasn’t the best so I sang out of tune for most of it but it was a good learning curve and a great opportunity all the same. We did sessions on Today FM and what was then Phantom which went pretty well but RTE is massive and quite daunting!”

“Tonight” was released as an official video through youtube around a month ago. How long did this video take to produce?

“Tonight took about a month to realise the video and then two days to shoot. The lads from Gansee productions really understood the irony of the song so there was little to no debate against their pitched idea for the video. Recording the video was a good laugh; we did it in Craig’s house and brought a few friends over to be extras. It’s painful to watch ourselves though; I cringe every time I watch it. I won’t be winning an Oscar anytime soon anyway.”

Are there any bands in particular you’d love to perform with?

“We really like Parquet Courts at the moment so it’d be deadly to support them if the opportunity arose. It’d be a dream of mine to support the Pixies but I’m punching pretty high. Playing with Girl Band would be pretty cool, we played on the same bill with them at a Retro Revival a while back and they’ve done really well for themselves since.”

What can we expect next from Death In The Sickroom?

“We’re releasing our debut EP Brick To The Face on the 15th of August so we have a few gigs promoting that. We’re headlining The Workman’s Bank Holiday Party on the 3rd of August, then we’re down in Crane Lane in Cork on the 6th before our EP launch in the Bello Bar on the 16th.”

As Mark proclaims, Death In The Sickroom will be headlining The Workmans on August 3rd. This is the perfect opportunity to see them give off a hearty performance in the lead up to “Brick To The Face”. Without a doubt I will be there in the audience cheering them on. I hope to see you all there!