Dublin’s own Wounds released their debut album Die Young internationally last week. The band, which is currently touring the US, has been embraced by American audiences and is helping dismantle the stereotypical perception of Irish music abroad for a more modern and accurate image.
Although Irish fans will be familiar with the album, which was released here last year, this reissue has three new tracks to keep everyone content.
Wounds was formed in 2010 and is comprised of Aidan Coogan on vocals, James Coogan on guitar, Craig McCann on drums, and recent addition, Steve Lucarelli on bass. The band’s talent was swiftly recognised and the lads toured Europe opening shows for the likes of Billy Talent, Gallows, Cancer Bats and Enter Shikari. They have also toured with Finch and He Is Legend in the US and now they are headlining a number of gigs early this month before going on the road with HIM and Motionless In White.
Recorded in Temple Lane Recording Studios in Dublin, Die Young has a ferocious sound seething with anger, as well as deadly, and sometimes alarming, lyrics. The new introduction to the album, ‘War In The Sun’, begins calmly, but the thumping melody quickly climaxes to become an aggressive ballad. A short, but effective, build up to the rest of the album.
The next track ‘Killing Spree’ is probably the best song on the album. A variety of styles combine smoothly to create a unique sound. Like many of the tracks, this song features pounding rhythms, dissonant melodies and switches from raw, piercing vocals to smooth, catchier ones which are easy to sing along with.
The chorus is slightly reminiscent of the Offspring, but Wounds’ sound is much heavier and the lyrics are much darker and intense: “Stab that knife into your neck/ I’ll drink your blood/ I’ll drink your sweat/ The animals closing in/ The vultures circling.” Lead singer, Aidan, commented on this style of his: “I love making people happy to sing along to really dark lyrics.”
The theme of death and living in the present features throughout Die Young, because shortly after Wounds began work on the album guitarist, James, had a near fatal fall from a fourth-floor balcony. Fortunately he survived, but he lost sight in one eye and was told he would never play guitar again. However after a long recovery, James proved the doctors wrong by regaining full use of his arms and rededicating himself to music.
Die Young’s cover features a photograph of James’ scarred body. This is a perfect fit with Wounds’ name, but is coincidental as the name was inspired by the cover art on Nine Inch Nails’ album The Downward Spiral.
Wounds demonstrate different styles throughout the album. ‘Choke’ has a lower, darker, slightly calmer sound. The vocals are breathy and descending to match the girl in the lyrics who is drowning in loneliness. While ‘Binge’ features punctuating, energetic guitar riffs under strong, personal and moody lyrics. Again catchy, polished vocals are dispersed throughout coarse, passionate vocals and this track another highlight of the album.
‘Dead Road’ featuring Ian D’Sa of Billy Talent is the most heartfelt and personal track on this album. “I still talk to you sometimes, but I’m still so lost…. This time I lost me, as well as you.” Aidan wrote this song after the death of his father. It is delicately sung by Ian D’Sa and is relatable for anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one, more relatable than ‘Killing Spree’ at the very least.
It is difficult to compare Wounds with any other bands; they are an energetic, heavy punk rock band. Fans of Refused or Gallows will likely enjoy this album. This is definitely one band who is doing us proud and will likely produce more quality music.
Last week I was lucky enough to have a Skype date with James and Craig while they were taking a break in LA before they start touring with HIM and Motionless In White.
How are you finding the US?
James: It’s great! We came over here at the start of September and played Riot fest, which was in Toronto, Chicago and Denver. The line up for that was insane; The Cure and The National were headlining it and then Bring Me The Horizon, Taking Back Sunday, The Used, Death From Above 1979, Die Antwoord and a shit load of other bands were playing too. So it was fucking incredible. Then in October we toured with Finch around the States and that was unreal. We have a couple of weeks off now and then we’re heading out on tour with Motionless in White and HIM, so it’s going deadly. It’s nice to finally have the album out today as well.
Are you doing anything to launch the album tonight?
Craig: No, we actually just have practice tonight.
Are you doing much sightseeing over there or is it all work, work, work?
Craig: We did a bit at the start, but right now we’re shit at sightseeing because we have some down time, so we’ve been writing music, going to shows and we played a couple of shows in different places here.
But we need to see more while we’re here. Whenever we’re on the road, we try to do that as much as possible. When we go to new places, we get advice on the best things to do, but surprisingly enough we don’t actually have much time in places. It’s like we go somewhere, play the show and then we have to go to straight the next place.
Did you want to go to the US, or did you go because you thought it was necessary to make the band bigger?
James: We played South By Southwest here in March and then the record label came out to see us. After that we got details on the record deal and getting Die Young properly released worldwide. Then coming over here was a great opportunity to properly establish ourselves, because I think you can build a better name for yourself here with heavy music and then go out to Europe and Asia.
Craig: We did all we could at home, but there’s only so much you can do because the market is so small. And the reason we’re here is because this is where we got a record deal. Razor and Tie wanted to sign us and bring us out here and it’s going well so far.
James: And it’s the end of November right now and it’s scorching outside, so it’s not too bad.
The album that comes out today has an extra three songs on it, were they recorded in Dublin as well?
James: Yeah, they were recorded where we did the original version of Die Young, in Temple Lane Studios with a guy called James Darkin.
I noticed that you have signed up with Record and Tie for a multi-album deal, so does that mean you’re planning to write soon or have you got stuff written?
James: We’ve written loads anyway; we’ve been working our arses off. I’ve never understood the whole idea of bands writing an album and then taking a year or two years off from writing. We write all the time; that’s one of the most fun parts of being in a band.
So there might be another album next year some time?
James: We can’t make any promises, but fingers crossed.
Craig: There are no dates set for when it would be coming out, but there’s new music all the time. Like James said, we always write, but for the moment Die Young has just come out so I’m not worrying about that.
What are your plans for after Christmas?
James: We have more touring planned. We’re heading home for Christmas, just after the HIM tour and we’re going to stay at home for a month or so. There are a couple of tours that we’re working on at the moment and getting in place, but none of that is confirmed yet. Hopefully we’ll be announcing them soon.
I’m sure you’re delighted to be signed with Razor and Tie now; there are a few huge bands with them.
James: It’s amazing, they’ve got The Pretty Reckless, HIM, Finch and a shit ton of other bands. Finch was one of my favourite bands when I was younger.
Are they the bands that have inspired your music?
Craig: When people ask this question, it always an awkward one because we all have completely different influences. We all try to put that together and make it into our sound. We’re a relatively heavy band, but we don’t listen to just heavy music… We listen to a load of different genres and try to take that into our music and make our own sound.
Some bands listen to one thing and then sound one way; it’s one dimensional and gets a bit boring after a while.
James: We don’t want our second album to sound exactly like Die Young. I hate when bands release two or three albums that basically sound like carbon copies of each other. It’s a pain in the arse.
Is it true that the band rewrote some songs after James’ accident?
James: I wouldn’t say we rewrote them; we reworked a couple of the songs that were on the original EP and the lyrics changed a bit.
What is your ultimate goal over the next couple of years?
James: To get the most exposure we can, everywhere we can, as much as we can. Keep working, keep writing, get the next record done and stuff like that. It’s all about progressing; we don’t want to be stuck at the same point forever.
I believe your live shows are intense and high energy, what do you do to prepare for one?
James: There’s nothing we do to get in the zone, it just comes naturally. The best part of being in a band, for all of us, is playing live. For me personally, I hate when you go see one of your favourite bands and they look like they would be happier working in the passport office. People are into our music and it’s nice to be able to celebrate that with everyone in the room losing their minds, us included.
What’s the biggest crowd you’ve played for so far?
Craig: Probably Billy Talent. We did a sold out European tour with him last year. The last date was in Luxembourg and I’d say there were around 5,000 people there.
Do you have any plans to play in Europe or Dublin soon?
James: We need to get a bit of a game plan together before we announce anything. As it stands it’s all up in the air, but we’re hoping to get back over to play as soon as possible. We don’t want to forget about where we came from and all that.
And just for the record we’re not going to come back with American accents.
Do you play on the fact that you’re Irish?
James: People love it! When we were on the Finch tour we played in Boston and it was deadly, because everybody we spoke to was related to someone Irish, which was cool as fuck. I don’t drink, so it’s pretty interesting telling Americans that I’m Irish and I don’t drink.
Craig: Everybody here, no matter where we are in the states, is on an Irish buzz. They love that.
Where in Ireland was the video off ‘War In the Sun’ filmed?
James: It was filmed down in Kerry. It was gas, because they were shooting for the new Star Wars movie at the same time. We were shooting the scene where Aidan is carrying the torch and a couple of tourists walking by asked if we were shooting for Stars Wars, and I just thought ‘Does it look like I’m in Star Wars?’
Do you have any moments when you realised you made it or any crazy stories?
Craig: One moment personally was when we were playing in Cleveland and we went to the Alternative Press offices and they let us sign the wall beside mega famous bands.
James: That was unbelievable. And the singer from The Murder Dolls was playing in Hollywood last week and I got to go see him play for about 50 people. Then I got to meet him and chat to him after. That was the first live band I ever saw when I was ten years old and my mam brought me to see it, so going from that back then, to this, was deadly.
Do you have a home in the US or are you just constantly touring?
James: Our home at the moment is really great. It’s nice and spacious; it’s a twelve-seater van. We’ve got some luxurious sleeping bags and our gear is on top of us. Sometimes I just roll up and Craig puts me inside his bass drum. That’s my home…
And finally, do you have any advice for new bands that are trying to find their way at the moment?
James: If anyone ever slags your band, don’t pay attention to it. Never listen to any bad shit, if people have constructive criticism or nice things to say, that’s all good and well, but if anyone is talking shit, then fuck them.
Craig: I’d say rehearse as much as you can and don’t be shit live, because if you’re shit live, nobody will come back.