Strength N.I.A is a Derry Band with a Difference
Voice of the 'unorthodox' pop trio Rory Moore on creating 'something genuine' within the confines of conventional songs and penning a tribute to local football legend Brendan Bradley
How long has Strength N.I.A. been on the scene?
Rory Moore (frontman): Since last year I suppose. We where Strength before that. We kind of flirted with the scene for a few years as we never really intended on become a touring band, it was more of a meeting of like minded people who enjoyed getting crazy with electricity and melody.
For the uninitiated, what is the band all about?
I’m interested in pouring light upon relatively unknown historical events and people, that mixed with lots of groovy music and bass guitar.
You didn’t always have the N.I.A in your name. How did that come about and what does it stand for?
It was a trademark issue we had with a group from the US with the same name. We chose to modify the name to avoid legal complications. The N.I.A stands for Northern Irish Aboriginals.
You describe the band’s sound as ‘unorthodox’ and label it ‘Werewolf Pop’. Do you write with a focus on hooks despite otherwise having quite atypical instrumentation and song structures?
I am interested in the pop song format as an art form, it has a formula of generally 3.5 minutes that must encompass a vocal narrative and hit home! The restriction appeals to me rather than having a long drawn composition. I enjoy the challenge of creating something interesting and genuine within these confines.
Quite an interesting set of circumstances led to Strength N.I.A being featured on Noisey last year. Could you tell us the story behind that?
Indeed, I was tagged to a song by Australian band The Shifters on Facebook called ‘Creggan Shops’ I was extremely impressed with the song and assumed that one of the members was from Derry (given the subject material). I contacted the band’s frontman Miles to firstly congratulate him on writing such a great song and to ask was he from Derry. As it turned out none of the band had ever been to Ireland let alone Derry.
Writing a great song is a special gift because the song becomes timeless, like ‘Stand By Your Man’ by Billy Sherrill and Tammy Wynette. It totally blew my mind how the cultural spirit was contained within this song by The Shifters. I felt compelled to write a tribute song for Miles. So I wrote ‘1956 Olympics’. When I sent Miles the song he sent it to an Australian DJ whom happened to write for VICE/NOISEY and the rest is history (literally).
From the subject matter of songs like that right through to the line-up of your show at the Nerve Centre this Saturday (April 28), with Locky Morris and John O’Neill, there seems to be strong representation of Derry in a lot of what the band does. Is it important to you to reflect your hometown and its musical heritage?
When I first started out as a song man I think I was imitating other artists work. The irony was that most of the people I aspired towards where simply being themselves. I think that most pop and rock music from the last 50 years is in one way or another musically derivative. But the thing that makes pop or rock music interesting is personality. So we try to retain who we are and be genuine in our work.
What are your feelings on the city at the moment?
I love Derry. I am sad that so many local business have closed down. I try to support local business. I think the educational system needs to improve, they have done away with the A Level classics at the NWRC (North West Regional College), this is bad. Bring back A Level History, Maths and English at the NWRC please.
What about the music landscape in Northern Ireland at the moment? Would you say it’s in a healthy state?
Great talents have always come from this part of the world, the question is how to sustain yourself through that talent? You need a marketing degree these days if you're thinking of making music your career. There are many other skill sets that a person needs to learn and develop if they are serious about making a career in music, but thankfully there are good people on hand to give advice and encouragement in the north and south of Ireland.
For all the opportunities and ability to do things yourself, would you agree that the industry in 2018 seems as difficult as ever for bands to crack?
Doing what you love shouldn’t be difficult – whether you're successful or not. Just do what you love because it’s your time and energy and let that guide you. I love the climate right now for music, the social media thing is ever evolving and interesting. It has played a crucial role in left of centre artists making breakthroughs, I would much prefer to be in a band now than 20 years ago, when the holy grail was to try and secure a record deal. So do what you love.
How difficult was it to crowd-fund your debut album, Northern Ireland Yes?
The social media thing was really important, it would not have been possible without it. We were over the moon that so many people got behind us and pre-ordered our album. Thank you to all those people!
You’ve just released the video for a new song ‘Brendan Bradley’ about the former Derry City/Finn Harps footballer and all time League of Ireland top goal scorer. What made you want to write the song?
His simplicity and humility when I spoke with him on Carlisle Road in Derry last year. I had always known who he was and I was aware of his great footballing legacy and career. He is still a champion in a lot of people's hearts (especially in Donegal).
You've played a number of big festivals throughout Ireland and across Europe. What’s been the most memorable show?
‘It Takes A Village’ in Cork last month was pretty epic. We played at a band stand in Phoenix Park Dublin for Little Gem records in 2016 which was really beautiful, I feel that that gig opened up the south of Ireland to us. We meet and remain friends with a lot of people we met that day.
What can people expect from seeing the band live as to opposed to hearing your recordings?
Strength N.I.A play at the Nerve Centre in Derry on Saturday, April 28, supported by Locky Morris and John O'Neil (from The Undertones). Tickets are available to book online and at the door. Listen to more of Strength N.I.A at www.strengthnia.bandcamp.com. Stay up to date with band by following them on Facebook.