Tune In To Channel One
After a successful Belfast gig, Francis Jones chats to Dublin rockers Channel One
Heavy, angular synths, splintered kraut-rock guitars and modulated vocals are all weaved into the cyber-chewing soundscapes of Dublin’s Channel One.
Their sci-fi lullabies are infused with a raw punk spirit, music which manages to sound simultaneously filmic and familiar whilst remaining disturbingly alien.
It’s a sound the five-piece have taken years to construct.
Founded in 2002, Channel One made their live debut in 2004. Now, almost five years after inception, these extraterrestrial jukebox faves have released their first substantial work, debut EP ‘Permissions’.
Returning to NI to promote the record, Channel One beg their audience’s patience, so stay tuned and they’ll prove that the best things really do take a little more time.
‘We’re more comfortable taking things gradually, building it slowly’ says Channel One anchorman, Paul O’Reilly. ‘We’ve been together as a band since we were young, but at first we didn’t really even think about playing live.
'We were just messing around with the equipment. But, eventually, things started coming together; we were gigging a bit and got a good and instant reaction.
'Since then we’ve played all over, we’ve played at Electric Picnic and then right throughout the UK and further afield such as Berlin.’
Label interest, prestigious support slots with the likes of Editors, Hot Chip and Soulwax and, most importantly, the feeling that they’d found their own distinct musical identity, convinced Channel One’s members that there was serious potential in the band.
‘We felt we’d hit on something, hit on a particular kind of sound,’ confirms O’Reilly. ‘There’s a mixing of the organic and the synthetic and that’s something that we felt was worth pursuing.’
Tempering raw rock with electronic candyfloss, Channel One have created a fearsomely fluctuating sound, one that alternates between pounding, primal menace and soothing, Prozac pop.
‘We’re first and foremost a live band, your standard template of guitar, bass and drums, but around that you have the ear candy, the electronic and dance elements. It’s about getting that balance.
'You’ve got to keep it as instinctive as possible, then we’ll try and bring in those studio aspects to prettify it, but only as long as it doesn’t compromise the sense of immediacy.’
This modus operandi is encapsulated on ‘Permissions’. Following the 2006 vinyl releases of ‘Not for the Last Time/Fun Radio’ and ‘Accelerate; Brake’, ‘Permissions’ is the closest Channel One have thus far come to realising their dream sound.
‘I think the sound is more together now,’ insists O’Reilly. ‘For recording we took ourselves down into the country for a few weeks. That enabled us to pull in all the things that we’d wanted to, all those elements that we hadn’t been able to incorporate previously.
'It was a bit more disjointed before, which we quite liked. You can fine-tune too much, but there are more sounds and more ideas to ‘Permissions’. I really think we’ve achieved something.’
‘There are other records out there which were obviously made with similar intentions and ambitions to us. Our record is comparable to, if not better than those records, the difference being that the people involved with those records had a lot more time and money to lavish on their efforts. We’re proud of that.’
Their reputation on the live circuit has established Channel One as darlings of Dublin’s underground music scene. However, their aspirations beyond such cult success seem somewhat blunted.
O’Reilly acknowledges their multilayered, dense and driving soundscapes offer only limited crossover appeal.
‘For us it’s about pursuing the sound. The commercial thing is not that much of an issue, what we’re creating isn’t tailored for the charts.
'Primarily it’s about experimenting with different sounds and different instruments. That's what’s interesting, not writing something purely to try and capture a certain audience. Our main focus is our sound and progressing that, not coming out with the big pop hit.’
In terms of progressing their sound and the band in general, O’Reilly is convinced that 2007 will prove a pivotal year.
‘We’re hoping to get away again this year to write and record more, with the ambition being that we’ll be able to get our debut album out before the end of the year.
'But first, of course, February will see the launch of ‘Permissions’, our biggest release so far.’
For all ‘Permissions’ compelling, electro-orchestral and aggravated synth flourishes, it is live that Channel One truly come into their own.
And what should the uninitiated expect from their first encounter with Channel One?
‘It’ll be big, loud and intense,’ promises O’Reilly. 'There’s no let up whatsoever. Non-stop, 60 minutes of 'electro-rock’, for want of a better description. It’s dancey in places, but almost always with that big guitar sound.
'I wouldn’t go out expecting an evening of ambient soundscapes, that’s for sure!’