Third Island – Interview

Author: Craig Matthews

Metalphobia recently had a chat with the lads from THIRD ISLAND. They talked us through their debut EP Dusk, the themes behind it and what went into writing it. As well as the bands formation and their forthcoming live plans. If you would like to read the review of the EP, please click here.

  1. You’ve just released Dusk how has the overall reaction been?

Liam: Overall I think it’s been a great reaction so far. We’ve been pretty surprised at how many people are liking it. Especially considering we’re just screaming about suffering and nightmares for a half hour. There’s been lots of comparisons to bands we love that we might not have even made, and that’s nice you know, when people see something good in your music that you might not even have noticed or planned.

Seamus: The reception has been very positive. People from numerous countries seem to really like the songs the lads made for the EP.

John:  It seems decent, we’ve had plenty of reviews and mentions from sites worldwide, and it reached further than I thought it would. It’s nice to see people enjoy it.

  1. The theme of this EP is nightmares and sleep disorders, what made you choose this for your debut EP?

Liam: Well that was a pretty calculated effort.  We didn’t want to just write the lyrics without any purpose and we felt that we could create a better atmosphere and be more comfortable and creative by having a theme rather than just writing “stream of consciousness style” personal lyrics.  The idea to make it about nightmares and sleep disorders came about because we thought the music itself is sort of slow and dark with a hint of evil, so the discomfort of insomnia and the panic of night terrors just seemed to fit.  We didn’t want to write a load of drivel about teenage angst and lost love and whatnot. We’re saving that for the next album.

  1. Talk me through the creative process, did you know the musical direction you were going in or did it just happen?

Liam: Generally one of us will come into practice with a new riff, maybe a verse or a chorus of a song on one instrument, and then we just bounce ideas off of each other until something clicks.  I remember when writing the first song, it really just started with two chords that I liked and that evolved into what “Thawed My Skin” sounds like today.  I played those two chords to John, and he wrote something on the spot that went over it.  We’re lucky in that we all know each well enough to be comfortable in saying outright if something sounds terrible without hurting somebody’s feelings, and we’re also lucky in that we all share enough common musical tastes that we rarely think disagree on what direction to take.  Basically we just lock ourselves in a storage container in an industrial park in limerick once a week, get drunk, and scream at each other about nightmares for a few hours. It’s terrific.

John:  there’s a lot of jamming ideas involved, we never really come in with anything too prepared.  An idea for a riff or two, or an idea on how a song should flow with only the bare bones of a riff.  It’s never very stressful, we just sort of let it happen.

  1. The tracks on Dusk are very long was this planned? Or did it just turn out that way?

Liam: It just turned out that way. We didn’t have a goal length in mind while writing. Honestly we didn’t really realize how long they were even until we started tracking the demos. They never felt too long to us and to shorten any parts would have meant sacrificing some of what we thought sounded good. Funnily enough I kind of feel like “Come Now” finishes a bit quickly, even though it’s almost ten minutes long.

  1. Who would you say Third Island’s biggest influence is?

Liam: I guess it’s different for each of us though we share a lot of the same influences.  For me the big forerunner is ISIS, followed by a long list of bands like Jesu, Devin Townsend, Porcupine Tree, Anathema, Paradise Lost, without ever sounding particularly like any of them and sounding slightly like all of them at the same time. We always try to do our own thing though rather than sound like someone else on purpose.

Seamus: I didn’t have any part in the song-writing for the EP but you can hear subtle shades of influences. Like Liam said, there are a few bands and sounds that we collectively gravitate toward, but the resulting sound is executed in a way that is I think, original. We are all currently writing new material that will refine our sound even more, which is nice.

John:  too many influences to name, but mostly what Liam said. Devin Townsend, Isis, Jesu, Type O Negative are some of the most prominent to me.  It’s fun to wear your influences with your music, but nothing is intentionally derivative and we mostly try to refine our own sound and try unusual ideas when writing.

  1. You were formed in 2015, how did the three of you come together?

Liam: We’ve known each other for most of our lives. We even played in other bands together as teenagers and remained friends over the years.  We’re just now at a point in our lives where we’re a little bit more settled down and able to meet regularly and make music we love.

Seamus: We got very drunk in Liam’s parent’s gaff one night and jammed out a 2 riff song on 3 guitars for 5 minutes. We decided that we wanted to do that on a regular basis. Not in Liam’s parent’s place though, his dad would bate us.

John:  Again what Liam said, we all know each other for far too long.

  1. Since the release of Dusk do you have many live shows planned?

Liam:  That’s one of our main goals now. Local shows for the time being around Ireland but in the long run we do plan on going further afield. We’ve already had a couple of Russian scammers offer us world tours. So there’s that.

Seamus: I think we should look even further afield for scammers. Why limit ourselves?

  1. What can we expect from a third island live show?

Liam: A lot of gain, mistakes, and pints.  We don’t plan to sound overly polished in our live shows.  I know when I go to see a band I prefer to have it organic rather than just having it like playing the album over a PA.  Our first gig was hilarious though.  John broke a string in the first song, Seamus’s amp wouldn’t work at the start, and the drums in my monitors cut out half way through the gig.  But we ploughed on regardless and people enjoyed it.

Seamus: Loud noises. Liam forgot to mention that the high hats threw me off my timing. Me. The bassist. He then tried to follow me because he couldn’t hear the drums. So…Profit!

John:  Slow and Heavy.  Always slow and heavy.

  1. Ireland is a very small country; do you have any plans to play abroad?

Liam: Absolutely in the future.  We’ve already had a few conversations about heading to Europe and renting a van and whatnot. But that won’t happen for a while.

Seamus: Yeah, I’m hoping for summer of 2017/18. It’ll depend on our respective jobs and holidays and the like but it’s something we’re seriously thinking about for the near future.

John:  We have had a good reaction from some other EU countries.  After we’ve done a good few in Ireland, it makes sense to look towards England and mainland Europe.

  1. How do you find the metal scene in Ireland?

Liam:  It’s a strong scene here in Ireland. Lots of great bands and plenty of fantastic shows put on by very enthusiastic people.  For a small county like Ireland it’s amazing sometimes how much talent you can find playing small local shows.  It does seem like it’s been hard for the majority of Irish bands to expand to more global scene, which is a shame because many of them are world class performers and musicians.

Seamus: It is strong, and growing stronger I think every year. I think more young people take it seriously (playing in a metal band), than maybe 10 years ago. Not sure why that is, it might just be my imagination. It is tough to get signed, a lot of bands are going the independent route and fair play to them. However, it all starts with, and is maintained, by throwing your band into the live scene. Thankfully the Irish live scene is thriving. A band from Tipperary, “Zhora”, recently played at Wacken and that’s what other Irish bands need to see, especially younger guys and galls.

John:  It’s great right now, hopefully it keeps up.  Plenty of large scale gigs and local fests to see, great community amongst the bands and promoters.  There’s always a lot happening around the country in terms of local acts.

  1. What’s next for Third Island now that the EP has been released?

Liam:  We’ve played a couple of gigs and plan to continue playing whenever we can and we’re currently writing our first album.  Once that is written and recorded we will be pushing a lot harder to play shows.  The EP was never meant to be the endgame for us, we really just needed to get something put out there to establish ourselves as a band and let people know what direction we are headed musically.

Seamus: As Liam mentioned. The writing process has begun for our first album. That’s the main priority for us for now. Once completed, we shall be keeping a steady presence on the live scene.

  1. Thank you so much for your time. Best of luck for the future and I look forward to hearing more from Third Island.

Liam: Thanks for having us.

Seamus: Cheers!

John:  Thanks.

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