Alan O’Boyle and David Lacey should really need no introduction to anyone who has followed the Dublin music scene over the last 15 years. They are legends in their own right, having cut their teeth in various indie/rock/electronic outfits. But most of you will still be unaware of their latest collaborative project, named Legion of Two. Have no fear, they’ll soon be rattling your teeth if Totally Dublin have anything to do with it. LO2 are set to release their phenomenal new album on the ever-progressive UK label, Planet Mu. We caught up with Alan recently…
How far back does the Legion of Two project stretch?
The project started in 2005 as a new Decal thing but as we played a few gigs it became apparant that this was something that should be treated as a separate project. I took some time out mid-2006 and did a load of free Decal releases on my website that started as electro and techno and ended up with more ambient guitar and drone stuff. We only really regrouped and started rehearsing properly to do an album, in June 2008. It’s been a pretty quick turn around from having a few ideas to having an album out.
When did you two hit it off musically?
We’ve known each other for years through Hope Promotions gigs and playing in bands in the early nineties. We’ve got a lot of common ground musically but there’s a lot of individual influences which we don’t share. I guess we crossover mostly on old punk and hardcore stuff. David had played on a bunch of Decal stuff which was only ever played live over the years.
Spending most of your time in Decal working with programmed drums, is it liberating to work with a Real Life Drummer?
Totally! I mean, writing beats in a sequencer is easy but you never get the same expression, feel or power that you get with a drummer. The Legion of Two tracks are all written with a particular drum feel in mind but it’s really nice to be able to hand over responsibility to someone else to come up with the drum parts. We rehearsed the tracks for months before we recorded and some of the tracks like ‘Handling Noise’ and ‘Turning Point’ developed in the way they did because of drum ideas David came up with during rehearsals.
How much do Legion of Two’s aims and approaches differ from Decal’s?
Technically it’s pretty similar. The music was written with the same gear. Musically it’s a natural extension of where I was and what I was trying to achieve with Decal. I think that this is an album that’s been in my head since I started writing music. It just took a while to get around to it. I tend to write music that I want to listen to and this album is no exception. The one thing I tried to do with this was to let the tracks develop really slowly. Decal is a bit more to the point.
There seems to be an over-riding influence of doom and drone metal bands on the album – is Riffs a sort of electronic reimagining of that genre?
While I listen to a lot of that music the influence would go back further to bands like Godflesh, Swans, Slab and Scorn, not so much the newer exponents of experimental metal. My problem is that I’m a sucker for rhythm and melody and while I’d love to be able to write music that’s a pure atonal mess of noise, I can never resist putting in a hook of some sort. What influenced this album most is that I realised that what I like most about rock or metal are the bombastic, epic intros and outros or the pure chugging vocal-less riffage. I wanted to write some music that took those elements and extended them into full tracks and in some cases extend them to the extremes. There are a lot of nods to dub, techno, industrial and krautrock on there too but the overall feel is pretty doomy alright. I kinda think that the experimental metal scene has replaced electronica these days. Labels like Southern Lord are the Warp Records of today.
Having been part of the Dublin experimental/electronic vanguard since the 90s, how do you feel about the current experimental scene in the city?
To be honest I’m a bit out of touch. I don’t really go to many gigs anymore but from what I’ve listened to it seems in reasonable shape. There’s a lot of cool stuff going on everywhere but it’s way smaller and more fragmented than it should be. Some stuff I really like at the moment is Drainland, Melodica Death Ship, Whirling Hall Of Knives, Prince Kong and Munitions Family/Tremors/all that stuff but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Then there’s the improv scene David and Paul Vogel have built up with the I&E Festival it the core. As ever the best stuff is on the peripheries. I’m just glad the singer songwriter thing seems to have taken a backseat to kids with guitars and Microkorgs.
Legion of Two release their amazing new record on June 26th through the Planet Mu label. An essential purchase.