Michael Sheehy

I’m here with former dream City Film Club person and current Beggars Banquet solo artist Michael Sheehy, Michael welcome to AV Deck, can you tell me how you got involved with music

Well I was singing from very young, just listening to Elvis records and things like that, went to church a lot, and i guess that's where I started singing, in church, and singing horrible music then.... then I used to play in the London toilet circuit, as they call it, pubs like the Bull and Gate and Dublin Castle, I used to do a solo thing back then and then I met Lawrence and Alex who ended up in Dream City Film Club, we started playing together and that was that

so how long were you solo before Dream City started?

erm... all of my life! As for playing shows, well I started playing when i was 18 or 19 I think, and I met those guys when I was about 22, something like that... 1995... six years ago I was 22 or 23.. around that time they were looking to join a band, I was looking to start one, so that was that!

then how did Beggars Banquet get involved?

They were the only label that were vaguely interested in what we were doing and they’d seen us at the Bull and Gate or the LA2 .. I think we were supporting The Cardiacs or someone like that and we also put out an EP on Organ records which is a small independant label run by an anarchist called Sean who takes a lot of major label money and spends it on stuff that isn’t gonna succeed

how's he manage that?

I dunno., and I believe he’s still doing it, so fair play to him! but yeah, that’s how we got started

so around the time you were getting compared to bands like Tindersticks or Delicatessen, would you say that was fair, or....

I remember when we were getting more comparisons with Bauhaus which I found really funny as I’d never heard a Bauhaus record in my life, and then I was forced to go back and listen to one and I had to admit that Peter Murphy had a tendency to overdo it on the theatrics and stuff and I think that was something I did as well, so yeah, we used to get things like that I guess..... Tindersticks and Delicatessen and things like that, came into it as well in that we very much had quite an eclectic bunch of tastes in the band, so we used to try and keep everybody happy, which is really difficult in a band but that's what we tried to do and so we got a lot of comparisons over the board - I remember when we first got a piece in the NME, as usual the NME were desperately trying to sort of clutch at straws and start scenes and there was this hideous thing they called the “new grave” or something like that, instead of new wave, but oddly enough, they had a band called Travis on the same page as us, lumped into the same scene - no disrespect to Travis, you couldn’t get two more different bands - in fact, scratch that, plenty of disrespect to Travis I fuckin hate them!

The song ‘Some’ has got Brian Molko from Placebo on it - how did that come about?

I can’t remember!

did you do some gigs with them, or something like that?

We supported them a couple of times before they became famous and that’s how that came about - it was just a bit cynical we thought “we'll get this little twat to sing on our record and maybe we’ll sell a few” - I don’t know if it totally backfired or not, I remember some of the reviews for the record were much more interested in slagging off Brian than they were about slagging off the actual record

so coming up to the last DCFC album, it was announced pretty quickly that you’d split up. When you were making the album could you tell it was going to be the end of the band or was it heading that way anyway?

I think as we were making it it was apparent that we weren’t getting on with each other really very well, and I don't think we intended to make the record and then split up, we thought we were going to go on tour and we didn’t . We were up against it though, the momentum hadn’t really started to happen at all, it was very difficult to keep going and playing to one man and his dog in Doncaster on these little tours we used to do so yeah, there was a lot of fighting and a lot of arguing to he honest, what can you do, that’s the way it goes, its very hard to be in a group, you go around and you spend a lot of time with each other as well as working with each other you socially end up spending a lot of time with each other. you’re going down to rehearsal and then afterwards you go for a beer and then once you get drunk you start fighting and that was that

so how easy was it for you to take the decision to go solo again?

I didn’t really make a decision to go solo, what happened was we’d made the last record and we had a bit of time between that coming out and going on tour so I decided to go and make a solo record, just in that bit if time. not to make any big statement - even though we were having problems and things weren’t going very well, I just thought there's no point doing nothing, I may as well make this record. And that record wouldn't have come out for a very very long time if we’d stayed together - it was just something I was gonna do and then leave on the shelf for maybe a year or so. I don't know it that contributed to the end of the band , but I think we were all pretty much worn out anyway and had had enough of that and I didn’t really make a decision to go solo, it was just something that happened. I didn’t have much control over how the band ended.

so the people you’re working with now - tell me a bit more about them

okay, I work with my brother mainly, Patrick, and a very old friend of ours Ian who plays drums and just old friends, people who have played with Dream City Film Club in the past, a lot of musicians who are very generous, very helpful and like to get involved, they’re all pretty relaxed people, you don’t fight and argue because I’m the boss!

So comparing the people you work with in the studio to the people you play with live, is there a lot of difference? Have you been able to get other people on board you might not have been able to get for the live shows?

Yeah, definitely - there’s been people like, we had a guy called Ray Dickerty (???) who played saxophone - he actually played with Dream City Film Club before he then went on to join a band called Spiritualized, and then I managed to talk him into playing on the recent album, so yeah, people like that. most of the people have been friends for years, so its not really a case of having to look up musicians and try to find someone to do a job - its people I’ve known for a long time and they seem very happy to do it

so how long do you reckon the first album ‘Sweet Blue Gene’ took to make?

About two weeks, it was very quick, it was one of those things that wasn’t intended to be a very big deal, it was just “this is something I’m going to do in the break between album and tour, so yeah it took about 2 weeks, it was written in a really quick time, in about a month or so and I didn’t think the songs were appropriate for a Dream City Film Club album, as they were too personal so I didn’t really think that it was right for me to be .... I dunno, its hard to be in a band as you feel you’re the mouthpiece for that band, and you don’t want to be banging on about your own agenda all the time , when the drummer might be just thinking “well I couldn’t give a shit what you’re going on about” you know?

So going on to tracks you’ve written for yourself, as opposed to Dream City Film Club ones, are there some that were old songs from when you were solo, or indeed any that are old DCFC ones? Was there a lot of changing around with that, obviously you’ve said about the first album being written in two weeks and being a lot more personal

yeah, when we did the first DCFC album, at least half the songs were ones I’d written over the years before I’d formed the band, and that happened on the next album as well - there was still songs hanging over from years ago, it was a case of me coming in and saying “here’s the songs, do something with it and we’ll just sit and work it out and try record it. As for the recent stuff, the stuff I’ve done on my own, there’s a song ‘Love Insane’ that Dream City Film Club recorded a long time ago, but that was a very very old song - it dates back to my adolescence, probably, so yeah, I just fancied having another go at that, its just one of those songs - you get those songs you really really like and if you don’t feel like you’ve done them justice in the studio its always nice to have another go at them

so you’ve been described as being part Edwyn Collins, part Elvis, part Nick Cave. what’s your view on that?

I’d like to have half as much hair as those guys! Its nice to be compared - the old Elvis one is particularly true - I was an Elvis fanatic - I still am - I didn’t listen to anything else till I was about 16 or 17, so it was kind of funny joining Dream City Film Club, as I didn’t know anything else other than Elvis and rock and roll and country music that my father would play to me, so then I’d used to hear about all this other music, Sonic Youth and The Fall and all these bands I’d never ever heard of which these guys loved, so really yeah, the Elvis thing rings true, also Nick Cave purely because the first time I heard his music I thought “oh wow!“ as its reminiscent of a lot of the music I grew up listening to, albeit with women getting stabbed in the head and stuff like that - its kind of fun if its done with a sense of humour

so we’ve got the new album, ‘Ill Gotten Gains’ which is coming out soon, the first song on the album is called ‘Sweet Blue Gene’ so how come this wasn’t included on the first album?

cause it wasn’t written! Its something I’ve got into the habit of doing - naming an album is really really difficult well, its not difficult, sometimes you might name an album and it might be you’re trying to catch the essence of the whole album and I personally don’t see the point in doing that, so I put something down and I think “maybe I’ll write a song called that someday” it gives you a bit of a start on the next album.. so maybe the next album will start with a track called ‘Ill Gotten Gains’ I don’t know! Its just one of those things - I’d not written the track and that's a nice title for a song and see if I could write one and.....

So you’ve made a video for the track ‘No One Recognised Him’ - can you tell us a bit more about that?

Its not been made yet, we’re trying to do kind of a ... we went for the lets do a video about boxing thing but we couldn’t afford it basically - its an expensive thing to do - its one of those things if you don’t do it right its gonna look really bad so we tried to do something which was a cross between Wall Street and Its A Wonderful Life where its like a businessman who goes one deal too far and ends up being a bum, basically, goes from riches to rags so that's the kind of take we’re going for, its kind of miserable and I think I’m gonna play a Clarence type character in the video - I’m not gonna be the central character - just like Clarence in Its a Wonderful Life, the guardian angel, that’s gonna be me! But maybe I wont be quite as nice as Clarence

I’ve seen you’ve got some good gigs coming up - Tindersticks at Le Botanique, John Cale in Cork, Kristin Hersh in Paris.... how did you manage to get good gigs like that?

I’m a big fan of Kristin Hersh, a huge fan of john Cale and Tindersticks... they’re all..... well John Cale’s music, we did a cover of one of John Cale’s songs in Dream City Film Club, Kristin Hersh’s first album is one of my favourites and Tindersticks I’ve been listening to them for 10 years so yeah, I’m very happy to be doing those gigs - its a good opportunity and a privilege.

are they gonna be the biggest gigs you’ve done?

for a while, yeah... the last gigs we’d done.. well played to over 200 people was Placebo years ago with Dream City in France.. so yeah, I’ll get to play in one night to more people than I have in my entire career!

It’ll be cool - they’ve got such loyal fanbases too

Its hard supporting these kind of people because they are revered by their audience and you kind of suspect they don’t want to see anyone else, that they’re not part of the scene, which is really good and I really admire them for that, but I imagine its gonna be hard supporting - the audience are really there to see them but it’ll be interesting and I’m up for it - I’m really looking forward to it

so is there anyone else, live or dead you’d like to play with if you had the choice?

live or dead... ooh god


well yeah, obviously... Nina Simone would be great - I’d like to write a song for Nina Simone but I understand she doesn’t make records any more but I’ve seen her recently, well two years ago at the Royal Festival Hall and that was a great gig, I really enjoyed it and Iggy Pop is the other, I think he’s great .. and erm.... so many!

okay, well just to finish off the interview, can you tell us what the future is gonna bring?

ermm nope! I’d like to do a covers album. I know a lot of struggling songwriters and singers who don’t have record deals and some of them write amazing songs that I’d love to sing .. not that me singing them would bring them to a particularly wider audience but ... I’d like to make an album like that and obscure cover versions and maybe another album, we’ll see how this one goes