Out on a Limb: Limerick Record Label on Turning Ten
Out On A Limb records celebrates its 10th birthday this month. The Limerick label aims to stay connected to the bands it was founded to promote
IT BEGAN with two men and one band. Albert Twomey and Richard Bourke were both part of the Aspersion Music Collective, a non-profit collective based in Limerick who put on gigs around the city. One of the local bands who played there was Giveamanakick, a loud-as-hell two-piece consisting of guitarist Steve Ryan and drummer Keith Lawler. The band had recorded their first album, Is It Ok To Be Loud, Jesus?, and Twomey and Bourke felt something had to be done with it.
“We kind of thought that, unless there was help there, it would never actually get recorded or it would get recorded but not distributed,” says Bourke. “So myself and Albert decided to try and put something together.”
Ryan agrees that without the pair’s support, the album would not have gone very far.
“We were starting from below ground level, we were minus two, underneath the basement and we were coming up out of there,” he says. “I’m not too sure if we would have even got past dropping a few CDs into some local shops or into a Spar or something. Out On A Limb were able to get it into shops around the country, the HMVs and things like that.
“They really, really opened our eyes and took care of that side of things and have continued to do so to this very day.”
As they followed the Giveamanakick release with albums from The Waiting Room and Rest, Twomey and Bourke were joined by Ciarán Ryan, a young writer and music fan who was studying in Limerick at the time.
By 2009, Twomey had moved to Cork for work and, no longer being in close daily contact with the others, decided to leave the label.
“ I just didn’t feel like I could commit to it as much as I used to and that’s not what I’m really about,” he says. “If I’m not going to be hands-on and able to communicate daily, face-to-face, I’d rather leave it in the capable hands of Ciarán and Richard.”
This emphasis on hands-on, face-to-face relationships has been one of the label’s defining qualities. “I love face-to-face stuff,” says Ciarán Ryan. “I think even in terms of running the label, I always find that we get so much more done. You could have weeks and weeks of emailing back and forth with a band but if you sit down with them for half an hour, you figure out exactly what’s going on.”
“I do think that whole idea – and you can go back to the idea of community – it feels more real and tangible when it’s that physical exchange between people, when people are meeting each other or people are talking about music that way rather than being behind a keyboard.”
A thread connecting all the bands on the label over the years is their ability to play well live. While the emphasis on this isn’t as strong as it used to be, the importance of gigs and touring remains clear. When Giveamanakick supported The Undertones on a UK tour, Bourke and Twomey rented a car to follow them to each show. Even now, if an OOAL act are playing anywhere in the country, you will almost always find either Ryan or Bourke there.