The long way round: Come On Live Long on Spotify and being taken seriously

With the release of their debut album, ‘Everything Fall’, Come On Live Long are ready for anything that comes their way

Fri, Aug 2, 2013, 00:00

There’s a long, proud tradition of bands getting it together in the country. The rural idyll, the pastoral setting and the general isolation are thought to aid the creative process – or, at least, ensure the band have nothing else to do other than write some songs.

In the case of Come On Live Long, a weekend in a quiet house in the middle of Co Roscommon turned out to be a productive starting-point for the band two and half years ago. The five of them didn’t really know each other all that well at that point, but they came back from the northwest with some winning songs and a modest sense of invincibility.

It even led to their first decent pay-day, band member Steve Battle recalls. “We started off really quickly. At the end of the weekend, we had recorded two tracks, Animal and Waiting, and they were picked up really fast. Waiting was used in Oakley sunglasses’ Tour de France advert.

“We got shag all for that, though. You’re young and naive when the band starts and you take whatever is thrown at you, which was enough to fund another few days’ recording.”

Perhaps more important than the cash from the sunglasses salesmen was the sense of camaraderie which came from that weekend. It was also a time for the band members to check out each other’s musical bona-fides.

“It was a big mixed bag,” says Battle of the music each member brought to the weekend. “A lot of us listened to the same electronic music, people like Bibio and Baths. There was also a lot of the 4AD stuff from Efterklang and the old reliables like John Martyn, 60s folk, 70s folk. We had known each other in some capacity before but not as a group, so we probably gelled over the weekend as we shared music and ideas.”

A couple of years on, Come On Live Long’s music and ideas have sprouted and yielded a great debut album. Everything Fall is a beauty, an album full of immensely satisfying songs, each richly detailed and embroidered. You can hear some of those influences from the early days, but you can also hear a band working on their own blueprints far from the sound of the crowd.

Battle says that some material was shelved because they had a certain notion in mind for the album. “There were four other songs which are more upbeat and summer-tinted, happy songs which didn’t fit the album as a whole. They might see the light of day in some capacity in the next few months or we might rework it. That happens a lot, we might move a song from major to minor to change it up.”

Like most bands, Come On Live Long are still believers in the album as the best means to show off their work. “We had thought about just releasing EPs, but there’s this benchmark, especially in Ireland, where bands don’t get this recognition until you have an album. People seem to only take you seriously then. I suppose we all feel we wanted to do an album from growing up as music fans obsessing about music and liner notes and credits and what goes into an album. The time felt right.”

But when you do it all yourself, albums are expensive beasts, and Battle is fully aware that the band’s bank account will be in the red for quite some time to come.

“Success to us is that people enjoy it. We don’t have notions of grandeur that we’re going to be living off this or able to give up our jobs. We all work, me and Rob (Ardiff) and Dots (David O’Connor) teach, and Louise (Gaffney) and Ken (McCabe) work freelance.

“As a younger person growing up buying magazines and seeing what bands could do in terms of touring and album sales, that’s what you wanted from being in a band, that’s what you thought you would get if you pursued it. But it’s different now. Barriers are down, we can get our music anywhere across the world and it’s an exciting time because no one knows what‘s going to happen. We feel it would be great if we can sell enough records to make enough money to produce another one. We don’t feel cheated or hard done by.”

Yet for all this, the economics of being in a band play on Battle’s mind. He speaks of doing gigs outside Dublin where “we’re getting enough money to fill our tanks with petrol to get home again” and is a little wary about developments such as streaming.

“Speaking for myself, the jury is still out on Spotify. I agree with what Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich said, but it’s important for us to reach out to a fanbase. We haven’t invested too much money in this for now, but whatever we’ve produced, we’d like to get whatever we deserve for it in terms of royalties. It’s OK for a band like Radiohead who have 10-plus albums under their belt – they’ve already made a lot of money from sales.

“It’s difficult when you ask a mate to listen to your album and they ask if you’re on Spotify or Deezer. Yes, we are, and I’m all for the dissemination of music, but we’d prefer if possible to make some money from it. If I like something myself, I’ll go and buy it.”

For Come On Live Long at this juncture, it’s about keeping on keeping on. Battle talks about how they’d like to release the album abroad and tour with it, but he knows it’s going to be hard work. Thing is, though, the band are prepared for that.

“It would be great to make a few quid out of it but you have to go with your gut instinct and slug it out. Right now, success to me is having people take interest in you and taking the time to correspond to say they enjoy what we do. Obviously we’d like to build on that, but that will do for now.”

Everything Fall is out now. Come On Live Long play Castlepalooza next weekend and the Body & Soul stage at Electric Picnic in September

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