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Elspeth’s Gerard Sands explains how you get noticed in the ultra competitive world of indie rock.
Colin Carberry, 07 Jun 2012
In these uncertain times, with the maps and charts that were previously used to navigate the music industry’s dark waters clearly obsolete, it’s no surprise to find musicians nervous about their travel plans. To find them tip-toeing through the early stages of their careers – terrified of plunging into deep waters in places they expect to be shallow.
Gerard Sands, lead singer of Elspeth, however, isn’t quite so timid. The Newry man isn’t one for see-how-it-goes contingencies. He and his highly rated group don’t suffer from departure anxiety. They have a plan.
“I think when you first appear, you have to be a guitar band,” he smiles. “It’s the most aesthetically pleasing model. Everyone lined up across a stage, playing guitars: that’s what it’s all about when you make your first album. Synths are okay – I love that kind of music, but seeing a young band hunched over keyboards looks awful. And if you’re a guitar band, you have to give all your guitarists something to do. There’s nothing worse than seeing Ed O’Brien shaking a maraca.”
The band’s confidence is hardly misplaced. Over the last two years, Elspeth have inked a management deal, played some hefty supports, and recorded a debut album with big league ambitions. Fair to say, they’ve enjoyed a rocket-powered rise so far.
“God no,” he grimaces. “It’s actually been excruciatingly slow. Leo (Gerard’s brother and bandmate) and I started writing songs together when we were very young, so it’s been years of sending out demos and being ignored.”
Truth be told, though, in the early days the Sands boys didn’t exactly help themselves.
“We had a theory that we would be signed without ever playing live,” reveals Gerard. “This great gesture. But it didn’t take us long to realise that wasn’t going to happen. I think in our heads we’d have the great Springsteen moment, one of our demos being heard and someone shouting about us being the future of rock ‘n’ roll. But it didn’t happen. We ended up taking lots and lots of baby steps.”