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Groom With A View
Frontman of Groom and founder of Popical Island Mike Stevens talks to Roe McDermott about therapy, running away, the curmudgeonly Irish music scene and being a knob. (His bandmates’ words, not ours!)
Roe McDermott, 13 Oct 2010
he band’s songwriter, Mike, is a bit of a control freak knob and tells the rest of the guys what to do a lot of the time. It’s not like he’s a bully, he’s really annoying and persistent. They don’t much like it but they do it half the time because, well, complaining is a pain in the arse, isn’t it?”
So says Groom’s MySpace page, but how does Stevens himself plead?
“I suppose I am a bit of a control freak when it comes to the songs,” he laughs, “but I think that’s kind of inevitable when you write them all. If they aren’t delivered as you envisioned them, you’ll be disappointed. And the guys do get to put their own stamp on the music; musicans always put their own slant on things. But really,” he deadpans, “we all know the songs are mine.”
He’s joking now, but it seems that Stevens' determination and work ethic can stress him out. Last year it took running away to France for him to clear his head.
“I was totally caught up in the Dublin scene, so in the summer of 2007 I moved with the wife and kids to Carcassonne in the south of France for a six month break. I went running along the canal every day, to clear my head. It was a chance to write, and it took me out of my routine which was a very welcome change at that point.”
With their lead singer and songwriter off gallivanting around the south of France, the other members of Groom must have been worried about the future of the band.
“They might have been alright!” Stevens agrees. “I would get the odd worried, ‘Are you moving for good?’ question, and would go ‘We shall see!’, which probably didn’t help their nerves!”
Much to the band’s relief, he did return from his French escape, and Groom launched their third album Marriage two weeks ago. As the title suggests, the album is a witty, folk-pop exploration of relationships, covering the good, the bad and the ugly.
“I like to focus on themes for our albums. Not concept albums, nothing that explicit. I like picking a theme. The album expresses my own opinion of that universal theme of marriage. I’m all for love. Marriage has its own particular flaws and aspects that I think people can relate to.”