An Irish filmmaker is bringing his lens to the underground here in a series of new videos that provide fresh and intimate portraits of our artists.
John Mulvaney has begun a new project called ‘Fractured’. He’ll be rolling out these videos over the coming weeks and months – and we’re going to try and bring you as many of them as we can.
Number One – Abaddon Incarnate
But rather than just flash up the videos, we thought it would be good to hear from the man behind the camera about what it is he’s trying to do.
Meet John Mulvaney
So John, what’s the plan here – why have you invested so much time and energy filming the Irish underground?
A few years back, after several late-night conversations with friends who’d been involved with the music scene for decades, I figured there was ample material to put together a documentary film – FRACTURED initially started in my head as a feature.
There seemed to be a real sense of history among many members of bands and various musicians; some had played together for years, others had simply shared rehearsal spaces, or gone on tours together.
The interesting thing to me though was that there seemed to be a lot of crossover – punks playing in metal bands, metal musicians working with experimental electronics musicians, etc. So in many ways, there was this web of connectivity that you might not get in a larger scene than you’d find in Ireland.
Sadly, due to the lack of funding and the sheer scale of trying to organise something like that on an extremely limited budget, I had to put it to rest – as a feature film, at least.
I had been in contact with quite a few bands in the initial stages though, and I definitely felt that something could still be done. What I found worrying though, was that some of the bands I’d been in contact with had broken up, or seen a few key members leave, putting them into the dreaded ‘hiatus’ status.
It struck me that, over the last decade at least, dozens of incredible bands had probably slipped through the cracks, with only those who were at the gigs or who had a copy of a limited release being able to verify that they existed at all.
So that’s why I started filming immediately; I really just wanted to capture a snapshot of what was happening in Ireland, right now.
Another big push to do this was how little attention this sort of music gets outside of the scene itself – there’s not a slight chance that many of the bands I’m filming with would get even a few minutes of radio play, let alone TV space.
Ireland has this reputation of being very supportive to its musicians, but that only extends to musicians that fall into a certain category.Even then, indie rock bands only get thrown a few scraps here and there – the figures are really depressing on what gets airplay; shameful, really.
As a teen, I had John Kenny on 2FM to guide me through the weeks Sound Cellar metal charts; you could find Cruachan playing alongside Faith No More, and it really was incredible, thinking back.
What are you trying to do and say with these videos?
After abandoning the full length documentary plan, I decided that each film would be like a scrapbook – a collection of images, tones and moods for each band.
I really dislike ‘talking heads’ (musicians sat in chairs, talking to the camera) in short documentaries, so I wanted to just let the musicians themselves guide you through what you were seeing; the rehearsals, those little moments before going on stage, and then the energy that goes into the live shows, which is where many of these bands truly come alive.
I also wanted each film to have its own personality, one that suited the band in the best possible way.
What You’ll See
Tell us a bit about your thoughts and structuring for the Abaddon Incarnate video. What would you particularly like readers to look out for in it?
Abaddon are a band I’ve been a fan of since the mid 90’s; I still remember making a copy of the Bereaved tape from my best friend on a school lunchbreak.
They are a band that seemed to perfectly sum up what I wanted to do with this series; they’ve been going for a very long time, and are completely uncompromising in what they do.
They’ve no desire to bend or shape themselves to what might be more accessible or popular, and despite several line up changes, are still going strong.
When putting together the film on them, I really wanted to reflect that ‘no bullshit’ approach that they have, and I purposefully stripped the film down in such a way to suit that.
They are a band who have to work hard for every rehearsal – Steve Maher travels from the UK for every one they have – and as such, filming time was somewhat limited with them.
But I really enjoyed seeing them going from trying out new riffs to the pure fury of them running through their setlist, then up to them playing for their dedicated audience. That’s Abaddon Incarnate essentially; rehearse, grind, drink!
I also find it interesting to hear and see bands who play extreme music in their downtime, somewhat; there was nothing contrived or posed in anything I did with them, and Steve is a guy who wouldn’t want it any other way, I think.
Other films in this series will feel very different – some will be about creating more of a darker atmosphere or mood, for example – but if that is who the band is, then I want to reflect that. Abaddon are pure aggression in their music, but genuinely great, creative, talented musicians. I hope that comes through in the film, at least.
From Their Eyes…
What did the band want from it?
The band were great for me, in the sense that they had no idea what it was I was trying to put together, but were happy to let me do what I do. For the band, it’s a different platform for them to express their thoughts on their own art, and hopefully allow their fans to see a side of them they might not otherwise get to see.
Despite the lack of interest from mainstream media, there’s a real love from all the musicians I’ve spoken with towards making music for the sake of music, which seems really refreshing. I think that is something viewers will see throughout this series; real passion for what they are making, and not for how much it’s selling.
We’ll be featuring more of John’s Fractured videos as he develops them. Stay Tuned!
– John Mulvaney is www.fracturedmusic.org