If I was Josh Healy I'd be planning how I could make the Buí 'project' a bigger venture. Eugene is the part anthology of 4 years song writing in which Josh shows a varied approach to music. What do we like about it? The song writing, simple. It's just stories told and emotions shared...
People Don't Think is going to be deemed the 'hit single', it's what got our attention anyway. The Northern Irish twang works wonderfully on the drop beat chorus, and the synth drives hard. But if you thought this was going to be the blueprint, think again. Then you hear Hello Sun and an altogether different prospect arises; introspective, gentle, and closer to the bone.
But wait, I'm Going Somewhere (But I'm Not Sure Where) wants to have it's chance in the limelight too. And again, another change in direction; this time portraying a softer exterior where Josh's performance moves towards the Rock Ballad side of the spectrum. You see the pattern emerging here, right? What can't he do?
There was no goal in sight when the majority of the songs were written. We don’t have too much of a ‘plan’ now either, other than just to see if anyone likes our music and if so, take it from there...
Very little, it turns out. We'd love to tell you that the fragmented approach to this album compilation is a sign that Josh doesn't know what he is. And that's probably true, and likely to do with the 4 year time-span, but it's far from detrimental in terms of the album as a whole. Contrasting songs such as Golden Navy and When The Fun Stops sit nicely side by side. The lack of balance works.
And so to a special heads up for the best track on the album, Somethings Take A Long Time. It's the best example of introspective song writing. The vocal combinations, the accordion, the gentle build up. I can even imagine the impact of this song if it went electric and really rocked out. I wouldn't bet against Josh being able to pull that off too, he's managed everything else on the record.
We had a few questions for Josh, see what he had to say about the Buí 'project', life and Christmas, when Third Outing fired the interview questions.
3rd: Buí are sincerely the first great band (or is it a project?) we've discovered for a long time. What's the story? You introduce yourself as "Josh and friends with no real goal in sight for the large part"! // Josh: Thanks very much! It’s probably more of a project, but there’s definitely a ‘band’ within it. Three of my good friends Adam Sloan, Rónán McQuillan and Eoin Johnson played on most of the tracks with me. I’ve been in bands with them before and they make up the live band for gigs too along with Amy Nolan, our drummer.
I’ve been writing songs for about five years and decided in April to record some of them, because I’d probably stop writing new ones if I didn’t finally get to do anything with these. So there was no goal in sight when the majority of the songs were written. We don’t have too much of a ‘plan’ now either, other than just to see if anyone likes our music and if so, take it from there.
What an introduction the new release Eugene has been. People Don't Think and Hello Sun really fly from start to end. Is this your best work? // We thought they’d be good songs to open the album with, in particular People Don’t Think as it’s upbeat and will hopefully get people to keep listening. It’s probably my favourite song I’ve written too. Hello Sun was the only single we released in our last band Josh The Human before we ended things, but it was much more of a rock version so I much prefer how it sounds now. Both songs are short and sweet, as well as being fairly simple in terms of chord structures and what’s going on, so they work well as an opening.
What comes easier, the reflective acoustic driven tracks like I'm Going Somewhere, or the electric/bass line driven ones like When The Fun Stops? // Well I’m Going Somewhere is the earliest song I wrote that was included on the album, written almost 4 years ago; and When The Fun Stops was the latest, written in June of this year. So it probably better represents where I’m at at the minute in terms of writing. The first version of When The Fun Stops had it as more of a slow, shoegazy song. It wasn’t going to make the cut, but I switched it up and here we are.
There are always a few moments on a record which have that magic spark. We think the drop down chorus in People Don't Think is yours. Do you agree? // Personally I like the fleugelhorn outro at the end of When The Fun Stops because it’s quite chaotic and fun sounding, but the choruses of People Don’t Think probably work better for what you’re talking about. Most people we’ve spoken to say it’s our best song too.
Some Things Take A Long Time is your best track, just saying! // It’s the only song that was written while I was living in The Netherlands that made the album. I only had an acoustic guitar with me, so it’s all fairly simple. It took me almost two years to even get round to recording a demo of it in the house, which is why the title is what it is (as well as being in reference to Daniel Johnston’s lovely song with a similar name). The accordion at the end, which was played by a good friend Fearghal Leyden, was a great addition to the track. As was the fantastic singing by Caoilainn McGarry, a girl who I used to sing with at music events in secondary school.
The songs are written from the point of view of people I know rather than my own. So when people listen they often don’t understand why the lyrics are what they are...
Let's talk accents. The Northern Irish accent comes across beautifully on the record, reminds us of the Scottish on Frightened Rabbit records. Why do you think so many bands choose to disregard accent? // I suppose a lot of people won’t like it too, it’s a bit safer to go with an accent everyone has heard before. Many people we’ve sent tracks to have said that the vocals ruin the song for them, so it can be tough. The Scottish accent does sound great for Frightened Rabbit, but I think it’s a bit of a nicer accent than the one we have here.
It’s impossible to ignore a strong accent in music. As a classically trained singer, I learnt from a young age to sing in a more formal, common sounding voice. But in the last year as I’ve got more into Traditional Irish Folk music, I’ve realised how important it is to sing with your own accent, for better or for worse. Just in time too!
You're clearly a very reflective person, Josh. What's the big life ethos? // I’m not sure I have one, other than just wanting to keep things simple if possible. A lot of the songs are about mental health problems, as it’s a very big issue here in Ireland. Everyone has been either been affected personally, or knows at least one person who has. The songs are written from the point of view of people I know rather than my own. So when people listen they often don’t understand why the lyrics are what they are. None of these songs really sound as serious as the issue they’re talking about, but writing like this is good for reflecting on difficult situations and understanding how people think.
What's the plan for Christmas, Josh? // We have a Christmas gig planned in aid of PIPS, a great local mental health charity, on the 23rd of December in the American Bar, Belfast. We’re all going to play a load of Christmas songs and drink a load of pints, so I’m looking forward to that. Then of course a big turkey dinner with the extended family two days later.