Irish power-pop punks The Number Ones have been gigging about for some time now, and have released an EP and an LP on Static Shock (and Deranged in the US) that have attracted a fair bit of attention, due, in all probability, to their capacity for writing absolute bangers. NMG’s Ned Samuel spoke to the band’s guitarist and vocalist Sean Goucher to learn about the band and what they’re up to at the moment. Photo by Cáit Fahey.
First off, who is in Number Ones, and what other bands are they in?
The Number Ones are Eddie, Cian, Conor and Seán. Eddie is in Strong Boys and The Pacifics, Cian is in Cian Nugent and The Cosmos and Cryboys, Conor is in Cian Nugent and The Cosmos and from this summer The Paul Collins Beat and I am in The Pacifics also.
That’s quite a diverse range of sounds – psychedelia, rhythm and blues, hardcore punk. What was it that drew you all to the sound The Number Ones play?
We’ve never really given that much thought and I can’t speak for the others, but it feels like we’re into a lot of the same music and are just playing whatever comes naturally. We have similar interests; eating chips and drinking Guinie until we’re laughing at the grass so the sound of the music just feels like an extension of that fun.
That sounds like a pretty good musical formula, to be honest. Although you’re a punk band – I think – you cover the Byrds live, which got me all excited when I saw it. I fucking love the Byrds, but even so, it’s a bold move in the punk and hardcore scene – do you ever get any backlash? Would you say you draw on them in your own songs?
In the UK most of our gigs are to a punk and hardcore crowd and we’ve only ever had good experiences, including a memorable gig with Boston Strangler down The Lughole at which Cian wore very small denim shorts. We’ve covered that song on and off since our very first gig and really have never had any sort of backlash – more so the opposite, it seems to reel people because it maybe stands out a bit. I grew up listening to The Byrds and The Turtles at home so it probably does seep into our songs. There’s a few tracks with 12 string on the LP which is probably the most obvious Byrds influence on there.
I didn’t know that. I heard at Static Shock Weekend you were working on a new record; what’s it going to be like? Any changes happening?
I suppose the biggest change is that all members of the band are brining in songs now. The first LP is comprised of tracks by Eddie and myself both together and separately with contributions from everyone on the arrangements or little tweaks. The songs Cian and Conor have are really great so it’s definitely raising the bar for Eddie and me which is exciting.
Cool! When’s that coming out?
All going well it should be out later on in 2015.
Nice. Recently you got a good review in Pitchfork, which is huge, and not a site that focuses on punk. Any thoughts on that? It doesn’t happen to that many punk bands.
It’s always nice to get good reviews, regardless of where they’re from. But it is just one person’s point of view, in this instance appearing somewhere that carries a little more gravitas. We’ve been able to get gigs a little bit easier since it came out, especially in the US, so it has been useful in that sense. The album was previewed on the site too which caught people’s attention. I’m a big fan of the Shake Appeal column on the site too, I’ve found some good new music through that.
What’s the process of writing lyrics for the Number Ones? You seem to cover similar ground to the Undertones, lots of stuff about boys being in love with girls. Is it autobiographical, fictional, or both?
There’s a mix of approaches, usually whoever has written the song will come in with the main chunk of lyrics and a few bits might get tweaked slightly as we play around with it. They’re a mixture of autobiographical and observational, Eddie has a few songs about people he knew growing up and I think they’re the most interesting lyrically. Sometimes a title will come first, for I Wish I Was Lonely Cian challenged Eddie to write a song with that title.
I was actually wondering about that song; was the name taken from the Hannah Jane Walker show?
I had to Google Hannah Jane Walker – so no!
Finally, what are the Number Ones’ plans for the rest of 2015?
Conor is away on tour for a few more weeks but once he gets back we are going to begin recording what we hope will become our second LP. I’ve been collecting some old 60s mics over the last while and Cian got a new cassette 6 track recently so we’re going to try record ourselves in our new practise space which is exciting. We’re playing a handful of gigs in Madrid and London in June with two bands I really like; The King Khan & BBQ Show and Reigning Sound, and hopefully we’ll be out playing and flogging the new LP later on in the year.
[interview conducted by Ned Samuel, originally published in No More Gigs issue 5 in a slightly different form, April 2015]