Record Overplayed
* *
* *
* *
* *
* *
* *
* *
* *
JJ72 interview | Newcastle Uni | November 2002

Fergal’s Winning Formulae

Interview by Dawn / Photos by Ally

It took them almost two years but, at last, Dublin’s darlings JJ72 have returned with a follow-up to their highly-rated eponymous debut album. As Mark Greaney and Hilary Woods prepared for their gig in Newcastle, drummer Fergal Matthews told me about the making of the impressive new LP, I To Sky.

“The first album was kind of made before we needed to do it,” says the amiable Irishman. “I mean, all the songs were there and we just recorded them. But we really made this album. It wasn’t easy to make, but it was very instinctive the way everything happened.”

The most noticeable difference between the two albums is the lack of strings on I To Sky. A conscious decision right from the start?: “They make everything kind of grandiose and we didn’t want to touch on that this time. Maybe we should’ve if we wanted more singles, but we decided not to. And that could be our downfall,” he admits, ”but we’ll see what happens.”

The new album has a more mature sound than the first, with songs sounding more complete and less based around guitar riffs: “But it’s not perfect yet at all. We’ve got a long way to go. I think we wanted to be mature about it and write ‘proper’ songs,” Fergal muses. “I love the album – I listen to it all the time – but it does lack some kind of… I don’t know… riffage, really. I think I Saw A Prayer is my favourite from an outsider point of view and from playing the album I think Sinking.”

Songwriter Mark is, bizarrely, often quoted as saying that roast chicken has as much of an influence on his songs as other music does. What about Fergal?

“To be honest I don’t know anymore. I suppose there’s influences from certain bands – you know, stuff that you listen to – but it’s just an instinctive thing that you do, or want to do. Or you hear a sound or make a sound that you feel is right and just go with it.”

No JJ72 interview would be complete without an attempt to solve the mystery behind the band name. Rumours abound concerning everything from jam jars to James Joyce, with the year Mark’s parents married slotted somewhere in between. But Fergal, lighting a cigarette, shrugs them all off: “There is actually no reason. No-one can remember exactly why. I know that’s really stupid.” Intriguing though? “A bit of mystery there”, he smiles.

And what about the future? Is there already a planned follow-up to recent hit single Formulae?

“We put a poll up on our website,” explains Smashing Pumpkins fan Fergal. “We were thinking of Always and Forever, but I don’t know; we might get it remixed and see what it sounds like. It’s really hard because I think this album is more of a book with chapters as opposed to singles. It’s really, really hard to pick a single because there’s nothing that stands out that you’d say would sound right on radio, or that every DJ would want to play. It’s quite nerve-racking because a lot depends on that single; it depends on the commercial aspect of it, you know? It’s sad but true.”

But there must be some good points to being in JJ72?

“Oh yeah,” Fergal’s infectious grin returns. “There’s nothing else I’d prefer to be doing right now!”

Huge thanks to Fergal. Thanks also to the lovely Ian and James at Ian Cheek PR and to Joe Sanchez, Pip and Ally.

^ Top of Page


© Record Overplayed, 2002-2016.