Interview with Ronan O’Connor of Senses and Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
SENSES are: Brian Callan, Kevin Kavanagh, Ian Finnegan, Ronan O’Connor
PD: What type of artist are you?
ROC. Some of the words that have been used to describe our sound are ‘anthemic’ and ‘atmospheric’ . The two seem juxtaposed with one another, but we try to take sounds and build them into the layers of the more immediate and energetic songs (like on Drop Your Arms). Then the more introspective songs we still try to build and have uplifting and hopeful moments that shine through. Really we’re just four mates that love trying to express ourselves through the music.
PD: Tell us a brief history of yourself.
ROC. I think if you ask each of us the story will differ. Ian and I are cousins, we met Callan and Kavvy at school. Shared a love of music, hanging about, going to gigs, swapping mixtapes. It all started from there. We never really played covers, we just got into jamming and writing songs. It was kind of a need to express ourselves I think.
PD: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
ROC. So many too mention. We started with a shared love of bands like The Stone Roses, The Charlatans, Ride, then we discovered stuff like 60s Soul, motown and seminal bands like Love – that in turn lead us on to the likes of Shack and The La’s. We’re really into people doing things different too, like Spacemen 3, Sigur Ros and that. I think if there’s good sounds, good experimentation we’ll probably like it. There’s so much good stuff about at the minute that inspires us still, newer bands like The Howl and the Hum and Bdrrm. Non-musical, personally (and I think a few of us share this) we’re really inspired by people that try to push the boundaries and take risks, be it artists like Pollock, writers like Solzhenitsyn or Angelou and film makers like Brakhage and Kassovitz. More locally I’m really inspired by George Shaw’s paintings, how he takes these mundane and ran down parts of the city, paints them in his photo realistic way and shows a new beauty to something quite ordinary. I think that’s something we’ve tried to capture, certainly in the art, where we worked with an amazing local photographer called Chris O’Connell, where we wanted to capture scenes that are similarly powerful for us. This is something we think the music does too.
PD: What are your dreams and goals?
ROC. I don’t know if we’ve ever really spoken about this. In the early days I guess it was about being signed to a label we loved, working with a great producer, playing some great venues. We’ve achieved the latter two. We’re happy just putting stuff out and finding it connects to people. Some of the comments on the first single have been brilliant. So I think if we can keep on doing that our album will really have some people that dig it.
PD: Who writes your songs, what are they about?
ROC: Very often Callan would have an idea for a harmony, some lyrics and structures. Especially on some songs like Little Pictures or Let Me In, they would be quite well formed and we’d add parts in and keep tweaking it. Others like Drop Your Arms and We’re Not Wanted, we’d be jamming on ideas, someone would turn up with a riff or bassline and it would evolve from there.
PD: How do you promote your band and shows?
ROC. Shows, what are they? Haha. As for the band, we’re just starting off on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram (give us a follow, @sensescoventry) and we’ve been really amazed at how there’s such a great community of like-minded artists and people hunting for new music. It’s buzzing. That’s why site’s like yours are great, giving bands another platform! So thanks!
PD: What do you think about downloading music online?
ROC. To be honest, I’ve been doing it for years. Starting with Napster and Soulseek and then moving across to other sites like Spotify and iTunes. I like the ease of it. However, listening to music that way is really different, I find I make playlists and flick between bands and genres (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing!) but then when I go back to vinyl and listen to a whole album that way it’s a little more special. That’s how we want people to feel when we have our vinyl out later this year.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
ROC. Ladies and Gentlemen We’re Floating in Space by Spiritualized. It’s still a song that after countless plays leaves me in awe. There’s beauty, there’s pain – there’s something quite raw there.
PD: What are some of your pet peeves?
ROC. To be honest we’re pretty chilled, when we were gigging it was people nicking things. We’ve had guitars, pedals etc. nicked which is just cruel. Nowadays, on social media it’s weird how people follow you and then unfollow you!
PD: What is your proudest moment in music?
ROC. For me it’s getting our album completed during the pandemic. We’d been sitting on the rough mixes for ages and then it kinda felt like the right time. We ended up having Gavin Monaghan (Editors, Slow Reader’s Club, The Blinders etc.) mix everything. We revisited bits and added samples and synths in and from there we had LOUD Mastering do the finishing touches. So to have that ready now to be pressed onto vinyl is a great feeling, we just can’t wait to share it and have people listen in the entirety.
PD: So what are you working on at the moment?
ROC. At the moment we’re planning what singles to put out, working on ideas for the videos, so that’s all great. However, we’re getting back to jamming, sharing ideas about. Looking forward to actually being able to meet and jam in person.
PD: What music have you available online and where can we buy it from?
First single ‘Drop Your Arms’ is available across all streaming platforms now, we’ve got a very tidy limited edition vinyl coming for the album – that’ll be a collectors item!