Neck come out swinging – Inteview with Leeson O’Keeffe

(S’n’O) First of all, congrats on finally getting “Come out fighting” released in the UK. Why the delay and when can we expect a proper US release?

(Leeson/Neck) Thanks John – it’s a massive relief! Well, it was set to go a year ago, but there were some last minute glitches that, due to tour commitments, we weren’t around to fix. So it got postponed – which gave us & the label time to reflect & it was decided, as Wispy was back off ‘the Subs bench’ to let him overdub some bass parts, re-master it (at the right level), completely overhaul the artwork & get proper PR campaigns working behind the album – which meant putting it back to now to enable all that.

(S’n’O) The title – “Come out fighting” and the fists up on the CD sleeve. I’m guessing there is a statement there?

(Leeson/Neck) Yep – but it’s more about having a ‘pugnacious’ state-of-mind rather than going down the boozer ready for a ruck. It’s down to the title track, which is about those times in life when the shite really hits the fan & you, literally, feel like you’ve gone 15 rounds with Mike Tyson & you’re on the ropes, emotionally, with the guy ready to throw in the towel. So you really have to dig deep, & figuratively speaking, get off the ropes, catch your breath, get your balance – put your guard up, set your brow & be downright bloody-minded & take the fecker on! If ye know what I mean…

(S’n’O) I heard a few complaints from long time Neck fans that while the production on “Come out fighting” is 1st class there’s a lot of older Neck tracks re-recorded. Any particular reason why?

(Leeson/Neck) Of course: rather than selling people short, we’re just trying to give them the best we can – we thought that, as this is our first world-wide release, & particularly with legendary producer Pat Collier’s alchemy at our disposal, we had the opportunity to re-visit & improve upon songs that we love & are live favourites, but the previous recordings are either really old or were recorded either so cheaply, in a rush or mixed at silly o’clock with one eye on the clock, that we find them hard to listen to now. We knew Pat could help us do a better job of them. Which we have, and which, it appears, everyone does actually agree with!

(S’n’O) We’ve been following Neck here in Shite’n’Onions for about 8 years and while a lot of bands that started out around the same time as Neck have had a lot of success stateside Neck are still a unknown quantity – do you feel disadvantaged being based in the UK? Any plans to raise your US profile.

(Leeson/Neck) Well, none of our stuff’s been widely available in the US up ’til now (apart from a Heroic effort via your very own ‘Shite ‘n’ Onions’ – named after on of our very own tunes! – with ‘Here’s mud in yer eye!’); Also, the costs of touring & promotion without big label backing make things virtually unfeasible for us. But, despite that, because of the immense support for us over there from you guys – we’ve tried to hang-in there. We know we’re a good band & things are progressing: our two U.S. trips last year were proof of that. It’s just finding a way to make sure people know about us, & now that we’ve got a U.S. label – Abstract Recordings –  who are going to get behind the album, hopefully we’ll get our arses back over there & put together a tour around the album release in the new year.

(S’n’O) Finally, with “Come out Fighting!” finally out. What are Necks next plans – tours, next CD?

(Leeson/Neck) Well we’ve started the rolling UK tour & then, with the album being released in the USA the week before St. Patrick’s Day, it makes sense that, if it’s at all possible, we need to be in the U.S. for that – so we need to get onto things like ShamrockFest in DC, etc. to ensure that. Then we’ll be touring the album in Europe in April, with more dates & festivals all over the place to follow throughout the summer into The Fall / Autumn – so 2010 may be our busiest year ever! Release-wise, we’re starting to work on the next Neck album, & we promise it will defo be all new material.

(S’n’O) There’s also a rumour of a CD of covers already recorded, any truth in that?

(Leeson/Neck) Yes indeed: we’d already recorded a covers album (with Pat) before ‘Come out Fighting!’, but it was ultimately felt that it was better to put out an originals album as a first release. It was inspired by Johnny Rogan’s writings &, is, subsequently, ‘Necked-up’ versions of songs by other 2nd & 3rd-generation Irish artists – from Johnny Cash to The Libertines. It’s a testament to our contribution to popular music & how far we’ve punched above our weight! The front cover & title’s actually our best-selling T-shirt ‘Plastic ‘n’ Proud’ (‘Plastic Paddies’ is a derogatory term – so we’re turning the insult on it’s head, like black folk do with the ‘N’ word). The version of The Sex Pistols ‘Anarchy in the UK’ is already reaching cult status! (there’s a clip on YouTube of 5,000 people singing along to it at Glastonbury festival)!.

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