return in the New Year with their much anticipated third album, complete
with new member Sarah Fox, and lead singer Mark Greaney took the opportunity
to give Atomicduster the lowdown on that difficult album,
the aforementioned guitarist and life in JJ72 on the whole.
AD: Youve been away from the public eye for quite a long time
now. What have you been up to in the interim?
MG: Well, as you know, Hilary left the band in 2003 and what with us
only being a three piece, that was quite a big deal really. When we
were looking for someone to replace her, Fergal and I were adamant that
we werent going to get another really good looking girl on the
AD: Yeah RIGHT
MG: Its true! We auditioned LOADS of people and although they
were all really nice guys, the spark just wasnt there. It took
ages before we found the right one but eventually we stumbled across
Sarah at a gig where she was just playing a bunch of her own songs.
We approached her afterwards and convinced her to join.
AD: There wasnt a great deal of fuss made about Hilary leaving.
Was it all very amicable then? I read somewhere that she was leaving
to further her acting career
MG: No, she was never really an actress as such she did ballet
though. After we started to become successful you could see her heart
wasnt really in it anymore and Fergal and I just KNEW she was
going to leave it was just a question of when. We were still
gutted when she told us, and there probably WAS a bit of animosity there
at first because she was a very big part of our lives and we werent
sure if we were going to be able to carry on or not. Were still
good friends though. She has a little kid now it would have been
difficult to carry on with a rock n roll lifestyle with
a child in tow.
AD: Fair point. Now, when you released I To Sky, we gave
it a glowing review and a ten out of ten rating, yet a lot of the other
reviews I read were very mixed. What was your reaction to that?
MG: I think they were mostly positive actually, but youre right,
there WERE some negative ones, and I wont claim that I dont
read them or that it doesnt affect me. One thing though is that
you can always tell the difference between journalists who actually
sit and LISTEN to the whole record and those who dont
Maybe some people had a problem with the fact that this was my big spiritual
album. The fans really clicked with it, which was fantastic, but whats
most important for me is that the music hits a deep personal note. I
think we achieved that.
I suppose Ive got a few concerns as to how the new album will
be received because, with this being our third album, the musical landscape
has changed. You know, the world is dominated by The Vines and The White
Stripes and their ilk and were not really sure where we fit in.
Thats not to criticise those bands I actually like them
but its a world apart from where we are. Our fans are some
of the best around though and we reckon theyll really go for it.
AD: Have you had any feedback at your gigs regarding the new stuff
MG: Yes we have! Its been extremely good. Theres already
a few songs that the hardcore fans love and talk about in the same breath
as Oxygen no pun intended! Those fans have given
us a great deal of confidence and encouragement for the forthcoming
album. The funny thing is, outside of the fan circle, everybody always
looks to where your stuff goes to in the charts, and thats such
a poor yardstick for success. Some people even view I To Sky
as something of a flop because it only reached number 20 in the
charts, but it sold a tremendous amount and we regarded it as
a huge success.
AD: So what would you consider your BIGGEST success?
MG: Probably those gigs we did with U2, but thats not just because
of the concerts themselves - I had a conversation with Bono and shared
a bottle of wine with him, and the connections there were pretty special.
I was amazed to find out he grew up in exactly the same area as I did
and used to go to exactly the same places as me. He even used to gout
with a girl whose parents my mother knew! Moments like that stay with
AD: Thats pretty special, like you say. What special qualities
do you think Sarah brings to the band, as opposed to Hilary?
MG: Well, I dont mean this to sound disrespectful to Hilary, but
Sarah is a better, more accomplished musician. She has different roots
and ideas and it takes the pressure off me a bit. It was no struggle
at all for her to fit into the band and making the new album was really,
really enjoyable. Its got Sarahs personality stamped all
over it and I feel like, whereas we were more limited before, were
now capable of doing even greater things with the music.
AD: The lyrics to your songs have an emotional quality that makes
them seem very personal. Is that so, and which songs mean the most to
MG: They ARE very personal but I try to veil them as much as I can.
I dont feel comfortable putting one hundred per cent of myself
out there for all to see. I think I try to strongly hint at something
most of the time without giving away exactly what it is that Im
singing about. I put a LOT of thought into the lyrics on I To
Sky but this time I wanted the music to be the driving force behind
the album; I never really had to go to paper this time it was
all very spontaneous. As for the song that means the most to me, Id
probably have to say Sinking, purely because its so
intense and a lot of people could communicate with it. I dont
know if I could ever write a song like that again.
AD: Ok, so whats your ultimate fantasy JJ72?
MG: I have one aim that is made up of few parts, and its not for
my ego or our bank balances! Simply, my ultimate fantasy would be for
us to play to 20,000 people who all felt exactly the same way as we
do at one particular moment in a song. One mass musical orgasm!
So, I think wed better leave Mark alone with his Bill and Ted
style world peace ambitions, but keep an eye out for the
bands album in 2006. Theres every chance itll be a
Interview: Tone E