Hailing from Ireland, Glyder were given a baptism of fire when they played their debut gig at 2004's (now) annual tribute gig to the late great Thin Lizzy front man Phil Lynott. However two years later the band confidently backed that appearance up with a stunning self titled debut album before supporting some high profile acts like WASP, Thunder, Bob Catley and Fish across the world. Second album Playground For Life released in 2008 continued the momentum, however with album number three Yesterday Today And Tomorrow, Glyder have bettered anything they have done before. Sea of Tranquility staff writer Steven Reid recently caught up with the band's guitarist Bat Kinane to talk about the new album, Y&T's Dave Meniketti, opening for Metallica and the frustrations a band with another excellent album under their belt still encounter.
SoT: Hi Bat, your new album Yesterday Today and Tomorrow has been available for a couple of months in the UK and Europe and will see the light of day in America soon. I think it is definitely your strongest release both musically and lyrically, there's still the same vibe of classic Irish acts from the past like Thin Lizzy and Rory Gallagher, however there is so much more to your music. The likes of 'Jack Strong' is reminiscent of Jethro Tull's 'Steel Monkey' or the easier vibe of the title track has a nod to the sixties with its approach. How would you describe the evolution of your sound?
Bat: I think a lot of people who don't understand us just automatically think Thin Lizzy and Gallagher. Obviously they are big influences on us but you are right there is a lot more going on. I suppose with any band a sound evolves but I think it is not a conscious thing it's just natural. When you start off your influences are so clearly heard but as you mature you tend to find your own sound naturally. I mean that's the way I see it with most bands.
SoT: Your last album 'Playground For Life' seemed to be a darker album, however 'Yesterday Today and Tomorrow' is more akin to your debut, was this a conscience effort to stay true to your roots?
Bat: Not really, the way we do it is we record what we have written and that's it really. I have my own quality control process here at my stage of writing and if I think a song's not good enough I won't even demo it, so what we record is only what is good enough for the album. We are not one of those bands that make 30 songs and choose the best 12 for the album. We aren't a Jam band either so whatever we record has been planned out in advance. With Glyder I don't think there is any real plan - we just do what we do and that's it.
The reason that Playground For Life is dark is because that was a very dark time for us as a band and personally. That album for me was just hard work. YT&T for me was a lot easier as I found I had a lot more inspiration to write. There are negative forces at work around me all the time and I have to ignore them. I think I prefer positive forces and positive people. Music is a positive thing and some bands are really dark but that's not for me anymore.
SoT: There does seem to be a new kind of confidence in the music and an air of defiance in some of the lyrics. Is this something you feel has come with the experience of being together through three albums and some really quite high profile support slots and tours?
Bat: I guess so. Speaking from my own point of view I know personally I have a lot more confidence now than I ever had. I used to be hung up on what this reviewer would think and worry I wasn't good enough, I'm getting too old for all that, but now I frankly don't care what the critics say. I mean I love a great review but I also understand that we aren't everyone's cup of tea either. One thing I know for sure is we are a great band and we write very well and no one can deny that.
SoT: There is still an undoubted nod to the classic Thin Lizzy sound in the new songs. I thought it was wonderful that Phil Lynott's Mum Philomena recently gave Glyder her blessing with the quote "When watching them I get such a buzz, the same as I did watching my Phillip. I go to lots of concerts and sometimes I fall asleep, but not with these guys." To get that sort of praise from someone so important to the Irish rock scene must have been pretty special?
Bat: Yes Philomena has always been a supporter of Glyder. Unfortunately her partner passed away earlier this year and she couldn't make it to our launch as she never misses them so she rang me up that day to wish us all the success with the new album, I mean that blows me away.
SoT: Yes, that was very good of her to do that and really shows what kind of person she is. Do you feel that constant comparison to Thin Lizzy has helped the band, or has it been a bit of a millstone to deal with?
Bat: It has definitely got us attention but it has also given people the impression that we are copyists and that is a difficulty and I think it is part of the reason why some people don't take us a little more seriously. But you know it is only a matter of time before people start to cop on that we are a lot more than that. It's a bit of a wait but it will happen eventually in fact on a very underground level it is happening already.
SoT: That's great to hear. I believe there was quite some time between the album being recorded and the actual release. What was that down to?
Bat: That was down to SPV getting over their insolvency issues, It was a very long wait but worth it for us.
SoT: The title track on the album has a wonderful lyric that refers to the passing of time and how our lives are but a fleeting moment in the grand scheme of things. It kind of feels a bit like a melancholy celebration. What were the thoughts behind those words?
Bat: Yes, the more people that I know and love die around me the more I ask the question of myself, what's it all about.
The death of my uncle who I loved a lot and my father just threw me off the rails a bit but in a positive way, I decided to pursue music which I love because I know life is very short and you have to enjoy it. I go to the graveyard with my mother and we clean the graves of all our relatives who are buried around the same spot and I get a great feeling when I'm there. It's also about our journey as a band and how the greats like Lizzy and Gallagher have influenced us and we are carrying that tradition. The song is about inheriting traditions and passing them on to new generations.
SoT: The title of that track obviously refers to the lyric, however it is also a nice touch that Y&T, who were originally called Yesterday & Today, guitarist Dave Meniketti plays a guitar solo on the song. How did that come about and did he like the play on words that the song's title could be viewed as?
Bat: We toured with Y&T and got on very well with them. I made a demo of the song and the intro solo really reminded Tony (Cullen, singer and bassist) of Dave Meniketti, so that sparked off the idea of asking him to do the solo. I don't know Dave's thoughts on it really but the idea for the song came after the tour we did with them and the title came from Y&T too but I guess it's the way a lot of songwriting works - you get a seed of an idea and it blossoms from there. Driving across motorways give you lots of thinking time!
SoT: My personal favourite on the album is 'Knockout'. I just love the way the music illustrates the lyric perfectly, as you describe the "rumble in the jungle" between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. Listening to the words is almost like being ring side at the fight! Where did that inspiration come from?
Bat: The music came first with that and it was punchy upbeat stuff, so I started writing about a punch up and it evolved into a song about Muhammad Ali which evolved into a song about a specific fight the "rumble in the jungle" and almost like a commentary running along with it. It's also got a deeper meaning for me as it's also about being the underdog and proving you have something great. Muhammad Ali was 32 when he won that title and he was regarded as the underdog. I'm in my thirties and the rest of the guys in Glyder are in their 20's. It's that stereotype that in both sports and music you are spent the minute you reach 30. But I think that's bullshit, Muhammad Ali proved it as did Bon Scott and many more. In fact I think you have an edge when you get a little older and have a bit of fire in your belly, it's kinda like your life depends on it. In your 20's you have a lot more time on your hands and not the same urgency. That's why I'm working hard and writing and working and making as much as I can while I can.
SoT: This album also sees drummer Davy Ryan contribute his first song to the band with the excellent 'Innocent Eyes', is this something we will hearing more of?
Bat: Yes I think so. Davy has written three songs for the fourth album and we have them demoed them. He writes great melody so it will be very interesting to see what comes of these songs.
SoT: The last three songs, which are listed as bonus tracks on the album 'Time To Fly', 'All You've Done' and 'Elverstown' have a significantly different vibe from the rest of the songs, slightly more, dare I say it....progressive. Is this something the band is keen to explore?
Bat: Yes, there is a definite prog influence at work. Pete is big into Rush and Davy loves Dream Theater, we all love Fish and Marillion from when we toured with Fish and I always liked "epic" stuff especially the second half of Abbey Road by the Beatles. That was very progressive for its time. My ambition sometime is to make an album that's all connected musically and lyrically, I know it takes a lot of thought and effort to do that, but I will do it someday!
SoT: I know that the appearance and look of the album is really important to the band. How good has it been to be able to have someone as respected as artist Mark Wilkinson (Marillion, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden etc.) create the cover for your last two albums?
Bat: It's fantastic. Mark captured the scene in Playground For Life so well. I hope we get to work with him again on album four. We all got a copy of his book "Shadowplay" last Christmas and it's amazing to have all our covers in it along with some of the greatest rock band in the world.
SoT: You have hooked up with SPV for the release of the CD, and I believe the album will be getting a proper US release. That must be quite exciting?
Bat: Yes, it's very exciting to get a US release. It's hard to know how people will react to it so I look forward to that. I would love to tour in The States. I went there last year for the first time on my honeymoon and went again this year. Amazing country and amazing people. I think you really have to go there to understand the people and to be honest I fell in love with it.
SoT: Have the band been able to put together extensive touring plans to support the album?
Bat: We are talking to some people now that are interested in booking us, so we will see what happens in the coming months.
SoT: You supported Metallica at their Marley Park in gig Ireland at the tail end of last year. Has that slot helped lift the band's profile and credibility at home in Ireland and abroad?
Bat: Very much so. We were unknown in Ireland until that and now I guess anyone who listens to rock and metal knows who we are but it is still very difficult in Ireland because we get no airplay there. There is dare I say it a shit music scene in Ireland and radio is controlled by the major labels and therefore we get a lot of USA rap and ghetto music and UK indie and pop crap. Irish artists can't get played in their own country especially if you play rock music so we haven't a hope.
SoT; The buzz surrounding the band was huge following your debut gig at the 2004 "Vibe for Philo" gig which is a tribute to Phil Lynott. That hype then continued through the release of your excellent self titled debut disc. With hindsight was that exposure and expectation so early in the band life a help or a hindrance?
Bat: It was a bit of a buzz but it was among a small section of rock fans. To be honest there are a lot of other bands out there that were very hyped up and we had no backing so we couldn't compete with that. There have been a lot of people out there trying to hinder our progress and there still are, for reasons I still have not figured out but as I say it is only a matter of time before people realize that we are the real deal.
SoT: You've mentioned that you are working on album number four already. What can you tell us about that?
Bat: Well Davy and Pete have now set up some home recording and are demoing and so am I. Tony doesn't do technology, but I guess he has ideas too. We haven't got together yet but I guess we will soon to see what's on the table and see if we can make a great album.
SoT: Finally, if you don't mind, I'd like to ask about your online blog. I have been following it on and off for quite some time and have to say that it is one of the best and most honest from a band member I've read. Some of the ideas are really innovative and intriguing. I've asked quite a lot of the musicians I have interviewed recently about the state of the music scene and the difficulties of being in a band these days. Your blog seems to cover these topics fantastically well.
Bat: Thanks very much. The blog for me is something that I do to get stuff off my chest and that is why it's so honest. I feel I have to talk about these things and the other guys in the band aren't interested in the business side so we never talk about it. I know people read it and I hope people start to contribute too. Something I found very interesting was my mate was telling me the other day that he is back buying CD's. He works in computers and was always downloading for free but he is tired of all this digital music that he has no value on so he goes to Amazon and buys the CD. He is in his 30's and all his mates are all starting to do the same. It's changing back to wanting something physical and that's really encouraging and great.
SoT: That's really encouraging. I always go for the physical product as well; maybe it is an age thing. I found it very interesting that you thought that limiting your time online contributed to writing some of the best songs you ever have.
Bat: I found that I was spending time on MySpace and trying to make "friends" and so on, thinking that it was helping the band but it wasn't. To be honest MySpace I think was the biggest waste of energy and people got all caught up in the bullshit of how many friends and play's you had and all that. I think people are a bit tired of it all. I mean it's important to do some social networking and engage the fans, but not every day and people started spending more energy on gaining fans and getting an internet presence than making music or experiencing life so you could have something to write about. I, like a lot of people got sucked into that and now I spend some time everyday doing the online stuff but I also make time to play music and write and record too. I think a lot of people want to go back to living in the real world they want something physical like a CD and a real life experience. The internet is great for lots of things but it's not the be all and end all.
SoT: Do you feel the current lack of a real music scene has made being in a band almost a hardship these days?
Bat: One thing's for sure - doing what we do is one of the hardest things you can ever do. It's incredibly hard to succeed and it's tough being broke all the time. It's harder now than it ever was because anyone can make music now and make it available so it is even harder to stand out among the crowd. Music fans are a little more cautious and cynical. All we can do is stay true to what we do and just try and keep going until people start to take notice.
SoT: I really liked the idea that you mentioned regarding "Collection Sharing" and think it could revolutionise the current scene, can you give us an idea of how this would work?
Bat: I guess you are talking about using unclaimed royalties to help develop new talent?
SoT: That's right.
Bat: I think it makes sense to do that. I'm only speaking as an Irish person as I don't know how other countries fund and develop art and music. In Ireland we have per head of capital more successful musicians than any other nation in the world. This brings a lot of revenue into the country but there is no support for rock musicians from the state which I find bizarre. As I explained earlier, foreign artists get a lot of airplay in Ireland and that money is leaving the country. I got a statement from a Collection Society the other day and they have 6 million euro in their bank account and I guess this is from unclaimed royalties. Even the interest on this could help new talent. I proposed a small tax on foreign artists getting airplay in Ireland to help develop home-grown talent. The money could be lent to a band to make an album and then the album sales could help pay it back, but of course there would always be a shortfall so the fund would subsidize this. Bands used to rely on labels to help them develop but most now don't get beyond their second album. So in Ireland if we help nurture bands and keep them afloat for three or four albums then there is a chance that we as a nation will produce the next stadium filling band.
SoT: I really think that is a fantastic idea that just makes so much sense. Finally will the folk and blues album that you've been working on see the light of day?
Bat: I'm working on that right now. It just about mixed and I'm thinking what I'll do with it. I have a really clever idea but I can't tell you in case someone robs it! [laughs]
SoT: I'll look forward to that! Thanks again for taking the time to answer the questions. Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Bat: Thanks again for this interview and in all honesty this is the best interview I have ever been given, I loved your questions and I'm thankful there are still people who care enough to listen and research stuff before they make interviews!
SoT: The pleasure was all mine!
The excellent new Glyder album Yesterday Today and Tomorrow is available through Steamhammer/SPV in Europe and the UK now and will be released in the US on 29th June 2010. Fans of classy melodic hard rock really should check it out.
(Click here to read our reviews of Yesterday Today and Tomorrow)