This is part 2 of an interview with Kathryn and Daniel from ‘I Am Not Left Handed’. The first part ‘That Was Then’ is available here.

This might seem like (another) weird question but then again I am slightly weird myself. I realise you’re a relatively young band but are they any songs of your own that you don’t like and would not contemplate playing live ? Maybe early songs that you have now outgrown. Or are you fiercely proud of everything you’ve ever produced ?

I mean everyone has songs by their favourite bands that they can’t stand. For example, I love R.E.M but simply can not stand ‘Losing My Religion’.

I’m not articulating this very well - I guess I’m thinking of when Kurt used to get completely fed up with endless requests for ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’.

D: I don’t know that we feel relatively young! Making decent music takes time, we’ve years of unfocused songs and struggling bands behind us. I think as we get better at it, and letting the songs flow more naturally, we’re happier with the end result. Kathryn definitely has very high standards, she won’t let us even record something that she’s not 100% behind, whereas I tend to be a bit more of the attitude, oh we can just tinker with it a bit. There are one or two songs that I’ve forced a bit more, and as a result they just haven’t had the same staying power - ‘Falling’ from Yes Means No is one of those, we don’t ever play it live anymore.

K: Though who knows, maybe it’s just waiting for us to come and rewrite it… we do end up doing that a lot.

Mind you, I call you a young band but I saw an interview with you in July 2009 when you talk of gigs, videos and songs, so when exactly did you actually form ?

D: As I say, Kathryn and I have been doing this for a few years, in different iterations but I think the end of 2007 was when we really worked out where we were going and added Benji - we had another guitarist who left, and it really made us have to sit down and rewrite all of our songs as a three-piece, which was the best thing that ever happened to us.

OK - which of the following appear on your iPod/turntable/cassette player ?

D: A little Idlewild, a fair amount of Nirvana. I’ve done sound for the Duke Spirit but don’t have any of their recordings. The Fall not at all, The National I keep hearing about, but I haven’t managed to get into them despite a couple of casual listenings. The Smiths… let’s just say I’m a big fan of Johnny Marr, less so of the rest of the band. No idea about the Chameleons, sorry.

K: I have plenty Idlewild, Nirvana, R.E.M, Duke Spirit and even The Chameleons. None of the Fall, the National and definitely not the Smiths. Marr is great but I find Morrissey just too pretentious. Take that comment about the killings in Norway being nothing compared to the number of animals killed for KFC and McDonalds every day. Every time he puts out a quote I just think - I have absolutely nothing in common with your way of thinking.

You’ve covered ‘Lousy Reputation’ by ‘We Are Scientists’ and ‘I Will Follow You Into The Dark’ by ‘Death Cab For Cutie’. What other songs have you covered ? Or soundcheck to ?

K: We always had a policy from the beginning of only playing our own material, and not covering other people’s songs. I think we’d heard too many other bands in Dublin who’d include a cover in their set, and at the end, that’s all that people would remember.

D: But as we’ve become more confident in our sound, we’re loosening that up a little. In a different band, we did used to play a mixed-up version of ‘Where Is My Mind?’, with Kathryn on drums. We’re toying with a cover of a Therapy? song at the moment, the harmonies are really nice, we’re just trying to get it to work instrumentally.

Are you all those sickening self-taught people who can play a song back perfectly seconds after listening to it ? Or did you have any formal music tuition ?

D: I’m very much from a classical music background, I played the viola for years, but never really found it that satisfying - I do think the classical education system with its focus more on reading music rather than listening is a much poorer way to learn. Since I started playing guitar and bass in my teens, I’ve found it a lot more enjoyable, just playing by feel and with what sounds good, and essentially trying to forget how to read music. I do get jealous of Kathryn sometimes, she’s a far better ear for harmonies and sense of rhythm than me. Then again, she keeps me on my toes and makes me up my game, so it’s not all bad!

When recording the new album, it appeared you hired a big house in the country with a studio so you were able to live together while recording ?

Did this help and accelerate the creative process or did it ever get claustrophobic ?

K: It’s a medium-sized house in the very beautiful surroundings of Northamptonshire. We’ve been in and out of London reasonably regularly too, so it hasn’t been complete isolation, which I think is good in the sanity stakes. It’s a great place though, there’s horses out one window, a river at the bottom of the garden and a graveyard next door to keep an eye on us. Sometimes the local kids go there to make out. That’s about as uncomfortable as it gets though.

D: We’ve put the studio together ourselves. It’s been so great to actually have the space to make and record the music properly, with a proper live room and control room, it’s really been a fertile time for us in terms of writing new songs - the hard bit is finishing them, we’ve a lot of new things we like, but trying to coax them into a recordable shape is trickier.

Now we turn to face the future. You finished recording the new album ‘The Fire And The Sigh’ a few weeks ago. Is a release date imminent ?

D: Not quite finished yet! I think we were initially trying to release some singles ahead of the album, so we worked hard on Alone and put it out. But as we’ve progressed, we just want to make sure the album is complete and everything’s as perfect as it can be before we put anything else out. So you won’t hear any more until it’s all perfect.

K: The end of August is D-Day, but then there’s mastering and artwork and more videos to worry about, so it’ll be another couple of months. All the advice we’ve had is that indie bands tend to rush their releases, and it all comes out in a muddle. This is a big statement for us, so we want to make sure everything’s right before it goes out in the world.

Oh I nearly forgot - what is the origin of the name - ‘The Fire And The Sigh’ ?

D: I like album titles that are lines from a song on the album, almost as much as I hate album titles that are the same as one of the song titles, I think that’s just lazy. I don’t know about the others, but layout: post comments: true for me, The Fire & The Sigh really sums up the tone of Kathryn’s writing, I think she writes about things that make her angry or melancholy. I can see Kathryn laughing as I’m saying this, but that’s how it seems to me!

K: I’m only laughing a little bit…

I just love ‘The Place That Won’t Take Me Back’. I’m almost reluctant to ask this as I firmly believe you don’t really want or need to know what the lyrics are about. It’s much better left to your imagination.

I remember when I discovered that ‘The Geese of Beverley Road’ by The National was actually about ruffians setting off car alarms. I was distraught for 5 days.

So, although it’s fraught with danger, could you describe what the ‘The Place…’ is about ?

K: I’ve kept a couple of blogs over the years. I’m sort of dodging this question for fear of ruining the song for you now, but there are two posts I can think of, that were about how I write songs. They might help make up for not answering.

One here:

And one about how it’s probably more obvious an answer than it would have been in an older song here:

Glastonbury has just been and gone. So has Bono. Do you like festivals ? Any plans to appear in any this summer ?

D: Festivals are okay, I did go to 29 one summer when I was working with the Rumble Strips, which I think burned me out on them a little. Playing at festivals, it can be hard to get a real rapport with the crowd, we like things a bit more intimate where you can have a back and forth with people. Because of the recording, we’ve not been applying for festivals this summer, we may find one or two next year that we like.

Can you believe Larry Mullen Jnr is 49 years old ? He looks about 19.

D: He’s always been consistently youthful, he looks like he could join up with Westlife any minute… I think the rest of U2 may have been keeping him in a freezer between shows. By the way, I’m not an ardent supporter of U2, but if you haven’t recently, go back and watch the video to Elevation. The Edge is hilarious.

K: It’s funny you should mention this. I wasn’t so big a fan of U2 until I saw them live at Slane Castle back in 2001. Over the whole day, I’d sneaked from the very back of the crowd to the very front (it pays to be tiny at most gigs - unless it’s an Audioslave show, though that’s a whole other story) And just as the drums kicked in I was hit by this wall of sound. And it was like nothing I’d ever heard before. ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’ still stands as the best song I’ve ever heard live.

Conversely, my home town is the only place that U2 have officially said they’ll never play again. When they had one of their first gigs there back in the late 70s, the crowd threw pennies at them til they got off stage. Whoops. No accounting for taste I suppose.

‘Lifelines’ seems a pretty dark love song - ‘No more talks of who let who down’.

K: A dark lovesong to friendship after a break-up, is probably closer to the truth. I wrote a blogpost recently that sort of relates, if you think anyone’s curious. The post isn’t about Lifelines, but it’s on a similar theme

I love the new single ‘Alone’. This song first appeared as a 75 second tune on the ‘Time To Leave’ EP and was embellished to evolve into a fully fledged 4 mins 30 second perfect pop song complete with a homemade zombie video.

Did you always intend to develop the song in this way ? Was the EP version just a taster ?

D: It’s kind of representative of the way we write - things tend to hang around as shortened versions for quite a while, until something else occurs to us and it takes a new direction. I think Kathryn had written it about 2 days before we recorded it for ‘Time To Leave’. The same happened with ‘Boats’ on ‘Yes Means No’…

Wonderful IANL quote from bandwagon

‘We don’t play pop music, we don’t write music for art’s sake, we don’t represent any movements, we’re not hip, we’re not cutting edge, we don’t dress to be cool. We do manage ourselves, we write our own songs, we do our own recordings, we shoot our own videos, we design our own covers, we made our own website. We’re not generally negative people, oh yes, and we’re not lefthanded.’

OK - final question.

What plans, hopes, ambitions does the band have for the rest of 2011 and into 2012 ?

D: The big plan is to get the album out. We’re so excited to finally be making a full-length statement. A lot of people are saying that the 40 minute album is dead as a concept, that singles are the way of the future, but I think there’s very much something to be said for sitting down and listening to an album through for 40 minutes. It’s the length of the human attention span, at least that’s what they told us in school as we had 40 minute lessons.

K: At the moment, we are focused on finishing the recording, so we’re trying not to put too many plans in place until everything’s ready. Another US tour is definitely on the cards, and hopefully some Canadian dates too. We’ll be back to Ireland as well, for the Irish release and in the medium term, we really want to get to some of continental Europe: Spain, Germany and the Netherlands in particular. I think we’ll just have to see where the wind blows us - we ended up touring the last EP for two years, so we’ll just have to see how the album does, and where people want us to come and play.

D: We are hoping to start doing a regular internet show tho, maybe once a month - in some ways we feel like our home town is online these days, more so than Dublin or London, so if we can connect with people there, so much the better! We’ve some video ideas we’re excited about making too, we’re just trying to keep on the straight and narrow for this last stretch. We are letting ourselves out for one London show in September - it’s for a fantastic children’s charity. It’s in Bush Hall, on the 23rd of September. Details as always are on the website at:

Many thanks for your time and all the best.

D: Thanks for all the thoughtful, wide-ranging questions. I always enjoy having the time to answer interviews like this, it makes me get my head in order - the act of writing things down means you have to commit to positions on things you may not have forced yourself to decide about until now.

K: Just so :) It’s been a pleasure.