dispatches from the pop scene...minus the corn syrup.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Chart Rigger Interviews Industry's Donal Skehan

It's been awhile since Chart Rigger delved into the mind of a pop star and featured an interview—April 2007, to be exact; Mr. Dan Gillespie Sells of The Feeling.

But Industry, who formed in Ireland, have caught the ear of D'luv, so it was high time I pick up the phone and dialed Donal Skehan, the charming dark-haired gent of this poptastic four-piece.

You first heard a clip of Industry's upcoming single "My Baby's Waiting" (due out in Ireland June 19) here, and now—ahead of planned releases in the U.K. and, fingers crossed, the U.S.—dashing Donal spills it all. From streaking in the videos, the forthcoming Industry album and being "the biggest pop music fan ever," it's all below. So get to reading!

Good morning, Donal!
How are you? I’m a regular reader of yours!

Well, you do strike me as someone with an appreciation for fine art. Speaking of which, your Good Mood Food blog is super! I’ll have to send the ball and chain there for some new ideas.
Excellent. Tell him to pick up a few recipes there. And there’s a book coming out also in October, so he can get that too!

How did the band come to be called Industry?
That’s a bit of a random story. We were flying over to Sweden to record the first two songs. It was actually me and the blond guy in the band [Lee Hutton]. He was reading a magazine that had the words “aviation industry” in it. We were kind of wracking our brains trying to get a name. It had come to the stage where we were just happy to get something. There are so many bands like Take That and Girls Aloud, where the name wasn’t that amazing to start with but it’s what you create around it. So we were quite happy with Industry. Everyone agreed on it, and that’s how it came about.

So basically you’re telling me you were this close to being called Aviation.
Yes, well, that was an option, too!

You and Industry manager James Hyland have worked together before.
Yeah. James had a music television channel [Bubble Hits] and I worked as a producer on that. I used to do a little showbiz gossip show on the channel.

The food blog, the pop band, being a TV producer—you really are a jack-of-all-trades.
Fingers in so many pies!

Is it tough balancing the launching of the group with preparing for your cookbook’s release?
To be honest, it all just seems to have gotten really busy all of a sudden. The book, at the moment, is in its finishing stages. So just before we’re going on a radio show for the band, I’m off doing edits for the book. It’s a bit crazy, but it’s the only way I’d have it. I totally enjoy being busy.

What’s the book going to be called?
It’s called Good Mood Food.

Like the blog. Back to Industry, where was the video for your first single “My Baby’s Waiting” shot?
It was shot in Majorca. We actually went over with a Swedish TV production crew and they shot it with us. We had awful trouble with it. Apparently there’s only one week in Majorca when it rains, and we got that week. It was basically us chasing the sun for the three days we were there. On the last day, when we were really worried, the sun came out. So we got the shots!

Did you know any of your band mates before you all came together?
Yeah. Actually, I knew Lee. We were in a band before together. And when the band kind of broke up we always kept in touch. We’ve just been good friends. When you come and do something like this, and the whole process is actually working, it’s so much nicer to be working with someone you know and you trust and who you really get on with.

How many songs have Industry recorded so far?
We’ve recorded seven. I know James is still on the lookout for the last few songs for the album. Oscar Holter and Jakke Erixson are the names of the two lads who are doing the stuff, so they’ll be writing the last few tracks, as well, but [James] is on the lookout for “the big one,” if you know what I mean. It’s nearly there. The tracks that we’ve recorded so far are all quite different. You’ve heard a few of them, haven’t you?

Yeah. I’ve heard “In My Arms” and “My Baby’s Waiting.”
The song we’re releasing in the U.K. in August, there’s more of a dance beat. I know “My Baby’s Waiting” is quite commercial, but this one is a little bit different. It’s dancey. I’d be a bit embarrassed to say it has a Lady GaGa sound. But it does, it has that kind of dance beat to it. I’d be very flattered if there were comparisons made there, but I won’t make them myself! [Laughs]

Let’s project into the future and say these songs will be giant smash hits. When can Industry’s adoring public expect a full album?
We’re aiming for a September/October release for the album. It will depend how busy we are. Because we’ve recorded pretty much half the album, it will kind of depend on getting the time to record the final songs for it.

Well, coming full circle, I think you should call the album Aviation. Think of it: Industry, Aviation—the band is taking off.
[Laughs] That’s a great idea! I’ll have to mention that to them. They’ll all be laughing.

Do the four of you write music, as well?
“In Your Arms” is written by Lee. We’re working so closely with the producers, we’ve kind of become friends with them. I know some pop groups kind of go in and basically just record the song and leave. But we’ve been sitting in with them and giving them our opinions. We’re all talking about the tracks rather than just going in and being told what to do. We are definitely given more input. It’s great that the management people are taking a listen to the stuff that we’re writing.

Do you personally like pop music?
I love it! I’m like the biggest pop music fan ever!

Who are some other artists you’re into?
I love everything in the charts at the moment. I love Mika’s stuff. I love Take That’s recent stuff. Jesus, there are so many I could list off. I love all the pop that you feature! [Laughs] I do like a bit of cheesy pop.

I really should’ve just been born in Europe, I suppose. Something must have gotten switched at the very last moment. Half of my family is Irish, going way back…
I hate to tell you this, but you’re the typical American. Every American has an Irish story. “You know, my granddad, he’s related to this guy down in Cork…” [Laughs]

While we're on the topic of Ireland, let’s talk about your 2008 Eurosong entry, “Double Cross My Heart.”
Oh, God. I didn’t know you knew that much!

I do my research.
Well, I won’t hide it anymore. I’m a huge Eurovision fan. I had kind of done stuff in the music industry before and the opportunity just came up with the National Song Contest. Previously they hadn’t had it open to the public to enter. After the band I was in before, I kept in contact with a few of the songwriters. I pitched the idea to them and they came back with “Double Cross My Heart.” I liked it and thought it would be good for Eurovision. I could see a performance around it. So, I flew over to Sweden and recorded it. I recorded a mini documentary thing—it’s actually up on YouTube—and they picked me for one of the final six. I was extremely happy till I realized that turkey was in the same competition! [Laughs]

Can you believe you lost to Dustin the Turkey?
Oh, man. I’m still getting’ over it. It’s so funny, though, because I haven’t really done any press since then. But we’re doing the radio tour this week and practically the first question everybody’s asked is, “How does it feel to be beaten by a turkey?” I try to brush over it fairly quickly.

We’ll all be expecting lots of turkey recipes in your cookbook.
There’s only one, actually! Turkey mint!

How did you get to be so handy in the kitchen?
My mom and dad are fruit and vegetable distributors in Ireland, so we’ve always had a well-stocked fridge. There’ve always been new ingredients in our kitchen to kind of make anything. But my aunt is actually a food stylist and a caterer. She’s my godmother, as well, and we were very close when I was growing. You know, I just picked it up from osmosis, I guess. Basically, we’d spend weekends and I’d pick it up. There’s been no real formal training, just practice and practice.

Do you do all the photos of the dishes on the Good Mood Food blog yourself?
Yeah. I do. It’s a hobby to me, so I totally enjoy doing that, as well. I would spend my Saturday afternoon doing that rather than going to the cinema, do you know what I mean? My family has decided not to eat my food anymore because they can’t stand sitting while I take photos before I serve to them. [Laughs] So they’ve given up on my cooking!

The whole setup and look to your blog with the photos seems very intricate, with the lighting and the professional camera.
Thank you very much! That’s brilliant. It’s good to hear feedback. I don’t hear it too often except for the comments [on the blog]. The good thing with the book is it’s starting to kind of take off with the press here. It’s wonderful to get feedback on it, because it is, like I said, a hobby. To get something from it is pretty amazing. I’m happy with it.

How did the book deal come about? Did you seek that out?
No, not at all. It was through the blog. The commissioning editor of Mercier Press, who’s the Irish book publisher, contacted me and asked me if I would be interested in submitting a kind of brief to them about putting a book together. So it basically came through the blog. That was the amazing thing.

You have a girlfriend named Sophie.
Yeah. She’s from Sweden.

What was the first thing you ever cooked for her?
Oh my God. I think it must’ve been a pasta dish or something...or popcorn! [Laughs] Probably something really simple. Popcorn for a movie. No. I’m pretty sure it was a pasta dish. Fresh tomatoe pasta dish. Something simple.

Is she as into cooking as you are?
Um, she likes to cook, but I wouldn’t say she’s that wonderful. [Laughs] Let’s just say she tries. She definitely tries. She’s excellent at cleaning up the dishes!

Well, that’s all I have for you, Donal.
Thanks so much!

Keep in touch. We can send each other 140-character messages on Twitter.
They drive me insane. I have so much to say and the thing cuts me off!

Well, best of luck to you and your Industry mates, as well.
Massive thanks. We’ve all been reading the posts, so thanks a million for all the pluggin’.

And, hey, you and Lee—shirts off in the next video.
Right! I think we might not have a problem with that. [Laughs] I’ll put it to James and see what he says. We tried to streak but they just wouldn’t let us. But look very closely in the last frames of every video and we do a streak across the telly.

This is still the interview, you know.
You said this was finished two minutes ago! Oh, God.

Grab more info on Industry from their official site.

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  • At 3:10 PM, Blogger Paul said…

    absolutely brilliant interview. it's easy forget how hard it is to actually make an interview sound effortless and engaging - something a lot of other bloggers struggle with. You pull it off with your usual aplomb and a perfectly cheeky request for partial nudity. I mean how brillo is that? I'm so excited about Industry and it seems absolutely right and proper that you bag their first big online interview :) :) I'm cooking something from the good mood food blog this weekend for my gay pride visitors :) Come on over !!

  • At 3:22 PM, Blogger Joshua said…

    Boooo he had me cross-eyed and drooling until some chick named "Sophie" popped up! Boooo hissss booooo. But wow, what a well rounded pop star who is unabashedly a fan of pop, loves it! It does make me want to listen/like their music more! Great job D'Luvvv

  • At 4:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i am loving industry!! seriously cannot wait to get my mitts on the single as soon as it's released. i hope it tops the irish charts! love them!! i honestly think this sophie thing is a cover up..only time will tell. not a deal anyway. go industry!

  • At 5:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Amazing how many people have a girlfriend in Sweden!

  • At 11:25 AM, Blogger Mike said…

    I'm not really down with Donal's music but I'd munch on his BBQ Cajun Spatchcock any time!

  • At 7:43 PM, Anonymous Q said…

    I like brilliant interivew here. Aplus job! Can you interview MIley Syrus nexx?

  • At 11:27 AM, Anonymous kitten said…

    old ball and chain, eh? HSSShhhT!

  • At 12:53 AM, Anonymous numbfromdrugs said…

    cute boy. that is all.


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