Entertainment.ie Interview FWW's Cahir

"Record deals don't matter, good music matters" - Cahir

Alt-rock trio Fighting With Wire formed in their native Derry from the ashes of several bands in 2003,and have since gone on to become one of the Northern Irish rock scene'smost celebrated bands in recent years. They released their debut album'Man vs. Monster' in 2008 on Smalltown America, and were promptlypicked up by Atlantic Records for a five-album deal that will see their music being released in Europe and the USA in the coming year. I spoketo frontman and guitarist Cahir O'Doherty about the trio's rise, and where they plan to take their career next.

Can you tell us a bit about Fighting With Wire's background?

Fighting With Wire started as a bit of fun, to be honest - it was a way for myself and Craig [McKean, drums] to play together. I had written five songs and wanted to put a bandtogether, just to see what they sounded like. Craig and I playedtogether in a band called Clearshot, which did quite well, but endedunder tragic circumstances when our dear friend Marty McCafferty took his own life. We felt we still had a lot to offer, and after we hijacked a show and played the five songs, people really responded towhat we were doing and it felt good.

There seems to be a really healthy music scene in NorthernIreland at the moment - especially hard/alternative rock bands likeyourselves. Why do you think this is?

I think it's always been difficult being a band from Northern Ireland,so you have to try harder. As a result, there are some really amazing bands kicking and screaming there way out of NI, it's great! It's notjust hard/alternative bands, though - every type of music is beingrepresented, all the bands pull together and respect each other, and I think this is key for progress.

I'msure you're asked this a lot, but coming from Derry, would you havebeen influenced by local acts like The Undertones, or moreinternational stuff? Was there a common interest/musical hero when youformed?

There have always been great bands in Derry when we were growing up - bands like Cuckoo and Schtum would have interested me personally, butit was early '90s American rock that blew us away, like Nirvana, SonicYouth, The Pixies, Fugazi, Dinosaur Jr., RATM etc... It was the honestyand the belief that these bands had - and of course the music and songs- that inspired all of us to play music that we believe in, and not follow any trends or become some fashion victims. That would destroy us.

Staying on the Northern Irish theme, a lot of bands from NI do really well locally, but are largely ignored/passed over in the Republic. Does that divide impinge much on your touring and release plans, etc?

Yes, I've always noticed this divide - but I think it's slowly but surely disappearing. We tried to play a lot of shows in the south whenthe band started, because I believe we are an Irish band even thoughwe're from the north. We found it extremely difficult to get any showsor help in the south of Ireland, and we felt very disappointed aboutthat. So we focused on NI and the UK, where we were given a chance totour with lots of bands who were all very helpful and nice. We met afew bands from Ireland at the start who just weren't nice people - theyhad this attitude like they were owed something, and that's bullshit! Ithink there are a lot of great people, bands and promoters working tobetter the music divide situation at the moment, and it's exciting.

How did the deal with Atlantic happen?

A combination of: luck, hard work, magic, touring, chance, good songs,connections, reviews, attitude and of course the most important thing, HAIR!

Does the fact that it's a five-album deal bring pressure with it, or a sense of security, or a bit of both?

Nothing is certain. We'll just keep writing, touring and putting out records for as long as we can - that's all we ever wanted.

You released 'Man vs. Monster' on [Belfast label] Smalltown America. Being so closely involved with (and supported by) asmall independent label, was it a difficult decision to move to amajor?

STA is a part of us and we're a part of it; it will always be that way,because we have worked hard together for something we believe in. Record deals don't matter, good music matters.

What albums/bands/songs did you listen to most in 2008?

Future of the Left - 'Curses'
Foals - 'Antidotes'
Lafaro - 'Tuppeny Nudger'
ASIWYFA - 'Set Guitars to Kill'
Baddies - 'Battleships'
Radiohead - 'In Rainbows'
Death Cab For Cutie - 'Narrow Stairs'
Battles - 'Mirrored'
Adebisi Shank - 'This Is the Album of a Band Called Adebisi Shank'

I believe you're currently writing the new album in remote Donegal - is it difficult to write and work in a city, being constantly surroundedby people, especially after the year you've had?

It's not like that at all. I just love Malin Head, it's very peaceful.I've been going there all my life, and my parents happen to have a niceholiday home up there, so I like to go and isolate myself for a whilethen bring the rest of the band up to finish songs and record ideas.It's great, we're very lucky to have that option.

You're playing several dates in the Republic in January - but what's next for FWW?

Our third single 'Sugar' comes out in February,so we're touring the UK and Ireland. Then we're off to America in March, to do SXSW and tour out there to promote our album...  then,maybe some studio time for album two. We don't have an exact scheduleat this point, but we're gonna be busy.


- Lauren Murphy, entertainment.ie