The Stars Align For Our Krypton Son’s Debut

The Derry Journal Interview OKS

     In a city brimming with creativity, local songwriter Our Krypton Son continues to stand out among the crowd. Now with a full band behind him and a superb debut album due to hit the shelves next week, he spoke to ‘Journal’ reporter Laurence McClenaghan about the band’s long-awaited album, Art Deco picture-houses and the long-term benefits of selling Superman comics...

     Known to his friends as Christopher McConaghy, Our Krypton Son has carved his way into the Northern Irish music scene since he first stepped out with art-rock upstarts Red Organ Serpent Sound all those years ago. Now a fully-fledged veteran of the local circuit and with a full band in tow, Our Krypton Son prepares to unleash his much-anticipated debut album next Friday, November 16, at Sandinos Back Bar.

    Alongside fellow band members Aaron McClelland (drums), Ciaran Coyle (bass), Conor Mason (keys) and Robert Elliott (guitar), Waterside man Christopher has created an album of note. The self-titled album was recorded in an asphalt roofing factory in Derry by the band and long-time collaborator Conor Mason. And with impressive reviews already pouring in, this is one local act poised for success. But it hasn’t been all rock and roll for these local visionaries. Producing this album has taken some hard work along the way, and a few lucky breaks. Indeed, the band have had the distinction of hearing their first album mixed by renowned UK producer Sam Williams, better known for his award-winning work with Supergrass, Plan B, Tricky and The Noisettes. The pair had previously met during Chris’ tenure with the Mercury-signed Red Organ Serpent Sound.

“It’s taken a couple of years to get this album out,” Chris tells the ‘Journal’.

“We started recording it and then fatherhood intervened so I took seven or eight months off before finishing it. We contacted Sam to see if he’d fancy mixing one song and we were delighted when he wanted to mix the whole thing. This took a bit of time, as he was working on The Go! Team album, but we got there in the end.”

“Around then I got involved with Smalltown America [Derry record label] who encouraged me to hold back on releasing it until the time was right. Some songs are older than others and the album is really just a snapshot of that time,” he adds.

     Gaining the support of a label was paramount. ‘It’s great to be involved with Smalltown America. They’ve been going for ten years or so and they’ve been great to work with, I’ve learned loads. Stuff like publicity and marketing, that side of things I didn’t really know about. It’s good that they took a chance on the album and I’ve been doing some song-writing for them too. They’ve got a class studio on Clarendon Street and that’s just got to be a boon for the Derry music scene.” Although the album has taken a couple of years to finesse, the band’s debut single "Catalonian Love Song" has certainly paved the way and set the standard for future releases. The song has graced the airways all over the country since its release in January 2012. It was also featured on BBC Introducing and play-listed on Downtown Radio and RTE Radio 1 and played by everyone from Stuart Bailie (BBC ATL) to Stephen McCauley BBC Electric Mainline), from Paul McLoone (Today FM) to Steve Lamacq (BBC Radio 2).

“The second single, "Plutonium", was released on limited edition purple vinyl, which was nice,” Chris says.

“It picked up a lot of radio play and got some great reviews. We’ve a third single due to come out on November 9 entitled "I’ll Never Learn to Say Goodbye" and then the album will come out next Friday.”

Those of you immersed in the local arts scene may recognise the album’s cover artwork too - as it was created by a well-known Derry painter and is a piece entitled ‘Jasper’.

“I’m really pleased with the album cover,” Chris enthuses.

“It’s a painting by a local artist called Andrew Glenn and it’s a beauty. He’s a phenomenal painter. I’d seen an exhibition of his in the Playhouse that blew me way. I fired a copy of the album at him in the hope he might want to be involved and as it turned out, he did. We knew each other at school though I think he was working abroad for a number of years.

“Interestingly, when I met him recently for a pint he recalled that I’d sold him a Superman comic when we were about 12 – a fact I’d completely forgotten – and so it seems somehow fitting that he might end up producing the artwork for an album called ‘Our Krypton Son’.”

Publicity for the new album includes some amazing new photos too. “These were taken at a privately-owned Art Deco cinema built by these two maverick film-making brothers from Comber,” Chris explains.

“Lisa Byrne [Wrapped in Plastic Photography] found out about the place and I gave the two brothers a ring to set something up.

“It’s a beautiful, ornate wee building with a great atmosphere. They show their own films as well as showing loads of old sci-fi, horror and B-movies. It’s a pity the picture house in St Columb’s Hall isn’t used the same way. But they’re all the product of Lisa’s fantastic talent and attention to detail – nowt to do with us.”

So while the wheels of publicity turn for Derry’s hottest hopefuls, the band are eager to get on stage and perform.

“We’re taking the album on the road now. If we sell enough CDs, we might re-press in vinyl, which would be amazing,” Chris says.

“The tour takes in the usual haunts in Derry, Belfast, Dublin and Galway, as well as a few others. The album launch is in Sandinos Back Bar next Friday night [November 16] and we have a great line-up, Little Bear, Conor Mason, Adam Leonard, Amo and local musical legend Paul PJ McCartney playing records in between. It should be a swell night!”

So what’s next for Derry’s Our Krypton Son?

“Album No2. I’m also working on a couple of EPs at the moment which I’m pretty excited about.

“Other than that, I’m just going to enjoy my time with my space-cadet of a three-year-old daughter, Saffron.”

Don’t miss Our Krypton Son’s album launch next Friday evening, November 16, at Sandinos Back Bar. Admission is £8 but if you pre-order your album through you get in for free. CDs and merchandise will be available to buy at the launch.

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