Five Dollar Soul: Irish alternative band breaking through on the mainland

Wednesday 30th April 2003

Irish alternative rock band FIVE DOLLAR SOUL are quizzed by Tony Cummings.

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Tony How can people buy "Burn The Flag"?

"We will be selling 'Burn The Flag' at the gigs we play and people can contact us by email ("

Tony: There seems to be some confusion as to whether you are based in Northern Ireland or Scotland.

"At the time of recording we were all in Scotland studying but now the other three have moved home and I am planning to head home in the near future when I have finished my degree in English Literature and Popular Culture. In the meantime I will be jetting back and forth between Ireland and Scotland, as my degree is quite flexible. I live in Bangor, Northern Ireland. Matthew lives in Coleraine, Errin lives in Ballymoney and Andrew lives in Ballyclare. We consider the band as being Belfast based. We would like to think we have a vision for our band with this new single. My brother was in America at the time of September 11th on an exchange trip. A few days after the bombing he was in Boston when he noticed an old hotel with a bill board on top of it with a really interesting quotation: 'Men will find the truth when they are free to pursue it.' That was such an evocative sentence and that is the kind of attitude we had for this new single. All the songs on this record are about Jesus and the Christian faith. Before that we had songs about girls - and more girls! But on this one all the songs are about Christianity."

Tony: You've spoken about "Burn The Flag". What about the other songs on the CD?

"What the song 'The Sweetest Sin' is really saying is that I just keep messing up all the time and how can God love me, but it is so much bigger than that. A line in that song says, 'The sweetest sin always brings me down but it is just one thorn in your crown.' The third song is 'Jesus' Blood' - not to be confused with another song of that title. There is a long story relating to the original song. The lead singer of a band called Sparklehorse was listening to the radio on the verge of taking his own life by walking into the sea, when he heard the Tom Waites' version of this song. It saved his life and although he wasn't converted to Christianity it made him realise there was more to live for. I so liked the title Jesus' Blood I thought I would kind of nick the title and write another song about it, because it is such a profound phrase. No one knows who wrote the first version of the song. The title is the only link our song has with the original Jesus' Blood. It does not steal the tune or anything. We wanted to do something a bit different; it's a bit quieter so we used an old machine called a copycat (like a tape loop) in the recording."

Tony: Who have been your major musical influences?

"We are influenced by so many different things. I really like Bill Mallonee now, but I also like The Foo Fighters, Radiohead, The Pixies, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Otis Reading and Carol King. Matthew likes a lot of different stuff, he likes Sparklehorse too. Errin likes P.O.D., but then he also likes Bebo Norman and is a big Larry Norman fan. Andrew likes old country music, Steve Earl, Bryan Adams and Norah Jones. The new songs are probably a lot louder and the quieter ones are more quiet and I suppose it comes from confidence. It's easy to play the guitar and it is not so easy to play it well or with great confidence. I think there is a real easiness to just switch on the distortion pedal and hope that it makes up for bad songwriting. I am not saying we are great songwriters by any means but we try not to do that now as much. We are trying to be a bit more varied - that sounds very pretentious!" CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
About Tony Cummings
Tony CummingsTony Cummings is the music editor for Cross Rhythms website and attends Grace Church in Stoke-on-Trent.

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