By: Colm O’Hare
Less than five years ago Dublin outfit Revelino were being tipped for greater things. Their eponymously titled debut album, released in 1995 bristled with three-minute, harmony drenched pop gems such as the Beatlesque ‘Happiness Is Mine’. The follow up, ’97’s Broadcaster managed to outshine it with another batch of perfectly formed, hook-laden numbers, including the single, ‘Step On High’. Such was the band’s popularity at the time that songs from both albums featured in no less than four movie soundtracks including the acclaimed thriller I Went Down and Blowdry starring Natasha Richardson.
Since then virtually nothing has been heard from the band. Until now, that is. Their third album To The End has just been released on their own Mercenary label and the band have embarked on a series of headlining gigs and high profile guest slots including an upcoming appearance in Kilkenny with Bob Dylan. But why the four-year lay-off?
“It wasn’t so much a break-up as a slow disintegration of the band,” says frontman and chief songwriter Brendan Tallon who along with his brother Ciaran and Bren Berry make up the core of the group. “The original drummer and bass player left after the second album and we were left sitting around wondering what to do. There was never a consideration of breaking up permanently. I always had this idea of the band being a group of four or five people who’d stick together. So we spent a year or two trying to find replacements. But it’s always hard for new people to come into a band which was as closely knit as we were. We had to accept in the end that we weren’t going to replace them and it was a case of trying to making a record and getting friends to come in.”
In the meantime Revelino had parted company with Dirt Records, the label who’d released the first two albums. Without a deal they opted for the DIY route.
“It’s difficult doing it that way,” Tallon explains “Obviously you haven’t got the money up-front so you’re looking for downtime in studios. Ronan McHugh who produced the record worked with us for six months but then he got a call from Def Leppard and he obviously had to grab the opportunity. We decided to wait until he finished with them but what started as six months ended up being a lot longer. There were moments when it was frustrating and you wonder is it worth it but at the end of the day I got what I wanted sonically and that’s what matters.”
To The End is markedly different from Revelino’s first two albums in many respects. Opening with strings rather than the more familiar chiming guitars the mood throughout is sombre, reflective and introspective. Songs like ‘Death of A Century’, ‘Darkness Doubled’ and ‘Surrender To The End’ deal with subject matters such as the meaning of life, relationships, death and hope
“There’s a solemn air about it but it’s not despairing,” Tallon offers. “It’s about loss and things I had to deal with at the time we were making the album.
“I had to face the death of a member of my family and a couple of friends. It’s also about the end of relationships and the way I have changed over the years. When we were going into the studio to record it we didn’t really have a choice about what kind of album it was going to be. I have to be honest with myself. I don’t write story songs and I’m not a political writer.”
Ciaran Tallon is even more forthright in describing the band’s mood and approach when recording To The End. “We were totally uncompromising,” he says. “We didn’t care if people said ‘this is the most depressing record in the world’. We were even laughing among ourselves when we were making it. ‘I don’t hear a single lads’ was the big joke in the studio. But we knew the stuff was strong. It’s a grower. There’s nothing immediate on it and it’ll take people a while.”
Over the past three years Bren Berry the third remaining founder member of Revelino has played a key role in developing Vicar Street as one of Dublin’s premier venues. This has obviously opened up opportunities for the band, which they are only too happy to take as Brendan Tallon explains.
“Let’s face it who wouldn’t jump at the chance to do gigs like playing with Television or Echo and The Bunnymen,” he says. “We’re not going to unduly take advantage of that situation but every band will use all the contacts they’ve built up and we’re no different. It’s not like we haven’t done big support acts before – we played with Neil Young and Pearl Jam at the RDS four or five years ago.”
To The End is released on Mercenary Records. Revelino play the Smithwicks Source Festival at Kilkenny on 15th July 2001.