AU57: Not Squares news feature

June 1, 2009

Not Squares



On a Friday night in the middle of June, Belfast’s Stiff Kitten venue is going to have its arse handed to it by three of the most exciting live bands in Ireland: Not Squares, Adebisi Shank and LaFaro. The occasion? The launch of Not Squares’ debut 7” single, the rather splendid ‘IYOUUSIT’/ ‘Aye Yo Pa’.

“Adebisi Shank are fucking brilliant,” enthuses Not Squares drummer Keith Winter, as he and bassist Ricki O’Rawe spend an hour with AU in the bowels of Queen’s University Student’s Union. “I mean, the energy they give out is unrivalled, really. I don’t think I’ve seen it for a while.” There’s a touch of false modesty in that statement, perhaps, because his own band runs them close. Last month, the Belfast dance-punk quartet passed only the first anniversary of their debut gig, and yet though still a part-time operation, they’ve built an impressive fanbase in Northern Ireland and further afield.

“We’ve got a really good group of friends who support us everywhere we go, and dance, and we always wanted it to be like that,” says Keith. “We started a band to make music so everyone could dance and have a good time. And also, when we go anywhere else [they have played all over NI, as well as Dublin, Edinburgh and London], we treat it as locally as we do in Belfast. And I think that attitude maybe comes across.”

When they played to a bunch of schoolkids in a club in Omagh, says Ricki, “Some of them loved it, some of them were really confused and some of them were just getting handjobs in the corner. Literally.” Granted, arrangements for the band’s frequent forays out of town have been helped by goodwill for the four members’ previous bands – Tracer AMC, The Killing Spree and Gaju, amongst others – but they wouldn’t have made much of an impact if they weren’t such a vital proposition in their own right, one that detonates when they get onstage. Added to that energy is the music itself – think Liquid Liquid and early Liars – and an almost imperceptible sense of ideology and inclusiveness driving things along.

“If Rachel [Keenan, keys] goes and DJs somewhere by herself,” says Keith, “she can say she’s Not Squares. If I go and drum or shout somewhere, I can say I’m Not Squares. It’s this idea that one or two or three or four or five people, or more, can represent that name. It’s the idea of a collective, I guess, and instead of fencing your territory and saying, ‘If one member leaves, we can’t function’, it needs to be more fluid than that.”

“That was born out of the fact that all our friends kept coming to the shows,” says Ricki. “It was like, ‘Are these guys Not Squares as well?’ Obviously, they are.”

The single is being released on the Dublin-based Richter Collective label, who also intend to put out the band’s debut album later in the year. It’s a relationship that was first established after Not Squares played a gig with Dublin’s finest post-prog-punk scientists, their new labelmates BATS. “Those guys have been brilliant,” says Ricki. “I was thinking about it the other day, how much they’ve helped us. They’re so enthusiastic. The first time we played with them, they were like, ‘Come and play with us, waaaaargh!’ This energy. Like, ‘I’m ringing Richter Collective tomorrow’, and we’re working with Richter Collective now.”

The band go into Start Together Studios in Belfast after the single launch to record that album. Up until now, their recorded output has consisted solely of the lo-fi Wrok EP, released on limited edition cassette tape and as a free download from their Last.fm page. Now, they have the chance to go wild. “We want to get a really good, energetic document of a lot of stuff that people will know from our gigs,” says Ricki. “But then there’s also things that’ll be on there that we haven’t been able to do live. We definitely want there to be some interesting songs on there – just to experiment in the studio a wee bit.”



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