"Cyclefly is one of my favorite bands and their new record is one of the best I've heard in a long time. And if you don't like it, YOU SUCK!â€? -- Linkin Parkâ€™s Chester Bennington
Cork, Ireland's Cyclefly - which made the best new artist lists of NME, Kerrang!, and Rock Sound in 1999 and whose lead singer has been dubbed a cross between Iggy Pop and Perry Farrell, is back with their sophomore album, Crave, that is even more infectious than their critically acclaimed Radioactive Records debut, Generation Sap.
Crave, which features Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington on the instantly hummable "Karma Killer," expands upon the band's trademark unique blend of dark and enchanting pop-tinged rock with dynamic guitars powered by a voice that cuts through the typical sounds infiltrating the airwaves these days. And, in a day of sound-alike rap rockers and undistinguishable pop-leaning pretty boys, it's not often that a band comes out with the confidence and talent to take musical risks like this quintet does.
It's this risk-taking that landed the band - singer Declan O'Shea, his brother guitarist Ciaran O'Shea, guitarist Nono Presta, bassist Christian Montagne, and drummer Jean Michel Cavallo - on the road with one of rock's most inventive elder bands, Tool, in Ireland and with leaders of nu-metal, Linkin Park, in Europe in 2001, and earned them rave reviews on the Woodstock, Leeds, and Reading festivals of 1999.
"Crave is definitely more song oriented and less punky," explains Ciaran of the differences between 1999's Generation Sap and 2002's Crave. "We got more into the songwriting this time, you know, trying different chord progressions and stuff. Not your average verse, chorus, verse and having drums on the off beats. We kind of lost that punk rock thing and made a more mellow album, with more slow songs that kind of take off at the end a bit more."
CycleflySome of that mellowing came by simply growing wiser, some came from the serene surroundings the band enjoyed while writing the bulk of the album, and some came from writing as a band for the first time.
"It's definitely a lot slower process," quips Ciaran about all of the members contributing to the writing process this time around, "but it gave way more harmony and melody and it was brilliant." "It worked well," agrees Declan. "We'd go to the practice room and we'd all play live and come up with an idea and I'd just sing over it. We learned a lot - that you can't be proud and we learned to listen to others when they would say something sounds like crap. That helped a lot. And, we rented this house at the edge of this cliff, on the outskirts of Cork, called Powerhead. It's like five miles to the nearest house. Total isolation. But, it helped us to focus more." "Last album we did in L.A. and it was our first time there," continues Ciaran. "So we partied all the time while we were recording. Working in the country, though, mellowed us."
Crave was recorded partly in England with Colin Richardson (who has worked with the Happy Mondays, Fear Factory, and Machine Head) in the winter of 2000. Three songs (the driving "No Stress," the simply gorgeous "Crave," and the bouncy, summer vibes of "Drive") were added in the summer of 2001 in Dublin, Ireland, with producers Bill Appleberry and Tobias Miller (former guitarist in the Wallflowers, which he co-founded), who produced Adema's successful self-titled debut.
Cyclefly began in 1995 after Nono, Christian, and Jean Michel moved to Cork -- a seaport town in the Southwest of Ireland -- where they caught Declan singing in pubs and were instantly impressed by his onstage charisma and voice. The group didn't hook up at that point though, as the O'Shea brothers headed off to France to make money working as carpenters on roller coasters at Euro Disney. It was on one of the brothers' visits back home when the guys finally made plans to jam together.
"I think we've probably progressed a bit as musicians and we've probably grown up a bit," explains Declan of band's growth over the past seven years. "You think differently about life when you've seen a little bit more. When we were doing Generation Sap, it was just all about getting wasted all the time. But this time, because we've [learned] a lot about the music industry, a lot of our illusions about it have been shattered, so it wakes you up a little bit. A lot of our songs are about that. And, writing together made us stronger in a way, as a unit. I know we could probably endure a lot because we have already and it's not over yet by any means."
Judging by the strong new batch of songs on Crave, Cyclefly is really just beginning.