For the first time in ten years, the original members of one of the greatest bands Ireland has ever produced, the Republic of Loose, gathered once more to talk modern music, creative differences, growing inspirations and life as professional musicians.
The event kicked off with a mandatory yet well-deserved applause to acknowledge Dublin’s answer to the Wu Tang Clan. Getting straight to the core of their experience in the music industry, former lead singer Mick described the backlash they faced for their distinct style, an eclectic mix of rock, funk and soul. In their own words, “the kind of stuff your Dad likes.” “It was difficult in the beginning. You’d be walking down the road and you’d have people shouting your band sucks man as you pass them.” However, this did not hinder the band’s attempts to “create our own world, to take on different personas, different mythologies.” This statement alone can be accredited to the band’s strong lineation with the work of the Wu Tang clan, who they pay homage to in both their size and distinct style.
In touching on the size of the band, one which has chopped and changed members throughout the course of its existence, the discussion perhaps predictably shifted to the difficulties such a large group can encounter. Somewhat more surprisingly, the response was a positive one. “It really helped the songwriting process. You would have this core nugget of an idea coming from one person, but it was always very open. In the end, it would be a collaborative effort. There could even be multiple versions of each song. We were so united under a common purpose, that the music would never suffer.” Indeed, it is evident from today’s talk that the size of the band was perhaps a core reason that so many genres could be moulded so successfully into one, as a by-product of so many personalities. However, the other advantage that “whenever there were arguments, you’d always have someone on your side,” was perhaps less genuine.
Having moved through the formation of the group and the early days, the band began to shed some light on the peaks of their career. They looked back fondly on songs such as “You do me,” “Slow down,” and of course “The Steady Song,” and how incredible it was for them to have up-and-comer Rejjie Snow approach them to do a cover of the song. “It means it can still be heard around the world, which is great.” Similarly, the band spoke fondly of collaborations with Sinead O Connor’s “intensity,” and the joy of reaching the level of their inspirations, such as Van Morrison and Thin Lizzy.
When it came to a critique of music in the modern day, and in particular Irish music, the group’s enthusiasm was notable. “We’ve come a long way since every British band was just a couple of guys wearing skinny jeans with nice haircuts.” They reserved distinctive praise for the likes of Rejjie Snow, Girl Band, the Fontaines, Hozier, and Versatile, referring to the latter as “extremely clever” and “the height of Irish hip-hop.” When asked what they didn’t like, they collectively agreed that their music was very much a by-product of a “spiritual rejection to the kind of Britpop and grunge we grew up with. We defined ourselves against it.” This shone a fascinating light onto the influences the band encountered.
The group spoke fondly about the openness and wider variety of influences present in the modern day music scene. “I’m sure nowadays making music is a far more open process than what we encountered.” That does, however, not mean that Ireland’s finest will be making a return to the stage. “It became debilitating. Doing the same gigs and venues over and over again in Ireland meant that we kind of wore it out, and the last album in particular, just wasn’t a Republic of Loose album.”
Indeed, the band seem content with their lot. Having “peaked” at Oxygen in front of twenty thousand people, it is with great fondness that Benjamin Loose notes “it was a delightful surprise that people liked our stuff, and it is an even more delightful surprise that some people still do.”
While the group did hint that they have “two or three albums worth” of unreleased material lying dormant, it would seem that talks such as today’s will be the last chance for fans to witness Irish musics’ most eclectic collective in unison. An incredibly successful chapter will remain closed for now.