WHILE it has been seven years since Bell X1 last released a studio album – Arms in 2016 – the talented trio have certainly not been idle.
Performing with The Dowry Strings last year and releasing a live album recorded at the iconic St Lukes in Cork city whetted the appetite of fans of the band for new music, so Paul, Dave and Dominic of Bell X1 are suitably excited to let fans hear their work on their recently released eight studio album, ‘Merciful Hour.’
With a ‘Live At The Marquee’ gig pencilled in for next month, preceded by the single ‘Haint Blue’, the band known for hit songs like ‘Rocky Took A Lover’ ‘Flame’ and ‘The Great Defector’ paid a recent visit Leeside to promote the gig.
Speaking to The Southern Star singer Paul Noonan said they are delighted to be back gigging and promoting the new 10 track album, which was produced by John ‘Spud’ Murphy. Tracks from the album include ‘Skipping Without a Rope’ ‘Haint Blue’ and ‘The Lobster.’
‘The reaction to ‘Haint Blue’ has been great and that is a song that we had kicking around for a long time so it’s great to finally have it out. It was one of the earlier songs we worked on ahead of the album,’ said Paul.
‘Sometimes it just takes that long till you feel you have something to say and working with The Dowry Strings last year was creatively a very new thing for us.’
‘While we were retrofitting strings into songs in our catalogue and it scratched that itch in that we felt we were creating something new. We definitely came round to wanting to do a new studio album but it took this long I suppose to feel that it was done.’
Working with the strings has informed their new album, where they started with the strings first.
‘I like to think it’s quite a widescreen, sumptuous record that leans of the melodrama that strings can bring and it being quite a broad record. I think as you get older your life becomes less interesting from a song writing point of view so the jump off points for this record were things that we had read or stories that we had shared or fragments from peoples’ lives that we came into contact with.’
Their inspiration for the lead single, ‘Haint Blue’ – with a spooky video treatment from Ellius Grace – for example comes from the world of voodoo folklore.
‘It was a malevolent ghost who would come to your house and mess with your stuff unless you painted your porch a certain shade of blue and in which case the Haint couldn’t see your house and would pass on by.’
As long time admirers of Ellius Grace, the band are thrilled to have got him to have this story realised through his lens.
This will be their fourth time playing at Live At The Marquee and Paul said it ‘feels like a real special thing in Cork’ as there is nothing that size in Cork on a permanent basis and there is a real sense that people appreciate it when it comes around.’
‘The Marquee is built for a grand communal coming together and we have a long history in Cork going back a long time with songs that really connect with people.’
Paul reassures fans they will be playing all their hit songs from across their impressive back catalogue.
It’s going to be a busy few months for the band as they return to full electric band duties by playing several Irish shows over the summer including the Forest Festival in Laois in July and later in the year they will tour Europe, while hoping to hit the States early next year.
Bell X1 play ‘Live At The Marquee’ on Saturday June 10th with support from Soda Blonde. Tickets available at ticketmaster.ie See this week’s paper on page 36 for a competition to win tickets to see Bell X1 which includes a pre-gig meal.