This meeting takes place in July 2009 in the lobby of a plush hotel in Berlin, the day before Amanda Blank’s performance at Astra Berlin to promote her debut album, I Love You (stream here or here). You’re Only Massive are a band project from Waterford and Cork who have moved to Germany to record their debut full album, a follow up to 2008’s critically acclaimed Dot Dash LP. The current single ‘Under The Neon’ is available in 7″ vinyl from your local independent record store (Road Records in Dublin, Plugd in Cork, BPM in Waterford, Sligo) and on iTunes. Words by Yseult Murphy.
Amanda Blank: Hi, I’m Amanda.
Maebh: Hello, my name is Maebh.
Dave: I’m Dave.
Amanda: Maebh and Dave, that’s cute.
Maebh: How are you, have you had lots of interviews?
Amanda: Tons, all day, this is the last one.
Dave: We’ll keep it short.
Amanda: Where are you guys from? You don’t sound German.
Maebh: We’re Irish. We’re from Ireland.
Amanda: Yeah, cause I was like … you sound … you know … Irish. I’m Irish. My dad is a little bit Irish. Like, from the potato famine. Way back. His name is McGrath.
(Amanda pronounces McGrath to rhyme with “raw”)
Maebh: Like Tim McGraw?
Dave: Who did a duet with Nelly?
Amanda: Yes! But I was told, in Ireland, you pronounce it McGrath, like aaaah.
Maebh: Yeah, that’s true.
Dave: Like “OOHH, AAHH, Paul Mc Grath.”
Dave & Maebh: Yes!
MP3: Amanda Blank – DJ
Amanda: So you guys are in a band here?
Dave: Yup, we’ve just brought out a single called Under The Neon, on 7″ and iTunes.
Amanda: 7″ vinyl, nice.
Maebh: Actually I brought you a copy. No, please don’t open it now.
Amanda: I know, I hate people listening to my songs when I’m around, I’m like nooooo turn it off!
Maebh: I would be embarrassed.
Amanda: What type of music do you make?
Maebh: Aggressive yacht rock.
Dave: Ok, let’s start.
Maebh: Ok, Amanda, are you ready?
Maebh: Which is better – nylon or polyester?
Amanda: Nylon, definitely nylon.
Maebh: Do you have any childhood nicknames?
Amanda: Tiny Mandy.
Maebh: If you were the pilot of a plane and were to write something in the air with smoke, what would you write?
Amanda: Eat shit.
Maebh: Give me the title of a song you might write in the future?
Amanda: Eat shit, ha ha!
Maebh: What is the most obscene word you know?
Amanda: Yes, taint.
Maebh: Like – tainted love?
Amanda: Ha ha, in that context that’s very good, yes.
Maebh: What is it?
Amanda: It’s like the bit between a guys ass and his dick.
Maebh: I thought that’s a peri…peri…peri something.
Amanda: Yeah, that’s, like, the medical word, but taint is like, more what you call it.
Maebh: Wow. Ok. Do you play any instruments?
Amanda: I play guitar, piano and flute.
Maebh: Flute, eh?
Amanda: Yes, and triangle.
Maebh: Tell me a little bit about your songwriting process.
Amanda: I write by myself. The melody comes first and then I fit the words around that.
Maebh: Like you hum a melody and then write words to it.
Amanda: Yes, exactly. I always write alone and then bring people in later.
Maebh: How long did it take you to record I Love You?
Amanda: Two years.
Maebh:Did you have an overall concept for the record, or did you write the songs and let the record emerge from that? Amanda: I had a clear idea of what I wanted, the concept. Originally I wanted to make a freestyle record.
Maebh: Freestyle, like freestyle rap? Pressing the record button and just going for it?
Amanda: No, no no! Not at all. Freestyle, like (starts singing) “Di-iamond girl!”…It’s a thing people from the East Coast know. Like, everyone from the East Coast knows it. You really don’t know freestyle?
Maebh: I’ve never heard of it, I’m sorry.
Amanda: Ok, you have to check out Diamond Girl. And Point of No Return by Expose.
Maebh: Can you write that down for me?
(Amanda writes down three song and artist names)
Maebh: Okay, I’m going to pass this to Dave, he’s a handwriting expert, he’s going to analyze your handwriting.
Amanda: No shit!
Maebh: Next question. If you could collaborate with either R Kelly or Too Short, which would you work with?
Amanda: Too Short? I would pick R Kelly.
Dave: GG Allin or R Kelly?
Amanda: Ha ha! R Kelly! Definitely!
Maebh: How did you hook up with Spank Rock?
Amanda: We’re friends. He was in another band, doing something, like, totally different. We used to hang out a lot. It just came about. It was very natural.
Maebh: What’s your set-up right now?
Amanda: I have two DJs, who are amazing. Really amazing.
Maebh: Two? That’s cool. Do they work from laptops?
Amanda: Yeah, one of them lays the tracks down and the other does, like, effects and all sorts of stuff over it. They’re really great.
Maebh: Are you planning to keep that set up?
Amanda: Honestly, I don’t know. I mean, the record is not even out yet. I’ll see when the record is out. Maybe add a drummer. A drummer would be great. And a guitar on some tracks.
Maebh: Like, change it to a live band?
Amanda: Well I would really want to keep the two DJs because they’re really good. I guess I’ll see when the record comes out and where it takes me.
Dave: Are you going to do any sightseeing while in Berlin?
Amanda: You know, I’m a girl, I’m a total girl, I love shopping. (to Maebh). You know what I mean, right?
Amanda: I’m totally like, I wanna go shopping! But then by the time interviews and that are over, the shops are closed.
MP3: Amanda Blank – I Might Like You Better (Rusko remix)
Dave: Okay, I’m ready with your results:The diagonal swirls on the tall letters, the lower case “h”s and “b”s, for example, show a person who is, at surface value, the life of the party, but sometimes likes to retreat away from the crowd. The fact that your letters slant, but your question marks are straight up, I find fascinating. You are a person who elevates the question above the answer. I think from your strong capitals that the real question is not a reflexive “Who is Amanda?”, but an outward “Who is Amanda?”. Almost a rhetorical question to the whole world.
Amanda: That is all true!
Maebh: Amanda, thanks for your time. Best of luck with your show tomorrow. We’ll be in the front row.
Dave: See you and good luck with your record.
Amanda: Good luck with your recording guys!
Amanda Blank goes outside for a cigarette and You’re Only Massive cycle off waving valediction.