Riding The Storms: An Interview With Mark Comer Of Slyrydes

Working late nights in Galway's Westend, where the contemporary and traditional mix on a carpet of culture, saw four lads gravitating towards each other, all with equal levels of curiosity, and hanging out over the years morphed into playing and the formation of Slyrydes. Meet Rafto for vocals, Fuz with bass, Clarkey on drums and Mark Comer on guitar. And it is Mark who will continue his tale of musicality to me. Fire on, cuppa in hand, listening ears out.

We signify our start by Comer wondering if the artists they worship frame the band. Do the four incorporate them in their output, or is it wise to distance from this: "I think your influences inevitably direct your sail regardless of conscious or unconscious thinking, the same way your tastes are just who you are. I think, if you as a band try to sound like another act or make a conscious decision to be something you're not, you're wasting everyone's time, including your own!"

Point taken. So now we slide into genre and if Slyrydes fit neatly, in a few words, into any pockets. Mark laughs, "Can we be a part of a genre after that last answer?... hmmm... can we invent our own? Without sounding like a total cliche, I'd describe it as heartbreakingly honest. We ignored the outside world in a bid to hide from our problems, which were building; we were forced just to be ourselves." There was never a fear of it being on the radio, or anyone ever hearing it. "We just did exactly as we pleased, from lyrics, music, to how it was produced, right down to the artwork and t-shirts. It is exactly what it is, like or not."

Realising that I am at the receiving end of a veracious lad, we acknowledge that mental health issues are prevalent in the group and muse over whether their music is a cathartic process for them or relief for others. Or possibly both: "The times in my life I've felt most at odds or lost within myself are when I'm not making music or being creative. We at a certain point in our history had to take a "break" due to mental health and addiction issues," he says candidly.

"All of us needed to get healthy and were beyond a point where playing music was even possible anymore. I completely fell out of love with writing or playing because I associated it with my friends, who were all fucked up or dying." In the end, the further he fell away from music, the unhappier he became. "It turned out to be the light at the end of the tunnel for us all."

Recent stormy track Boy In The Deb's Suit has attracted attention with Placebo tainted dominating guitar and bass, thrashing drums and reverberating, straight-talking vocals. Wanting to understand it lyrically more, I probe the Irish truth-teller. "I think Rafto is the only person qualified to answer that question; I learned a long time ago not to put words in his mouth, haha," he declares, "Personally, my best friend died tragically the week before I heard the lyrics for the first time. I remember playing it with tears rolling down my face hoping no one would notice. It's heartbreaking."

Despite the toil of 2020, Slyrydes manage to record their debut album under the direction of creative power-house Dan Doherty at Darkands. I ponder to what Dan coaxed out of their music that they didn't know was there. "Dan just gets us. He has the ability to achieve and articulate the ideas you have in your head, make them a reality. He is as integral to our sound as we are, and because of that, he's fearless in the studio. No idea is stupid; we don't have to sound a certain way. We don't have to make a record a certain way. We don't have to do anything".

I ask with directness if he holds a track dear or favours one that he would like to share with me. "It's the one I've yet to write, Beverley *cough*. I honestly couldn't pick. It's kind of like singling out one of your kids when you should hate your kids equally." Ok, we'll move on. I pose another golden question that may prove tricky to answer: the future? For this, Marc wraps up our chat in his way, informing me of the likes of touring and 2021. "Obviously, there were some big festivals we had to cancel, which was heartbreaking, but we can only hope they'll be there waiting for us all soon!"

"As somebody who gets insanely nervous before big shows, I didn't think I'd miss playing live as much as I have, but it's what we do and knowing that there's an audience there waiting for us is what drives us forward... we're egomaniacs deep down."

Article by Beverley Knight