I forgot to ask where the name Third Smoke came from when I spoke to Hugh of the Dundalk band. Knowing them there is some sort of introspective narrative to it. The idea that that third cigarette of the day is what balances you out. Or, using the idea of second hand smoke what if it relates to the affect of an event on people not directly involved but still affected by it. Maybe I’ll ring and ask after this.
I first saw them play live when they were support to HamsandwicH in Dolan’s Warehouse. They rocked. They were a band who was confident, polished, and way too good to just be a support act. Looking back now it makes sense. They are a band on the rise just in need of an extra bit of exposure. I caught up with Hugh last week just after the video for their new single ‘Ms Summer Breeze’ was released on July 27th. The same song that won the band the Emerging Talent competition on RTE.
“Ya, we heard about it, we entered the song and then a few months later we won it”, explains Hugh. That couple of months are significant. The band weren’t blasé about the competition because they weren’t interested they were however going through some stuff. “We stopped gigging for about 18 months to work on an album and figure some stuff out. We went from 4 to a 5 member band, wrote some tunes, got a producer. It was just a thing that came up casually and then came up very quickly”, he said.
“‘Ms Summer Breeze’ is a song about a love interest and about having a positive outlook without sounding pretentious”, says Hugh. Like some of the bands previous tracks it’s rocky with a side of angst. Reading the description of the band’s videos there is a certain narrative in place. “I wrote the script”, explains Hugh, “and I suppose with a degree in psychology there is a certain amount of introspection that comes through in my ideas and videos. But mainly it’s just ‘how do we get from the start to the finish visually?’”, he laughs.
With influences that include The Dandy Warhols, The Beatles, White Strips and Fleet Foxes it should come as no surprise that three elements the band focus on are harmonies, vocal motifs and percussive development. I bet now that I’ve said it out loud you hear now don’t you?! “We’re a song focused band rather than writing a song in the context of an album. Maybe that’s not how you’re supposed to do it but every song stands on its own”, adds Hugh. Each member of the band is a multi-instrumentalist and songwriting duties fall on everyone. It means that when you see them playing live there is no lead singer but rather five guys who each take a turn at the front. “We play to strengths, what we know each other can do, pushing boundaries. We like to mix things up and anyone can bring in an idea”, he says. Trust me it makes for visually interesting live performance as band members swap instruments during a set and seem to have total respect for each other’s abilities.
The band have already cut their teeth on the first set of festivals this summer having played at both Longitude and Vantastival. “It’s a steep learning curve and you learn very quickly about having a fast turn around as they get the stage set up for the next act”, says Hugh. I reckon they have it nailed for their next show at Electric Picnic. I hear they have been listening to a lot of hip hop lately so maybe they’ll have a sneaky cover ready.
The EP is due out in November and the album next year. I can’t wait to see what they bring to an album if their live show is anything to go by! Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Bandcamp.