The Electric Tears: Pulling diamonds from the ashes
In our metal days, we played with lots of well-known Metal bands. Guys from Iron Maiden, Cradle of Filth, Amon Amarth, etc and we have been lucky to have continued in that vein ever since.– Peter, The Electric Tears
Having experienced relative success early in their career, Irish rock band ‘The Electric Tears’ have done it all. They’ve toured all over the world, including an extended stint in New York, played alongside some of their heroes, and had their fair share of media attention. Though as is the case for many bands, it was the result of hard work and dedication that led them to success. They’ve fought their way under, and between, the sweaty armpits of the grunge scene, invested in their equipment to perform, precariously, atop makeshift plinth and keg ‘stages’, and ultimately… managed to secure the ultimate prize. A record deal and a couple of albums in the bag.
‘The Electric Tears‘ didn’t exist back then and is the name they’ve chosen to represent themselves more recently on an altogether different stage than they’re typically used to. Whilst the live shows and touring days are not completely over, they have been focussing more on the quality of their material and establishing a following on social platforms. Chasing perfection rather than an ovation, the band has been allowing themselves time, space, and freedom to work on an archive of material, before letting them out into the cloud for consumption. We spoke to ‘The Electric Tears’ vocalist, Peter about his experiences and what’s yet to come. Let’s get into it…
Peter, can you give us a bit of background on ‘The Electric Tears’?
The Electric Tears is a name we decided on to represent ourselves on Instagram, Youtube, etc, and to act as a way to finally bring to the light of day a large collection of music that we have worked on over many years. As teenagers, we were metal/grunge kids and we were signed, released two albums, and toured extensively under a different name. That continued for around a decade until we started to want to really play around with music, delve into different styles and we started to chase `songs´ and a type of perfection in the writing and recording process.
Over the years we had 2 different drummers who are very close friends but went their own ways for different reasons. The core of the band, myself (Peter: singer), guitarist (Noel), and bass (Niall) maintained a close bond, but it hasn´t been without its difficulties. Life gets in the way and it can be difficult to retain focus when people are constantly pulling, on a personal level, in different directions. However, you have to overcome these things. Personality cannot override the reason that you write music. Music, and a love of songs, writing, performing, recording, are the glue that holds it all together, and it´s a beautiful journey in so many ways, despite all the frustrations and annoyances along the way.
Sounds like you’ve had a bit of a journey with the band Peter! Tell us how you guys started out and what the early days were like as a band.
We were all kids when we started playing together back home in Ireland. 14/15 years of age. We took part in `battles of the band´ in our hometown, started playing underage gigs and then in pubs and clubs, and went from there. I will never forget my first ‘real’ gig as a singer with the band. I was 15 and we were offered a support slot with a big local band that had just been signed to a record label in London. We would go on first, then another band, and then the headliners.
Pretty good going for your first gig! How did it feel to be performing live with a signed band at that age?
I stood still all night, blushing. I wanted to disappear from the stage. It was highly uncomfortable. I remember just being so embarrassed and annoyed with myself and I swore it would never happen again. Two weeks later we played the same venue and I owned the stage. It was the start of a very important part of my life. I would never fear being in front of an audience again and now understood the importance of backing yourself, visualisation, all these concepts that have become very popular nowadays, but which I had to discover for myself and integrate as a singer.
I remember feeling exactly the same when I first played to a live audience, so I absolutely feel you on that. Once you’d managed to control that discomfort, how did things develop for you guys and what did you do differently?
We performed in a local bar on a stage that was made from a sheet of wood placed on top of beer kegs. We spent most of the night trying not to fall through the wood and break our legs. Things improved after that. We invested in gear, sorted our transport, hired proper sound systems, etc…you have to be willing to work day jobs and spend all your money on your love. We sometimes got paid well, other times nothing at all. It´s a slog but I wouldn´t change it because we honed ourselves, learned how to play our instruments, learned how to control my voice as a singer, learned how to breathe and connect with an audience. These things can take time and the only way you get good is through actually doing it. Now, I can sit here and say I have recorded 3 albums in my life, released a Top 10 single, toured in London, New York, Madrid, Amsterdam. I have been around the world, recorded in studios where Muse and U2 and REM recorded some of their greatest work and played onstage to thousands of people, and I still believe the best is yet to come.
Of all those experiences and achievements, what would you say has given you the most satisfaction – or, what has been the most crucial element for you?
Songs and music are what matter. Connection with the listener is the most important thing..everything else is secondary.
In terms of success and things yet to come… What are your aspirations for the band and, what does ‘success’ look like to you?
Success all depends on how you measure it. Music, for some people, is a means to an end, a way to get out of their circumstances, to earn money, to become famous, etc. That certainly was a factor for us early on but it was never the overriding or main factor and we always came back to just wanting to do something really worthwhile and fulfilling in terms of what we wrote/released. It´s a personal thing that you´re lucky enough to share with people close to you. Before Covid, we were musicians/songwriters with a past, with an extensive collection of really cool songs lying around on tapes, hard drives, and discs. Having that time to actually breathe and finally listen to them properly, and not simply be rushing onto the next song, was a very important moment. Songs need to be heard. Songs do nothing lying away on hard drives and tapes. The time had come to let them find their way out into the world, and it was a wonderful feeling to finally publish them and allowing people to react to them.
How do you think… or rather… how would you hope people will react to them?
I already love these songs, I don´t need anyone to tell me if they´re good or bad because I already know they are very special…that´s a wonderful feeling as a songwriter. It frees you, and I don´t care about being `liked´ which is something that people in music need to remember. Like your stuff, before you release it.. don´t be expecting someone else to like it if you are doubting it yourself.
I love that, and it’s the same advice we heard from Kamille Grazyte when she said “Don’t make music to please, be pleased to make music”. That’s stuck with me and fully aligns with what you’re saying. The whole thing about being liked, fame, and fortune – you mentioned that was a factor then but less so now. What happened?
We signed with a small label to release our second album when we were playing heavier, metal music many years ago. In that period we were generating quite a buzz and some big labels came in wanting to talk to us. We were on the cusp of signing with a major label and it all fell through. The whole process left quite a dent on us. Looking back, we were simply too inexperienced and we didn´t have the life skills, or knowledge, to simply shrug it off. It eventually led to us splitting up around a year and a half later.
I wanted to ask whether you’d come close to separating, over the years…
I think every band needs to come close to separating or else they are probably just going through the motions. Personalities, age, changing interests, these are all natural parts of life and if you don´t go through them, you´re probably not being truthful with each other.
Just to wind back a bit, regarding record deals and signings… do you think things are much different now? The technology ‘bedroom producers’ have access to now, and the ability to distribute your own work without being signed has advanced rapidly. What are your thoughts on that?
Well, contrary to the popular attitude nowadays, you really DO want to get signed. You need support. If you´re good and you have something to offer, you need help and guidance. You don´t have to sell your soul but I think every great band and artist out there has had an advisor, a good record label, a producer… something. It is hard enough to make it in music, you don´t want to turn down opportunities just because you don´t want someone to advise you.
Now, you have the DIY Punk attitude and that´s a different thing…I love that side of things, but in many ways, that´s also a ´WAY´ to do things within that genre. You hear the likes of big names, manufactured pop kids who want this `independence´, which is completely understandable as they are simply pawns for these corporations. That said. if you are someone who writes their own music and has a vision, but you don’t have the resources or know-how in terms of the music world…well you would be very foolish to not, at least, listen to people who know that world and who might want to help you.
That’s a good summary, and as we said, I suppose it depends on how you define success and what your aspirations are. The pandemic and lockdown really impacted how people produce music, and those ‘bedroom producers‘ really came out of the woodwork. What impact did the pandemic have on you guys?
It gave us the chance to finally stop recording and writing. What happened next was a process of rediscovering songs and music that we had recorded over the years that, in some ways, we had sidelined. It gave us the chance to disconnect and put some distance between ourselves and the `process´. The songs began to reveal themselves to us and I fell in love with so much of what we had written. I then realised that it was very important for us to get the music out into the world somehow.
What is your typical approach to recording your tracks and how has that changed over the past 12-18 months?
We went into a really famous studio in Ireland some years ago. We paid a small fortune to record a single that we were going to use to launch ourselves as an Alternative Rock band of note having come back from touring in the United States and extensive touring at home and in Europe. We had a wonderful song, many, many contacts in the media and in radio… it was all set up. We spent 3 days recording in a studio where Michael Jackson had basically hidden out shortly before he died..recording there. Muse, Bon Jovi, and a tonne of massive names had been there. We coughed up a lot of our own money to go in and we were expecting perfection. When we got the final mix back, we felt like crying. We had been promised gold and the result was pure sh*t (excuse my French!!). Honestly, it nearly broke us as a band and I certainly contemplated just quitting and focussing on other parts of my life. However, it set a fire under Noels(guitarist) ass and he poured himself into recording. He´s already a genius in terms of IT etc, and he set about becoming a producer/engineer, all the things we needed. Without him, our music would never have seen the light of day.
Speaking of IT, at the start of this feature, I alluded to an ‘altogether different stage‘ than you’re typically used to… we found you via the ever-popular, and all-powerful, social media platform, Instagram. How are you finding that as a means of promoting the band?
Instagram was completely new to me but I put up some videos and the reaction was immediate. Youtube also to a lesser extent. We realised that all the gigging and touring and sweating and losing money we had done for years could be bypassed and we had an instant audience waiting out there. It´s all very new to us but the possibilities are incredible. It´s a new challenge…how to connect with people in this way. However, I firmly believe that if the product is good enough then the audience will come to it eventually. I am very proud of the songs we are releasing. That is the foundation, the base. Without that there really is nothing. With a strong base, the possibilities are endless, you just have to find a way to take advantage of those possibilities, which is a whole other challenge that really has nothing at all to do with music or songwriting.
Which would be your most memorable live performance to date? Can you describe why it was the most memorable?
We have played every type of concert you can imagine. We´ve played to packed venues and we´re played to the bar staff and one audience member other nights. Live performing can be a minefield and you need to make connections with reliable people, bands, other artists. We did 20 nights in New York a few years ago. We played twice a day sometimes in bars and clubs, and large venues up and down Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. At the end of the 20 days, I could barely talk but the experience was mind-blowing. It´s an amazing feeling to push out of your comfort zone as a performer, flying across the world and having to perform to the top of your abilities. It makes you better in every way.
In our metal days, we played with lots of well-known Metal bands. Guys from Iron Maiden, Cradle of Filth, Amon Amart, etc and we have been lucky to have continued in that vein ever since. We are currently talking to a well-known band in Ireland about a possible few nights of concerts when everything gets back to normal but it´s early days yet and nothing is settled right now.
Is there a specific track from your back catalogue that you are most proud of, and if so, what makes it significant? And which of the lyrics that you’ve written over the years have been the most profound and meaningful to you?
Everything I have ever written has deep personal meaning, Some of our more recent songs however have really become very powerful in terms of what inspired them and what they mean to us. The `older´ you get the more experiences you start to live. Romances, breakups, deaths of friends, life, and more life…it´s all in there. I don´t like to pull at the heartstrings to attract attention, I think it´s a little vulgar, to be honest. However, the song Shatter that we have just released on Spotify has a lot of `meaning´ to it that I think people will connect to in a very real way once they listen to it. I would honestly prefer to allow the lyrics and music to do the talking because writing in this way is far too hollow compared to what came out in the recording. It´s a song of hope as Robert Plant once said, as are most of our songs.
What would be the best advice you’ve been given in your career, and what advice would you give musicians and artists that are taking their first steps in their musical careers?
The only advice I would give, looking back on everything, is to work your ass off on something and fall in love with it before you upload it or look for other peoples´ likes or attention. Songs and music, in general, come out of the ether somewhere..nobody knows where, and in many ways, we are simply conduits for something, we are in communion with something when we begin the process. You as the person who has been chosen to receive the song, you need to give it the attention it deserves, work on it, love it, hone it, mould it, and be at peace with it before you begin looking for approval. Indeed, if you respect the whole process, you will hardly even need approval by the end of it all. It should be something you do for you and something you want to share subsequently.
Having some local knowledge is great… So, for any of our readers considering a trip over to Dublin once we’re out of these crazy times, where would you say are the best venues to see live independent bands… and to get the best pint of Guinness?
Dublin is literally a music city. Whelans is a famous venue, every pub in the centre of the city is literally hopping with music..you can´t go wrong really. Just go, you´ll love it.
What are your plans for the band as we look into next year?
Let the music flow!
Huge thanks to Peter and The Electric Tears for the interview. We’re looking forward to seeing what’s next, and meanwhile – they can be found on the social media platforms here: