Felix McAuley, the Guitarist of the Belfast Alt-Rock Trio Cairo Station, Discusses Their Debut Single “Menace” and What’s Next for Them

Citing the likes of Wolf Alice, PJ Harvey, and Paramore as influences, the Belfast alt-rock trio Cairo Station have been making some real inroads in the Belfast music scene. Comprised of Cara Collins on vocals, Felix McAuley on guitar, and Ben Gribbens on bass, the three have spent a year-and-a-half busting their bums, and now, they have their debut single, “Menace,” to show for it.

Felix answered some questions that Post-Burnout emailed him about the band’s origin, their name, the single, their plans for a follow-up, and much more.

Who are Cairo Station and how did the project come about?

Hello. I’m Felix, and I’m the guitarist of Cairo Station. We’re an alternative rock band based in Belfast in the north of Ireland. The project really came about from me being desperate to start a band at the beginning of 2023. I recruited Ben on bass and together we’d played with an assorted lineup until November when our singer Cara joined the band and we could really find our sound. 

What are the members’ backgrounds? What were your first musical loves and was there an immediate overlap in tastes between you?
Myself and Ben grew up together in a town north of Belfast, so we’ve known each other, basically, our whole lives. When Arctic Monkeys released AM, I became obsessed with that band and eventually got Ben into them a few years later (after sending him songs for ages). From then we’d play a bit of guitar but nothing ever really happened, musically, until around Christmas 2022. By the start of 2023, we’d moved up to Belfast for university and I’d written a few songs that myself, Ben, and a few guys we were friends with started playing. We met Cara through gigs and going out with other bands in the city during the year and we all immediately shared favourite bands like Wolf Alice. It was really good to have those shared interests, and it made working together that much easier. Cara then joined the band as our singer and we’ve not looked back since. 

For fear of asking the obvious question, was the band named after the Youssef Chahine film? Does cinema influence your band in any way?
We actually hadn’t heard of the film until a few months after starting the band, believe it or not! People had been asking us after shows if that was where we had gotten the name from and I’ve always sheepishly said “Yes” to appear a bit more cultured in the cinema world. The true origin of the name is actually from the video game Halo 2… rock and roll. Cinema and film soundtracks are a massive influence on the band – for me, especially. A lot of our songs up to now have started as longer instrumental pieces and then we get together as a band and chop things up until we have a song we’re all happy with. Music has such an intrinsic connection to visual mediums like cinema that it’s hard not to write music with some sort of scene in your head. 

Beyond musical influences, what inspires you as creatives?
Well, for me, personally, cinema and sometimes even a single image can just give a specific feeling and that extra push towards creativity that will get a song started. Cara would be the bookworm of the band, and I feel she draws a lot of inspiration from what she reads for her lyrics.

Your band has been growing at a nice, steady pace and has made some inroads in the Belfast music scene. How have you found the reception and what have been some of the highlights of your budding career thus far?
Yeah, we’ve all really been enjoying the reception we’ve got in Belfast and now that we’ve started to release music, we are hoping to keep the ball rolling and start building up a following in other cities. I’m sure we’d all agree that a definite highlight would be our show in January at the Mandela Hall. It was a great night and a privilege to play in such an iconic venue 

Hitherto, how have you found building your momentum without a song released? Was it solely live shows that you relied on to showcase the band?
Yeah, we’ve only been seen through our live shows up until now. Playing live has been our main focus from the start and that’s how we’ve built up our following in the absence of any studio recordings. It’s been a lot of fun and we want to keep playing shows as much as possible 

Your debut single “Menace” was released on the 13th of June. Why did you choose it as an introduction to your band?
“Menace” was the first song we worked on together as a band, and I think there is a certain sentimentality there. Aside from that, the song has always gone down well with the audiences at our shows and we felt it was the best representation of the band’s sound and attitude. We wanted our first release to reflect the energy of the band and our live shows and really just to give the people what they want.

How many original songs do you have backlogged and what is the plan, in terms of release patterns, now that you have broken the seal with “Menace”?
We have the follow-up single finished and we are hoping to release it sometime in September! Apart from that, we plan to spend the summer working in the studio, to record our other material and see what comes of those sessions.

What are your future plans, either immediate or distant?
Between the studio and releasing the next single, our main plan is to get on the road and play a small tour by the end of 2024/start of 2025. That would be really fun. 

Is there anything you would like to add?
Stream “Menace”. Cheers!

Cairo Station’s debut single, “Menace,” is out now on all streaming platforms. You can keep up with the band’s music, social media accounts, and live shows here.

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