On the Day of Their First Single, Mark Moloney and Aaron Marry of the New Irish Two-Piece Solarblades Tell Us How This Project Came to Be

Musicians Mark Moloney (best known as the bassist for the hip-hop-pop-punk band Sauce Gang Collective) and Aaron Marry (best known as the bassist for the gazey rock project Teletext) were both almost best known for the jangly indie rock band Dog Day Afternoon.

But every dog has its day, and after releasing two singles, Dog Day Afternoon went the way of the movie Dog Day Afternoon at around the two-hour mark and ended. But unlike Dog Day Afternoon, which starred Al Pacino and ended with a guy getting shot at an airport and another guy getting a life sentence, Dog Day Afternoon starred Mark on guitar and vocals and Aaron on bass and ended with a final gig at LoSt LaNe.  

“When Dog Day split, me and Aaron were at a bit of a crossroads of what is next,” Mark tells Post-Burnout. “Because we had no idea. We literally had no idea. And then we initially met up for Aaron, to do his practical for college…” “Oh, yeah. My musical practical,” adds Aaron. “…and, while we were rehearsing some songs that we had for Dog Day, that he was doing for his practical,” continues Mark, “naturally, as two musicians, you just start to jam.”

Gradually these sessions produced their next project, Solarblades. Unlike Dog Day Afternoon, which was a fourpiece that also consisted of David McGeary (best known for his solo project, David OFMG) on lead guitar and Shea Walsh (best known for his work with Saoirse Moncrief, who is best known as Baby Lemonade), Solarblades began and continues life as a two-piece.

“I think the very fact that it is only two of us, you’re able to showcase your musicianship,” says Aaron of the dynamic. “You’ve no live drums or lead guitar to hide behind, so you have to play your part, and your part has to be intricate [and] interesting enough to make up for the fact that there’s two less musicians.”

For the first time, both Mark (playing guitar) and Aaron (playing bass) are working with a drum machine. “We’ve done one gig, somewhat,” says Mark. “It was ten minutes at Smithfield Creatives – again, give them a shoutout – at an open mic night, and what we did was what we would have done in Aaron’s practical, when we were rehearsing for it.

“We would have used programmed drums off a laptop to help us out, and we did that, as well, for the Smithfield Creatives gig. I’ve never done that before, so I was kind of…I wouldn’t say ‘apprehensive,’ but I was a bit kind of like, ‘What if the computer goes? We’ve no performance!’”

“We just like the sound of the programmed drums,” adds Aaron. “The electronic drums do go a little bit better, live anyway, with the sound that we’re going for, and the more that I think about it, if we were to get a session drummer in, I don’t think we would be playing live drums –  it would be sample pads if anything – just based on the sound that we’re going for.”

A genre focus is something which Solarblades aims to have, with both Mark and Aaron feeling that it was lacking with their previous band. “With Dog Day, it didn’t seem like we had a defined sound; one song would be different from the next,” explains Mark. “And, obviously, that can be great in its own right, having a variety within. But I think, with it just being us two and electronic drums, we can hone in on a sound that shows us off a lot more, because, with Dog Day, it’s a band; with us, it’s just us two, so we have to up our own musicianship a lot, in terms of songwriting, in terms of playing live.”

Mark Moloney (guitar and vocals), left, and Aaron Marry (bass)
Photo by Nicole Marry
Courtesy of Solarblades

Citing the likes of Her’s, Still Woozy, Steve Lacy, Hall & Oates, and Tears for Fears as influences on the project, Solarblades aims to have more of a pop and electronic element, which they felt was not evident in Dog Day Afternoon.

“The influences for Dog Day and the influences for this are chalk and cheese,” says Mark. “They’re completely different. And I think it’s good, showing in this project a different side of myself and Aaron that you probably wouldn’t have heard if you went to a Dog Day show. I would say a lot of people that would see us now would be quite surprised, which is kind of the best thing and the best thing about music, you know?”

It has also allowed them to contemporise. “I suppose with this band, there’s a lot more modern influences of current great artists of this moment in time, that we’re really feeding off,” says Mark. “And I suppose, with Dog Day, we were looking at early 2000s/early 2010s artists rather than focus on the really great music that’s coming out now.”

With this new direction, Mark and Aaron have focused on differentiating their playing style and tones. “For me, with guitar, I think I’m more focused on the melodic side of things,” says Mark. “Because, I suppose with Dog Day, what I looked at, in terms of my own guitar playing, was, ‘How can I bring the most energy out of this instrument as possible?’ To encapsulate that, live.

“Because we were kind of going for a rock sound, so I wanted people to really feel the energy that was coming off the guitar. But, for now, I think I’m more intricate with it, in terms of the chords that I’m choosing or the different effects that I have on the guitar itself. “Yeah, we’re not going for any distortion,” adds Aaron. “Like, the distortion pedal is packed away, it is game over. We’re bringing out the chorus pedal!”

This new sound can be heard on Solarblades’ debut single, “Shangri-La,” which was released today. Aaron chalks the song’s inception up to Mark’s growing skills on the bass from his tenure in Sauce Gang Collective. “Mark sent me, I’d say, maybe five different basslines, and there was one that stood out to me and I was like, ‘We have to get that sorted, now!’,” Aaron says.

“It turned out to be the bassline for ‘Shangri-La’ – well, I say ‘the bassline,’ but the overarching chordal structure – and we kind of just built around that. When it comes to our overall process, Mark would generally be the main songwriter and I would, maybe, decorate the song or idea and turn it into a demo, and I think that’s kind of why we work best off each other.”

They argue a little over whether they’ve been sitting on the song for nine months or a year, with Aaron favouring the longer gap. “I think it was just a case that we had to take the finger out, knuckle down, release it, and get it recorded,” says Aaron. “It was a case of trying to find our process, but now that we’ve found it, it won’t take a year for the next one.” “No,” agrees Mark. “I think we were using that time, when we would meet up gradually, to get other songs ready.  Because our big thing is, after we release this single, we want to just keep it going, churning them out.

“The reason we chose ‘Shangri-La’ first is, I think, because it was the first song we came up with together, and we were like, ‘This is a good tune. This is a really good tune.’ And I think the chorus, like the sing-a-long aspect of the chorus, will help a lot. Like, it just sounded like a single as soon as we wrote it.” “Yeah, definitely,” adds Aaron. “And I think it perfectly sets us off on the vibe we want to go for,” Mark continues. “I think ‘Shangri-La’ in itself sums a lot of it up.”

While Mark and Aaron wish to self-produce their music, they had a bit of a hand with this one. “Who helped us out with ‘Shangri-La,’ David OFMG,” says Mark. “Again, he’s unbelievable. He helped us in terms of the early production, trying to get it off [the ground]. He was brilliant because his own music has somewhat of that feel, working with electronic elements. And we also brought in Rhyss Davies from Sauce Gang to help us out. I think he’s an unbelievable engineer, so that’s a working relationship we want to keep on, moving forward.”

Solarblades plan to release a new single every six to eight weeks, but they’re not putting too much pressure on themselves to hit that deadline. They also look forward to the new opportunities the shift in style will bring them, such as line-up slots and playlists they may not have been considered for previously.

“This is the start of a new era,” says Aaron. “Yeah, literally,” adds Mark. “Again, the main thing with us is, we’re going to figure it out as we go and enjoy it while it goes on.” The central modus operandi of the band, to the extent that they even stop to think about it, is to have fun. As Aaron puts it, “It’s just fun. It’s light-hearted and introspective in a way, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously, either.”

Solarblades’ debut single, “Shangri-La,” is available on all streaming platforms from today. You can keep up to date with the band on their Instagram profile. Tune into tonight’s episode of POSTBURNOUT.COM Interviews… to hear this interview in full, where we go into further depth about everything discussed, and also talk about the possibility of them incorporating lost Dog Day Afternoon songs into their set. Available tonight at 21:00 (IST) on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Amazon Music Podcasts.

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