Through his peripatetic upbringing, which saw him fluctuate between New York and Dublin during his formative years, Glen Brady experienced the music scenes both cities offered and gained a versatile range of sonic interests, from punk to hip-hop to indie and alternative rock to rave.
In the ‘90s, Glen autodidactically learnt music production and DJ’d around Ireland under the moniker DJ Wool while releasing music on various Dublin- and London-based labels. After feeling like he reached the ceiling of what was capable for him to achieve in Ireland, he once again moved back to New York, only about a month before the September 11 attacks.
“I ended up in various studios around Dublin at the time, just sitting in the corner, asking questions,” Glen tells Post-Burnout of how he learnt to produce music. “DJing was self-taught; I was into scratching, that sort of stuff. You didn’t find out on the internet, back then; you had to go watch DJs, how mixing and scratching was done.
“I was picking up guitars, keyboards, and that sort of thing during that time, but I didn’t really focus on musicianship; it was more about engineering in the ‘90s, and then when I moved to New York in 2001 is when [sic] I got much more focused as a musician – playing guitars and keyboards and drums – and got more into the musical side of it, as opposed to just the engineering and programming, and I felt that had been missing in my own personal education, so I spent a few years…I mean, I’m still studying that, every day.”
Glen had experience with performing and singing, from his time in college bands. After his return to New York, Glen spent the early-to-mid 2000s in the indie-electro two-piece The Glass, with Plant Music owner, Dominique Keegan. Both The Glass and the newly-reactivated DJ Wool projects saw success in Europe, particularly in Germany and Sweden.
Glen moved to Berlin from 2008 to 2012, where he enjoyed a successful DJing career. But, now with a wife and family and sometimes working from the nighttime until nine A.M., he got burnt out on DJing and wanted to return to engineering. Through connections, he was able to secure a gig with a stagehands’ union in San Francisco, where he began working as a studio producer.
Coincidentally, San Francisco was also the place where Glen would meet the late, great Andy Rourke, best known as the bassist and 25% of The Smiths. “I met him on tour, when I was in The Glass,” remembers Glen. “And he was touring America as a DJ at the time, and we ended up on a couple of the same stages, and we became friends on a couple of tours. The first time I met him was at an indie club in San Francisco […] and then we ended up realising that we lived near each other in Brooklyn.”
The two began working on each other’s music, with Andy mixing Glen’s projects and vice versa, and they subsequently became drinking buddies. Glen says, “There’s a feeling of gratitude for that period of my life because, as a teenager in the late ‘80s and being a creative person or whatever you want to call it, The Smiths were essential for my survival. Like, they were there for me when I was a teenager. That music was there for me. Those albums, I leaned on them, heavily.
“So, the first time I met him, I was absolutely blown away. I think it was probably the only time in my life I was properly starstruck and, of course, you didn’t get away with that bullshit with Andy!” It was through this friendship that when Andy’s latest project, the experimental dark wave unit, D.A.R.K. – which featured Olé Koretsky and the also late, great Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries – needed a producer for their first and only album, 2016’s Science Agrees, Andy handpicked Glen.
“I ended up being contacted by Dolores from The Cranberries,” remembers Glen. After engineering the album, he says, “And that kind of took me on another turn. I ended up touring that [now as a member of D.A.R.K.] and supporting The Cranberries in 2017, and that’s when I ended up coming back to Ireland, and it was nice to come home after sixteen years, I think I was away, and to reconnect here was pretty cool and my wife liked Ireland a lot, which was nice, and we’ve been here ever since.”
Now based in Wexford, Glen still produces music, primarily for hip-hop artists, but it was one production job which would kick off his current band. “It was while doing that during the pandemic that I started Def Nettle,” says Glen.“I was working on a record for someone, and they weren’t sure what they wanted – they sometimes wanted a jazzy record, sometimes wanted a rock-y record – and they ended up going for the jazzy tracks, and I was left with a few punky tracks that I liked, and I ended up doing the vocals myself.”
Glen’s new punk-funk band Def Nettle can be distilled by two gigs he attended one summer. “I spent a year in Philadelphia when I was 19, before I went into college, and I went to two shows that summer that I think Def Nettle is those two shows!” he laughs. “It was a band called the Butthole Surfers, from Texas, and the Beastie Boys’ Check Your Head Tour, where they played all their live instruments, and they swapped instruments during the show. Those two concerts have kind of always stayed with me as being a benchmark if I was ever in a band that I was designing.”
Def Nettle’s music combines rap with punk, with Glen feeling that some of the songs are straight-up hip-hop songs. Reminiscing on the New York scene of the ‘80s, he says, “When hip-hop came out, when punk rock came out, they probably had a lot more in common than it would seem now. A lot of the clubs that they were playing were the same clubs, so, inevitably, the crowds were mixing and the styles of music were mixing.”
For Glen, the two genres’ commonality is in their D.I.Y. approach and lyricism. “They’re very simple approaches,” he says. “It’s always good to bring these things into a studio and record them properly, but, in essence, there’s not that much difference, in a way. It’s people just making art out of what’s around, and out of their words, and what they can say. “Although there’s genius in hip-hop and punk rock, sometimes the most simple things made without much intention, musically, can be really profound, and I’d like to think that’s true with Def Nettle, but [Laughs] I’ll leave that up to everyone else. It’s true for me, anyway, in writing it.”
On February 9th, Def Nettle will drop their debut album, DN001, which exemplifies the philosophy surrounding the band (and which also features a collaboration from Andy Rourke on the final song). “One thing I wanted to keep in mind with this was there may not be a budget, initially, for creating a touring situation,” says Glen. “And as someone who has engineered – especially for my years as an engineer for the stagehands’ union – I really wanted to be able to walk on stage, plug in, and play, without any huge soundchecks.
“I wanted to be able to go on a bill with five other bands, if necessary, without creating a big fuss for the engineer and flexing my engineering muscles by bringing a fuckin’ spaceship on stage – which I’m very capable of doing because I have all the equipment – but I didn’t want to do that; I want to be able to walk on, perform, and walk off. I don’t want to have to sweat, plugging stuff in for two hours, figuring out how it’s all going to sound, having the stress of it not working. So, I wrote the songs with that in mind. However, I do have a bunch of synthesisers and modular rigs and too much equipment, so I did use some of that in the production of it. I like synth sounds and stuff like that.”
The day before the album release, Def Nettle will perform a launch gig at Upstairs at Whelan’s. “I was talking to the band and talking to Whelan’s themselves,” says Glen, “because I don’t really feel like I’m going to make any money out of it, anyway; it’s not really what I’m doing it for. So, I wanted to keep the price at a tenner. I wanted it to be a reasonable entry, because, unfortunately, you do have to take transport into town, you do have to have a drink or something to eat, and live life when you’re out there, and it’s super expensive. It’s crazy.”
For the rest of the year, Glen plans on building momentum for Def Nettle, from playing shows to working on album number two. While DN001 was written primarily in isolation and with various musicians contributing to the album, Glen believes their second record will be more cohesive, as it will be made in collaboration with the members who have made up the full band for a while now.
On what keeps him motivated, Glen references the encouragement and enthusiasm which came from Andy Rourke and Dolores O’Riordan, and says, “I’m beyond blessed and lucky, and maybe that’s why I have the confidence to continue making music, is if people like that belief that I had something to offer, maybe I do?” before laughing and adding, “I still have imposter syndrome, like everybody else!”
Def Nettle’s debut album, DN001, is out on February 9th. You can preorder a copy here. The album’s launch gig is at Upstairs at Whelan’s the night before, and you can purchase tickets here. You can keep up with Def Nettle here.
Check out our full interview with Glen, on today’s episode of POSTBURNOUT.COM Interviews… at 14:00, where we go into further details on the topics discussed, as well as his plans for the band’s second album, his relationship with Dolores O’Riordan, his memories of the Irish punk and skate scenes, and more.
Aaron Kavanagh is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Post-Burnout. His writing can also be found in the Irish Daily Star, Buzz.ie, New Noise Magazine, XS Noize, DSCVRD and more.