It’s been a busy summer for The Aftermath but the Mulligar-based band and singer/guitarist Johnny Cronin show no signs of slowing down, writes Conor Harrington.
Self-described “Yorkshire culchie” Johnny Cronin is effusive in his praise for Galway, having performed in the Global Village at the Volvo Ocean Race Grand Finale before being joined onstage for an impromptu performance by The Stunning at Monroe’s Live that night.
When The Aftermath were bringing their gear into the Dominick Street venue, they also met ex-Thin Lizzy guitarist Eric Bell on the stairs. “You never know who you’re going to meet in Monroe’s,” says Johnny.
It’s been a busy summer for the Mullingar band. They’ve recorded a tribute to Joe Dolan with actor Patrick Bergin, played a storming show at Electric Picnic and recorded ‘The Rockier Road to Poland’ with The Pogues’ Shane McGowan, which was, recalls Johnny, “madness”.
“Shane would be one of our heroes. We didn’t know about Bressie’s version. Ours was a different story, it was more about lads and friendship and getting so drunk and next thing you’re not allowed on the plane because the bags are overweight!” he laughs.
True to its name, The Aftermath’s version is more rocky, incorporating David Bowie’s ‘The Jean Genie’. “Shane just sang ‘Rocky Road’ over ‘Jean Genie’. It was glam trad he was calling it!”
The band released a single, the Van Morrison-esque ‘In Loneliness Lives Love’ earlier this year and a new single is due in November. They also intend to release an album in February 2013.
However the band will be re-inventing itself as Cronin, the surname of Johnny and brother Mick, the band’s drummer. The Aftermath will remain, as sort of a high-profile jam band, which will continue their rich tradition of collaborations. The band has played with such luminaries as Steve Wickham from The Waterboys, Dave Odlum from The Frames, the aforementioned Shane McGowan, BP Fallon, and Bressie.
“A lot of people go, ‘Why so many collaborations?’ but we work with the people we want to work with,” explains Johnny.
New incarnation Cronin will allow the band to explore its darker side, as Johnny and brother Mick have decided to stop courting radio play and concentrate on playing the music they love.
“The Cronin stuff is more Nick Cave, Serge Gainsbourg, Tindersticks kind of sound, with a bit of Death in Vegas in there. We found out that people preferred the darker stuff, but it’s just getting that on the radio [is the problem], and now as we’ve got older, you’ve got to be yourself.”
The first single from the album will be a song that has been described as “like a Tom Waits song in a David Lynch movie”. ‘Overlooking Paris’ is currently being mixed by The Beta Band’s Steve Mason and Johnny is excited to hear the results.
“He’s just mixing it now, so we’ll see if he goes dubstep on it, for the kids!”
Cronin will still play some of the songs from The Aftermath’s breakthrough debut album, ‘Friendlier Up Here’, but Johnny says they will disregard some of the more radio-friendly numbers and play what they, and their audience, want to hear.
“We’ll do the darker songs. We won’t do the poppier ones that we had minor hits with! That’s the stuff we prefer, so I think with our new project we know this is what we want to do.”
Also in the pipeline for The Aftermath/Cronin is a “surprising” Christmas single, details of which are being kept under wraps for now, and a December appearance on ‘Come Dine With Me’ with friend and sometime musical collaborator, comedian Joe Rooney of ‘Killinaskully’ and ‘Father Ted’ fame.
A tour of the UK, Germany, Poland and Norway beckons in the winter, though it’s not clear as yet which incarnation of the band will be playing these shows. Johnny seems to like the idea of keeping the band’s identity fairly fluid.
“Sometimes it’s good to change,” he says.
The Aftermath play Monroe’s Live on Friday, 21 September at 11pm. Tickets, priced €10 are available at www.monroes.ie.