Interview with Conor Dockery of Red Enemy

One of the most exciting and powerful releases this year has been the What We Are Contained In Is What We Are EP from Irish metalers Red Enemy. Since 2008 they have won over their homeland with impressive shows and debut EP Outsiders. Now the band and sound has ventured further afield to start what is sure to be an equalling success in the UK and beyond. The RingMaster Review had the pleasure of talking to guitarist Conor Dockery from the band give some insight into the world of Red Enemy.

Welcome to The Ringmaster Review and thanks for letting us throw some questions at you. Could you firstly introduce the band members?

The line-up currently is:

Kevin Letford: Vocals

(Myself) Conor Dockery: Guitar

Jay Doyle: Bass

Daniel Lang: Drums

How and when did the band form?

Myself, Dan and Kev have been playing together since we were kids. We would just learn our favourite songs, meet up and jam them out. Probably how every band starts really! It has essentially been the same band since then with some line-up changes and obviously some growing up musically. This line-up has been solid for about 2 years now.

Is Red Enemy the first band for each of you?

For Dan, Kev yes and myself. We’ve all filled in and helped out friends along the way but none of us have been in another band full time. Jay has been in a couple of bands; he’s been around for a while. He’s ours now though ha!

How have you as musicians and the band’s sound evolved over the past three years?

It’s quite hard to pinpoint any sort of evolution. We still write heavy music, some songs faster than others etc etc. We’ve focused on the song writing process a lot more this time around. We’re trying to simplify it as much as we can. As for content, it hasn’t changed much ha. I’m sure the songs will sound a lot different. I suppose we’ve ‘matured’, or whatever it is bands call it nowadays.

What is Ireland and specifically Dublin like for music, especially metal?

Dublin is great when it wants to be. On its day it can be as good as anywhere else in the world! There are some amazing metal and in particular hardcore bands in Dublin at the moment, so there’s a nice little scene going. We’ve played some incredible shows in Ireland but it suffers hugely from the lack of population. There just isn’t a huge market for bands, hence the severe lack of labels, management, magazines etc. In fact, there are no metal labels or management. To put it in perspective, there are what, 16 million people in London alone? Well there’s only 5 million in the entire country of Ireland haha.

Is there a close unity between the metal and rock bands there?

Yeah absolutely. We have had people from all sorts of bands at our shows! If people genuinely like a band in Ireland they will make an effort to support them. Well, to an extent anyway. We have friends in bands of all shapes and sizes and try to support them when we can! Dan has played drums with a few incredible prog bands. Kev has sung on a few bands releases and in an Alexisonfire cover band haha. Everyone is pretty close! It’s cool.

Your ferocious blend of hardcore and technical melodic metal has excited Ireland for a while now but not so much over in the UK until now which surprised us here. Was this just down to circumstances or a less focused attack until now?

You know, it’s not an easy thing for a band to build up the confidence to push themselves out there to the industry, especially if you’re stuck in Ireland. We had built up a pretty good following over here and people had been wondering why we had never toured or anything. It took us a long time to realise that we should be taking this further. We wanted to wait until we were ready to do it and when the time came, we were lucky that people like James Monteith (Tesseract) and bands like Carcer City and No Consequence were willing to help us out. They have all been unbelievable and have really got the ball rolling for us in the UK. Big shout out to James in particular. And you guys of course for taking the time to interview us. We’re very grateful.

Your latest EP What We Are Contained In, Is What We Are Worth has just been released to more strong acclaim for the band, what were your expectations or hopes with its release?  

We tried our best on this EP. I know we’re capable of better but it was the best material we had at the time. I think you have to be hopeful when releasing something new. It would be unfair on the hard work you put into making it to just write it off. You obviously worry all the time about how it will be received but our expectations were…..healthy for want of a better word!

What had you learned between your well received debut EP Outsiders and the new release that had a big impact this time in the studio?

Yeah, we learned a hell of a lot after we recorded that first release. I suppose the biggest thing we took from that whole process was the fact that jamming songs in the practice space and then actually tracking them in a studio are two very very different things! We put a lot of pressure on ourselves performance wise, so when we went to record the latest EP we had prepared the songs much better. It was our second time recording with Stu Mackay in Studio 6 so that made for a much more relaxed atmosphere.

Tell us about how you write your songs and if they changed much between entering the studio and the finished results?

Songs generally start from a riff or drum idea. If we like the idea a lot, we will try and use it a few times throughout the song, with some slight variations. It takes us ages to finish a song! I’m not sure why that’s the case but I suppose you just want it to be perfect. They never turn out perfect though……so it’s a strange one haha. Vocals will usually be written last. Kev will have the bones of the lyrics written and will piece them together over all the parts. Our songs change very little in the studio. Some songs are left to the very last minute to complete, as was the case for the last track ‘Wolves’ on our latest EP. We wrote the last section of that song in the studio. It ended up being one of our favourite parts so maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing.

Your lyrics are as strong in political and social themes as the sound itself; for sure there is never lack of material in this world but which is the biggest inspiration for you, human greed, selfishness, or its apathy?

I can probably speak for Kev in that he takes inspiration purely from what he sees and experiences. With this EP it just so happened to be written around the time that Irelands economy shat the bed. The lyrics on the album may be very different.

Do you believe the majority of people listening to your music and with other bands with strong messages and points to their songs, actually take on board the lyrical content as maybe they did over the previous decades? Or just listen with a less focused ear in that way?

I would probably say the majority of people do not take on board what the vocalist is saying. I certainly don’t speak for everyone because I know myself that there is certain bands whose lyrics I love and find extremely relevant. I think it very much depends on the band. Some vocalists have that ability to just focus your attention solely on what they’re saying, and nothing else. Other vocalists don’t have that ability. Certainly in previous decades, songs were more often built on a strong lyrical idea than a strong riff so to speak. Again, it depends on the band really.

You have just come off your first UK tour with Save Your Grace, Visions, TesseracT, and Once A Wolf, how did that go?

It was amazing. As I said, we couldn’t have asked for anything more. We were looked after really well by the promoters and all the other bands were great. Happy days.

Were the audiences aware of the band as such? Was there a good core there for you guys?

We have a few friends in bands over there who have really helped spread our name around a little bit. A few people at the Brighton show had come especially to see us, that was a bit mind blowing. We don’t have huge expectations when it comes to crowds, which I think is a healthy thing. You’re rarely disappointed then as they. J

You have also supported Parkway Drive on their tour of Ireland, how did you find that and was that a point when people outside of the country started to take notice?

Those Parkway Drive shows were a huge milestone for us. I’m not too sure how it affected people outside the country, but certainly it put the marker down in Ireland if nothing else. It all kinda comes and goes so fast and then it’s over. Like anything good I suppose! We really enjoyed ourselves. Some of our families came too. It’s nice to give them a completely false sense of how the band is doing haha!

What are your own influences as musicians?

I mean, as we’ve gotten a bit older our tastes have broadened substantially. That tends to happen to most people I think. The biggest change we’ve noticed, especially writing this album, is how much of an influence bands and artists from other genres are actually having on the music. Ireland is producing some incredible Post-rock/shoegaze bands like Enemies and Overhead The Albatross (to name but a few) who are rubbing off on us, inspiring us to explore a bit more I think. It’s not necessarily what they play, but the way they play it. The way the drummer may accent part or the way they play a certain chord progression etc. Don’t get us wrong though; we’ll always be a metal band and still love listening to metal. But the origins of some of our ideas seem to come from very different genres.

What is next up for Red Enemy?

We’re playing a show with those Americans Texas In July next week then its back over to the UK for two weeks. We’ve begun writing our first full-length album so that’s pretty exciting. We’ve never had a full release before so it’s all a bit new. Your best way to keep up to date is through our Facebook page.

Cheers for letting us in on things Red Enemy and good luck with the EP. Would you like to give us some last words?

Thanks so much, guys. Eh…..we mainly just want to thank anyone who has taken the time to check us out, interview us or come to a show recently, especially all the promoters involved in our upcoming tour. Sound.

What We Are Contained In, Is What We Are Worth is available from

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What We Are Contained In, Is What We Are Worth review

RingMaster 01/11/2011 Registered & Protected


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