Richie Egan interview: ‘People really invest in the Redneck Manifesto’

At one point in our chat, Richie Egan just says “fuck thinking”. Taken out of context it’d be some nihilistic outburst or end-of-your-tether cry for help, but it’s really a positive statement.

Egan is chatting about the Redneck Manifesto, who are basically a part-time band who’ve become one of Ireland’s greatest cult acts of the last 20 years.

Egan is making a comparison with his Jape project, which he calls “the band that puts food on the table”.

Speaking on Skype from his home in Malmo, Sweden, Dubliner Egan says: “With the Rednecks we don’t really need to think about anything. It’s hard for us to get together but when we meet we’re always able to meet up and play and jam. We know each other so well, we’ve been friends for years.

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“We haven’t released an album in five years, and haven’t really written anything until recently. And recently we’ve got about five-six songs written. They’re actually really upbeat. Maybe there’s a kinda joy in playing together again after so long but they’re genuinely happy songs.

The fact that the Rednecks are an instrumental act is also a bonus in Egan’s no-thinking/intuitive/improv buzz. He spent most of last year taking Jape’s fifth album This Chemical Sea on the road, as well as dissecting the album in interviews.

One topic that came up consistently was the overtly electronic direction of the album, with Egan talking us through rave epiphanies he’s had over the years, from the likes of Caribou.

But for The Rednecks’ first gig since Electric Picnic 2015, we’re at the opposite end of the spectrum. The six-piece are playing this weekend at the rather self-explanatory Clonakilty International Guitar Festival.

He says the organiser, Ray of DeBarras, “just caught them at a good time”, and adds: “We didn’t want to play again without any new songs because that would just be taking the piss.

“It just happened that me and Matty [who also lives in Sweden] were in Dublin working for a while over the summer, so it was a good time to get everyone together.

But now that we’ve got a few songs, we can test them and see how they go down. We’ll obviously be playing older stuff because people will obviously want that. But then after this show we’ll write some more then go on a tour next year to raise money to record the album. We’re really, really slow, but there’s at least a bit of a plan.”

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Organisers in Clonakilty are quick to point out that the festival isn’t some stuffy chin-stroke weekender, and the Redneck Manifesto are many degrees of separation away from other instrumental acts filed under post-rock or math-rock, with overly portentous build-ups, algorithmically complex time signatures and unwavering straight faces.

The Rednecks have a fluidity and lighter touch among their intense passages, with pitter-pattering percussion, dubby bass and high-fret guitar lines a hangover from their earlier obsession with Fugazi as well as early hardore and jumping feet first into the DIY punk scene when they were starting out.

This independent DIY aesthetic means they’re absolved from any pressure to record – either from a label or indeed each other, with their various other musical projects. The Rednecks are hardly prolific – four albums since 2001 – but as soon as they announce a gig it’s a big deal, especially when it’s been an annual aven the last few years.

“We’ve even got people coming from overseas for this,” Egan says. “In some ways even though Jape would be more successful in Ireland, people really invest in the Redneck Manifesto. We all do, really.

And even though the pressure is off, he assures us they’ll get the finger out properly for the next LP. When pushed for a release date he says: “It shouldn’t be long, it should be out in the next… 10 years… No, really, after Christmas we’ll play those shows, we’ll work it out so we’ll have enough money for the studio, then hopefully we’ll have it by the end of next year.”