Bands that transition from prog-rock to dance music are not common. Even more rare is one that hails from Dublin, Ireland, and both characteristics apply to Le Galaxie.
Another gradual change within the group started to unfold about four years ago, when singer Mary-Kate Geraghty (aka MayKay from Fight Like Apes) cracked the longtime boys’ club of singer-synth player Michael Pope, bassist Dave McGloughlin, guitarist-keyboardist Anthony Hyland and drummer Alistair Higgins. At first, Geraghty appeared onstage often to perform a song they’d recorded together. Now she’s a full-fledged member, and she plays a key role on Pleasure, Le Galaxie’s third studio, due in April.
Medleyville.us: This year, Le Galaxie is technically entering its second decade. How have the band’s performances and comfort level onstage evolved during that time?
Michael Pope: “Not that Le Galaxie 10 years ago is any way recognizable to what it is today, but initially, I think we were actually focused on a contained but furious stage performance. We weren’t too sure what we wanted to be and maybe hung on to our prog-rock roots dearly for the first couple of years. It seemed the crowds were happy to watch and get involved when they could, but as show after show passed us by, we found ourselves feeding more and more off their energy, and embracing the live dance music aspect of our sound. Then came our first festival shows in 2010, and everything changed. Every single show we’ve done since then — from club to large arena to tiny sweatbox to frozen outdoor student event in the middle of January — has aimed to re-create that feeling of music festival bliss. It’s the elevated experience of our lives.”
How did the overall dynamic change when Mary-Kate became a full-time member of the band?
Pope: “Mary had been a part of the Le Galaxie live unit for some years before she was assimilated into the collective. We recorded ‘Carmen’ with her in 2014 and soon after began to perform it live with pretty astonishing results. For one song during our shows, the dynamic was totally transformed into this call-response duet manifesto for Le Galaxie, whilst not being intrusive to the quartet that already existed. It was exhilarating. We knew that when it came time for album No. 3, we wanted Mary involved in a much more permanent capacity.
Mary-Kate Geraghty: “It was a pretty sweet deal for me when I started doing live shows with Le Galaxie. To walk into a band of that standard who play to such great crowds is a bit of a dream. But it was also a huge relief when I started doing more with them. I felt much more part of the unit. I thought it would be a lot more difficult to integrate into such a tight-knit group, and they definitely have their own language — almost literally — but they made it very easy for me.
Structurally and sonically, the single “Day of the Child” has a lot going on, yet it doesn’t feel overstuffed or distracting. Talk about the writing and recording of that song.
Geraghty: “Dave played the song for me, and I asked before even thinking if I could write something on it. Lots of what the band writes sounds like a soundtrack to some incredibly exciting movie scene, and I got that off this song. I threw everything at it at the start, and then the lads picked the parts that they were most drawn to. It was daunting but really exciting to record with them. Dave is a great producer — very patient, and he really helped me get what I wanted out of myself. I still can’t believe we just released a song that I wrote on! Huge milestone.”
Conversely, “Demi Moore” is minimal: The vocals consist of the actress’ name being repeated in bunches. Was this a case where you were looking for something with three syllables that fit rhythmically and phonetically? Or is there something specific about the song that was inspired by Moore?
Pope: “Ha — I knew someone would eventually ask us about that. It was after we’d wrote a couple of, for us, fairly dramatic tunes in ‘Pleasure,’ ‘Lock That Heart Down’ and ‘The Comedown.’ Things felt kind of heavy, so ‘Demi’ was an answer to that. The house piano, the rhythm track and the almost-mantra like chant of an ’80s icon seemed to be a perfect palette cleanser. It’s kind of hypnotic and absolutely slays live. We’ve always been in touch with our slightly irreverent side, so I think Le Galaxie fans can go there with us for six minutes 38 seconds.”
Finish this sentence: At this year’s SXSW, I will …
Pope: “ … kick out the jams and eat so much In-N-Out Burger.”
Geraghty: “ … assist Michael in kicking out the jams.”
— Introduction and interview by Chris M. Junior
Le Galaxie at South by Southwest 2018 (schedule subject to change):
• Midnight March 15: The Velveeta Room, 521 E. 6th St. (official SXSW showcase)
• 4:10 p.m. March 16: B.D. Riley’s — 204 E. 6th St.
Photo by Mark Duggan