Currently based between Dublin, London and Bristol, M(h)aol (pronounced “male”) are formed of Róisín Nic Ghearailt, Constance Keane, Jamie Hyland, Zoe Greenway and Sean Nolan. Together, the band aim to rattle the male dominated post-punk scene with their urgent, gritty sounds, with previous singles ‘Laundries’, ‘Asking For It’ & ‘Gender Studies’ being the perfect instigators for this pursuit. They’re set to release their debut EP Gender Studies tomorrow (29th October) via TULLE, which further cements their statement against toxic patriarchal standards.
Ahead of their gig with Club The Mammoth at The Shacklewell Arms next week on 4th November (tickets here) which GIHE will also be DJ’ing at, we caught up with Róisín, Jamie & Sean for a quick chat about the band’s new EP, the history & themes that informed it, and their anticipations for their London headline show…
Can you remember who, or what first inspired you to start making music? And can you tell me how you all met & become M(h)aol?
Jamie: I grew up with the radio always on, it would be a very odd moment to not have music playing in the background at home throughout my childhood. I would have heard everything between Bach madrigals, Gilbert & Sullivan operettas, early blues records, Duran Duran albums in passing. I’ve a very vivid memory of watching MTV as a child and hearing Shanks & Bigfoot and that music video, that really sparked something.
I’d been learning piano on my grandad’s very old, very out of tune piano for a while before I got bored of it and my older brother got a guitar and showed me the Pixies and how to play a few guitar lines from those tunes. The simplicity of how to actually play them, but then the musical complexity/impact of them in context was amazing. I first met Connie after a soundcheck eating almonds and playing cards in the back of the Twisted Pepper in Dublin. It took a few years but now she can’t get rid of me and she’s subjected the rest of the band to me as well.
Róisín: Myself and Connie were obsessed with The Punk Singer when we were 21 and she ended up shaving my head and that was the catalyst for M(h)aol. It was a total shock to me that I was in a band. For the first year we just practiced in her gorgeous rehearsal space in Rathmines. For an entire year we just tried to figure out what we were saying and why.
Sean: I was shanghaied by Connie while at work, and joined the band under protest.
It sounds like Connie is the mastermind behind M(h)aol, fantastic. You’re set to release your debut EP, Gender Studies, on 29th October which you recorded in just 3 days. What are you most proud of about this record?
Sean: I’m still impressed that we got as much crammed into those 3 days as we did.
Jamie: It was all written in those three days too.
Róisín: That’s not 100% true, I’d written the track ‘Gender Studies’ almost a year before in a fury on my way home from work at 2am. It started as more of a poem than anything. I only write the lyrics, I don’t have any kind of input to the music, so for the EP it was important for me to have some kind of overarching narrative. That narrative being how gender influences how one moves through the world and how it doesn’t just impact your physical landscape but your emotional one too.
Do you have a favourite track, and if so, why? Also, please tell me how ‘Kinder Bueno’ came to life. It’s 52 seconds of savage wit…
Róisín: Against all odds my favourite is ‘Desperation’ which was almost an after thought. It makes me laugh, its also based on my favourite book of 2021, Acts of Desperation by Megan Nolan.
Jamie: Some people need to be called out for being jerks. I don’t think that always needs to be prolonged into numerous verses and I feel like Róisín did a great job of condensing the sentiment into just a few lines on ‘Kinder Bueno’.
Sean: From what I remember, Róisín wrote that one kind of off-the-cuff and we had the take that’s on the EP pretty quickly.
Róisín: I always knew I wanted a super petty song about this really bad hook up I’d had and like Jamie and Sean said, it really just came together really quickly.
There are universal themes within your music (reflections on misogyny and gender-based violence) but there are also strong connections to Irish history too (your band is named after Grainne Mhaol, the context of your track ‘Laundries’), so talk us through the significance of these histories how they’ve informed your song-writing…
Jamie: Irish history is fascinating, at every turn there is something incredible, be that incredibly painful, interesting, or empowering.
Róisín: Growing up in Ireland has shaped us so much for better or worse. There’s so much intergenerational trauma in the country, stemming from clerical abuse etc, but also intergenerational pleasure stemming from our rich history of rebellion and literature.
What are your anticipations for your headline show at The Shacklewell Arms?
Jamie: We are all very aware that our demographic lines up far too closely with Pillow Queens, who have a London gig the same night. Not that I want to start a beef with them but I think they are intentionally sabotaging us.
Róisín: Jamie is OBVIOUSLY joking. The Shacklewell was where we were supposed to have our first proper return gig in March 2020 so I’m hoping that it will feel suitably triumphant.
Sean: We’ll have played 3 shows over the previous 3 days so we’ll either be at our most polished or most exhausted, hopefully the former.
Thanks to Róisín, Jamie & Sean for answering our questions!
M(h)aol UK Tour Dates
1st November – Rough Trade, Bristol
2nd November – The Hug And Pint, Glasgow
3rd November – The Talleyrand, Manchester
4th November – The Shacklewell Arms, London
Photo Credit: Susan Appleby