The Keelan X debut single “No Fall of Rome” is being released on the 11 November 2021. Check out the teaser video below.
Keelan X was formed by chance in 2021 after Keelan Cunningham (vocals/guitars/keys) rummaged through his parent’s attic at the tail end of 2020 to dig out his untouched-for-years Telecaster Deluxe and recorded a few song ideas into his iPhone Voicemail app.
“I hadn’t planned on writing a batch of songs to be honest. I just wanted to play some covers again. Before I knew it, I had dozens of original song ideas recorded on my iPhone” says Keelan.
His time playing various instruments in other bands (often just out of necessity) unknowingly prepared him for the writing and recording of the songs on his upcoming debut album. Keelan describes it as a means-to-an-end and a side-effect of the pandemic. “During lockdown you clearly couldn’t get other musicians into a studio so I thought, what the heck. I’ll do what I can myself and see where it gets me. I’ve recorded the best part of an album by now.”
Why the name ‘Keelan X’?
Even though this started out as a solo project, it very much has a band-vibe to it. This is partially through the multi-tracking of each instrument but also because of the contributions from Declan Lonergan (Engineer/Guitars/Production) and Julian Chown (Engineer/Keyboards/Production). I didn’t want to call myself just “Keelan” as I thought it was a bit “Beyonce” so I came up with the X as it signifies the multiplier effect working with others has on the development of each track and I’d like ultimately to do live gigs as a proper band.
Keelan has a diverse blend of musical taste – from late 70s & 80s bands like Fleetwood Mac, Joy Division, Tears for Fears, Prefab Sprout to solo artists like Bowie, Jackson Browne; electronic-led acts such as Depeche Mode, Ultravox; and guitar-centred bands like U2, The Killers etc.
“People who’ve heard the songs reference everything from – Marc Almond, Coldplay, The National, David Gray, Oasis, even INXS” says Keelan.
No Fall Of Rome
The song’s working title was originally “Empire Building” but I thought this could get misconstrued and besides I felt ‘No Fall of Rome‘ was a better title. The song lyrics are kinda like an imaginary conversation you might have with a friend (“I can tell by the way you’re leaning“…etc), encouraging them to believe in themselves (“No way I’m falling for it”…etc) despite what they feel like right now; words of encouragement (“I know you’re an empire building“) – it is essentially a song to bolster and support someone when feeling discouraged.
The song started out a little heavier, with more overdriven guitars in the chorus a-la My Bloody Valentine and I had a different melody in the verses, slightly different lyrics and a different drum rhythm. “When I recorded the vocals with Declan (Bluebird Studios) in May 2021 and came back about a week later to work some more on the track I felt I could come up with something better in the verses and during that session we recorded the final vocals which you hear on the track today. I had a kind of Fleetwod Mac vibe in my head for the layered background vocals in the chorus. I later added the Juno keyboard parts with Julian to give it a sprinkle of pop. I’ve been listening to a lot of snyth/electro pop these days” says Keelan.
The Lyrics - No Fall of Rome
The songs lyrics were born out of observing people at certain stages in their life; approaching middle age, maybe giving up on themselves a bit, letting their earlier hopes and dreams slip. I liked the metaphor of Rome as the eternal city and hypothesizing that their isn’t no fall of Rome gonna happen on my watch. They are also somewhat influenced by things I’d be reading during lockdown, like about Nero recreating the city of Rome following the fire. And it’s always struck me how many of the architecturally noteworthy and robust buildings in Ireland (whether it’s Trinity College) are long-standing artefacts of the British empire. I just thought Empire Building was an interesting metaphor for somebody who can stand the test of time. And then lastly, I had been reading some W.B. Yeats poems again during lockdown and I might have channelled some of his great poems (e.g. Sailing to Byzantium).
Keelan X is a halfway through the writing of its debut album (due to be released in spring 2022).
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