R.S.A.G.
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R.S.A.G.

Kilkenny, Leinster, Ireland | INDIE

Kilkenny, Leinster, Ireland | INDIE
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You may well wonder why a solo project from the former drummer with Kilkenny band Blue Ghost demands your attention. You've got other things to do, people to see and starry Next Big Things to check out. You don't really have time for a bloody drummer from the Marble City. Sure, he could be the new Phil Collins for all you know.

The first track on Jeremy Hickey's latest release as R.S.A.G (as in Rarely Seen Above Ground) is called Counting Down , and it lasts for just under two minutes. You can spare two minutes, can't you? That's the same time you'd probably spend waiting for a bus or stuck in your car on the road into town. Yeah, you can spare it.

By the time Counting Down has finished pounding and pumping an exotic and mesmeric tattoo into your ears in the nicest and funkiest way possible, you'll be hankering to hear more. Take your time - you're going to be coming back again and again to this album in the weeks ahead.

There are many elements which make Organic Sampler such a wow. Hickey's sense of scale and ambition is remarkable, and each track leaps out of its skin because the producer won't settle for the mundane. Here's someone who is determined to get what he hears in his head down on disc.

His grooves are extraordinary, a heavyweight percussive storm conducted by the lightest and finest of touches. Hickey's David Byrne-like yelp gives the album a touch of the Talking Heads, but there's nothing wrong with that.

Put all this together and you have tunes that are compelling, dramatic and exciting. Every track clicks into its stride, makes for the higher ground and hits the target. Other albums may shout about their merits, but Hickey is one worth listening out for.
- Irish Times


So here it is – the difficult second album. The man from the Marble City, Jeremy Hickey, or as most know him R.S.A.G., must have felt some pressure on his shoulders in the making of his second album Be It Right Or Wrong. His 2008 debut Organic Sampler was received with open arms by the music press and fans alike, earning Hickey a Choice Prize nomination and rake of reviews containing only the most effusive of praise. But any pressure that Hickey did feel appears to only have served as motivation because he was assembled an album which builds on the strengths of his first, while papering over any cracks with a clear emphasis on strong vocals and a slow, deliberate songwriting structure.

It’s always interesting to hear albums composed with one singular thought in mind. And, being a multi-instrumentalist, this is the case with R.S.A.G. Hickey is responsible for every lick, every beat and every intonation on Be It Right Or Wrong. Not only that, the album comes from something of a skewed point of view because of the fact that he is most well known as being a drummer, and these songs are written squarely from the drummer’s stool.

The rhythm section is central to this album. Hickey’s drum lines are written with the bass in mind, and vice versa, so the result of this is a unique and pleasantly meandering bed for the rest of the mix to fall upon. First single ‘The Roamer’ is an example of this, as the guitar and bass seem to trade roles and take turns playing lead as a gentle percussion and Hickey’s smooth vocals follow close behind. Hickey’s influences are apparent, too. ‘The Mess We’re In’ evokes memories of the Talking Heads and there are even traces of some Elvis-style rock and roll on ‘The Mercy Plea’, while ‘Hotwire The Heart’ bounces along with the sort of bass line you’d associate with old Madness tracks.

This isn’t a covers album though, far from it. Hickey doesn’t stray too far away from what he’s comfortable with on Be It Right Or Wrong but, importantly, none of the songs run into each other. There is a vibrancy and a freshness here and those elements, coupled with Hickey’s clear vision and single-minded approach, have combined to put together one of the best Irish albums you’ll hear in 2010. - State


A one-man-band with no fear and lots of great tunes, R.S.A.G.'s Jeremy Hickey reveals new depths on his third album. Feted for the quirky grooves and beats of 2008's 'Organic Sampler', Hickey has now channelled the spirit of old rock 'n' roll and the blues and found some of the most come hither bass lines this side of Chic.

The swagger that appeared from time to time two years ago on tracks like 'Talk Back Crawl Back' is now the norm: 'Be It Right or Wrong' is more dynamic and fun than any of Hickey's previous work and recalls the mischief making of cult Canadian act No Means No in places.

With Hickey having grown in confidence as a vocalist, and now able to wrap his croon around any arrangement, the question is does he stay behind the drum kit or jump out front and throw some shapes at the mic stand. But that's a nice one to have to answer, and this is a great record for firing up a night out or burning calories to at home. - R.T.E. TEN


Turning his radar back 50 years, R.S.A.G. (aka Jeremy Hickey) has once again delivered a record as fresh as it is exciting, a homage to the original rock’n’rollers brought bang up to date. The sound has been entirely reconstructed since Hickey’s Organic Sampler debut. With the help of producer Leo Pearson, you’ll notice that the vocals (Hickey’s Nick Cave/David Byrne-styled holler) are more prominent in the mix, and the percussion parts acquiesce to the altogether more bluesy presence of guitars, keys and brass. Still unflinchingly shape-shifting but more understated than before, Be It Right or Wrong is further proof that Hickey has marked himself out as someone several steps ahead of his peers. Put this down as a Choice nomination shoo-in. See myspace.com/ rarelyseenaboveground - Irish Times


Drummers have it hard. Consigned to the background, they’re usually left to toil away in the shadows as their more glamorous guitar wielding or vocally gifted counterparts lap up the limelight. In fact, the most prominent recognition drummers have received in recent times is through a weird combination of a gorilla suit and a Phil Collins track on a Cadbury’s ad which says it all really. With the crowd having been warmed up by the understated yet immensely likeable 202s, Kilkenny’s Jeremy Hickey aka RSAG [Rarely Seen Above Ground] arrives on stage as the exception to this common ruling on drummers, taking his spot centre stage with his drum kit dominating the confines of the reasonably filled Academy.The show in itself is certainly unique; backed by three large screens, Hickey blitzes away on the drums while pre-recorded material of himself on a myriad of other instruments, from the bass guitar to the bongo, is projected around him, to form the entire show and a virtual band of sorts. It is a concept which could easily have gone pear-shaped, yet it is done with enough creativity and ingenuity to succeed beautifully and the carefully sequenced artistic footage perfectly augments the percussion on show.

It isn’t long before Hickey is in full swing lashing through a set interwoven with cuts from his Choice Music nominated debut Organic Sampler and the recent follow up Be It Right Or Wrong. Though the drums are naturally the main focal point of the evening, it is a testament to Hickey’s talent that the entire picture fits together so well. This isn’t simply a little riff placed over a drum beat as an after thought, rather it works together as an integrated single entity, with the individual musical elements combining cleverly to supplement Hickey’s prowess on the drums. For such an original artist, there is a nagging tendency for some of the individual tracks to lack a certain uniqueness however and in particular the earlier Organic Sampler tracks sound a slight bit samey over the course of the entire evening.

However, it is worth bearing in mind that such an occurrence may be down to the grander, more explorative sound of the new tracks which makes them stand apart from the driven, more single minded route which Organic Sampler so often took. This new found penchant for the expansive is particularly evident on latest single The Roamer, a hazy 6 minute journey full of catchy riffs and wonderfully swooping vocals which serves as the evening’s highlight, successfully holding the audience’s full attention in spite of it’s length. As well as this, other highlights include the surging Stick To The Line, while Bad Seed is thankfully as tub-thumping live as it is on the album.

On an evening when the longest tennis match in history finally came to a close it is fitting to see an artist of such energy on show, with Hickey’s stamina particularly commendable as he thunders through the set at break neck speed. Naturally with a set up of this kind certain minor grievances are perhaps to be expected and most notably the vocals are at times lacking a certain polish and sheen that is usually found in a ‘normal’ band set up. To Hickey’s credit however, the passion and originality with which he performs far outweighs this and any other misgivings and the crowd seem content to exchange such sheen for downright originality, sending Hickey off with the excellent reception that such a bold premise, and the excellent delivery of it, thoroughly deserves. - Culch.ie


Discography

Album

Choice nominated Organic Sampler(Double Album) Released 2008.

Singles

Stick to your line

Days go by

Album

Be it right or wrong
2010

Be it right or Wrong

The Roamer

Movement.

Photos

Bio

RSAG released his debut double album ORGANIC SAMPLER in November 2008. What resulted appeared to be a frenzied vocabulary competition from Irish media to outdo each other in terms of compliments for this mesmerizing and totally unique act.

R.S.A.G. ( Rarely Seen Above Ground ) is Jeremy Hickey. He is a multi-instrumentalist who records, performs and produces all his own material. Live R.S.A.G. plays drums / percussion and sings. The backing tracks are recorded in his studio. Visually, he has created a virtual band which is projected on a screen behind him.

Think of Joy Division, Talking Heads, Fela Kuti, New York rockers, ESG with the visual impact of the Gorillaz. But rather than the use of animation, he aspires to a sort of shadowplay; a show of silhouettes of himself, which he utilises on disc. Think of what DJ Shadow done on his live tour of The Private Press. This is so much more than just music, it is a friendly, full-sensory virus with no known cure.

Now back with his Leo Pearson produced follow-up album Be It Right Or Wrong.

Be It Right Or Wrong was performed entirely by Hickey and was recorded in Leo’s studio in Thomastown, Kilkenny in August ’09. Leo Pearson is a leading remixer, programmer and producer, and has worked with many big names including U2, Elvis Costello and Howie B.

“Recording Be It Right Or Wrong was a completely different experience to Organic Sampler. On Organic Sampler I more of less wrote and recorded everything at home. For Be It Right Or Wrong I chose to record with Leo Pearson in Thomastown, Kilkenny. Leo has a great set-up. It doesn’t have that claustrophobic feeling to it like a lot of studios. I had recorded a lot of the songs again at home and came to the studio with the demos. Straight away we clicked on the sounds and the different vibe I was going for. Leo convinced me to record everything from scratch, which at first I wasn’t into, but now I'm glad I listened. With this album I wanted more of a live feel, almost like a dysfunctional band who needed to get all of their influences out but of course, still being recorded by only one man. Working with Leo was great, he really has a talent of getting the right take from you. In it's feel and technical merit, I wanted this album to be different than my last. Change is something we cant control but we can write about it” - Jeremy Hickey May 2010

“There is a vibrancy and a freshness here and those elements, coupled with Hickey’s clear vision and single-minded approach, have combined to put together one of the best Irish albums you’ll hear in 2010.” – State.ie

“Be It Right Or Wrong is innovative, carefully crafted, and often captivating.” – Entertainment.ie

“Turning his radar back 50 years, R.S.A.G. (aka Jeremy Hickey) has once again delivered a record as fresh as it is exciting, a homage to the original rock’n’rollers brought bang up to date. Put this down as a Choice nomination shoo-in.” – Irish Times

“Hear the drummer get wicked and sublime. No need to be alarmed. Jeremy Hickey knows exactly what he’s doing.” – Hotpress

“It marks the arrival of a truly world-beating new talent. Utterly brilliant” – RTE Guide

“A truly inventive work from a true original.” AU Magazine

“Now more Picasso than Pollock” – Sunday Tribune