The 202s
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The 202s

Dublin, Leinster, Ireland | INDIE

Dublin, Leinster, Ireland | INDIE
Band Alternative Rock




"202s State Interview"

Having seemingly dropped out of the sky in the last few months, 202s are Mike Glennon and Steve Melling, a duo who spent the guts of the noughties in regular rock bands but who found themselves drawn more and more towards synths, loops and krautrock as time went on. Two years ago they began recording what would become their self-titled debut, eschewing the well trodden route of playing the capital’s venues to get noticed, instead concentrating on creating something special in the studio. The album is currently getting a shedload of attention and well it might. Minimalist in places, raucous in others – there’s harmonica, glockenspiel, programmed beats and even a little Carly Sings to enjoy.

After getting a Guinness instead of the Smithwicks we ordered at the Library Bar in the Central Hotel, State did the very Irish thing of not complaining and then talked to Steve and Mike about their debut record, doing things back to front and whether being compared to Primal Scream is a good thing or not.

The album has kind of landed out of nowhere because the 202s have been pretty much a private project thus far, why the lack of live gigs?
Mike: I guess the two of us wanted to keep the line-up simple. We had a good idea between us of what we wanted to do; we’ve been mates for a long time so we knew we were both on exactly the same page. We’d been in plenty of bands together and the last one we were in was an attempt to do something a little bit like what we’re doing now but it kind of just morphed – because of gigging and doing normal things normal bands do – and became a two-guitar, bass and drum band.

You obviously didn’t want to go down that road again.
Mike: Never again, we felt like we’d been playing music for a long while, been in bands for a long while and we still hadn’t made an album and that’s ridiculous. It was like an artist who’d never had an exhibition or a film-maker who’d never gone beyond a 30-second short. It was crazy really and all the other things can get in the way.

Steve: I think when you’re doing mainly gigs it could be two months of gigging before going back to a track and doing some recording, then there’s always other issues keeping you away from the studio, we flushed that out.

Mike: I mean we’ve been in different phases of making music together and we’ve done that in different ways. I mean we’d also done stuff where we’re living in different cities and we might only get together for a few days and do a few loops and stuff at home. We’ve done stuff where one summer we just went to Europe and busked our way around, so we’ve kinda made music in lots of different ways and we wanted to bring all that stuff together. Especially the kind of loopy stuff we’d done at home, that before the 202s we’d never been able to incorporate into anything else. Some of the first stuff we started with in 2007 was taking old recordings and doing drum loops and basslines over it and working it through.

How did Le Son Du Maquis (French indie label which 202s are signed to) get involved?
Steve: We had a couple of tunes and some ideas on our MySpace page that were up maybe a year before the album was finished. They picked it up from that.

You didn’t have to go hunting them down then?
Mike: Nope, they were demos more than anything. We weren’t looking for a label, it wasn’t on our radar. It was just the opposite really, we really just wanted to take a -we’re going to do what we want to do’ approach and we weren’t thinking further than recording the next tune.

It all sounds ridiculously relaxed.
Mike: Well, I know things appear as if they were easy but it kinda wasn’t either. We wouldn’t have been able to do that had we not done other things for ten years prior to doing the 202s. It’s all that which has put us in the position to be able to do this; it wasn’t like we just woke up, bought instruments and made an album.

Steve: The label isn’t really involved in Ireland anyway – they pressed the CDs and sent them over to us and that’s kind of the end of their involvement in Ireland. They’re promoting it and doing the PR in France, we’re kind of doing everything else. Like they’re pretty chilled, as we recorded they just said -keep us posted’ and then when we were finished they listened, liked it and said -yeah we’ll put it out’.

Steve: It’s all incredibly French. The things you automatically expect from labels like them asking for photos of the band or asking if we’d come over and play to them or whatever; there was none of that is was just that they liked it and wanted to put it out. When you compare it to other record deals it does sound crazy alright though.

Back to the album and there are a few curve balls on there, -Pressure’ starts like something from Shaft and ends up sounding like a darker moment on Lost Souls.
Mike: It’s actually the first thing we did, with just a groove at the beginning and for ages just referred to it as the blaxploitation one, it felt really exciting to us to make a blaxploitation song and yeah it did go somewhere a little darker and cinematic. It’s probably the one that’s most out on its own of the nine tracks on there.

Primal Scream have been mentioned a lot in reviews of the record thus far, particularly in relation to vocals. Big fans?
Mike: I was a big Primal Scream fan when I was a kid and the big thing with them is that it’s not just about the music they make but they turned me on to a lot of other music as well. I’d read interviews with them and they’d be goin’ on about Sly Stone, Funkadelic, or Hank Williams and all sorts of things. They weren’t the traditional influences you hear rock n’ roll bands talk about usually.

Some people seem to think they’re a bunch of vampires though, getting in talent when it suits.
People have always said that, maybe they’ve had a lot of flukes getting in talented people. But’¦ going back to influences, when we were kids and you had Beastie Boys and Ill Communication, bands like Stereolab arriving out of nowhere, it was a real eclectic era and bands were just kind of dipping into everything, rejecting normal influences. You had Stereolab experimenting with exotica almost, Spiritualized getting into krautrock and there was just so much of that going on. We’re -90s kids really. There was a lot of cross pollination.

Speaking of influences, there’s a whole raft of bands you’ve been compared to thus far; has anyone got it completely wrong in your opinion?
Mike: Well someone said we sounded like The Blue Nile which I just don’t'¦ for the life of me I just don’t get, though our drummer Barry claims he knows what the dude is talking about. Mystery to me though. - State

"Le Merseillaise, France, Album Review"

The 202 is an old keyboard, which prevailed in the 70s/80s. It is this futuristic retro dimension which plays a little throughout the premier album of this duo from Dublin. So, the 202 has this particularity (“whaouh, it hoes high for me” sound) a little outdated, maybe scary. .’Ease My Mind’ relates this very well: aerian voices, irremovable sound effects in background, entertaining guitar effects. More rock'n'roll and more robotics, ‘Not Guilty’ tends to sound more of the dimension of the krautrock, a little as if John Carpenter was born a musician. And Irish. The same oppressive warmth prevails on ‘Pressure’. Though maybe too much (exagerated) on ‘Shine On’: these two saw the light. But a little too close, it seems. Good news? - Le Merseillaise

"D-Side Magazine, France, Album Review"

An Irish duo influenced as much by folk as by electro, 202s (named in homage to the synthesizer Roland MC202, a favorite of John Carpenter and George Clinton) hits its' stride on its first album and has the good taste to invite us to the meeting again. 202s oscillates between long electronic ambient vibes ('Shine On'), refined pop ('Ease My Mind'), electro dance ("Shoot You Down', logical first single) and harmonica folk ('A Little At A Time'), without firmly choosing its camp or being tied to a specific style. Deprived of boundaries or fear, 202s goes on, and it does not matter if the others understand. Because the truth is over there, at the end of the path....... - D-Side Magazine, France

"Melt Magazine, France, Album Review"

The 202s are two Irish young lads who revisit with style the super sized heads of many Brooklyn combos who have over indulged on media exposure. A mixture of harmonica, psychedelic sounds, a taste of pop & a funk base, this first album shows a productive duo in full bloom. With lashes of reverberation, trying to find the right balance between pure sounds and electronic experiments, Mike & Steve compose a surprising rock escapade where over the heady background you can hear an over active retro-futuristic synth-pop. It might have remained just a try but thanks to the maturity of the two composers it was converted via an efficient orchestration. You remain gaping by the ease with which they turn a simple electro-pop tune into a beautiful Americana explosion (Shoot you down). They marry in a happy chaos of robotic voices the finery of space rock & harmonica as if Kraftwerk had retired (Not Guilty). How they turn a syrupy funk lure into a heated instrumental ballad (Pressure). It’s a surprise as well to find some Stereloab – in the way tense funk base lines & heady psychedelic waves merge into each other (Easy my Mind) – or some Velvets – through a romance with stormy sonic rises (Who Cares about Sunshine ?). It’s not that it’s all new but it’s arranged oh so delightfully. - Melt Magazine, France

"Connected Magazine Album Review"

The vibes come thick and positive on this debut from Dublin's
much-talked about alt-pop upstarts 202s. You'd have to be deaf not to
understand why the band, formed only two years ago, are currently
belles of the ball. Irish pop music has been ruled by guitar bands of
hugely varying quality, but the electronic stable, bar a few
exceptions, has been too concerned with atmosphere and moodiness to win
hearts as well as intellects. Born of the studio but with feet planted
in fertile soil, 202s upbeat indie pop is the perfect accompaniment to
milder temperatures and Grand Slams. - Connected Magazine

"AU Magazine Album Review"

The name, in case you were wondering, is taken from an analogue synthesizer, the Roland MC202. A love of equipment, vintage and new, and the uses to which such items can be applied, permeates 202s' genre-disrespecting debut. Somehow, the three piece succeed in bolting together a multitude of influences and styles to create a beautiful Frankenstein of a record. Come with them as they push out of Krautrock station, the throbbing motorik rhythms of 'Shoot You Down' edging into a breezy, harmonica led chorus. The influence of bands like Can and Kraftwerk is further betrayed on 'Ease My Mind' and 'Not Guilty' whilst 'Who Cares About Sunshine?', featuring the vocal talents of Carly Sings, is a swoonsome helping of dream pop. Elsewhere, the folksy 'Repeat' suggests a familiarity with Neil Young's more tender moments. Samples, loops and all manner of instruments abound. The band's heady brew intoxicated French label Le Son Du Maquis, who snapped them up after hearing a few online demos. The secret is now well and truly out - best make sure you're not the last to find out what all the fuss is about. - AU Magazine

"Hot Press Album Review"

A band that names themselves after a sequencer wouldn't normally be my thing, but you know what? 202s self-titled debut is actually damn good. At first glance they might seem like a nerdy guitar/synth outfit, but the Limerick duo have it down that good songs and great melodies are the key to songwriting. What's more they stray well away from any Kraftwerk-derived template, with the harmonica on 'Shoot You Down' adding an almost Dylanesque touch. There's a distinctly Velvet Underground-influenced psych folk flavour to 'Who Cares About Sunshine', which features Carly Sings in the Nico role. And the instrumental 'Pressure', crossing Air with Morricone, might well find itself in a Trantino soundtrack. Boasting traces elsewhere of Eno, the Stone Roses and Can, among other hip influences, this is a highly intriguing record, with some nifty studio trickery adding to the sense of sonic experimentation. 202s is definitely a grower: give it time and you'll find that there are many rewards to be had. - Hot Press

" Album Review"

This duo seemed to spring out of nowhere with their debut album, but the fact that they're signed to Parisian indie label Le Son Qui Maquis might go some way to explaining their absenteeism on the local scene. That said, the duo are still Dublin-based, and this record was also recorded in the city - but instead of slogging it out in dingy venues on the Irish circuit, they decided to refine their craft and commit their findings to tape first.

They may take their name from a fashionable '80s synth/sequencer, but 202s are very much an 'of the moment' band. A solid group in the finest indie tradition, there are also understated elements of dance, soul and funk hidden between the cracks of these nine songs.

They claim Phil Spector, Primal Scream and Can as influences, so it's little wonder that they've already had parallels drawn with Brighton's eclectic purveyors of electro-kraut, Fujiya & Miyagi. Even still, the harmonica, glockenspiel and general jangle-pop air on the likes of the catchy 'Shoot You Down' and 'Who Cares About Sunshine?' can't be discounted in the shaping of their sonic route, nor can the kiddie version of Primal Scream's 'Loaded' ('Shine On') or the moody, Air-esque film score ambience of 'Pressure'.

This debut, like many others, projects its influences brazenly, but that's an entirely forgivable transgression - particularly considering that 202s could very well make a defining album in years to come. -

"Sunday Business Post Album Review"

With Irish music taking a good long look at what it offers the world, 202s' arrival is timely. The Dublin electro-pop duo have been beavering away quietly, signing to a cool French label and offering up a sound that's alittle more studied and artistic than many of their headline-grabbing contemporaries.

Naming themselves after a drum machine may suggest 80's retro by numbers, but it's a record unafraid to take risks. Most of these nine tracks are short, snappy affairs, punctuated by tentative instrumentals, swathed in synths, fuzzy guitars and including a couple of slightly grating harmonica intros, but all with a heart of pure-pop gold.

Ease My Mind's epic, trundling outro sets the mould for the album's more memorable moments, Shine On and the wonderfully resonant Who Cares About Sunshine? They're not yet the finished article, but on this form, 202s are exciting and imaginative prospects. - The Sunday Business Post

"Totally Dublin Album Review"

Dublin's 202s are a topsy-turvy band in many senses. Their arrival at a debut album release, for one, is the converse of most Irish band's model of Shit Support Gigs/EP/Higher Profile Shit Support Gigs/EP2/Whelan's Headline Gig/Album/Repeat. Formed as a studio outfit last year the boys eschewed gigs to hone their sound to studioized perfection (in the Art of Noise, rather than the Steps sense), and their debut album is an antithesis to the theory that band dynamic is learnt on the stage rather than the studio. 202s are as together as a tangled ball of elastic bands, and twice as bouncy.

Album opener Shoot You Down is the aural equivalent of that 10 year old thrill of ringing up emergency services and asking can they send an ambulance to detach your willy from a lamp-post, before hanging up in a fit of giggles. Taking German kosmische synths and motorik beats, the band place traditionally krautrock content in a more eclectic template. Harmonicas and melodicas adorn lush Faustian landscapes, resulting in the band sounding like a bastard child of Stereolab and the Flaming Lips, or Fujiya and Miyagi strung out on mushrooms at a kitschy seaside resort. Who Cares About Sunshine is made for hammocks and evening light, surfboards and psychedelic hallucinogens, while Repeat sounds like the band went shopping at Grandaddy's clearout car boot sale and left with all the best bargains. The album plays like a gold-and-blue beachside amble as out of time and place in noughties Dublin as a Union Jack dispensary. With a surreal take on their standardized craft and signed to a French boutique label 202s may just be Irish pop music's own Joyce or Beckett, and are thankfully as compelling for their composition as for their upside-down methodology. - Totally Dublin


Debut album '202s', released throughout Europe in Spring 2009 by Le Son Du Maquis in association with Harmonia Mundi.



202s marry vintage synth sounds with the pop instrumentation of melodicas, glockenspiels and harmonicas, then filter the lot through a post-punk haze. Their debut album was released in Europe by Parisian indie Le Son Du Maquis (recent home to A Certain Ratio, Alan Vega, Cluster, Faust & more). An eclectic mix of pop, electronic & ambient sounds, it met with a warm critical response across the continent & was perhaps most accurately described by French music magazine Magic RPM as “a mixture of harmonica, psychedelic sounds, a taste of pop & a funk base”. Critical acclaim was matched by radio success in Ireland where the album's lead single, "Shoot You Down", took up something of a residency on alternative & rock radio shows throughout the rest of 2009.

The band went on to perform at many of Ireland's top festivals including Oxegen, Sea Sessions & Castlepalooza & opened for acts including Fujiya & Miyagi and A Certain Ratio. Their live set was described by the Irish Times as a blend of "gorgeous Krautrock grooves, really robust songs and great stage presence." Since mid 2010 the band have decamped to their studio writing, demoing & recording material for their 2nd album expected for release early 2012.