Bell X1 (band)
|Origin||County Kildare, Ireland|
|Genres||Alternative, indie rock|
|Labels||Island, PIAS, Warner Bros.,|
|Associated acts||Juniper, Damien Rice, Doveman, Peter Katis|
|Past members||Brian Crosby|
Bell X1 are a music group from County Kildare, Ireland, known for their wide range of styles, powerful live performances, intelligent and witty lyrics and a dedication to touring. NPR says they deliver "a brilliant co-mingling of electronic music and anthemic pop rock".
Bell X1 are festival and arena headliners in their native Ireland and play to ever growing numbers on their regular North American and European tours. Aside from U2, they are the Irish band with the most airplay in their native country and, according to Billboard, also the second biggest live performers.
- 1 History
- 2 Style
- 3 Members
- 4 Discography
- 5 Awards
- 6 Further reading
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Most of the band were originally members of Juniper. Paul Noonan was Juniper's drummer and Damien Rice was the lead vocalist; guitarists Dominic Philips and Brian Crosby and multi-instrumentalist David Geraghty completed the original line-up. Juniper built up a strong live following in Ireland and enjoyed chart success with EP Manna and singles Weatherman and World is Dead (the latter two through Universal Records) but never released a full album. The band became a quartet with the departure of Rice over creative differences. Rice admitted in a 2002 interview with the Sunday Tribune that he had become upset after writing a song which the record company had disliked.
After a short break they reformed themselves as Bell X1 and Noonan became the new band's frontman. The live line-up, alongside original members Crosby and Philips, came to be completed by drummer Tim O'Donovan, and trianglist Nessan Harpur, who also fronts electropop group Neosupervital.
Juniper's original contract with Polygram Ireland was moved to Island Records UK. Bell X1 released three albums while with Universal/Island; Neither Am I, Music in Mouth and Flock. Subsequent releases have come out on the band's own BellyUp Records and its distribution partners at Warner Music, Redeye & The Orchard. Those titles are: Tour De Flock, Blue Lights on the Runway, Bloodless Coup, Field Recordings & Chop Chop.
Neither Am I
Neither Am I was released on 13 October 2000. It was produced by Crowded House bass player Nick Seymour with whom members of the band have collaborated extensively since. It features a number of songs (Volcano and Face) that were previously played by Juniper and co-written with Damien Rice. and achieved gold status sales. Pinball Machine and Man on Mir were released as singles. In late 2010 Bell X1 revisited and reprised the record on their sold-out Irish acoustic tour.
Music in Mouth
Bell X1's second album Music in Mouth fared better, garnering greater fan acceptance and critical acclaim. Reviewer Harry Guerin described the album as being one from a band "pushing themselves in different directions and coming up with a joy and sadness that prove as contagious as each other [...] a band thinking outside the a, b, c of guitar rock".
Music in Mouth achieved double-platinum sales in Ireland and four singles released from the album achieved top forty positions in the Irish Singles Chart. The Irish Independent's John Meagher named it his fourth best Irish album of the 2000s. In early 2004 they led a tour of that year's accession states of Eastern Europe as part of Ireland's EU Presidency. In December 2004, they performed their first major headlining show at the Olympia Theatre, Dublin.
The wider appeal of the band internationally was assisted by the use of the song "Eve, the Apple of My Eye" from Music in Mouth during an episode of US teen dramedy The O.C.; it featured during a scene in which two of the show's female characters shared a lesbian kiss. The show's music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas chose to feature "Eve" and "In Every Sunflower" after listening to Music in Mouth, with "Eve" also being included on the series soundtrack. That opportunity led to Bell X1's arrival in the United States. The Sunday Tribune's Neil Dunphy and Una Mullally named it number 46 in their 2008 "ultimate playlist representing the top-50 Irish songs of all time". In the same publication at the end of the decade Dunphy cited it as an example of how Irish bands had used television to their advantage. The band went on to record a live session for Nic Harcourt's radio show on KCRW in Los Angeles.
Capitalising on the momentum generated by the success of Music in Mouth, Bell X1 took over a remote farmhouse in Co. Wexford to write Flock, this time working with producer Roger Bechirian. It went straight to number one in Ireland on its release on 14 October 2005 and to date has sold five-times platinum in that country. RTÉ reviewer Katie Moten described the album as "an accomplished collection from a clever and inventive band, whose talent deserves heapings of praise". Bell X1 returned to feature in a dedicated Rattlebag special presented by Myles Dungan on 18 October 2005. Flock was subsequently released around Europe, prompting Noonan to describe 2005 as Bell X1's "annus fabulous". On 31 January 2006, they performed a sold out show in the RDS Main Hall, and appeared on the Main Stage at Oxegen 2006 that July. They would go on to perform even bigger live shows at Dublin's Point Theatre and Malahide Castle over the next 18 months
"Bigger Than Me", the first single to be released from this album, reached number sixteen in the Irish Singles Chart. They performed follow-up single "Flame" on Tubridy Tonight on 14 January 2006. "Flame" was later included in a collection of works giving a "sense of the noughties" put together by Vincent Murphy and broadcast on Morning Ireland on 31 December 2009. A third single, "Rocky Took a Lover", would be performed on the Late Show with David Letterman on 17 March 2008. Bell X1 performed songs from Flock when they were one of the acts to appear on Other Voices in 2007.
In February 2007, it was reported that Bell X1 had parted company with their UK record label Island Records. Noonan later spoke of the artistic freedom which had resulted from this move—"We have found owning our music and finding partners all over the world to put our music out really empowering".
Tour De Flock
A live CD and DVD set called Tour De Flock was released on the band's own record label, BellyUp Records[permanent dead link], on 15 June 2007. The set was the band's first post-Island release. It was a recording of their sell-out performance at the Point Theatre in Dublin on 1 December 2006.
On 30 June, two weeks after the release of Tour De Flock, Bell X1 played an outdoor show at Malahide Castle in Dublin, becoming the first Irish band to headline that venue. In July 2007, they played a sell-out show at Live at the Marquee in Cork, with Noonan two years later describing that show as, "Without doubt [...] one of the best gigs of our entire Flock tour. We had played venues like The Lobby, The Savoy and the Opera House, but being asked to play the Marquee was a crowning moment for us".
On 15 March 2008, the band's tour bus burst into flames outside their hotel in Medford, Massachusetts. Noonan and Geraghty were on board the vehicle alongside their manager and a friend. Brian Crosby, Dominic Phillips, and Tim O'Donovan were inside the hotel. Fire fighters were called to the scene shortly after 3:30 am and spent ninety minutes fanning the blaze, which started in the bus ventilation/air-conditioning unit and caused an estimated $50,000 (€32,000) worth of damage. Talking to local newspaper the Boston Herald, the band's manager, Foye Johnson said: "The guys were basically around the bus, which was a good thing because we were able to get all the equipment and instruments out." After a few hours of sleep, off they went in a replacement vehicle to New York City where the band played a sell-out show in the Bowery Ballroom and appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, Other North American television appearances during the early part of 2008 included MTV Canada, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and Late Night with Conan O'Brien. They would return to perform on the Late Show with David Letterman one year later.
They were the support act for Stars in the United States in September 2008, their fourth time there that year. There were also several shows at events in Europe, and a homecoming appearance at Oxegen 2008.
On 2 October 2008, Brian Crosby announced his decision to leave Bell X1 following their 19 October Flock tour finale at the Panorama Festival in the Lebanon. They parted ways on good terms and the recruitment of at least one new member for live performances was planned. Their first show without Crosby was the opening night of an acoustic tour at the Pavilion in Cork two days after Panorama. By this time they were already performing material which was to feature on their fourth studio album, Blue Lights on the Runway.
Blue Lights on the Runway
Bell X1 released their fourth studio album Blue Lights on the Runway in Ireland on 20 February 2009. It went to number one in the Irish Albums Chart. RTÉ reviewer Harry Guerin described the album as "a flight that you can actually enjoy from start to finish". The Sunday Tribune's Neil Dunphy selected it as his CD of the week, calling it "a wonderful exploration of a sound often derided for being in thrall to its influences" and commenting: "I don't know why but Bell X1 used to make me cringe. These days their music feels like an old friend; something solid and inspiring amid all the negativity".
Blue Lights on the Runway was preceded by its lead single, titled "The Great Defector". which became the band's most successful single yet, peaking at number three in the Irish Singles Chart and going top 10 in America on the AAA Radio charts. The band were invited back to Tubridy Tonight to perform it and presenter Ryan Tubridy said it was his favourite song that year. Irish Independent journalist Eamon Sweeney described it as "happens to the best thing on the airwaves at the moment". Marc Aubele on keys and Rory Doyle on drums featured during live performances, the former replacing Crosby in the band.
Blue Lights on the Runway was released in the United States through the band's American label on 3 March 2009. It appeared in the top twenty of that country's Billboard Top Heatseekers Chart. When asked to describe touring for the first time without Crosby, Noonan said: "It's good—it's all part of the journey". The band received attention from prominent bloggers in the country and made appearances on public radio, said to be a "crucial showcase" for bands like them in the United States. The band recorded a Ukulélé Session with the newspaper Le Soir to support the release of their album in Belgium. In Spain they played the Festival Internacional de Benicàssim that year. Back home Blue Lights on the Runway was given an "honourable mention" by The Sunday Business Post's Andrew Lynch in his end-of-year 2009 review of music.
"The Ribs of a Broken Umbrella", a second single from Blue Lights on the Runway, was later released. Bell X1 was a support act for U2 during that band's sold-out Croke Park show on 27 July 2009, part of the international U2 360° Tour. Other major Irish shows that summer included an appearance at Live at the Marquee in Cork and a headlining performance at Electric Picnic 2009, with the band later returning to the United States for a tour which included a slot at the Austin City Limits Festival before coming home to perform two more sell-out shows at the Olympia Theatre that November. They then reappeared on Other Voices, performing a live session in Dingle which was broadcast in early 2010. Their only summer performance in Ireland that year was at Oxegen 2010.
The band released their fifth album Bloodless Coup on 1 April 2011. The album was recorded by frequent Flood collaborator & PJ Harvey engineer Rob Kirwan at Grouse Lodge Residential Studios in County Westmeath, Ireland.
The Sunday Times named Bloodless Coup its CD of The Week in a 5 star review saying the album is "a 10 track mish-mash about growing old, living in a hopeless political landscape and nourishing lasting friendships. It turns out to be Bell X1's most satisfying album to date. A beguiling achievement."
In support of the album the band headlined shows at Marlay Park, The Galway Arts Festival, Sea Sessions & The Cork Marquee in addition to touring Europe and North America extensively. On 17 December 2012 they organised a special midnight concert at The Olympia Theatre in Dublin to benefit the Capuchin Day Centre and their work to help the disadvantaged and increasing numbers of "new poor" resulting from the economic crash. Brother Kevin Crowley of the Centre was quoted in Hot Press "Our numbers get bigger and bigger, we have 200 people in the morning and nearly 500 in the evening for dinner. So the whole charity concert was a tremendous success, a huge boost. When Bell X1 came to present the cheque I was so impressed by their kindness and sensitivity. I would hope and pray, and I have no doubt, that they will be a huge success for years to come." Hot Press reported that the show raised €20,285 and the day Centre received a further €225,000 due to the awareness raised.
On 8 May 2012, Bell X1 announced that they would be releasing a two-disc collection of 21 live acoustic tracks & photographs titled Field Recordings. The recordings and photographs were captured by the band's longtime engineer Phil Hayes. Field Recordings was only made available via the groups web shop and all physical editions quickly sold out.
On 8 January 2013, RTÉ announced that the band had begun work on a new album at Tarquin Studios in Bridgeport, CT with the longtime Producer of The National, Peter Katis & Thomas Bartlett from The Gloaming. On 19 February the band revealed on their website the name of the album: Chop Chop, and their intention to release it in Ireland on 28 June with a Premiere show at The National Concert Hall to follow on 29 June. Reviews for the album were strong. In a 5 star review, The Independent (UK) said "they've created a wholly originally sound". Other significant reviews included Q Magazine who referred to the album as: "a more stately, echo-laden place....hushed and expansive", Magnet: " 4 Stars - a riveting album that finds Bell X1 pushing its established aesthetics in admirably new directions", Mojo: "4 Stars - "oozes zest and focus", Irish Times: "4 Stars - "the best album of their career -a superb album this way comes", USA Today:"Stunner", Express (UK) "5 Stars - yes, its that good" & Daily Metro: "5 Stars -they push things further than ever." Chop Chop was Bell X1's 3rd album to debut at No.1 in the Irish Charts & 4th album to be nominated for a Meteor Choice Music Prize for album of the year.
The BBC has described Bell X1's music as "remarkably warm—as if imported from the Caribbean via Dublin City". Their style is said to be similar to that of Talking Heads, a fact noted by Noonan on the press release which accompanied their fourth album—"I know, I know [...] it's dangerously Talking Heads". Noonan admitted in 2003 that he had been influenced by the music of Talking Heads and The Flaming Lips. The New York Times has compared Bell X1 to Radiohead, saying, "Paul Noonan's writing will make you swoon", while the Irish Independent's Ed Power describes them as "Ireland's pre-eminent orchestral rockers" though "none of the band fit the stereotype of the debauched rocker". John Meagher name-checked Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Talking Heads and early U2 after witnessing a performance in the RDS in 2006.
The Sunday Tribune's Neil Dunphy has compared their sound to krautrock, new wave The Irish Independent's Eamon Sweeney described one show where "two songs in and we're already enjoying pleasing echoes of Radiohead and Animal Collective". '
- Paul Noonan – lead vocals; guitar; drums; percussion; kazoo
- David Geraghty – lead guitar; banjo; (electric) piano; backing vocals; occasional lead vocals
- Dominic Philips – bass guitar; backing vocals
- Bill Blackmore – Horns
- Marc Aubele – guitar; keyboards (2008–present)
- Rory Doyle – drums (2008–present)
- Glenn Keating – Keyboards (2014–present)
- James Byrne – Percussion (Jan 2015–present)
- Brian Crosby – guitar, keyboards and backing vocals (1999–2008)
- Tim O'Donovan – drums
- Neither Am I (2000)
- Music in Mouth (2003)
- Flock (2005)
- Tour De Flock (2007)
- Blue Lights on the Runway (2009)
- Bloodless Coup (2011)
- Field Recordings (2012)
- Chop Chop (2013)
- Arms (2016)
The Irish Times placed Bell X1 at number nine in a list of "The 50 Best Irish Acts Right Now" published in April 2009, referring to them as "Irish rock's most likeable band? Probably" and "An all-too obvious liking for Talking Heads notwithstanding (e.g., single "The Great Defector"), it seems that Bell X1 are refusing to give up. Likeable guys getting ruthless on our asses? Bring It On".
Choice Music Prize
Bloodless Coup was nominated for the Choice Music Prize in January 2012.
"Chop Chop" was nominated for the Choice Music Prize in January 2014.
|2006||Flock||Irish Album of the Year 2005||Nominated|
|2010||Blue Lights on the Runway||Irish Album of the Year 2009||Nominated|
|2012||Bloodless Coup||Irish Album of the Year 2011||Nominated|
|2014||Chop Chop||Irish Album of the Year 2013||Nominated|
Meteor Music Awards
Bell X1 have been nominated for several Meteor Music Awards. They were nominated in the Best Irish Band category and Music in Mouth was nominated in the Best Irish Album category at the 2004 Meteor Awards. They were again nominated in the Best Irish Band category at the 2005 Meteor Awards.
|2004||Music in Mouth||Best Irish Album||Nominated|
|2004||Bell X1||Best Irish Band||Nominated|
|2005||Bell X1||Best Irish Band||Nominated|
|2010||Blue Lights on the Runway||Best Irish Album||Nominated|
|2010||Bell X1||Best Irish Band||Nominated|
|2010||Bell X1||Best Irish Live Performance||Nominated|
- Huston, Jenny (27 November 2009). In Bloom—Irish Bands Now. Foreword by Glen Hansard. Currach Press. ISBN 978-1-85607-985-3.
- Neil Dunphy (6 September 2009). "CD of the Week – Bell X1". Sunday Tribune. Retrieved 2 January 2010.[permanent dead link]
- "Bell X1 on Mountain Stage". NPR. 28 February 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
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- Lauren Murphy (1 September 2006). "Neosupervital – Neosupervital". entertainment.ie. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
Tim O'Donovan, in case you didn't know, is Bell X1's touring drummer by day, and Neosupervital the rest of the time. And Neosupervital, in case you didn't know, is this country's most exciting electro-pop prospect since Daniel O'Donnell's Frankie Mwanga Goes to Hollywood covers album.
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- Neil Dunphy (27 December 2009). "The revolution will be digitised". Sunday Tribune. Archived from the original on 3 January 2010. Retrieved 1 January 2010.
It may have been two decades since Motorhead and Madness played on The Young Ones, and the music video may have all but died out after the 1990s, but television suddenly became really important again. Remember Grey's Anatomy and how it virtually broke Snow Patrol and Damien Rice? Then there was Bell X1's moment on The OC. Status Quo even turned up on Corrie, for God's sake.
- Katie Hasty (4 February 2008). "Rock of the Irish: Bell X1 ventures stateside". Reuters. Retrieved 12 February 2010.
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- Tanya Sweeney (1 January 2006). "High five for '05". Sunday Tribune. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
Predictably, Flock crashlanded into the Irish charts at number one, and Universal is sufficiently pleased; so much so that the album is being released across Europe. [...] With 2005 being described by Noonan as the band's "annus fabulous", do they have any new year's resolutions made for 2006?[permanent dead link]
- Anne-Marie Walsh (21 February 2006). "Rock of ages: festival plays generation game with its audience". Irish Independent. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
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- Nadine O'Regan (1 November 2009). "The week the music died?". The Sunday Business Post. Archived from the original on 5 January 2010. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
For their most recent album, Bell X1 ditched their label and brought the record out under their own steam. '‘We have found owning our music and finding partners all over the world to put our music out really empowering," Noonan said. '‘We're a bit of an anomaly, in that we were with a major label for three records and the only one we've ever seen any money from is this one, on our own label. With the boutique arrangement, we've handpicked smaller labels worldwide, and we feel more in control. It's a brave new world."
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- Anne-Marie Walsh (18 March 2008). "Band members escape injury in bus blaze: Firefighters examine Bell X1's damaged tour bus". Irish Independent. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
- "Bell X1 & The Village in fire dramas!". Hot Press. 17 March 2008. Archived from the original on 5 February 2010. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
- Caroline Crawford (17 March 2008). "Bell X1 overvcome (sic) a host of teething problems and start to sell out venues Stateside". Irish Independent. Archived from the original on 2 August 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2008.
- Jim Carroll (10 October 2008). "BellX minus 1 as Crosby decides to leave the band". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
The band will continue as a three-piece and kick off an acoustic tour at Cork's Pavilion on 21 October. Crosby's departure comes on the back of a very busy 2008 for Bell X1 outside Ireland. Their current album, Flock, was released in the US in early 2008, and the band have toured there four times this year, most recently supporting Stars last month. They've also played a number of European shows and festivals, including dates with Nada Surf and Micah P Hinson. [...] Crosby says he will continue to applaud and support his former band from the sidelines. "It's an extraordinary privilege to be in a band with your mates for more than 15 years and I'm really grateful for everything that I have got to do with Bell X1." Band frontman Paul Noonan paid tribute to Crosby. "I know his voice will continue to reach people, and I'm sure we'll work together again in some shape or form." Noonan also confirmed that the band planned to recruit a new member to replace Crosby for live shows.
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- [permanent dead link]
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- "U2 lead charge of Irish albums ready to roll this year". The Irish Times. 9 January 2009. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
While most of the domestic attention in 2009 will be on U-know-who, other Irish acts will also be getting back in the game. Bell X1 release their fourth studio album, Blue Lights on the Runway, on their own label in Ireland on 20 February, with Yep Roc releasing the album in the US on 3 March.
- "Ukulélé Session". Le Soir. 20 March 2009. Archived from the original on 27 August 2009. Retrieved 1 January 2010.
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U2 returned to Croke Park tonight for the final of three Irish concerts in their 360° world tour. Two Irish acts supported the band – Dublin pop rock trio The Script and Kildare's Bell X1.
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Over the next two weeks BellX1, Christy Moore, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Lady Gaga, James Taylor and Kanye West will all pay a visit to the "real capital". A decent cross section of acts for an audience that appreciates eclecticism.
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- Ronan McGreevy (3 September 2009). "Three times more families flocking to Electric Picnic as line-up dispels gloom". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
Madness and Brian Wilson will share top billing on Saturday night on the main stage. MGMT and homegrown act Bell X1 are respectively the top draws on Friday and Sunday nights.
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They're currently touring the US before returning for two sold-out shows in the Olympia at the end of November, and the band will probably do more high-profile US TV appearances that will boost their standing even further.
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Debut Neither Am I was a slow burner too, and the band were disappointed by the way it was received. Though it won them a respectably sized fan base here, it was not even released outside the country. "It just ran out of steam I think, " says Noonan, bravely attempting stoicism. "There was talk of putting it out in England and in Europe at one stage but I think we kind of ran out of steam with it as well." That running out of steam drove the band into the arms of others. On a break from the band Noonan played drums on Gemma Hayes' debut album and guitarist Brian Crosby played with Mundy. [...] They took a musical break after the first record because they were driving each other mad.
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Irish rock's most likeable band? Probably, but a likeability factor in rock music means nothing if you haven't got the songs (or, indeed, the fans) as back-up. [...] An all-too obvious liking for Talking Heads notwithstanding (eg, single "The Great Defector"), it seems that Bell X1 are refusing to give up. Likeable guys getting ruthless on our asses? Bring It On.
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