I made this - http://www.theherald.co.uk/features/fea ... _in_UK.php
But I did not write the headline, I swear. And below is the full thing before all the good bits were subbed out...
Success for Bell X1 has always been somewhat a feast or a famine. For more than a decade the band have been household names in their native Ireland with a string of platinum-selling albums and number one hits.
Overseas recognition, however, has remained tantalisingly elusive. But the group last year decided to take matters into their own hands and split from their record label, forming their own BellyUp Records. With a fresh new album and a punishing American and European tour schedule Bell X1 seem set to finally glean the exposure they deserve.
Traditionally, British audiences embrace small-time American bands, such as Kings of Leon or Scissor Sisters, and turn them into world-wide sensations. Bell X1, however, have been roundly embraced by the Yanks but largely ignored on these shores.
Says lead singer Paul Noonan, "Yes, there has been much pained dwelling and gnashing of teeth on that one, on our part, but I don’t think there’s any point to it really; we is what we is.
"The fact that we were big in Ireland before going to the UK was a bit of a handicap, I think, as in the thinking in certain quarters was that they weren’t going to take their pointers from the little neighbour.
"Whereas in America it’s been a help, partly due to the fact there are many there with Irish heritage, and also the widely held notion that Ireland gives good tune.
"We’ve been wary of playing the Irish card, as much as their notion of Irishness - mad craic and boozing, wild-eyed playing til you bleed, is not what we are and is scary."
Bell X1 started life in 1991 as a band called Juniper with Noonan on drums and Damien Rice singing, backed by guitarists Dominic Philips and Brian Crosby. Multi-instrumentalist David Geraghty completed the quintet a year or so later and the group signed a six-album deal with Polygram.
But after two singles and several artistic differences, Rice left to grow organic tomatoes in Italy and pursue a solo career. Meanwhile, the band regrouped as Bell X1; Noonan emerged from behind the drum kit to take the frontman’s place and their first album, Neither Am I, was released in 2000.
In Ireland, the band shot up like a rocket; their albums went platinum, their singles reached number one slots. However, beyond the attentions of faithful Irish ex-pats, Bell X1 failed to make a mark overseas.
After years of fruitlessly cajoling their label Island Records to release their albums in Europe and America, the band finally decided to jump ship and form BellyUp Records. At the same time, Crosby left the group to concentrate on solo projects.
Now, far from being milk-toothed schoolboys, the remaining trio have earned their chops at home and have set their sights on mainstream success. Later this year they will support U2, surely a sign Bell X1 are on the up.
Blue Lights on the Runway is their fourth studio album and, they hope, the record that will make their name as ubiquitous outside of Ireland as in.
So far, success. Numerous appearances on David Letterman and glowing critical reviews have ensured healthy album sales and sell-out gigs across both coasts.
Last year the group toured America four times, setting off with romantic notions of exploring the oft-depicted frontier, eating pancakes in Wyoming and enjoying barbeque with mom and pop. Unfortunately, the dreams of American pastoral and Highway 66-style road trips literally went up smoke when their tour bus spontaneously caught fire in Boston.
The band pride themselves on their liberal, indie credentials but last year took the decision to allow coffee behemoth Starbucks to use one of their songs on an in-store CD. They are, perhaps, not selling out but, rather, taking their chances where they can.
"We made a call on that and decided to do it," says Noonan. "Yes, it is contradictory, but we chose to be selfish and take the exposure. If you investigate all platforms on which your music takes a whirl, you’d be drained of the will to live, let alone make music, and would find unsavouriness related to many radio stations, promoters, retail outlets and media."
New album Blue Lights on the Runway is a wonderfully odd mix of genres and as changeable as coastal weather. In common with their previous records, the songs are minutes-long short stories; musical vignettes as bright and pulsing as stained glass.
Noonan’s lyrics are by turns gentle and acidic, casual literary references curling through spiky electric beats. Live, Noonan is an arresting frontman; never still, always engaging.
The band, who play King Tuts in Glasgow tonight, have yet another tour to America planned as well as several summer festival dates and the support slot with U2. Bell X1 have always had their sights on the long game and for this trio, with their Stateside ambitions, respite is unlikely. They have created a dazzling album that deserves a wider audience.
Bell X1 play King Tuts tonight. (May 21)