We recently had a chance to sit down with the guys from IRK to discuss the ins and outs of their group. You can hear currently IRK on IndieVolt radio!

What is the name of your band? How many members are in your band? How did all of you meet? Where are you guys from?
The name of our band is Irk, which is actually short for Irkutsk Oblast. You might that that’s a reference to the subject of the Russian Federation, however, it’s actually an abbreviation which stands for “I rarely kneel under the six kindly orioles, but look at Stanley Tucci!” There are three people in the band, and we have one member each. We met in Ohio, but that’s a story for another time. I am from Stockton-On-Tees in the Northeast of England. Ed is from Plymouth in the Southwest of England. Matt is eternal and therefore can’t really be said to be “from” anywhere in particular, but according to his driving license, he’s from Tamsagbulag in Mongolia. Collectively we are based in Leeds, West Yorkshire.
When and why did you start a music career?

In the late nineties, there was a Battle of the Bands held in Toledo, OH where Matt and I were playing as part of a group called “The Conans Three”. The band was a three piece funk outfit where we cosplayed as three Conans. I was Conan O’Brien, Matt was Conan the Barbarian, and a sickly young boy named Pepê was Conan I of Rennes, the Duke of Brittany. There we battled against a zouk/nu-metal fusion band called “Really Very Boiling Hot Love” which featured none other than Irk’s bass player, Ed. We were so impressed with each other’s technical ability and pure hearts that we decided to get together and form the band that became Irk.


What inspires Irk?

Our biggest and only inspirations are Christina Aguilera’s third fragrance (named “Inspire”), the steam-propelled car designed by Glynne Bowsher and developed by the British Steam Car Challenge team (named “Inspiration”), the PBX telephone switchboard made by Lake Communications of Ireland (named “BT Inspiration”), the AP Diving rebreather range (named “Inspiration”), the 1949 Czechoslovakian animated short film directed by Karel Zeman (named “Inspiration”), a Hong Kong-based Thoroughbred racehorse (named “Inspiration”), and the open access digital library for the field of high energy physics (named “INSPIRE-HEP”).


Who are your biggest influences?

I think there was an episode of The Simpsons where Bart gets a peptic ulcer and thinks he is going to die. As his last living wish on Earth, he goes on a spree of raptor persecution around the Scottish uplands. Upon hearing the news that he doesn’t really have a peptic ulcer and that it was all a trick by the lowly Moe Szyslak, Bart is heartbroken to realize what he has done. In the final scene, Bart, drunk on Drambuie, holds the dying body of a hen harrier in his arms as it takes its final breath. Bart whispers “Plenty of hope, for God, no end of hope, only not for us.” He then walks into the Moray Firth, never to return. Anyway, our biggest influence is ZZ Top.


How do you come up with a new song? Can you tell us a little bit about your songwriting process?

Whenever we need a new song for any reason (i.e. for a cattle auction or a Bat Mitzvah), Ed treks deep into the North York Moors. Prior to our band, there had not been any record of living pine marten for 35 years. However, our intrepid Ed was able to cross the Mire of Sighs, descend the Devil’s Scarp, and reach the Cavern of Ah Puch. Here Ed makes unspeakable sacrifices to almighty pine marten God, who offers in return a new Irk song. 


 What is an average day like for Irk? How long do you practice for?
We get up when we want except on Wednesdays when we get rudely awakened by our neighbor playing “Dusty Men”, the duet by Belgian singer-songwriter Saule and English singer-songwriter Charlie Winston. Ed puts my trousers on, Matt has a cup of blood and we think about leaving the house. We feed the mareca penelopes, we sometimes feed the spuggies too. It gives us a sense of unbearable anguish. And then we’re happy for the rest of the day safe in the knowledge that we will never ever practise.
Do you write your own songs?

Once we retrieve a new idea for a song from the almighty pine marten God, Matt and Ed map it out into reality using a combination of motion capture, JavaScript and traditional Chinese medicine. To complete the song, I translate lyrics from songs by Moby from English into the West Frisian language and back again, using the worst available online translation tool.


Any long-term goals for you?

We are strictly a short-term goal only band. This is the case so much so that Ed legally changed his surname from “Snell” to “Take you deferred gratification and shove it”. Matt also has a deep house solo project called “When provided a choice between a small, short delay reward, and a large, long delay reward, there is an impulsive preference for the former. Additionally, as the delay time for the small/short and large/long reward increases, there is a shift in preference toward the larger, delayed reward. This evidence only supports hyperbolic discounting, not exponential.” 


 What are the names of your albums you have out?

We have six albums out. In order of least-to-most likely to sound like it’s being played backwards when it’s actually not, the albums are called “Quantum Bolus”, “Every Character in the film Good Burger is a Good Burglar”, “Life is a Big Life”, “Quantum Good Burger”, “God is a Good Burger”, and our latest and most successful release, which is called “You don’t have permission to access on this server.”


 What is your favorite song that you have done and why?

In all of the many long years that we’ve been creating songs, ballads, ditties, tunes, shanties and lullabies, the song we’re most proud of is probably “Going Away to College” by Blink 182. It’s the musical equivalent of a baseball cap worn backward; effortlessly cool, indisputably practical, and a stark signifier of gushing fertility.


 What is the biggest problem you face or have overcome?

When we’re in the studio recording our album, we’d booked out a whole month to lay down this one part where Ed does rekuhkara, a style of singing originating from the indigenous Ainu people of Japan. Matt and I assumed Ed was capable, but it turned out he had no idea what he was doing and he’d just planned to go on “WikiHow” to learn how to do it on the day. We spent months trying to get it right but eventually we just had to record Ed saying the words “Oh baby, here it comes, here comes the rekuhkara, oh yes indeed, it’s going to be nice, get ready for the style of singing originating from indigenous Ainu people of Japan, there it is, did you hear it? It was there.” Our secret shame is that there is no rekuhkara. It’s all a lie.


 If you could change anything about the music industry what would it be and why?

Put it all in the bin because it’s trash.


What is the funniest thing that has happened to you since you began your music career?
We were playing a show in Darwen, Lancashire; a small English town on the A666. There we met a guy who really liked the film ‘Up’. He liked other films but he didn’t like any of them as much as he liked the film ‘Up’. I remember walking down the street and he was in his garden, tying helium balloons to his house, just like the man from the film ‘Up’. Matt said to him, “What are you doing?” He looked around and smiled at us. He asked us, “Have you seen the film ‘Up?’” Matt replied, “I think so. Is it a cartoon?” The man replied, “Up is a 2009 American 3D computer-animated comedy-drama adventure film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. Directed by Pete Docter, the film centers on an elderly widower named Carl Fredricksen and an earnest young “Wilderness Explorer” named Russell. By tying thousands of balloons to his home, Carl sets out to fulfill his dream to see the wilds of South America and complete a promise made to his late wife, Ellie.” At that point we walked off and left the old man to tie balloons to his house, just like the old man from the film ‘Up’ ties balloons to his house in the film. I asked the other bands we were playing with if they knew about the man who really likes the computer-animated Pixar film, ‘Up’. They all said they had heard about it, and they said the promoter told them not to go near the house. I asked why the promoter didn’t want them to go near the man’s house, and they said they thought it was because he was potentially a dangerous man. I wasn’t sure why, he seemed normal to me, apart from the unnatural affinity he held for the Academy Award-nominated comedy-drama film, ‘Up’. After the show, we walked past the man’s house and there were police outside. I found out from one of the other bands that he had gone to the nearby Church where the boy scouts meet and abducted a boy called Mike Nakajima. The man forced him to read from the script of the movie ‘Up’, and tried to recreate the entire movie. Mike played Russell, and the man played Carl Fredricksen. Once they got to the part where the house takes off through the sky, the man got frustrated because it wouldn’t move. He started hitting the outside of the house with a sledgehammer in an attempt to free it from its foundations. I don’t think that happens in the film ‘Up’ but I imagine the suspension of disbelief is a perpetual requirement with that kind of cinema. Whilst the man was hammering away, Mike left through the back door and ran home, where his parents called the police. Again, this is not something that happens in the 2009 American film, ‘Up’. When the police arrived they arrested the man. Upon searching his house, they found evidence linking him to the murder of his ex-wife, whom he’d told everyone had passed away after falling seriously ill. I think that was another aspect of the box-office smash hit ‘Up’ that he had tried to recreate as part of his own life. He is in prison now and his house is up for sale. People often ask me about me what I think about the whole thing. I tell them, “A 98% certified fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t lie”.
What does the future hold for Irk? Any new albums coming out soon? Any upcoming shows?

We were just on the verge of releasing a surprise companion album to our last release, “Recipes from the Bible”. It was going to be called “Brepices brom baa Bliblol” and the songs were all going to be exactly the same except 19% more good and nice. Unfortunately, just before we could record it, Matt was knocked unconscious by a Lutheran Benedictine monk and when he came around, he forgot all of the songs. Very inconvenient.


Besides on Indievolt Radio, where can we find more of Irk?

We are currently in negotiations for our very own show on JUCE TV, the youth-oriented Christian television network. We’re going to do a sitcom about the band that culminates with an episode where we use our music to save the local high school from getting closed down, and there’s a tender scene where Ed shares a very deep kiss with Jesus Christ for a very, very long time.


Any fun facts you want to share with us?
Absolutely not.

Indie Volt

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