My Firsts: Cathal Cully of Girls Names

Broken Bones and Broken Hearts

Aug 30, 2018 Photography by Florian ThoƟ
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My Firsts is our email interview series where we ask musicians to tell us about their first life experiences, be it early childhood ones (first word, first concert, etc.) or their first tastes of being a musician (first band, first tour, etc.). For this My Firsts we talk to Cathal Cully, frontman for Northern Irish band Girls Names.

Girls Names' latest album, Stains on Silence, was released back in June via Tough Love. It is the follow up to 2015's Arms Around a Vision. Cully formed Girls Names in Belfast in 2009 with former drummer Neil Brogan, before the lineup solidified to include Claire Miskimmin, Philip Quinn, and Gib Cassidy (who left the band in 2016). The post-punk band drew particular acclaim for 2013's sophomore album, The New Life.

Stains on Silence was recorded in various locations, including Belfast's Start Together Studio with Ben McAuley, but it was not an easy process. "There was a finished - and then aborted - mix of the album, which was shelved for six months," explains Cully in a press release. "We then took a break from all music and went back to full-time work. We chilled out from the stress of rushing the record and not being happy with it, as well as being skint with no impending touring on the cards and constantly having to worry about rent."

The band eventually reconvened and finally finished the album. "We started tearing the material apart and rebuilding, re-editing and re-recording different parts in my home in early Autumn last year," explains Cully. "When we got them to a place we were pleased with we went back into Start Together Studio with Ben McAuley to finalize the mixes to what they are now."

Read on as Cully talks about his first broken bone, early celebrity crushes, and some of the band's first music industry experiences.

First broken bone? 

First and only-my right hand aged 22. However, one of my friends is convinced I broke my nose at some stage. Maybe some of us just have these beautifully crooked deformities. 

First TV show you were obsessed with?

Shooting Stars. Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer are still the only men I've ever truly loved unconditionally. 

First musician you had a crush on?

Dannii Minogue. I was five or six, she was coming on 20. There was a hemisphere to traverse. It was doomed from the start.

First actor or actress you had a crush on?

Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice. I was five or six, she was coming on 17/18. There was an ocean to traverse. It was doomed from the start.

First instrument? 

The Trombone. Obtained a Grade 1 then retired into a life of non-musicianship. 

First band you were in?

Girls Names aged 23. I thought I was well past it.

First professional recording session?

August 2009, Start Together Studios, Belfast. Eleven songs in two days. Got signed off the back of this session to Captured Tracks and then to our spiritual home and fellow conspirers and internationalists Tough Love records. The rest, as they say, is history. 

First time you performed in public? 

February 10th 2009. An Ordinary Days show supporting Wavves at Lavery's Bunker, Bradbury Place, Belfast. This. was. not. supposed. to. last. this. long. 

First bad review? 

Very soon after. Have been polarizing opinion ever since. We were denounced by "musicians" and "journalists" in Belfast. Few had any understanding of were we were coming from. It was quite funny. It always confused me how separate the art and music scenes are in Belfast and not the one. Sound guys would balk at us confused as to why there was supposed to be so much shrieking feedback and reverb. But soon we were meeting people like Mr. Watson... "So you like the Birthday Party then?" Suddenly we were putting out records on a Brooklyn based label. The head scratching continues to this day. 

First time your heart was broken? 

The last time.

www.girlsnamesbelfast.bandcamp.com

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