‘Frank’ and ‘October’, the two songs that make up the new 12” from Ireland five-piece Just Mustard, are concerned with dreaming. “I watch TV to fall asleep and I can fly in my dreams,” vocalist Katie Ball booms to open the former track before a wandering, taut guitar line of the kind that Warpaint master so well weaves its way in.
“I have crazy dreams, and always have done,” the vocalist tells NME over the phone. They’ve just realised one more – their new single has just been given a physical release via Pizza Pizza Records, an independent label from the band’s hometown of Dundalk.
“I love talking about them. I have a general mad time when I’m asleep. I just find it really interesting… a bit more interesting than being awake sometimes,” she chuckles. “I really like writing about dreams. Some mad stuff happens there…”
This ‘mad stuff’ manifests itself wonderfully on the new single – ‘Frank’ and ‘October’ are devilishly addictive songs that showcase Just Mustard as masters of subversive and creative guitar music. Following the band’s debut album, 2018’s ‘Wednesday’, which circled around smoky shoegaze that wormed its way into your brain, the new singles are far more direct and menacing. Unlike the uncompromising, bellowing punk voices of Ireland’s recent exports Fontaines DC and The Murder Capital though, Just Mustard’s music doesn’t so much barge its way in as slowly creep through the back door unnoticed.
‘Frank’ is the showier of the two, with its snaking guitar line pacing back and forth, while the rest of the band gather pace and energy behind it. ‘October’ is its grandiose counterpart: helmed by a huge, piercing post-rock guitar line, while Katie’s vocals recall Wolf Alice’s Ellie Rowsell at her most sinister. Explosions In The Sky and My Bloody Valentine can easily be heard as influences, as can the gothic sheen of The Cure, who the band recently played a massive outdoor show in Dublin with, the biggest gig of their career to date.
“It was crazy,” Katie says. “So mental. We had our own cabin! It was very surreal, and kinda thought ‘What the hell are we doing here?!’” It’s a fair comment for now, but there have been significant rumblings around the band across 2019 so far, as they follow up their quietly released debut album ‘Wednesday’ from last year. On the debut record, the band wear their shoegaze influences on their sleeve for all to see, but it’s on ‘Frank’ and ‘October’ that the edges are beginning to be sharpened, and their own voice starting to be carved out.
“We’re always gonna be figuring out what kind of band we are,” guitarist David Noonan adds. “It’s part of the fun, trying to follow it in different directions.” Along with the release of ‘Frank’ and ‘October’ and their enormous support slot with everyone’s favourite goths, the band also headed out on tour in the UK in support of Fontaines DC, honing their ever-expanding sound at a fortnight of sold out shows.
“We were really excited when they asked us to go out on the tour with them, and there’s a lot of that in Ireland,” David explains. For a while, we were only gigging in Dublin and Dundalk, but then in the last few years it seems like there have been lots of small, DIY communities popping up. Everyone seems to be sharing a circuit of small shows, and it’s getting a lot more intertwined.”
“Seeing loads of bands play just makes you want to write more,” Katie adds, clearly invigorated by the band’s recent run of high-profile gigs. They’re taking writing slowly for now, working their way around Ireland for a series of regional gigs before playing a handful of summer festivals in the UK, but there’s an undeniable momentum behind the five-piece .
While Katie’s lyrics are largely buried beneath waves of reverb and shattering drums on ‘Wednesday’, they carry ‘Frank’ and ‘October’ on their shoulders. “I put more of a focus on [these] songs lyrically,” Katie says. “I was more confident in them and their meanings.”
With the new singles singing of the weird and murky existences we live out within our dreams and inspiring just as much surrealism in their dark, twisted instrumentation, one thing’s for certain: Just Mustard aren’t all too concerned with living in the real world.
“Escapism is what I get out of the band,” David sums up, reflecting on the fractured and somewhat nervous state of their home country at the moment, with the ongoing saga of Brexit being felt most anxiously in Irish border towns like the band’s home of Dundalk. “Whenever we get together, we’re just more concerned about making the music, and to actively try and ignore the news.” As a safety blanket and another world to disappear into, it works pretty damn well.
The ‘Frank’/‘October’ 12” is out now via Pizza Pizza Records