John Gilbride and Ciara Ryan of Pecking Party speak to Seán Hayes about their band’s peculiar name, getting known on the Dublin music scene and getting to play Workman’s.
The phrase ‘pecking party’ originally comes from Ken Kesey’s novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which involves a chicken seeing blood on another chicken and beginning to peck at it until, eventually, the entire flock has pecked each other to death. Yet this grotesque reference is exactly what the members of Dublin-based band, Pecking Party, had in mind when naming their group. Explaining the reasoning behind it, guitarist John Gilbride admits that, “I thought it was a poignant image that reflects the massive lack of solidarity in our society. Free market enthusiasts love the idea of competition as a progressive force when, really, it brings out the worst in people. That, and it alliterates.”
In this way, the term can be considered as an apt name for the electronic-rock group, their musical produce being both catchy and socially aware in equal measure. Describing the band’s sound, Gilbride lists a number of pioneering influences, such as Enter Shikari, Portishead and alt-J. Expanding, he reveals that his formative years were significant in the sound he creates today: “I first came to listen to electronic music via bands such as The Prodigy and Pendulum many years ago. They had a big influence on what I do with Pecking Party, both in terms of style and how to pull it off live from a technical perspective. You can still hear that influence in many of our songs, particularly where rhythm is concerned.” Lead vocalist, Ciara Ryan, conversely attributes her musical abilities to her grandad: “He’s a wonderful singer who’s got a natural ear for music and can play multiple instruments.”
“It’s difficult to get your name out there, especially if you’re trying to do something a bit different.”
To many, the current Dublin music scene can seem close to breaking point, with a seemingly continuous stream of new talents appearing everyday, all vying for the opportunity to perform on the city’s noted stages. For the members of Pecking Party, however, it’s been an enjoyable experience so far. Gilbride explains that, “Personally, we’ve found it quite supportive. It’s difficult to get your name out there, especially if you’re trying to do something a bit different. But there’s definitely an audience for unique music out there, even if it’s not as big as the audience for the tried and tested.”
The group’s experimental vibe, however, shouldn’t be off-putting for “traditional” audiences. Their unique interpretation and blending of rock and electronic rhythms has been well received from critics and audiences alike. The band recently played as part of WeBloom, under the renowned spotlights of the Workman’s Club. The event highlighted some of Dublin’s brightest new talent, with Pecking Party sharing the billing with Be Curious, Kid and Sick Inc. Reflecting on the performance, Gilbride enthuses that, “it was definitely an electric feeling to be playing in a place like Workman’s, where so many bands have played before. As much fun as it is creating the music itself, there’s nothing like playing it live. For our sound, it really is the bigger the gig the better.”
Indeed, Pecking Party seem poised to go from strength to strength, with festival performances and an LP release all in the pipe-line. Their infectious and distinctive sound will, without doubt, see them fare far better than the chaotic, bloody pile of dead chickens in Kesey’s novel for quite some time.