Hop along and listen to Kassidy

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KASSIDY frontman Barrie-James O’Neill hadn’t quite finished regaling me with stories from the band’s time at the legendary Rockfield Studios when the tape-recorder came to a sudden halt. In hindsight, it’s probably just as well it did.

“When we arrived there was a guy called Kingsley that ran the studio, and he has kind of been institutionalised in that place,” O’Neill was saying. “Anyway, when we got there he was telling us stories, filling us in about the past.

“We heard a lot of tales about big-name bands. One band were recording and Kingsley was getting drunk with them and they asked if there was a place where they could pick up any girls. Kingsley took them down the road to this local school that was just coming out and...”

With the recording momentarily halted, O’Neill finished off his debauched tale before adding that “there were other stories too, priceless, edgy stories... stuff you wouldn’t normally hear.”

But Kassidy hadn’t just gone to the seeped-in-history studio near Monmouth in Wales for owner Kingsley Ward’s amazing anecdotes about the place; they had an album to make.

As such, the owner’s relentless stories about drug busts in the Sixties and about Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Queen when they were all there (“stories that would last for an hour and a half”, according to O’Neill) threatened to hold them back in their attempts to make a worthy follow-up to their debut, Hope St.

Despite the distractions, O’Neill and bandmates Hamish Fingland, Chris Potter and Lewis Andrew took just seven days to finish the album.

“The plan was to get into the studio and do as much recording as possible,” O’Neill explains. “We didn’t realise at first, but by the time the fifth day came we had already cut 13 songs. That allowed us to have a stab at retrying some of the songs that we didn’t think we had quite nailed.”

Newbie One Man Army was entirely recorded live, which bodes well for the band’s two consecutive nights at the Pleasance Cabaret Bar on Saturday and Sunday.

“There’s not many tracks on this album, but it sounds bigger than the first,” says O’Neill. “Recording live is great because when you come to playing the songs on tour they are already strong... already well rehearsed.”

O’Neill has been popping up in the gossip columns a lot recently for his ongoing romance with US chart-topper Lana Del Rey, but he’s keen to keep the relationship with the Video Games singer private in order to make sure that it doesn’t overshadow Kassidy’s music.

“Ach well,” he sighs, giving the impression that he’s fed up fielding questions about Del Rey. “I don’t really see what’s more interesting about my life than someone who’s working in Halfords or the guy down the shipyards. I don’t think it should be paid more attention to. But I get it. I get why.”

After a moment’s reflection, he adds, “Listen, Lana is a great chick, but I’d much rather keep the focus on Kassidy.”

Celebrity girlfriends aside, Kassidy have come a long way since their first visit to the Capital in 2008.

Back then they were Cassidy-with-a-C (they later changed it to avoid a law-suit from the rapper of the same name) and playing at the Blair Street venue in front of a handful of curious punters.

“It’s weird, because it makes you realise just how far we’ve come,” says O’Neill. “When you take time to look back on things, it’s normally the songs and whatever. You don’t normally look back and remember the first gigs.

“But that takes me back. I think there were about five people at the gig - no more - and if I remember one left to go to the toilet and never came back.”

Kassidy, Pleasance Cabaret Bar, Pleasance, 7pm, Satuday and Sunday, £12.50, www.pleasance.co.uk

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