Cypress, Mine! formed in Cork City, Ireland in 1984.
Bass player Skoda and guitarist Ian met as teens at a Youth CND meeting and bonded over Julian Cope, dodgy haircuts and a shared musical ineptitude. Following the recruitment of drummer Mark and singer Ciarán, and inspired by the finest independent guitar music of the early 80’s (Orange Juice, Josef K, The Go-Betweens, The Smiths, REM, Hüsker Dü), the band spent months honing a collection of angular, literate pop tunes above a chip shop, surrounded by dusty analogue keyboards and magic mushrooms drying between sheets of old newspaper.
In the DIY spirit of the times, the band got their first gig by showing up at The Bluebells soundcheck in Ballybunion, Co Kerry and simply asking to play. Gigs around Ireland followed and the band put out a series of self-released cassette demos, cultivating a small but enthusiastic group of followers.
Group activities stepped up a gear with the involvement of manager Tony O’Donoghue. The band recorded sessions for RTE Radio 2’s Dave Fanning programme, appeared on vinyl for the first time on Comet Record’s EP1, played live on RTE TV’s TV GAGA and secured high profile support slots in the UK and Ireland with bands such as Aztec Camera, Microdisney, Echo and The Bunnymen and U2.
In 1987, Cypress, Mine! signed a record deal with Solid Records in Ireland and issued two singles, ‘Justine’ and ‘In the Big House’, prior to the release of their debut album ‘Exit Trashtown’. Positive album reviews and well-received gigs led the band return to the studio to record their third single “Sugar Beat God”, released in 1988. Extensive airplay and TV exposure further boosted the group’s profile.
By 1989, however, it was all over. Despite recording demos for a second album and a video for a fourth single, the band split in May of that year.
It’s been 30 years since Exit Trashtown was recorded in Elmtree, a cosy 8-track studio in Cork. It was the first rock album recorded in Cork City and was produced by Denis Herlihy, Peter West and Joe O’Herlihy. The initial pressing in 1987 by Solid Records was sold out and has been much sought after in recent years. Around that period in the late 80’s, Cypress, Mine! also released three singles and recorded several demos but never released a second LP.
In 2015, Pretty Olivia Records (Spain) approached the band with the prospect of a limited edition re-release. This new 30th Anniversary Edition of Exit Trashtown includes the original 10 track LP plus an additional LP (12 tracks). This LP, In Pieces is a collection of singles (A&B) and previously unreleased demos. The two LPs come with printed inner sleeves and codes for a digital version as well as a downloadable lyrics sheet.
New video for “Sugar Beat God”
New video for “Last Night I Met The Man For Me”
A word from the Management
Cypress, Mine! first came to my attention through a shared interest in nuclear disarmament.
I began to hang out with them at gigs in Cork and noticed that they were gathering a lot of attention, not so much for the music but because they were boy band handsome, well Ian anyway, and girls seemed to like that sort of thing.
Ciaran, the singer, was renowned as a photographer but he also had a way with words. English though was not his first language as he came from a long line of Gaelic poets, musicians and academics. His voice remains unique.
Skoda had access to a van and a grim determination to master the bass guitar.
Mark kept his vocal harmonies hidden behind the beat of a spartan drum kit for far too long, and Ian was all tantalising hooks and melodies that seemed to arrive to the practice room, effortlessly perfect.
Amid a grim political landscape not only did we have to live with the almost certain prospect of unemployment and emigration we were constantly reminded that the atomic clock was ticking and that we were just four minutes away from midnight holocaust.
Elm Tree Studios was hidden away down The Mardyke, a famous Cork boulevard of leafy trees across from the cricket ground and a few doors down from the museum in Fitzgerald’s Park where Cork’s rebel history was storied and celebrated.
One of the band’s earliest gigs, Peace in the Park, a consciousness raiser for CND played out there. A few years later in glorious July and August 1987 the band recorded ten songs on eight track tape that would become their debut album. Guitar, vocals, bass and drums, of course, but keyboards and brass too. Who wouldn’t want to Exit Trashtown?
The band returned to Elm Tree in April 1988 when, once again, the heat was murderous as ‘Sugar Beet God’ was laid down. Later, in a creatively fertile period in January 1989, the scrolls of the lost recordings were committed to tape.
The story of the band isn’t simply the story of studio recordings, although these previously unreleased songs are a glimpse of what might have been.
This was a bigger journey, in so many ways, a spin on the road where remarkable moments and extraordinary gigs mapped out the script.
The band were never short of ambition or indeed of that certain Cork cockiness that had them instinctively believe they were worth it. And they were.
They would have seen their peers like Five Go Down to the Sea and Microdisney bypass Dublin and head straight to London where their eccentricities were easier understood.
What was clear In London or Belfast or Dublin and beyond was that the quality of the songs demanded an audience. They still do. What the audience saw and heard then were tantalising glimpses of emerging talent.