Just Mustard are on stage in ten minutes, but that doesn’t stop them grabbing a quick pint and looking over the seafront around them. After all, the past few months have been game-changing – taking in shows across Europe for the very first time and absorbing the world around them. You’d warrant them a quick glance across the seas before things well and truly take off. “It’s definitely been busier than usual,” cracks guitarist Mete Kalyon, taking a sip from his pint with a wide smile.
That’s probably got something to do with their recent cross-country run with Fontaines D.C – taking to stages with their own unmistakable sound and blend as the furious ‘Boys In The Better Land’ breakthroughs spanned across a string of nights. Eye-opening, it’s sat as a trigger for wanting more.
“They had all the venues sold out before we were even announced, so we just got to turn up and play, which was nice,” details guitarist/vocalist David Noonan. “We’re not very different to them, but we’re not very similar either, so people were reacting well to what we were doing. It was basically the first time we were playing in these places, apart from London, and the lads were really accommodating.”
“After the first week we were all like, now we can’t wait to go back and start writing songs again because it got us so pumped to get back at it,” adds Mete.
A mesmerising world of electronica, shoegaze, gritty punk sensibilities and soaring hypnotic flourishes – Just Mustard are the sound of the dancefloor in the depths of winter-nights. Front and centre is Katie Ball, who weaves vocals across soundscapes for truly special moments. With every move and shape, it’s a wrapping that comes together to form a distinctly palpable wall of sound that could erupt at any moment. Grabbing comparisons with Warpaint over the past couple of years, it’s easy to see why.
“We all have common music tastes,” explains David, “but everyone very much has their own thing that they’re mad into. Like our drummer Mags [Shane Maguire] is really into death metal and techno, along with some ambient stuff too.”
At times Primal Scream, at times ripping with the same drive as Wolf Alice, at times spinning into an almost Four Tet-esque flurry – Just Mustard refuse to play it easy. Diversity and eclectic sounds have been at the core of the band since the early days, a product of the surroundings they found themselves in.
“Because Ireland’s quite a small country, you end up meeting everyone and playing with bands with completely different styles,” explains David. “You don’t get gig line-ups that are just punk band, punk band, punk band, punk band – you get an electronic act, a folk guy and then whatever! That kinda inspired us, even if other acts weren’t anything like us – it’s the quality of artists and who you meet and play with that inspires us to work harder and try things.”
Close friends growing up together in Dundalk (halfway between Dublin in the south and Belfast in the North and a “small town, but the biggest town in Ireland,” as bassist Rob Clare elaborates), there were only two things you could really do. Make music and play football – and the former became a rich glue that pulled them all together. It wasn’t about starting a band, or forming a band – they were simply all mates who would naturally play around with music when together.
“There’s like one venue called the Spirit Store that everyone goes to, so we all would go and meet there,” remembers David.
When Mete went off to college, he’d continue ending music over to him – and when Mete returned, Just Mustard sparked into life.
It took just one support slot before they were headlining the Spirit Store (“It was a terrible idea. I mean, it was an unbelievable platform to give us, but we were shit,” laughs David). Morphing and growing, debut album ‘Wednesday’ was released last year as an opening statement of their journey so far and a necessary confirmation of all the styles and flurries that lead them to that point.
“We just wanted to get a body of work out there that represented the band and us,” elaborates David. “We wanted to get all the different things we were trying to do together into one place, and now we’re just mad to get another one out.”
That next chapter is captured with ‘Frank’, a bolder and sharper sound to what they’ve done before – it sounds like a band hungry for what’s to come, glimmering and erupting into a potent cocktail of ambition. Coming at a time where Irish music seems to be leading the charge when it comes to some of the most exciting sounds of 2019, it’s a position Just Mustard are more than aware of.
“I remember hearing someone say; there’s no point in being Irish in Ireland – the same as there’s no point being English in England or Scottish in Scotland,” reflects Rob. “When you’re on tour in a foreign country you kinda have an extra bit of energy behind your band, I suppose. There’s intrigue, and maybe it’s because you’re not from the scene or you don’t quite sound like the bands from that area. There’s something in it, the reception over here has been sort of surprising – we’ve been surprisingly well welcomed.”
“Most of the bands on my Spotify are bands from Ireland or bands I’ve just recently got into,” admits Mete. “I’m not really listening to anything else, I’ve stopped doing that. There’s just a lot of stuff happening right now.”
As David notes, “there are a lot of Irish bands that we love that are getting a lot of attention. There’s a folk artist we love called Junior Brother and so much different stuff out there. It doesn’t feel like there’s only one particular scene in Ireland at the moment; it feels like there’s a lot of different things. A lot of bands doing different things into this one mix.”
“There really is only one of each of us band-wise,” continues Rob, “and the scene is quite communal. Junior Brother isn’t anything like us, but we listen to his music just as frequently as we do to bands like us. It’s kinda all for one: a variety pack, if you will.”
Just Mustard get the nod. They’re on in a couple of minutes, playing to another large room as more fall under their spell.
“There really is nothing like playing to large rooms of people to make you sort your life out,” cracks Rob. “It’s kinda cathartic in a good way, like jumping in the water and straight into the deep end.”
“Even with doing the Fontaines tour as we were saying,” picks up David, finishing his pint as he eyes up the stage next door. “It’s got us really excited to just go and write. Excited to refine what we’re doing and how that translates in different rooms.”
With that, Just Mustard step on stage, click play and are off on a whole ‘nother level.
Taken from the July issue of Dork, out now.
Words: Jamie Muir