Naked Lungs: “Each track is another emotion, another scroll, good or bad”

Struggling to stop the late night scroll of doom? You’ll be wanting Irish punks Naked Lungs, then.

Irish noise-punks Naked Lungs are about to arrive with their debut album, ‘Doomscroll’. Recorded and mixed by Gilla Band’s Daniel Fox at Sonic Studios in Dublin, it’s an ambitious record that sees them replicating the experience of being endlessly bombarded with negative news and general online awfulness. Bassist Ryan Mortell tells us more about his band.

Hello Ryan! What are you up to today?
Just in the door from work – I’m working on an Irish-Language children’s show at the minute; lots of puppets, lots of Gaeilge – lots of craic.

Introduce your band – who are you all, and what are your roles within the group?
We’re a four-piece made up of myself on bass, Andrew Connaughton on guitar, Matthew Pyper on drums and Tom Brady on vocals. Three of us are from North County Wicklow, and The Pype is from further afield, down in Longford.

What first sparked your interest in music? Did you have a musical upbringing?
My interest was probably sparked listening to those same three CDs every dad in the early 2000s would rotate between in their car. Lots of Bowie, Floyd, Chelsea Dagger, bit of Limp Bizkit – it was eclectic, but going mental in the back seat definitely sparked something in me going forward.
My parents aren’t musical, but my dad, as I mentioned, has this insanely varied taste in music that spans records from all decades and genres, and these were the songs I would hear growing up. As well, he always had his own interpretation of what these tracks meant or what the story of the lyrics was, and that really opened my eyes to storytelling through music.

Are you creative in non-musical ways too?
I like to think so. I studied Film and Television in college and currently work in the industry as a camera assistant and write and direct on the side. It’s a different rhythm to say, writing music, so I would often find myself picking up the guitar if I was having trouble with an edit or working on some film idea if some of the music, I was working on wasn’t fully clicking in the moment.

Your debut album, ‘Doomscroll’, is nearly here – how does it feel to be finally sharing this project with the world?
The lads and I cannot wait to have the album out in the world. There are definitely nerves attached to that anticipation leading up to the release, but all in all: we couldn’t be happier with the way the album turned out, so it’s more excitement.

One of the album’s singles, ‘Pressure’ explores themes of male vulnerability and toxic masculinity. What attracted you to addressing these issues?
As much as we all are very proud to be Irish, there is an inherent toxicity found within the male culture here at times. The song and lyrics came about with us trying to peel back the layers of our own biases, issues and preconceptions and shine a light on something that we are not proud of but want to change.
It can be really hard to show vulnerability at times in a culture that deems that “soft”, but it is such a vital aspect that many people will repress and bury in order to fit into this macho bullshit farce until they eventually boil over.

The album’s tracklisting follows the flow of a doomsday news cycle. Can you elaborate on the concept behind structuring the songs in this way, and how it relates to the album’s overall theme? It’s a really interesting idea.
The concept kind of came together itself as we were in the process of writing the tracks that would eventually become their album. Each of us were complaining and commenting on being inundated with these dopamine hits of seven-second content followed by articles showing flashes of injustice, hate, homophobia at home and abroad – and how this “seesaw” of emotional reaction, that being: happiness to rage, love to hate, as we scrolled through our phones, was in turn mimicking or coinciding with the emotions we were exploring in the music. Each track is another emotion, another scroll, good or bad.

You worked on the record with Gilla Band’s Daniel Fox – how did the collaboration contribute to shaping the sound of the album? Did it help you deliver your vision?
Dan is incredible to work with – and he and Gilla Band were a huge influence on us early on in our musical careers. He’s great to communicate with, and going in, we knew he was going to help us record the best version of this album. We had a lot of laughs, late nights and questionable nicknames along the way, too, so it was nice to have that comforting and supporting atmosphere to contrast the heavy emotions being explored through some of the tracks. He also let us lean into the more “fun” aspects, like, really indulge in the noisiest shit we could get out of our instruments – highly recommend.

Did you come up against any unexpected challenges when putting the album together? How did you find the process?
Funnily enough, writing and recording the album was probably the easy part. You’d think the months or years of rehearsing and deconstructing these tracks or the long hours in the studio would be bad but honestly, we loved it. I think we all had a sense that this was truly something worth doing and had no doubts going in.
The difficult part I think we found was when the album was completed. Mixed, mastered, artwork signed off on and then the real challenge: waiting. Waiting, waiting, waiting for it to come out, for people to hear it, for the vinyl to be in our hands. That was the most unexpected challenge.

What else are you working on at the moment?
We are already working through some new material that is going into some really interesting territory, so if we’re lucky, we’ll be able to release some of those tunes soon.

Music aside, what do you do for fun?
It was tough to fight my inner urge to just say: drink pints, and leave it there. Going to local gigs is always great; Ireland’s a stunning country, so there are plenty of spots you can go to for the day and just take it in. I think any activity really that lets you take a breath and step away from the bullshit, whatever that may be, is a pretty good indication of fun.

Taken from the August 2023 edition of Upset. Naked Lungs’ debut album ‘Doomscroll’ is out 18th August.