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In 2014 Handsome Eric or a then 18-year-old Stephen O’ Dowd released the apathetic masses of the internet’s favourite EP with ‘Na I’m Good’. Quickly gaining success from the underbelly of the internet through forums such as 4chans /mu/ section it was clear that Handsome Eric was becoming a bedroom pop maestro.
Recording through his laptop in a grim student house bedroom motivated by the positive comments and reviews from the online community within weeks he released his most recent lo-fi masterpiece ‘Oh, Cool’. This poignantly raw EP is as honest and satirical as the track names with The Mopiest Boy in Leopardstown reminding us all about how being 18 and getting kicked out of Workmans was a regular occurrence.
Spotted with Irish references and full of energetic teenage angst Handsome Eric’s second EP unsurprisingly caught the attention of artists such as Shamir and Car Seat Headrest . All embracing the DIY sound and surprisingly deep poetic drawl of Mr. O Dowd.
Now 22 and returning from a Uk tour with Shamir Handsome Eric is now a 3-piece band with an LP to be released next year.
You originally released your first EP through 4chan a site not known for its musical taste. Will the next LP be released similarly?
I don’t even use it anymore I’m not sure if anyone does. When I made them I was like shit what do I do with this, and there was a nice little community with Bandcamp threads and then it just got picked up by a few people from it. But I hate 4chan it’s fucking dumb but they know it’s dumb that’s the whole point. I think it would be weird going back to it the users are usually temporary so the community would be different.
Originally it was just you and your guitar but now you’ve got a band behind you. Has this changed your musical style at all?
The unit we have now is really solid but it’s stripped back compared to the recorded stuff, it’s more about the energy and the playing live aspect. It’s even a bit rawer and there are less moving parts so it’s easier to play consistently. The songs I’m writing now are for more of a live context while the first two EPs were more based on atmosphere. These songs are way more energetic and maybe even in a punk direction. Oh and we practice now weekly which is always good .
If you are going in a punk direction do you think the next record will still have the lo-fi aspect?
Oh, it will still be low-fi, I can’t afford any fucking equipment but I like yelling a lot so I’m going to be doing more of that, rather than whispering into a laptop microphone. A big thing for me is that I don’t like to produce it so much that it loses that human touch so it will always be that low-fi sound.
Now that you’ve entered into your twenties do you think your lyrics will have changed from the teenage angst diary entry type that people really connected to?
I think so, I think the way I recorded the first time a lot of the lyrics were ad libbed but now I’m more focused on the lyrics I plan ahead. It will definitely be less self-pitying and more self-aware rather than me talking about how sad and drunk I am.
Will the Irish tropes still maintain in the songs? I feel like you really captured the unique student experience while living in Dublin.
Yeah, I work in a lot of references. I think my style writing is focusing on really specific scenarios and then just try to make them really relatable that most people enjoy, I hope.
You’re just back from a tour with Shamir how did that come about?
Our drummer is actually friends with Shamir so he passed on my music to them a few years ago and then it just escalated from there. I was a little apprehensive at first because I’ve never done a tour before and I was going to have actually do stuff but then it was a really good experience. We had to get a 13-hour bus and a ferry and you can buy wine at like 5 am because of international waters which was one of the highlights as well as playing some of the biggest venues I’ve ever played.
Handsome Eric is available on Spotify now.
By Chloe Christie