This feature originally appeared in Issue 3 of The Thin Air
After spending more time than you should down your local with your mates on any given night, it’s a rare thing to find yourself enjoying more than your fair share of pints without ever getting to the stage where your collective points of view – be they political, sporting or otherwise – leak their way into the various beer induced conversations. The same can be said of topics such as personal regret, that recent job promotion, or indeed what you believed could only ever be a pipe dream, which in this instance was of running one’s own record label!
According to current staffer Eddie Kiely, it was this exact situation that his colleague Ashley Keating found himself back in 2005 having agreed “after a few drunken promises”, to set up a label with his mates, which led to the birth of FIFA Records. Keating was no stranger to the music industry himself, as he has been the drummer in The Frank & Walters since their inception, and whose 1992 single ‘After All’ reached number 11 in the UK charts.
Lets reminisce shall we:
Kiely, who has been involved with FIFA since 2010, after Keating was “Interested in signing a few bands which I happened to manage and so asked would I get involved”. He admits that the label’s name stemmed from the fact its founding fathers were indeed soccer fans, however the acronym “quickly came to mean Forever In Financial Arrears!!”
Was the main reason for FIFA’s existence due to Keating and co getting fed up of seeing bands they liked not having their music released? It is something Kiely feels is the essence of what they stand for; “That’s exactly it and that’s how we still operate. We’re not genre specific, it’s basically if myself or Ash like what a band are doing and they have the right attitude, i.e. hard working and committed, and if we both agree then we approach that act about working with them.”
The running of a label can obviously have it’s ups and downs, and while many folks may try and narrow it solely down to the nitty-gritty world of figures and ponder whether the label is capable of staying in the black, Kiely admits that; “There is no doubt it is tough and does take hard work and investment…both myself and Ash work full time, we invest money in bands and we don’t take anything for ourselves, if we do make some money it goes straight into the next release. This is about myself and Ash’s passion for music.”
Their current roster is made up of Keating’s own group of misfits, as well as The Vincent(s); a mix of grunge, psych and noise-pop, Elastic Sleep; a dream pop band that exudes fragile melodies and ethereal feedback, Dissolutes; blues indebted riffs with a hint of grunge, The Would Bes; an indie-pop band from Cavan, Slow Motion Heroes; made up of members from Hope Is Noise, Rulers of the Planet & Cyclefly and finally Hope Is Noise; down and dirty punk.
FIFA also don’t ‘do’ contracts, meaning the artists get to own their music outright, with Kiely stating; “We operate with the mind set of trying to help bands, build their profile and widen their audience with the hope a bigger label will take them on.” In the last year Elastic Sleep, Dissolutes and The Vincent(s) have been making steps, albeit baby ones for now at least, outside of Ireland. With the latter for example gaining more airplay in the US, Canada and the UK as a result of The Dandy Warhols‘ front-man Courtney Taylor-Taylor, remixing their ‘Song For The Sea’ track recently.
Finally with 2015 being the label’s 10th birthday have they anything lined yet? As it turns out it’s an emphatic yes with Kiely admitting; “There will be new albums from The Franks, The Vincent(s), Slow Motion Heroes, we also plan on signing two new acts next year. But the highlight will be a very special gig which is planned to take place near the official FIFA headquarters in Zurich!!”.
That last one could be yet another drunken promise but it would at least be in keeping with their original ethos!