Our history as I remember it-Ian
1998-2000 In Utopia
A guy called John contacts Senior college Ballyfermot looking for a keyboard player to do a few shows with a band called Pisces. No more information is offered at this time. My college lecturer recommended me.
Can't remember the first moment we met, but I remember being in John's car that day and chatting about what music we both liked. The initial time we met I can't remember.
The following week I went to the Red Cow to watch Mark in a karaoke competition, which he won singing I Started A Joke.
I reproduced some of marks songs and we write a collection of new songs together including cold February in cannibal studios Dublin. The first song we ever wrote as a team was called Hide and seek. It was poor.
As it was sold to me, I was in for a few shows to stand on stage miming to others people's music, I am not sure this was how it was sold to Mark as he talked constantly about recording our own songs and writing as much as possible. It was very confusing.
We recorded some more songs in Sun studios temple bar and more in another place near a horse stable off the Navan road. I remember we were recording a song called Love to Love and looking out to see two horses knocking the arses off each other.
The new band (pieces) make their debut at the Teddy film awards Berlin February 23rd, 1997.
Mark is assaulted by a drag queen and accuses him of pouring champagne into his handbag.
Hamburg CSD day followed where we are spotted by Marco from Warner Germany, he already knew Mark from a previous Boyband he was in.
The band sign to Warner Brothers Records Germany.
We begin to work with team Matiz (u96,BOYTRONIC) This is the first time we meet Hayo Lewerentz.
I always remember my first chat with him asking me what my favourite synthesiser was. I only had one! I made something up. The Matiz studio was amazing. Rooms full of analogue and FM synths.
The guys let us hear some songs they wrote with us in mind, which was odd as we were writing songs for fun at this stage. The two songs were 'The World wasn't made in one day' and 'Only overs do'. We both tried hard to hide our horrified looks as we read through the lyrics of Only lovers but I fear we failed. We never got any better at hiding these kind feelings. Mark rewrote nearly all the lyrics and I think I contributed withsaying "yea they are better". By this stage we had agreed that regardless of where the song came from it was now a 50/50 partnership so I got some writing credits, as did Mark for the B-side I wrote, Can you remember.
Pieces are dropped and In Utopia becomes band name. It was too close to the German word for pisses. Also, I'm a Sagittarius. We play Berlin pride and have a big argument with John because he wants us to perform a cover of I'm coming out that Mark recorded with 4Guyz, The Boyband. I refuse because a) I wasn't coming out and b) I was getting fed up with him pushing old songs I had nothing to do with now that we had songs we both had worked on.
March 16th, 1998 In utopia release first single Only lovers do in Germany and Ireland.
Charts in Ireland (39) (7 in dance charts)
Marco who signed us to Warner gets promoted and we are handed over to an A&R guy called Steffan. He was a dance/techno man. This was a bad sign. However, we did convince him to bring us out on the town with the company credit card. Steffan is out of work the next two days with a hangover. We definitely got some blame for that.
In Utopia appear on RTE shows Kenny Live, live at Three and Saturday morning show TX Numerous times and receive high rotation AirPlay on 2fm. It was around this time while in makeup at RTE that Mark mentioned to the makeup artist he really didn't like Gay Byrne. Unfortunately, the makeup artist was his daughter.
John gets a deal going with Champion Sports to play at their Christmas party in the RedBox. In return, we got to go into one of their stores and pick out loads of free clothes. Neither of us wore any kind of sports clothes.
Brighton pride follows where In Utopia are not allowed to perform on the Irish stage due to manager infighting and boy band wars. ( there was a raft of Irish "pop bands" there) In Utopia get moved to the main stage and perform alongside Jimmy Somerville and Johnny Logan.
When we get home we set about making a video for Only lovers. Most of it was good fun, bar the in-studio performance stuff. It looked awful and I make some face at Mark for some silly comment which he pulls me up on straight away. He was right. But I was beginning to struggle with all the cameras and media stuff coming at me, I had no experience at all and felt very exposed. This would crop up intermittently over the years. Mark took to that stuff much quicker than I did.
Hot press review Gives the band 4/5 stars and says "they are all that's great about pop" in a full two-page spread.
Hot press article
Warner Ireland gives out to us for "things we said " in the interview. I still don't get what all the fuss was about. Louis Walsh was behaving like a twat!
Only Lovers Do does not chart in Germany but gets support in the clubs and is received well across the board bar one magazine who said: "it was the kind of song paedophiles listen to". That guy lost his job the following week, or at least that's we were told to shut us up. The band end up answering more questions about the B-side Can you remember than the single itself. I remember being on radio Anna Livia on Grafton street and a then little known Brian Kennedy saying he liked the song.
In Utopia embark on a tour as support for Boyzone on their "where we belong tour" (1998).
We dress up in Tudor costumes for the tour and add a guitar player to the setup which immediately confuses 99% of the audience. Now amongst a line up made solely of Boybands taking their shirts off and miming, We walk out on stage every night with a synth, a guitar live vocals and look like downtown abbey. I always remember the first night Louis and Ronan smirking at us asking us what we were dressed like that for, we said so we don't look like the rest of you.
I heard later that the staff of the point depot used to come out to see us each night because they were the only band they liked. I suppose they could relate to us more with the 1980 sound of our set.
At the Belfast leg of the tour, there was a lot of giving out by the support bands on the tour because Westlife won the smash hits award for best haircuts or something, My Town was furious. We didn't care, we consistently had bad hair. My Town arenow the script and seem okay with it.
The band sign up to the 2fm beat on the street tour. Cecilia Ahern is one of our backing dancers. Que media photo opportunities!
I do my first ever radio interview while on the beat on the street and I immediately glaze over and start talking about how "we are so different coz we don't wear makeup, we are not a boyband". Idiot
In Germany, In Utopia tour across the country playing to crowds of 80,000 in Munich in the historical Marienplatz 18 July 1998.
We spend 2 weeks in Hamburg writing and from this collection of songs Haven is written (released on desolate shores) We stay in the "Hotel Wiki" which was ...something. One night we get drunk and lost so we flag down a taxi to bring us back to the hotel. The taxi driver sighs and brings us around the corner. Somewhere during the night I accidentally smack mark of a stool in a bar and Mark pushes me into a ditch.
The second single "like a prayer" is recorded with a four-piece string section (recorded many times for effect :) The B-side,' Better left unsaid' is actually the first song we wrote as a team that is released. Hayo was always into this song, it's a bit boring.
Club mixes are made and vinyl printed. Warner arenow targeting the club scene.
The release is rushed out in Germany in June 1998 and not released in Ireland
Warner cancels the deal with In Utopia.
We have a sit down with JHP. It was crisis talks and I Recall John saying he was doing his best, he even had people out buying some of the Singles. I remember goinga rant, "if you are going to cheat then cheat well and buy them all or don't bother". At the very least we would have charted higher than 39! Our contracts with JHP are cancelled.
Mark moves to Spain and I stay at home.
Many years later we learn that the relationship broke down between John and Warner which led to the end of our deal.
2000-2005 Desolate Shores
In early 2000 I am contacted by Gunnar in Germany who has been asked by Team Matiz for contact details for the band. I get contacted by Hayo Lewerentz and asked if we would consider coming back to Hamburg to record some songs with them. Mark is contacted and the band reunite for the first time in Hamburg since the split with Warner.
In the interim, I have learned to like pesto to Marks amazement.
Ideas and terms are discussed with Matiz. Helmet in his usual tactile way offers me a heavy set blonde prostitute while whizzing through Hamburg in his new Bright Yellow VW BEETLE. I decline.
We sign a publishing deal with Warner Chappell after meeting with the Head honcho there Norbert.
We return home to begin writing again. By the time we return to Hamburg to record Team Matiz has split. The band stay working with Hayo and move base to the Pop Music Factory and then onto Boogie Park studios Hamburg. We start playing fussballas there is a table in the break room of the studio. Years later we would find that we are still crap at it. While in Pop MusicFactory we meet Haddaway who is trying to replicate the success of What is love. In boogie park, we find A-Ha are also recording there. I can't remember if we met them or not.
In 2001 the band record an EP for the purpose of gaining label interest. It works and the band sign to (Freizeit) Universal records Germany. From the EP recorded only one song survives, Perfect World, and is released under the new band name Eden. One of the other songs appears some years later on a BOYTRONIC album. The first time we met Nicole, Marco and Kirsty is at a meeting in Boogie Park where we discuss the single and plans. We chat about all the songs we have and how we how we are looking forward to getting them recorded and what the album will sound like etc. One of the producers at the time, can't remember his name, gets annoyed when he asks what's he will be doing during all of this. He clearly thought he would be writing and producing the songs and we were there to face to his project. I don't think we ever saw him again.
Perfect World gets remixed by renowned German Dj Mark Oh and is released to radio and clubs. This coincides with a radio tour across Germany along with Popkom in Koln.
Universal decided not to release Perfect world citing, not enough radio play to have an impact. I just recently found the aiprplaycharts showing it at number 49 in Germany! Also, the CD's are still distributed to stores across Germany.
On September 11, 2001, Hayo walks out of a meeting in Universal Hamburg having picked Let It Flow as the next Eden single. We were at home watching the news.
Eden move to Hamburg and begin recording Let It Flow with new producer partner Graham Laybourne (BOYTRONIC, Bonnie Tyler, Xperience) and Hayo. Let it flow quickly gathers pace with radio play in Germany, charts and is voted the best song of the year by WDR2 listeners. (2002)
I remember Hayo calling me at home to congratulate me on our first hit. I think we all felt we had a great opportunity in front of us now.
Eden now embarks on a monster radio tour, Mardi Gras, prides and club events across Germany. We Play PopKomm again that year and the audience is singing back to us for thefirst time.
We are also on the same bill as Whigfield for most of the summer, who was great crack and insisted we steal champagne from other people's dressing rooms. Looking back that was a good idea.
At this point, we were living with Skadi and her odd boyfriend. Skadi had helped us record Haven and Better left unsaid years ago during the In Utopia days. She was nice and strange. He was a twat. I deliberately made her watch Eurovision one year for my own entertainment.
Eden appears on over 20 compilation albums across the world and is invited to the Caribbean to record a tv show. On our first day, we wander onto the nude deck and are met with balls and arses.
Spent 10 days out at sea with various other bands including Fools Garden (lemon tree) and we all make an appalling video on beaches and in forests etc. for some reason I'm playing the guitar in the video. I still can't play one.
On our way home, we get diverted through NYC on the day the U.S. Invades Iraq. We miss our connecting flight.
When we get back we appear on a show on Viva where we perform and then interview. The Microphone was a giant yellow dildo thing rammed right into my face, frightened the crap out of me and I spent the next ten minutes trying to get away from it. I then play the show host in a game of Fifa on PlayStation on live tv where he destroys me. So all in all, not the best TV appearance I ever did.
The follow-up single In Your Eyes is selected by head A&R of Universal while the band are on holidays and come back to find very odd cover art finalised. We look like Ewoks.
We were not really happy about either decision, the song was written for a boyband, not us! We went to meet Daniel Peeper and he was asleep in his office and couldn't see us. What a dick.
The single is recorded with idol producer Gareth Jones ( Depeche mode/erasure). The song is debuted on SAT1 Christmas tv show to an audience of 15,000 people at the Festhalle arena Frankfurt 25 November 2002.
However, the song gets little radio support and the release is pulled. Again, the single is still distributed throughout Germany and is picked up for TV promos across Germany. I remember seeing a film clip with Richard Gere and our song in the background. Then the label released a Christmas mix to Radio stations which we didn't even know about until a few months later. Things were moving very fast!
We perform a live webcast in the NBC studios, Hamburg. However, the Internet is too slow for anybody to see it and laptops are thrown out windows all over the world. In Ireland Internet is still too slow.
You Will Never Know is picked as the next single and the album Desolate Shores is completed.
Eden perform at Berlin pride at the Brandenburg gate to (100,000 people) June 22, 2002
Universal pull the plug on the Freizeit label and we are once again without a label. We play at PopKom again and it is brilliant, again.
Longtime collaborator Hayo Lewerentz opens his own label Major Records. Eden is the first band to sign. The first show that we play after signing to Major Records was at the Christian day celebrations in Koln. The pope was there somewhere and Mark didn't burst into flames for being gay. That was a relief. We had a big argument with another artist who signed to Major. A redhead English guy who rapped with a Jamaican accent. We met some dipsticks through the years but he wins hands down. Dipstick.
The single My World is released June 20, 2005, followed quickly by the album Desolate Shores 27 June 2005. Cold February and Haven feature on the album from the first songwriting sessions back in 1997. The long talked about debut album had been a labour of love for 8 years and eventually released by our third label. We decide to take a break and move home to Ireland.
After 2 years out of the routine Eden begin recording their second album Electric. We decide to do a mini press release of Desolate Shores in Ireland and once again 2fm take up the band with Let It Flow. Eden begins to perform some small shows and tested out some potential album tracks to live audiences. Our first Irish show in years is in the Boom Boom Room Parnell St. We have one backing singer with us. She does not perform again. We play our first Dublin Pride show. Mark wore wings as we performed at the Civic buildings in Dublin.
The weight of a big label behind you had up and downsides. Up would be they have people who can do the PR job and have the financial clout to do it with. Eden now with an indie label in Hamburg had no clout, people or financials to do any PR. It fell to us to do. This proved to be a frustrating and difficult task. However this would be the first time we would get to play regularly in Ireland and venues such as Temple bar music centre, Spirit store, Red Box and Whelansbecame regular haunts. The eden-ettes are born, Tia Peyton, Sarah Ivy Guy and Isabella Costa.
In 2009 the album was finished and sent to Major Records to arrange release date. The first single would not be released for another year. If I was a pet shop boy was released on June 25, 2010. It is picked up in the US and a Christmas remix is requested for airplay acorssretails stores for the Christmas period. We quickly whip one up and it appears across screens in stores across the US and makes it onto a Christmas compilation album there too.
The singles Subhuman (nov 5 2010) Electric ( 18 Feb 2011) and Murder on the Mind (Sept 2, 2011) which featured Irish Drag artist Veda.
Eden implode at the end of the Electric! shows call each other wankers and vanish for a few years.
2015-2018 Outbound to Wonderland
After a time of estrangement, I wrote a piece of music that was "Very Eden" so I asked Mark if he wanted it to write something to it. We had already met up to record some music Mark was working on for a play. I sampled a sheep and made a synth out if it. A few days later I was on holidays in Boston and while in the subway station onI spotted a sign saying 'Outbound to wonderland'. A song came to me within 5 minutes and I had the whole idea bopping around my head for the next 10 days. Midway through the holiday, Mark sends me back his idea for the song I had sent him before I left. I gave the track a working title of 'Broken Frame' which I didn't expect to stick but it did. Although we didn't realise it at the time this was the start of a new Eden album. Tracks came thick and fast when I got home and not one idea for any of the songs started in the studio. For my part, I did almost all my writing while walking the dogs in the Bog. I know Mark did a lot while commuting around Dublin. I always felt the album was a good commuters album and I wanted it to have that feel, good tempo flowing along nicely and not too many tracks. My whole thought was you should be able to listen to all of the album on the way to work.
We wrapped up the album in record time for us and sent it to Hayo in Hamburg who wanted it on his new label so we went along with it. We signed a new publishing deal with Sony/BMG.
Much like the Electric! periodwe were left to our own devices in terms of getting shows, airplay & press etc. We still suck at this. We launched the album in the Soundhouse Dublin, followed by shows in the UK and Dublin pride. The album is well received getting solid reviews. Airplay in Ireland is as usual, tough and close to zero but all the singles perform well in the UK and Europe. Soon after we return to the Soundhouse and build a spaceship to house all my synths.
It's 20 years now and our expectations of world domination are much more in check. In fact, for me personally, the only expectation I have in relation to our music now is that it will always be what we want it to be and when we want to do it. We have been with big labels, small labels, toured our asses off, worked some amazing people and shared the stage with as many. What would we do differently? A whole lot but there is no point in looking backwards. When I think back over the years I always go back to the amazing times, Brandenburg Gate, Munich, Hamburg, The Point Depot, Kings Hall Belfast, Dominican Republic, London, Manchester. Spending an entire summer tour getting drunk with Whigfield was never on my radar when I was growing up on Church St in Dublin. I'm pretty sure sharing the studio with A-ha was never in Marks mind while growing up in Clondalkin, Dublin.