TURN – A History: 1998 – 2006
TURN – A History: 1998 – 2006
Dedicated to everyone that made
Oliver Cole | Ian Melady| Gavin Fox
Alan Lee | Ciaran Kavanagh | Terry McGuiness |Martin Quinn | Fiona Melady
“It’s All Over Now”
16th July 2006, Oliver Cole, lead singer of Turn, posts a blog on the bands MySpace announcing that the three piece have decided to call it a day, citing personal and professional circumstances as the main reasons for the breakup. After eight years of line-up and record company changes and many up’s and downs, the band finally had enough and thus ended one of Ireland’s most critically acclaimed, accomplished and talented acts. In their time together, they managed to release three studio albums, three EP’s and several singles as well as playing almost every single venue and major Festival Ireland has to offer, including several slots at The Point Depot, Witness and Oxegen. Their mix of alt rock and soulful song writing won over almost everyone who heard their records and their raw/energetic and always engaging live shows cemented a devoted fan base. From their first show in Da Club in Dublin to their very last in Sligo, December 2005, they gave it their all on stage every night and in the studio.
Writing about the origins of Turn is a done thing at this stage. When they started off in 1998, their reputation ad popularity grew so quickly that 11 years later, the internet is still awash with interviews, early stories and press releases. But any good history has to give all…..well, most of the facts so bear with me.
Oliver Cole and Ian Melady grew up in the small town of Kell’s, Co Meath. Both of them had played in bands in their younger years and had developed tastes for all kinds of music. Ollie is well noted as originally being influenced by bands such as AC/DC, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple. The first live show he ever saw was Thin Lizzy and this set his dreams of becoming a rock star into motion. As with most kids, the metal phase wore off and a new door was opened by the Pixies whom Ollie caught on TV one day when he was home sick from school. Ollie was captivated. The Pixies represented a mix of the hard sound he’d grown up with and a softer, more melodic side that he yearned to produce in his own song writing. Everything seemed to make sense all of a sudden and he realized that bands didn’t have to play one style or the same riff for ever. Ollie’s first foray into the band world was handling singing duties for his brother’s band, Black-Hawx when he was sixteen. Apparently Black-Hawx played spandex, Slayer metal but I think any recordings the band made have long since been destroyed by Ollie. The group disbanded after a short spell together and his brother moved to Boston. Soon afterwards, Ollie moved to Dublin in search of a real band to join.
At the same time Ian Melady and his sister Fiona were discovering their own musical abilities and tastes. Ian learned to play drums while Fiona concentrated on piano and they both worked at song writing. Ian’s first band, Little Palace managed to achieve some measure of success and released two warmly received EP’s before disbanding. Little Palace was also home to future Turn collaborator Martin Quinn.
Swampshack | Revelino | Nero
Ollie and Ian first played together in Swampshack, another relativity successful band on the verge of bigger things before breaking up. Founded in late 94/early 95, Swampshack managed to release a EP and single in the year they were together. Playing bass duties in the band was John Mulvaney. Despite playing tours with Teenage Fan club, Soul Asylum and Ice-T, the band parted ways and cited ‘musical differences’ as the cause. Ollie admits to taking the breakup badly and rather than forming a new group, he shied away from the ‘band’ idea and reportedly spent two years on the dole playing chess and smoking dope but still writing material. He had also gotten a job in The Factory Rehearsal Space where acts such as U2, David Bowie and Def Leppard used to practice for European tours and store equipment which gave him much of his technical experience and introduced him to a massive variety of industry contacts. Ian on the other hand, went on to join Dublin band Revelino.
While working in the Factory in 1996, Ollie met Gavin Fox, a young bass player from Dublin on work experience. The pair became inseparable and shared a love for music, chess and general mayhem. Gavin was playing in a band called Nero at the time and Ollie and Ian had just rejoined forces and had started searching for a bass player. As the story goes, Gavin was asked to fill in on the drums for Ian one day because he couldn’t make a rehearsal with a new bass player they were testing out. Not happy with the new member, Ollie and Ian decided to drop him and Gavin suggested he jam with them until they found someone permanent. According to interviews with Ollie, the first song the three lads played together was I Still Believe and suddenly everything felt right. Gavin made the decision to quit Nero and concentrate on playing with Ollie and Ian full time. Since Gavin also played Guitar and drums, he was able to contribute to the song writing which strengthened his position in the group and ensured he became a key contributor to defining Turn’s sound. Years later Ollie admitted that one of the factors that led to Turn’s demise was Gavin’s exit from the band and the song writing duties falling solely on him. Ollie and Gavin shared a love for raw, energetic rock and the trio really started to connect after rehearsing a few times and band started to prepare for the next step.
After a handful of rehearsals the band really started to connect and wasted little time before settling down, perfecting their songs and lining up gigs. Ollie and Gavin’s strive for perfection ensured the kinks in their sound were worked out early on and new songs were written and laid down to a T in record time. The band started to line up shows around the country after playing their first gig in Da Club, on South William street in Dublin. According to Ollie there was about two people in attendance. Thanks to Ollie’s connections and the bands infectious sound their second show was playing support to Teenage Fanclub in the Olympia, quite a step up for a new bands second live show together and a tribute to how well the band was performing so early in their career. The band quickly started to focus their attention on the U.K. market with all three members knowing how hard it is to make it big by staying in Ireland. They decided to balance out their raw, slow, heavy sound by adding some theatrics to their live show. This included wearing custom made suits and light makeup. The band feverishly continued writing and rehearsing new tracks such as Beeswax and Gav and Anne. Not too long after forming, Ollie suffered a massive electrical shock from a mike stand (Reports of the incident vary on where the shock happened. Some suggest it was on stage and others report it was during rehearsals) . The shock was so powerful it left burn marks on his hand and even dislocated his shoulder meaning he had to visit a chiropractor for regular treatment. This incident led to a bout of depression which led to some major life changes for the singer and also altered his song writing and outlook on life. Rather than take the shock as a bad omen or let it develop into a fear of playing, Ollie started to write faster, heavier material while still keeping with the same basics of song writing as before. Tracks like Beretta and Facedown started to become fast fan favourites for the group and they finally had enough material to make a stab at showcases around the U.K.
In 1998, the band started to make regular trips to London to play on stage with several other bands each night in order to try and secure a record deal and cut a name for themselves in one of the toughest cities in the world. The band describes these visits and essential to the band early success but also some of the hardest shows they’ve ever played. Not being able to afford a roadie or any assistance, they used to use all their money to pay for travel expenses over and back, lugging all their equipment by hand and setting up every night by themselves. This left them drained and exhausted before most of the British shows and sometimes affected the performance. Despite this, the work started to pay off and the British Press started given the band a good deal of attention and their profile started to increase. After one show, a PR from Infectious Records approached the band and said the label might be interested in working with the band. Knowing their live strength was at it’s height in Dublin, the band asked if Infectious would be interested in travelling to Ireland to see them play to a home crowd. Less than a year after forming, Infectious signed the band.
Facedown | Beretta | Beeswax | Check My Ears
With things moving along for the group, they were given a new lease of life and they continued to play shows across the UK and Ireland, primarily showcase gigs in the UK. In 1999, the band travelled to Wales to record their first proper batch of material (although they had started recording demo’s in Oct. 97) at Rockfield Studios with Hugh Jones at the helm. At this point, they recruited Ian’s sister Fiona into the band to add more depth and power to the songs. Fiona because a short lived member and departed from Turn shortly after recording was completed but did manage to stay on board to play some of their bigger live shows in order to fill out the bands performance. The band worked for 15/16 hours every day to perfect the recordings. In the biography release by Infectious Records, Ollie Cole remembers these sessions as being quite gruelling.
“I felt really self-conscious”, he says. “Like I was getting too much attention. So I started drinking lots of beer and smoking. It helped. I just started going into the studio and singing along to the big speakers with no headphones. It was kind of trial and error.”
The sessions resulted with enough recordings to start releasing their first material. On February 13th, 2000. The band released their first single Facedown, on their own Nurture label. Despite it being one of the least obvious choices for a début single, the band jumped to its defence by claiming it as being the “final jigsaw piece” that promoted them to record more.
“When we signed the deal with Infectious, in many ways it still meant that we had to make it happen, not them. ‘Facedown’ is probably the least obvious and strangest choice for a single we could make. ” 
“Facedown ties the whole new Turn, old Turn together I think. It sums up that whole time perfectly, when we affected change in ourselves as a unit. The album was nearly there and ‘Facedown’ was the final jigsaw piece that spurred us to record more, even though it’s not on the album.”
Gavin also claims the release was a tactic to stop the band being labelled in the media,
“Facedown was released first so that people couldn’t pigeon hole us“
Despite a record deal under their belts and building up a respectable fan base around Dublin, mainstream television and radio stations continued to ignore the band and refused to give then any attention except for Phantom FM who got behind the band after the release of Facedown. Again wasting little time, the band released a follow up single in April 2000. The fast, had hitting Beretta quickly secured new fans for the group and was featured on several compilations and promo CD’s. Like Facedown, Beretta was only publicly released as a limited edition clear 7” vinyl by the band. This only added to their underground status and their records quickly sold out due to high demand for their material. In order to continue their success, the band released a third single in May 2000. Beeswax was already a firm favorite among their fans and was also one of the earliest songs the band wrote. Again, it was released only as a 7” and added to Phantom’s playlist. Beeswaxs’ release was followed by their debut EP, Check My Ears, which was a compilation of the three singles and their B-Sides (Truth, Never Needed and Plan, respectively). The EP was a great success and finally gave Turn a CD format release to sell to a wider audience. Things were going brilliantly for the band and a successful tour around England with Seafood and Wilt in March/Aril 2000 had now provided for their very own fan base in the UK. Melody Maker, Hotpress, NME, Rock Sound and several other publications got behind the band and continued promoting them regularly. Turns crowd started to grow at home and abroad with every show and they still strived to improve every aspect of the band so things wouldn’t waver. The band spent the rest of the summer playing shows and recording material at Roundhouse Studios and Thomas Reed’s pub in Dublin. After 12 months of grueling work, single releases and non stop touring, they were finally ready to release their debut album.
Antisocial | Too Much Makeup | The Christmas EP
“Antisocial is the best indication of where we are now, for me it’s the best song we’ve done, maybe because of the strange music. Gav (Fox, bass) and Ian (Melady, drums and all-star backing vocalist) are playing a real off beat and I’m playing the most complicated guitar playing I’ve ever done. Something happened with that song. I broke through a wall or something, all of a sudden I was playing a different style and it’s probably the most representative of what the next album might sound like. ‘Queen Of My Heart’ is great. Hopefully we can release it as a single in November or December, although the record company might want to re-release ‘Beretta’ but I hope we don’t have to, you know, if people know it they do. If not, they’ll get to know it. I don’t want to go down a Muse path and release it a dozen times or something. So we’ll see.”
Antisocial was officially launched at the Temple Bar Music Center on the 6th of October. It was met with critical acclaim in both Ireland and the UK. The hard work put in by the band had paid off and a wide range of music publications including Kerrang, Hotpress, Melody Maker and many others gave the album glorifying reviews with an overall agreement that Turn had managed to reproduce their energetic live performance in the studio. After the albums release, the band continued touring around the UK and Ireland to promote it as much as possible. The first official single from the album, Too Much Makeup, had come out in August and proved to be another great success among fans of the band. It seemed things couldn’t get any better for the trio and the buzz that surrounded the band was only getting stronger and stronger. They finished off 2000 by touring extensively which carried into early 2001 and even managed to release a mail order/gig only EP entitled The Christmas EP which featured Teen Star and a cover of Aerosmiths Sweet Emotion. For the remainder of 2001 the group returned to the studio to begin writing their next album and only played a handful of major festivals and showcases including the legendary SWSX Showcase in America.
By this time relations with Infectious records were turning sour and the label refused to put any financial backing behind the group. Hammered by a lack of activity for the first time since they formed, the band started to become frustrated and after a few months they eventually parted ways.
Nurture Records | In Position | Another Year Over / Summer Song
The split with Infectious was Turn’s first serious set back but they didn’t let this affect them as much as other bands would. Rather than parting ways and trying again separately, they regrouped and decided to go down the D.I.Y. route. They started touring again in late 2001 and in March 2002, the band released it’s third EP, The In Position EP on their very own Nurture label, which was once again well received by the media and the bands loyal fan base. Despite the maturity of song writing on Antisocial, In Position saw the bands sound develop even more and songs like Catch On You, Heart attack and the title track became massive fan favorites. Being on their own gave them complete control and freedom over their music releases and tours. They followed In Position by releasing a double A-Side single, Another Year/Summer Song in July 2002, which went into the top 30 in its first week. The band continued touring constantly and continued recording tracks for a second album. A nationwide tour of colleges and venues around the country helped push the single and once again it became a favorite on Phantom FM while Another Year Over took over from Too Much Makeup as their live closer. Once again everything seemed to be falling into line until another tragedy struck the group.
“There was always tension when making a Turn record and it was really nice not to have that”
While recording their second album, inner relations in the band started to rapidly deteriorate and shortly before the mixing stage was complete, Gavin Fox received a phone call from up and coming Scottish rockers Idlewild who offered him a poison in the band. With Turn on the verge of cracking anyway, Gavin decided to jump ship and take a golden opportunity while it was on offer. He played his final show with Turn on New Years Eve 2002. Gavin’s departure from the band was a much bigger shock to the band than any of the events beforehand and the one the Ollie took mostly to heart. At the time, he was the glue hoping the trio’s relationship together and the end looked pretty close for Ollie and Ian.
Fortunately, Ollie’s girlfriends’ (Danielle Harrison) band, Skindive, were just after breaking up so he roped their bass player in to handle bass duties for the final mixing stages and the proceeding tour. Alan Lee was officially introduced as the new member of Turn in 2003 when the band started playing some live shows, including a slot on the 2003 Heineken Roller Coaster Tour around Ireland’s colleges, in order to generate some hype before the release of their second full length record.
Forward | Alan Lee | Martin Quinn
Forward brought about a change in the band. They had stopped wearing the full suits on stage in the previous years and had also ditched the makeup. Now Ollie started wearing leather jacks and Jeans while the other members dressed casually. Turn had lost the theatrics they worked hard on in their beginning and more and more, let the sher power of their performance speak for itself. The release of Forward in March 2003 saw the band achieve their best reviews to date and even managed to reach number eight in the Irish Charts after just a few days of sales.
They launched the record in Dublin’s renowned Vicar Street venue with special guests Mundy and Bell X1 (Turn would return to Vicar street in September 2003 to return the favor by supporting the Bellies at their Music In Mouth Launch), and played a set mostly comprised of material from the new record, a lot of which they had been keeping to themselves in order for it to be a surprise. From the stage, Ollie and Ian were both visibly relieved at the sell out crowd in attendance with Ollie even joking how their road manager (Terry ‘Batman’ McGuiness) had remarked there was only a handful just before the band walked on stage. New songs such as Cant Keep Waiting, Harder, Ain’t It A Love, Dumb As It Is and Even Though instantly became smash hits with the crowd and stood up considerably well beside the old favorites in the ensuing tour. Turn were firmly back on top and doing it by themselves. They followed the launch gig with a nationwide tour consisting of ten headlining shows, all of which were sold out. Press interest started to kick off again for the band and interviews, articles and reviews started popping up everywhere. Forward was one of the most popular Irish albums of 2003 and both Turn and Ollie ranked highly in Best Album and Best Songwriter categories in several Irish publications. Although the success didn’t carry over to their once thriving UK fan base, Turn were once again strong enough to make another stab at the big time, despite the absence of a record label. Their Irish fan base increased dramatically by word of mouth and they returned to play slots at the summer festivals and show case shows including the opening of Dublin Venue, The Village which they headlined with Paddy Casey.
Turn spent much of 2003 on the road and commenced on an even bigger nationwide tour in September. They enlisted x-Little Palace guitarist, Martin Quinn for the shows, to help boost their live sound. Much like they did with Fiona years beforehand. Martin’s presence with the band enabled Turn to perform a greater selection of their material which otherwise wouldn’t have had the same impact , such as Heart Attach, You Got Style and No More. Along with their own headlining shows, the band also hit the road with the Frames and played several large headlining shows in Dublin, including a headlining slot in Whelan’s.
TURN | Ciaran Kavanagh | Setanta Records
Turn toned things down in 2004 but did manage to play a headlining tour in February/March, most notably, a sold out gig in The Village on Wexford. Once gain the band faced line up issues as Alan Lee left the group. Although Alan was a long time friend of Ollie’s and was more than capable of handling bass duties, the band never seemed to connect as well on stage as the original line up. Ollie had also lost his song writing partner and friend when Gavin left. On stage, Alan and Gavin couldn’t have differed any more. Gavin’s love for classic 70’s rock stars had sharpened his performance to perfection. When ever a technical problem that even slightly threw them off, he’d be on top of it and when everything was running smoothly, he was every bit the iconic rock star he strived to be. Alan on the other had didn’t hold such a presence on stage. Off course being the new member in an established band is never easy and Alan also didn’t get to play with the band for as long as Gavin but the difference was noticeable on stage and the regular banter previously passed between Ollie, Gavin and Ian was now restricted to occasional moments between Ollie and Ian. In June 2004, Alan was replaced by Rags bassist, Ciaran Kavanagh in mid 2004 and made his live debut with the band at Oxegen a month later before Turn fell off the radar. For the rest of the year, Ollie continued writing and recording material for their third, and what turned out to be, final album.
“The writing process was never the same after Gav left. I was doing a lot more writing by myself and bringing completed songs to the rest of the band. We weren’t rehearsing as much as we used to either, so songs were not coming out of jams anymore. People always seemed to be in a hurry somewhere else.
The mood in the band was bleak by late 2004. According to an interview with Ollie in 2007, the band weren’t rehearsing nearly as much as they used to and Gavin’s absence from the group was adding a major strain to the song writing, leaving Ollie to write all of the material for their third record. Ollie even admitted that he tried leaving the group around this time. It was beginning to seem that every time Turn managed to get one step ahead in the business, they were instantly brought two steps back and this habit was taking a major toll on Ollie and Ian’s friendship and working relationship. The situation had gotten so bad that Ollie had stop writing ‘Turn’ material and had started on more acoustic melodic music instead. Things were on the verge of collapse for the band until a saving grace arrived which boosted them enough to make one more stab at success.
When Turn signed a deal with Setenta records in early 2005, everything seemed to be back on track. Ollie, Ian and Ciaran went into the studio to record the follow up to Forward with the hopes that they might get support in the UK once again, something they hadn’t enjoyed since before the release of Anti-Social. Working between the legendary Grouse Lodge Studios in Westmeath and Joe’s Garage (studio owned by Def Leppard lead singer, Joe Elliot) in South Dublin, the band readied the most radio friendly album of their career. The band only took time out to play the 2005 Oxegen Festival where they attracted a massive crowd for a mid day tent performance. Songs such as It’s About Nothing, Stop. No One’s Gonna Change Your Mind were a step in a very different direction that Turn fans were used to. They dropped the dark, raw sound of Forward and the heavy/blistering energy of Antisocial and Check my Ears and instead focused on more poppy songs with a catchy chorus. The band also brought back the idea of wearing suits and promotional pictures appeared featuring Ollie and Ian decked out in white suits and new hair styles. It looked like Turn were being groomed for success and also looked like they really had the goods to tap into the chart world.
Turn, their self titled third album was released on the 23rd September 2005 at a launch gig in the Village. Their set relied almost entirely on new material and in the proceeding promotional tours, many of the standard Turn classics began to disappear from their set lists. Tracks such as Beretta, Too Much Makeup and Ain’t It a Love completely disappeared, much like Beeswax, Facedown and Never Needed had years before. The album was met with massive critical acclaim, even managing to attract the attention of Irish pop mogul Louis Walsh who praised the new direction. Turn followed the launch with a massive tour of the country that included their own headlining shows and Irish support slots with Weezer(The Point) and Bell X1 on their tour for the massive selling Flock album. The group was now appealing to a much wider audience and their success started to grow all over again. Promotional tracks It’s About Nothing and Stop became regulars on several radio playlists and their support shows gave them exposure to a new breed of Irish music converts who were brought into the scene by Bell X1.
Just when tings were starting to look bright for the band, they got another surprise. On the 30th of October, at the last show of the Bell X1 tour in Sligo, Turn joined the Bellies on stage during their encore to play a cover of David Bowies We Could Be Heros’ and brought with them a special guest. Decked out in black jeans, a black top and Ciaran’s White suit jacket, Gavin Fox made his return to the group. There was a roar from the crowd at the sight of Gavin on stage again with Turn after a three and a half year absence. A few weeks later, Gavin was officially back in Turn and the band announced a December tour of the country.
The tour proved to be their final effort together. Despite Gavin’s return, Setenta records refused to put any further financial backing behind the group which meant they couldnt release any singles from the album or make any promotional video’s. It also meant they couldn’t travel abroad to the UK or the states to promote the release of Turn there and the band was once again back where they started. The shows themselves proved to be a big success but the mood of the band was beyond the point of saving. Their last show together was in Sligo at a venue called The Left Bank (formally The Garvogue) and for the first time in years, the stress of the last seven years was clearly visible. With technical issues (Their sound desk blew during rehearsals and had to be replaced with one that hadn’t been used in over fifteen years) and a half full crowd, Turn made a shambolic scramble through some of their greatest hits before concluding the set with a blistering and reworked version of Beeswax. It turned out that this was the night Ollie decided he had finally had enough of the chaotic, up down world of Turn and privately made the decision to end the group.
“As some of you might have already guessed, at the end of this year Turn will call it a day.”
On July 16th Ollie made the announcement that Turn was finished and the band were to go their separate ways after one final farewell tour which sadly never took place.
2006 – 2009
‘The label we signed to was a joke and we really should have just brought the album out on our own label as we had with “In Position” and “Forward”
Having done nothing together from January to July 2006 before their breakup, Ollie was now solely concentrating on his solo material while Gavin had moved on to join London outfit Vega4 in December 2006 while Ian took a break from playing with a band. None of the bane did much press about the breakup and it wasn’t until December 2007, at the 2FM 2MORO 2OUR showcase in Whelan’s that Ollie finally spoke about the real reasons behind the bands demise. In an interview with Claus.com, Ollie openly discussed the frustrations of the previous eight years, the inter turmoil among the band members and his new solo career. On the same night, Gavin also appeared with his new group, Concerto for Constantine which he and Mark Greaney, formally of JJ72 fame, had formed together a couple of months beforehand.
2008 saw Ollie start to make his live return, playing the HWCH festival and a handful of support and headlining shows around the country. Meanwhile, Gavin and Concerto For Constantine started to attract a massive underground following very quickly and played a handful of sold out headlining shows in Fibber Magee’s and Whelan’s along with a slot at the HWCH festival and the 2FM SKool of Rock. They also went on to play an early slot at the 2008 Oxegen as well as support shows for The Smashing Pumpkins and The Futureheads. They also managed a trip to London to play a couple of nights over there in order to grab the attention of a label rep. Currently the band are recording material for their first proper studio release with a summer 2009 date on the cards. Ollie is still working on his own solo material and reportedly has three albums worth almost fully recorded and ready to go. He spent much of the summer 2007 in Germany recording songs which will also guest star members of Bell X1 and Therapy. Currently Gavin Fox is filling in on bass duties until he finds a permanent member for his live band. And finally Ian has also made a return to the live circuit with his original band, Little Palace (also featuring Martin Quinn) and they’ve been in the studio and on the road re-building their profile and a solid fan base.
Turn’s story is like many Irish bands but there is still a lot to learn from their years together. Although the story of new bands being mis-handled and left to rot by their labels is as old as the recording business it’s self, Turns constant determination to struggle through the hard times for as long as they did should act as an inspiration for any new acts in this country. Despite some bad times, the bands dedication and commitment to each other paid off more often than not and the future for all three members holds great things judging by their solo projects. Whether the original line-up will ever re-unite seems unlikely at the moment but for almost ten years, Turn gave Ireland a truly great band we could be proud off and call our own.
 2000. Infectious Records Biography |
 Oct, 2000. Claus.com Interview with Oliver Cole |
 Oct, 2000. Claus.com Interview with Oliver Cole |
 December 2007. Claus.com Interview with Oliver Cole |
 December 2007. Claus.com Interview with Oliver Cole |
 July 16th 2006. Blog Post on Turn’s official MySpace |
 December 2007. Claus.com Interview with Oliver Cole |
This entry was posted on July 18, 2009 at 10:38 am and is filed under General Tickets There Blog, Music with tags Antisocial, Fiona Melady, Forward, Gavin Fox, Ian Melady, In Position, Irish band Turn, Oliver Cole, Ollie Cole, Turn, Turn History. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.