The Scratch
10th February 2024 - 7:00 pm
The Deaf Institute

Dublin quartet The Scratch are proud to announce the release of their James Vincent McMorrow

produced album, Mind Yourself, on November 3. The first taste of this diverse and thrilling

collection, Trom II- A Slip in the Wind, can be heard now.

The Scratch are a four-piece band that sound like no one else you’ve ever heard before, featuring

Conor Dockery (guitar, backing vocals), Cathal McKenna (bass/backing vocals), Daniel Lang (cajón,

percussion, lead vocals), and Jordan O’Leary (guitar, lead vocals). Like all the great progressive

musicians, they turn music on its head and pour their hearts and souls into their art to forge

something original and new.

Musicians making the time-honoured leap from acoustic to electric are well-documented, but The

Scratch did it the other way round. Bob Dylan famously received a hostile reaction when he went

electric in 1965. When The Scratch went acoustic, they ushered in a new and exciting creative

chapter. What’s more, they signed to Sony Music Ireland and are on the same roster as Bob Dylan!

Prior to The Scratch, they were a “a full-blown metal band” called Red Enemy, who released an

album and toured the UK and US. After Red Enemy fizzled out, four of its five members re-convened.

“We started looking at ways to express ourselves a bit more authentically,” Conor Dockery says.

“Something we could put our individual personalities into.”

They swapped the electric axes and amps for acoustics. The fledgling band found their feet jamming

in their kitchen, creating freewheeling, intrepid music, which is laced with humour, honesty,

devilment, and an overwhelmingly positive spirit, refreshingly free from the constraints of a

recording studio or rehearsal room.

Upon discovering Glen Hansard’s version of Gold by Interference, an Irish band featuring the late

Fergus O’Farrell, The Scratch were profoundly inspired by the song’s tuning, especially its

percussiveness and the creative possibilities it opened up. This provided a template for the band to

pursue a musical journey incorporating hard-rock and metal dynamics with adventurous acoustic-

based music, while additionally using a cajón, a box-shaped drum that originated in Peru.

This organic method was liberating on so many levels. They jammed, wrote, and rehearsed to their

heart’s content, and at entirely their own pace. The lads adopted a similar approach to playing live.

Rather than juggling all the cumbersome requirements of lugging gear around, arranging backline,

and the all the usual behind-the-scenes palaver that comes with putting on a gig, they chose to busk.

The immediacy of busking was so much fun that they took their music beyond the Pale into the

towns and cities of Ireland.

This readiness to play anywhere and everywhere brought them to Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal for the

annual Rory Gallagher International Festival in 2017. The spirit of Jimi Hendrix’s favourite guitarist of

all-time hovered over the proceedings. A video of The Scratch in full flight was uploaded online. The

rest became viral history, quickly notching up over a million views.

This sudden boost to their profile led to new opportunities. Whelan’s in Dublin, one of the country’s

best-loved music venues, who have a long-standing reputation for incubating national and

international talent, invited them to play a free gig on Wexford Street. They stuffed the joint to the

rafters, instantly winning over new hearts, minds, and ears and creating a deeply committed and

loyal fanbase in the process.

The Scratch put out a self-released album, Couldn’t Give a Rats. So far, so good. Only problem was its

timing, emerging in early April, 2020, literally a few short weeks after the world shut down. An

appearance at the Sunstroke festival in Punchestown alongside Faith No More was shelved, as was a

host of other tantalising live engagements.

Towards the end of the pandemic, the band felt an overwhelming compulsion to give it their best

shot as full-time musicians, channelling all the frustration and disappointment of the previous two

years in the most positive and proactive way they could. They were invited to appear at James

Vincent McMorrow’s Imagining Ireland event at the Barbican, London in May 2022. McMorrow

would prove to be a key ally, later producing their forthcoming album, Mind Yourself, at Black

Mountain Studios, which is nestled in Louth’s Cooley Mountains and modelled on the world famous

studio facilities of Memphis.

In early 2023, Sony Music Ireland signed the band. The first fruits of this partnership can now be

heard on Trom II- A Slip in the Wind, a remarkable tune that beautifully showcases their singular

sound. Mind Yourself is out on November 3. For The Scratch, life is only just beginning.

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