KODALINE’S frontman Steve Garrigan spoke to The Irish Post about the band’s busy summer playing at festivals across Europe, preparing for their upcoming tour and also answered questions that fans had tweeted in.
What a summer it’s been Steve. Glastonbury, T In The Park, Supersonic – you seem to have cropped up at just about every festival going?
Yeah, it has been man. The festivals this summer have been really cool. We had a pretty busy week last week. We were in Japan and then we had four festivals in a row in Holland, Switzerland, Belgium and Belfast as well. They were all amazing festivals, so it’s pretty cool.
Are they all beginning to all blur into one or do you still get a rush walking out on stage?
It’s all great. The festival we did in Switzerland, Open Air Gampel, was probably the highlight of the weekend for me probably because of the location. It was absolutely incredible.
It was mountainous and the festival site was in the middle of this big valley. You could see glaciers and stuff. It was like something from Lord of the Rings; that sort of scenery. We also got a really big crowd and that was sort of surprising because that was only our second time in Switzerland.
I suppose you can’t be everywhere. The US and Britain seems to be where the band is touring mostly at the moment.
Yeah but we’ve done a few shows around mainland Europe. We’ve played Berlin, Holland, France, Belgium and places like that but yeah, we haven’t done a proper European tour yet but we will be… very soon.
In A Perfect World came out in June and has done what few albums do anymore – stayed in the charts. After two months it is still at number one in the Irish charts (it was just knocked off the top spot by Nathan Carter following our chat) and back in the top 10 in Britain. You must be a little taken aback by the success?
Yeah, it’s really, really cool. I think that the fact that the album has been going up and down and out of the charts in the UK is really great because we’re still a new band.
There are obviously people out there that like what we do, which is a good feeling. Obviously there’s people out there that don’t like what we do, but once there’s people that do that’s great.
It makes us feel like we have a purpose, I suppose. The response in Ireland has been just ridiculous. It’s been great. People have really got behind us and it obviously helps that we’re Irish ourselves. I just think it’s really incredible.
I suppose it’s been a while since a new Irish band, like yourselves, really made a mark internationally?
Yeah, but even this year there’s been a lot of bands finding audiences outside of Ireland. Right now Ireland is incredible for new music and for up and coming bands.
There’s The Strypes, Hudson Taylor, Gavin James, Little Green Cars. Little Green Cars album is amazing. Who else is there… oh, Villagers. Conor O’Brien man is a poet in his own right.
There’s always been great music coming out of Ireland but lately, in the last two years or so, there’s just been a surge of Irish bands finding their feet in the UK.
I mean you can add James Vincent McMorrow to that list as well. He’s just incredible. And then you’ve got The Script who are really leading the charge. They’re a massive, massive band and they’re also really nice guys as well.
Roll back to January of this year and you’re finishing off the album. What were your goals or aims back then?
To be honest, when we went into record and that, we never had any expectations or stuff like that. I think it’s better that way when you’re recording because you really and truly get across what it is that you want to get across. You’re caught in your little bubble as it were.
But we were hoping to break into the Top 20 in the UK. We weren’t entirely sure if we’d get that, and if we didn’t we wouldn’t have been too disappointed like. For us the most important thing is the shows and the gigs. Just to have people coming to the shows is great. Turning up somewhere in Europe and having a crowd is just amazing.
In years past I used to play gigs in a wine bar and I’d be lucky if I got five people to come and listen to me, so now I just really appreciate that people are coming and listening to our shows. In all though this year has been great and it’s only just over half-way through.
Before the years out we’re going back to America and then into a UK and Irish tour, which is pretty much sold out. Then it’s off to Australia.
Your British tour last March and April seemed to mark a turning point for the band, particularly the show at the Scala in London
We did two UK tours before that and the first was in really tiny venues. I think we’re getting better and better each gig, but yeah, that Scala show was a really, really cool gig. It’s a really cool venue as well. Because of the power of the internet and being included in the BBC Sound of… list – that all fed into getting our music out there and pushing that tour.
But yeah, the Scala might have been a turning point but in Ireland it was selling out three shows at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin. That’s probably been a highlight for me because it happened in a day, or less than a day, and came out of nowhere. We were not expecting that at all.
We got a call in the morning saying ‘oh yeah the first one sold out in two or three minutes’. Then a few minutes later the second one went and then the third.
You’re back in Ireland this Sunday for Electric Picnic. Presumably that’ll be a big one?
Yeah, I’m dying to play it because it’s one of my favourite festivals. We played last year in the Body & Soul area. The stage there is really unique but we didn’t get a big crowd at all so it’ll be nice to go back and play on the Main Stage.
We love playing Ireland, obviously, because that’s where we’re from. To be honest I’m also really looking forward to the UK tour because we’ve done mainly festivals over the summer and I can’t wait to get into intimate venues. I’m looking forward particularly to Shepard’s Bush Empire because it’s such a historic venue.
Will you debut any new songs on the tour?
Mmmm… we probably will. I like throwing new songs into a set. There’s no better way to test out a new song than to perform it live before you release it, just to see if it works. But who knows. We probably will play some.
Are you writing much new stuff?
Yeah, almost every day. That’s that way I’ve always been for years so I’m kind of just stuck in a routine. Even on tour I’m writing. It’s kind of hard not to write, especially when you’re meeting new people every day and having these new experiences all across the world. So it’s difficult not to start writing.
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As a band you’ve based yourselves in Birmingham over the last couple of years, why did you pick the Midlands?
Well it’s central and when we first moved over our producer was living close enough and that was kind of the main reason. We were also on a small indie label called B-Unique and the guys who run that were in Birmingham, so we just wanted to be close to them.
When we first moved over we were kind of taken aback by Birmingham but the place where we live, Moseley in Kingsheath, is just really, really cool.
We went to the Moseley Jazz Festival a few weeks ago and Chic and Nile Rogers headlined it and it was tiny. It was the weekend after Glastonbury and it was feckin’ unbelievable. It was basically on our doorstep so that was really cool.
We love Moseley though. We’ve played in the Hare & The Hounds a couple of times and Selly Oak is pretty cool. That’s where we rehearse. There’s a lot of cool bars and I just love the atmosphere here. Moseley and Selly Oak and Kings Heath kind of standalone.
That’s the thing about Birmingham. It’s so multi-cultural and there’s so much to it, but Moseley and Selly Oak and Kings Heath are the kind of music and arty areas. They’re real chilled out, but maybe that’s just me.
As well as living together you’ve obviously done so much touring this year. How have you guys got on with spending so much time together?
It’s been really chill. Naturally, you’re going to have fights it’s always been like that because we’ve been friends for so long. Me and Mark the guitar player were friends before we even played music and Connor likewise with our drummer. We met him when we were 13 or 14. So, we’ve known each other for so long. And even on days off, we just hang out. So not really, but naturally there’s going to be fights. Friends fight. I think our biggest fights are in the studio though, that’s when fists are thrown.
We’re so damn passionate about it. I can be very particular and it’s sometimes disagreements. The studio is when it kind of … but touring in general is cool.
Questions from readers:
Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes nerves come out of nowhere. I think it’s good to be a little nervous.
Yeah, I can’t wait. We played T in the Park, that’s the most we’ve ever come across in a positive way.
Stay true to yourself…
Touring. No, playing the shows and meeting new people.
Played in a gig in a blues bar in Arkansas in America. That was pretty cool with the locals we were jamming all night.
Probably… I’ve never thought of that really. Probably West of Ireland. Any part in the West of Ireland.
I never looked forward to being an adult; I still don’t look forward to being an adult.
There were two people in America who sold their beds to pay for flights to get to a show which we played. They were final year college, and were moving out anyway.
But, the fact that they sold their beds to pay for their flights to fly to the gig and we were surprised that there was even anybody there to see us, because it was supporting a band.
But we just hung out with them after, it was pretty strange. There’s lots of people… we’ve got cupcakes before with our faces on in Japan, that was a bit weird. But, they were nice cupcakes.
Haven’t really had a chance to watch many films, but I love horror movies. One called Death Skies, about aliens and stuff. Amazing David Burns, How Music Works, I’ve been reading that for ages.
There’s actually a book out called Rock n Roll Diaries it’s by a guy called Jamie Stallion, he’s just released it. He used to tour and stuff. It’s pretty good. And, Five people You Meet in Heaven.
Probably It All Comes Down, from the album. I just lose myself in that probably more so than anything else, I like All I Want as well. I love every song, I like playing any song.
The Answer is probably the most personal song written. I wanted to put it on the album but then we kind of had, Mark had a song Way Back When, and he was trying to end the album on a positive, happy, thoughtful kind of note. Even the song itself, I see that song as hopeful. The Answer is on the deluxe version. We wanted to keep the album at 11 songs, so that’s what we decided. The Answer is definitely probably my favourite song that we have.
Kodaline play the Electric Picnic festival in Ireland this Sunday. See here for details on their Ireland and Britain tour.