A number of Dublin songwriters are making a new home for themselves in London where a fresh influx of Irish talent is relocating to take their success to the next level.
None more so than The Coronas who, after releasing their third album Closer To You, played a record-breaking six nights at the famous Olympia theatre last Christmas.
The previous year they staved off stiff competition from U2 and Snow Patrol to win best album at the Meteor awards in Ireland for Tony Is An Ex-Con.
After touring with The Script and supporting Paul McCartney, the band are becoming a must-see live attraction in their own right.
A sold-out gig at Glasgow’s King Tut’s has led to an anticipated festival slot alongside the likes of The Stone Roses and Noel Gallagher at this year’s T in the Park festival in Scotland.
Song-writing is in the blood of lead singer Danny O’ Reilly – who as the son of Mary Black was confident enough to write from an early age.
Being connected to the Black family ensemble proved fruitful leading him to write some genuine gems for The Corona’s debut in 2007.
“Music was always around and we were always encouraged to sing at family sessions from an early age; so I was never afraid to perform,” he said. “My mother influenced me in the way that she encouraged me to write songs; that was something she regretted not doing when she was younger. Writing helped with my love of music and helped my own tastes grow but it was also never forced.”
The Coronas, who take their name from the famous brand of typewriter Smith Corona, first caught wider public attention in Ireland with the memorable single Heroes or Ghosts.
The song continues to win the band new fans and has become something of a live favourite, said O’Reilly: “A lot of people think it’s a love song, I don’t mind what people get out of it, but it was written about us as a band. Early on in Dublin we were in a battle of the bands competition, there were only six bands in it.
“We thought it went great but we came in third. I was devastated. Our manager encouraged me and said ‘c’mon now; that’s just one man’s opinion’. I started scribbling down some lyrics for the album; I wanted to make something we would be proud of; not just a record for the sake of doing it. That song came out of trying to make something happen and improve.”
Now relocated in north London, the band are part of a new generation of Irish artists living and working in the city. In their close circle are fellow Dubliners The Script and Damien Dempsey.
“I’m a huge fan of Damien who’s also become a friend,” Danny said. “His album Seize The Day would be a big influence on me, he’s an amazing songwriter and live performer. He’s very honest and in a lot of ways has captured the feeling of a nation. He’s over in Kilburn and we’re based in Islington, I know a good few bands that have moved over from an early stage.
“We’ve had a lot of success in Ireland; but it felt like we’ve gone far as far as we can. One of the main reasons was we wanted to step outside of our comfort zone in terms of writing and performing. Moving to London is like starting again, we just want to keep moving forward; our time is better served here alright.
He added: “We hang out with Danny (O’Donoghue) and the lads from The Script so we have found our own little piece of Ireland in London. Danny is coming over and we are going to watch some of the Irish games in Euro 2012 with him, it’s not a fake friendship its real, those boys haven’t changed despite the huge success; they are still the same guys since we first met them supporting them on tour.”
O’Reilly and the band have just played at this year’s T in the Park where they joined the likes of Snow Patrol, The Stone Roses and Noel Gallagher on the bill. It’s a show they are anticipating with relish.
“We are delighted to be added,” Danny said. “It’s an amazing festival with a serious amount of history, we just played our first head-line gig at King Tut’s in Glasgow and it was brilliant; one of the best crowds of the tour. The line-up at T was amazing; our guitarist Dave is a huge Stone Roses fan. Noel Gallagher was also on the bill; his new album is as good as the early Oasis stuff for me. There are a lot of good new Irish acts on the bill like Maverick Sabre.”
O’Reilly suggests the tide of popular music is in the midst of turning away from the current manufactured reality television trends and back to more authentic guitar bands and songwriters, particularly from Ireland.
“I think the reality TV thing is wearing thin and people are ready to hear bands again,” he said. “Being Irish does give you a leg-up; immediately you think of Thin Lizzy and U2 but we have new headline acts like Snow Patrol and The Script.
“There is a wealth of talent that comes out of Ireland, if you’re Irish people expect a certain standard which is good but it’s deserved, I think Scotland is similar; one of my favourite bands is Biffy Clyro. In both places it’s a sort of campfire culture; it’s about history, storytelling and songs.”
Undoubtedly there is a depth to The Coronas which is not typical; from their new album My God is a contemplative highlight.
O’Reilly said: “I’m not an incredibly religious person but I do believe in God; I don’t pray all the time but I do believe. The song My God was more of an emotional hangover than a psychical one. I was very down and not sure why when I wrote it. That song came out of having faith; whatever your God is. The song doesn’t tell people which God, hopefully if you have a bit of faith and spirituality it will help you.”