Swords, County Dublin
With 2013 being named as the return of the guitar band, Kodaline have timed their arrival perfectly. A good job too, because the Irish four-piece haven’t got a plan b.
“There are no other ideas. This is it," says lead singer Steve Garrigan, sat in a bar in central London with his other 3 bandmates. “It may sound cliched but this is all we've ever wanted,” adds guitarist Mark Prendergast.
Steve and Mark, along with bassist Jay Boland and drummer Vinnie May Jnr, have had an explosive start off the blocks. In three months, their debut track ‘All I Want’ is approaching almost 100,000 copies sold. Written by Steve about an ex who broke his heart, he explains, “I was with this girl for about two and a half years, who went away on holiday and said 'we'll talk about it when we get back' and she came back with a boyfriend, so it was like 'oh shit', so I wrote about it.”
Most of the song’s success has been due to word of mouth from the video, a beauty and the beast melodrama directed by the upcoming Stevie Russell. The song, coupled with the story of a modern day 'monster' (played by Russell himself) winning over a blonde colleague, has racked up over 1.5 million views online. It was also hand-picked for the Google Zeitgeist ad, which has been watched by an audience of 13 million, bringing with it a solid army of fans.
‘All I Want’ is part of their debut 10-song opus In A Perfect World, out April 1st, which they’ve spent the best part of the last year making. The result is an album so honest, melodic, soulful and romantic, it takes you back to Coldplay's Parachutes era.
If it is as perfect a world as the title says, the foursome will fulfil their collective dream to “write as many albums as possible.”
The lads - most of the line-up have been playing together since they were 15 - declare they’re in it for the long haul. Says Steve: “We’re such a new band but we’re only going to get better. If we have the chance to make another album, it will be so much better than this one.” It’s a bold statement from the frontman but he means it. So hungry, they say they already have enough material for album 2.
Getting their thirst from playing in their bedrooms as teenagers in the small Irish town of Swords, before grafting hard on the local band circuit in Dublin, means they already possess a cohesive sound. Even though Steve is the main songwriter, they all play a part in the process. “We all pitch in,” explains Jason. “All the songs are about things that have happened to us.”
Says Steve: “If you have a skeleton in your closet...” (with Mark joining in to finish) “you may as well make it dance.”
And there's a few of those.
No stone is left unturned when it comes to the primary theme of romance and they're not afraid of sounding lovelorn. “We don’t mind being known as a romantic rock band, it’s not something to be ashamed of,” admits Steve. ‘Talk’, for example, penned by Mark, with the lyrics “I’ve been counting the days since you went away”, is another song about a lost love, its mid-section crescendo brilliantly executed.
The band wrote the album in four places – the Irish county of Leitrim, Worcestershire, Yorkshire and Wales - with each location heavily influencing the songs that were penned there.
‘Brand New Day’, for example, written about the dawn of a new beginning, was born by jamming in a field in Leitrim. "It's in the middle of nowhere and the perfect place to be creative” said Mark. "Sometimes it can be hard to recreate a certain time and place as we like to have the right vibe for the song. When we can’t get the vibe, I refuse to sing and we go to the pub,” adds Steve.
Influences are wide-ranging, from the likes of Radiohead, The Beatles and The Strokes to Thin Lizzy, Jackson Brown and Bruce Springsteen all having made their mark on the boys.
Being a band based on a history of friendship means their characteristics are instantly obtainable.
Frontman Steve is the archetypal frontman - deep- thinking, brooding and the "worst for getting up in the morning,” according to his bandmates. “But I never miss anything" he quickly chirps. He may be softly-spoken but he erupts on stage producing a voice astoundingly impressive.
Bassist Jay may strike people as the shy one but he's not - he's sharp, well-read, interesting and what the rest of the band call “the nomad of the group.”
Vinnie May Jnr is the one responsible for the thunderous drumming. He is also, according to his bandmates "on the good side of OCD" and "the best-groomed." Mature and balanced, he'd be the one who'd pull them into shape if things went awry.
Guitarist and occasional song-writer Mark is certainly the tallest. At 6ft 6, he's the one you see first, personable and the “most likely to charm the fans.”
Although very different men, their bond is solid and music is king.
"The most important thing as cliche as it fucking is, is the music,” says Steve.
"If you put us in a cave or anywhere, we’re always going to write,” adds Mark. “We write because it’s fun, it’s never crap, if it ever gets like that, you know it’s time to take a break.”
“But we can't see that ever happening,” adds Vinnie.