Kicking back with Kodaline

3 Posted by - April 15, 2014 - All, Arts + Culture

Kodaline interview

 

Guinness. James Joyce. Buffalo Hunky Dorys. The Emerald Isles has had many a famed export over the years, and as I stand shivering outside the Barrowlands waiting to interview Kodaline, I can’t help but wonder if the boys will be chalked up as the latest additions to the list. Undeniably huge in their home country, a quick scout around would suggest their fame is quickly becoming infectious; security confirm the hordes of fan girls have been queuing in the cold for hours. Oh Lord. I do hope this new found fame hasn’t gone to the band’s heads…

As we are finally ushered inside by their fantastic, flamboyant and utterly un-PC Tour Manager, I begin to get high hopes for the interview; until we are led backstage to find the boys on their way to leave, interview rounds seemingly done for the night. Balls. Nonetheless, they are welcoming and comfortable as we take to a booth to chat. As our photographer sets up her equipment and I walk through the stages of the now predictable dictaphone panic, the band sit on their phones. As we take to our seats, ready and raring to go, I hope against hope that the phones which are seemingly an extension of Kodaline’s being will be put down, that the band will give us their full attention. They don’t. Challenge accepted.

We break the ice with a little Paddy’s Day chat. When asked about their ideal way to spend the day, I expect fanfares of starry answers. Week long parties with the country’s most famous perhaps; travels up and down the Island no doubt. The answer I receive is rather more standard- “a few cans on the street”. Bloody hell. Kodaline, the chart topping act who played to 14,000 super fans just days before, appear to be as far removed from their undeniable celebrity status as a taxi is from Buchanan Street on a Friday night. Drop in the words “local celebrity” and the band are quick to dismiss such a term. Unlike many others, Kodaline do a good spin on modesty- yet the more I listen to them speak, the less I think spin of any form is involved. And so I begin to understand the juxtaposition at play within one of Ireland’s biggest up and coming bands, who appear to have little if any acknowledgement of their sway.

Following the release of their debut album, In a Perfect World, Kodaline have travelled the world in what has become one of the most whirlwind years of their lives. Following massive success in their home country they’ve gone on to tour the around the UK, play festivals throughout Europe-including Glastonbury- and embark upon international tours. Currently, they’re fresh off their Australian tour and hitting the dizzy heights of Japan. That said, don’t expect any airs and graces; friends since childhood, there is an honesty and groundedness to Kodaline the likes of which is rarely seen with many musicians in similar positions.

When discussing the many countries the band have been to whilst touring, the obvious love of home turf inevitably crops up. Camaraderie is a big topic, and it would appear to be something very much in place within Kodaline’s home crew- a tour with Hudson Taylor last year lead to a (questionably agreeable) band mate poach, yet I’m left in no doubt that all was in good humour. We spitball around the topic of Irish men in America, and before I know it they’re off on a skit of the instant welcome they often receive on the other side of the pond- agh Jesus you’re Irish, do you know John, yes i know John do you know his mother, agh she’s not doing so good- and so forth. I may be well attuned to such colloquial banter, however I must admit that I’d half suspected the Kodaline boys may have lost a little of their Irish charm on their travels. After even a brief interview, I’m delighted to announce that it’s as strong as any I’ve ever known.

As we move onto the topic of inspirational music, Kodaline really hit their stride. Perhaps slightly hesitant at first, all it takes is a curveball from Steve and before we know it the laughs are rolling in. Said curveball? Britney Spears is the artist he’d most like to support. Indeed. As the boys share their most admired acts, a varied and on occasion unexpected flurry of answers hit the dictaphone speakers. Bruce Springsteen. Foo Fighters. Queens of the Stone Age. Paul Simon. Get more specific and the answers continue to flow: from The Dire Straits to Michael Jackson and even hardcore rap, it’s an eclectic mix…

Broach the topic of their own work and the answers are much closer to what you’d expect; in some respects, a little too close. Try as I might to shape the conversation away from the inevitable, there’s no escaping it. All I Want, the band’s most iconic tune, is apparently a talking point not to be glossed over. I challenge you to find an interview which does not mention the song- and the story is always the same. A boy, a girl, a holiday and a whole lot of heartache. Strange, then, that frontman Steve claims he changes the meaning behind the song every time it’s discussed. By this stage it’s fair to say there’s a definite rapport going on, yet I can’t let such a barefaced lie slip by. Sorry, Mr. Garrigan, but I have no choice other than to call you on this one…

And so begins a new level of rapport, along with a lengthy tangent involving more spoof answers to the true inspiration behind the song than you could shake a stick at. Cars, American men, well kept secrets; should any of these actually bear a grain of truth, we’ll never know. Flamboyant Tour Manager interrupts as we’re on the cusp of getting to the bottom of the answer.

The brief break in conversation allows for a moment of reflection when I ponder the strength it must take to so wear your heart not only on your sleeve, but also in each and every one of your lyrics. Epic, stirring music has become Kodaline’s trademark and as fan-pleasing as it is I begin to wonder how emotionally draining it must be to put yourself out there so. As the band put it: “when you write songs about personal experiences and you go on stage and play it, it’s not really yours anymore”. I catch Steve out of the corner of my eye and can’t help but call to mind the age old adage still waters run deep. Is there a possibility of Kodaline pouring so much of themselves into their work that they burn out? As Flamboyant Tour Manager leaves us to it, an aside alluding to unmentionable subject matter very much off the record is enough to have the lads in stitches again. And so the worry is, happily, shattered. Emotion may be the name of the game for many a Kodaline track, but fun is the ultimate goal for downtime.

Kodaline laughing

 

The observation is played out almost immediately as the band and I discuss their calling. Me: did you always know you wanted to be musicians? Kodaline: nah, I wanted to be a builder/ actor/ Power Ranger/ snowman. Luckily for us, they soon got their act together and decided to pursue their dreams of making music as opposed to brick laying/ method acting/ saving the world/ dying a slow, watery death. And just as well- it would appear Kodaline are well suited to the music industry, in every sense. Their sound is unfathomably good, whilst their look is perfectly suited to the genres they gravitate between. Part alternative indie- skinny jeans, leather jackets; a little bit boyband- a definite “look”; with a whole heap of heartbreaker charm thrown in for good measure. The bubble is somewhat burst as I’m told the guys are told what what to wear, yet when quizzed on their favourite shops the answers are instantly on the tip of their tongues. All Saints, G-Star, Topman, River Island. I suspect the boys may have more fashion savvy than they’re letting on…

As we banter over the best and worst interview questions I get a real sense of the closeness enjoyed by the band; soon to be international stars, perhaps, but at the end of the day just four friends doing what they love. We round off by discussing the potential for an impromptu acoustic Kodaline gig, apparently a regular occurence for the band. Just when I think I’ve got them nailed, a last, totally unexpected starry moment rears it’s ugly head. “A lot of the time when were not touring me and Steve will just head and get a late flight home, just head to Dublin and pick an open mic.” Jet setting home for a single night? Could there indeed be an air of pretence developing within Kodaline? As I ponder the question, I steal a glance around at the band. They are casually draped across the booth, attention held, relaxed yet focussed and alert. There is not a phone in sight. Pretentious? Not in the slightest; they’re just grand.

 

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