Irish band mixing it up with Hollywood stars
Dublin band Kodaline have followed up their hugely successful debut with another number one album. Frontman Steve Garrigan talks to Brian Campbell about McLovin, cracking America, winning over Courteney Cox and having a night on the tiles with The Script
IF KODALINE singer Steve Garrigan could sum up the band’s success in one word, it would be 'amazing’.
The Dubliner is genuinely chuffed with Kodaline’s sold-out gigs around the world and having their second number one album in Ireland and uses the word 'amazing’ at least 10 times when I speak to him.
The band followed up their 2013 debut album In A Perfect World with Coming Up For Air earlier this year and they are back on tour now. They will play a host of summer festivals – including Vital in Belfast and a headline show at Royal Hospital Kilmainham in Dublin – and Garrigan says their latest tour of the US was indeed “amazing”.
“It was a seven-week tour and it was pretty amazing. It was our biggest tour there to date and we went to places we’d never been to before. We finished up in Columbus, Ohio, so to go somewhere like that – a place we’d never been to before – and play a sell-out gig to 2,000 people was amazing.”
When they were in America last year they had Harry Styles from One Direction and Nicole Scherzinger at their shows. So why does he think they do so well in the States?
“I don’t know. We’ve put a lot of time into America. We’re very much a live band and people seem to enjoy our shows; that’s all I can put it down to. We have had songs in movies and TV shows and on ads, so people in America have possibly heard us through that. People just seem to like our songs and our live shows.”
The band – Garrigan, Vinny May, Jason Boland and Mark Prendergast – had the biggest-selling album in Ireland in 2013 with their debut and their new album also got to number one. Their new single is Ready and the video for the song is a mini-film featuring Hollywood star Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad, Kick-Ass, Role Models) in a wheelchair.
“It’s amazing that we’ve got McLovin from Superbad in the video. For us, Superbad is a cult movie,” says Garrigan. “It was weird. We made a video for Ready and we weren’t entirely happy with it, so we didn’t know what to do. Then that video [with Mintz-Plasse] had already been made for another band but they didn’t like it. I can’t really say who the band is, unfortunately, but they’re pretty well known.
“We thought it was an incredible story and contacted the directors and we sync-ed it up with the song and it worked amazingly.”
So is the actor a fan of the band?
“We haven’t been in contact with him, so we’re not sure. But we’ll invite him to a show. Maybe we could get him up on stage to do a song with us,” he laughs.
Another memorable Kodaline video was the one for their 2013 hit High Hopes, which featured popular Irish actor Liam Cunningham (featured in our review of Let Us Prey on P38). “We’ve been very fortunate so far,” says Garrigan. “Our next video is actually shot by Courteney Cox.
“It came about randomly. Before Christmas we’d finished our album and we got the opportunity to write with Johnny McDaid from Snow Patrol. He’s engaged to Courteney Cox, so we were all in the house in LA and we got to know her.
“We wrote the song Love Will Set You Free and even though our album was finished we put that on as the last song. Courteney really liked it and she said, `I’d love to direct a video for this song’ so we were like, 'Cool’. It’s kind of a fly on the wall video. It’s the first one we’ve done that just shows us and we’re in it the whole way through. It’s pretty cool.”
While new single Ready is a rockier song that channels Bruce Springsteen, up to now Kodaline have always been compared to Coldplay and Snow Patrol. Everything Works Out in the End, on the new album, has earned many comparisons to Snow Patrol’s huge hit Run.
“That’s amazing. To have it compared to a song like Run is unbelievable because that’s an amazing song,” says Garrigan.
Kodaline released their debut in the summer of 2013, so it’s impressive that despite all their touring they managed to put out the follow-up a year and a half later.
“We never stop writing. Any time we have a day off we’ll go into a studio. Last weekend I was in a studio in London and then I came home and went into a studio in Dublin. Songwriting is like time off to me.
“I write a lot on the road and I write a lot at night time and my phone is packed full of personal notes to myself. I’ve lost my phone quite a few times and it’s not a good experience,” he laughs.
The band play their biggest headline gig to date in their hometown on June 26, playing the 15,000-capacity Royal Hospital Kilmainham. He says it makes him nervous to think that the likes of Leonard Cohen have played the same venue and says trying a Cohen cover version is “not a bad idea”.
“To play a gig like that in your hometown is amazing. The last big one we did was in The O2, which is now the 3 Arena. That was amazing. I remember passing that place going into town when I was kid and dreaming about playing there.”
In August Kodaline will support The Script at Tennent’s Vital in Belfast. “We did Vital before, supporting Snow Patrol. That was amazing.”
And are they good friends with the guys from The Script?
“Well, we’re acquaintances. We’ve done festivals with them before and we’ve hung out a few times. When the Irish cross paths, they kind of stick together.
“Funnily enough, we have a mutual friend. He’s a guitar tech who works for them, so we all ended up on his stag party – yer man, us and The Script. So we went around London and it was a funny night out and good craic.”
:: Kodaline support The Script at Tennent’s Vital in Belfast on Sunday August 30. They also play Live at the Marquee in Cork on June 25 and Royal Hospital Kilmainham in Dublin on June 26. The single Ready, from new album Coming Up For Air, is out now.
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