Kodaline set for their big break

The Handsome Family. Picture by Brandon Soder

Life Through The Trees is looking handsome at 20

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Kodaline are a band on the brink of the big time.

Since forming aged 14, the Dublin four-piece have been through myriad band titles and they even had a No.1 in Ireland. But it wasn’t until last year that they started to get the attention of people like Radio 1’s Fearne Cotton, who made their heartbreaking track All I Want her Record of the Week, and Dermot O’Leary, who featured a live set by them on his Radio 2 show.



They achieved placings on the BBC Sound of 2013 poll and MTV’s Brand New for 2013 list. And All I Want featured in a Google advert.

Then, a fortnight ago, their aptly titled High Hopes EP came out.

Soaring vocals and anthemic choruses have seen their folky pop-rock compared to stadium-filling bands like Coldplay, U2, Mumford & Sons and Radiohead.

Frontman Steve Garrigan can’t see the similarity but can appreciate the flattery.

‘Because we’re a new band, we have to be compared to someone, because nobody really knows who we are,’ he says.

‘To be compared to bands of that calibre is cool. They’re massive bands and we’re just an embryo,’ he adds.

One listen to songs like All I Want and In A Perfect World and it’s clear Kodaline have the potential to be as big as the aforementioned bands.

But Steve hasn’t yet mastered the swagger of Bono or the effervescence of Chris Martin.

Though he’s got the looks (or, more importantly, the hair) and the accent to get teenage girls swooning, he’s shy, quietly spoken and admits he’s still getting to grips with talking to the media.

When we speak, he’s enjoying a cup of tea in his Dublin home, relaxing after the madness of appearing at America’s South By South West festival and then returning home for St Patrick’s Day.

‘We did nine shows in three days at South By South West,’ says Steve. ‘It’s bonkers. It’s like a herd of sheep on and off stage, bands with broken PA systems, gigs in Taco Bells, gigs on street corners.

‘We had a really good turn-out for all our shows. There are a lot of industry people there. But a lot of people are there just for music too.

‘And we got to see The Specials and dance around to their ska. We’re big fans of theirs.

‘Then it was back to London and we came back to Ireland for Paddy’s Day.

‘We have this thing for Paddy’s Day where we try to do as many shows as possible in one day.

‘We did seven and it was tough because we were jetlagged as well.

‘We finished at 2.30am playing in our local town, Swords, and we filmed everything. It was nice that people turned out to see us.’

At home in Ireland, they’ve already had a No.1 hit, with their debut single, Give Me A Minute. But that’s something of an embarrassment to them now.

Steve explains: ‘We were in our old band, well, we had a few old bands. This one was when we were in school. It was called 21 Demands. We did this TV show when we were 17. It was just an excuse to get out of school. We were a really, really bad band.

‘But we went with it and wrote a song, a terrible song, and it went to No. 1.

‘We were offered a deal from Universal, which we turned it down because our music was awful.

‘We needed to grow, to do a bit of soul-searching. I went to college and dropped out, we got jobs and came back a little more mature and started to express ourselves properly.

‘That’s what I think anyway. But it’s all a matter of opinion.’

Steve thinks their debut album, In A Perfect World, which is out in June, is also ‘a matter of opinion’ and says that, as such, he’s a bit uncomfortable trying to describe it.

‘We’re happy with it. But it’s really up to people to make up their own mind. That’s what music’s all about.

‘It’s basically songs we’ve written over the past two years. Every song has its own story because we tend to write songs about how we feel at a certain time and things that happen to us.

‘All I Want and High Hopes, our singles, are on there and there are a lot of surprises on it too. There are some upbeat happy songs, a good mix of emotions.

‘It’s our first album, so it’s quite daunting to put it out there,’ Steve confides.

One thing he’s not nervous about is their tour, which brings them to the Wedgewood Rooms on Wednesday.

‘This is our third UK tour. They’ve gradually been getting bigger,’ says Steve.

‘We love playing music, wherever, and, for the most part, it’s sold out. So that’s even better.

‘We’ve played a gig before in Cork and there were eight people there, so it’s great to have people coming to our shows.’

There will definitely be more than eight people watching when they play at the Isle of Wight Festival this summer and Steve can’t wait for that.

‘I’ve only ever watched it on TV, but I’ve watched every year on Sky Arts. It’s one of my favourite festivals,’ he says.

‘Some of the acts that are playing and have played are great. I would have loved to have checked it out but I haven’t really been to many festivals.’

Kodaline have also been rumoured to play at The Great Escape and Glastonbury, but Steve can’t deny or confirm either.

‘We’ve got a really, really busy summer which is great. I can’t wait. I think we’re doing them all.

‘But I don’t know how it is. A lot of them, we can’t announce. Apparently we get in trouble,’ he says sheepishly.

He can say that he expects to have two or three more singles out over the course of the year. ‘And we’re doing another video, but I don’t think I can tell you about that.

‘It doesn’t matter really, but I don’t think I’m supposed to say.’

If the album does as well as anticipated, Steve will no doubt become a skilled interviewee who knows exactly what to say and what not to. But, it’s nice to talk to him before he’s mastered that art, just as it will be special to see them in the Wedge before they start playing stadiums.

Kodaline are at the Wedgewood Rooms in Southsea on Wednesday with support from In The Valley Below and Gavin James. Tickets: £10 from (023) 9286 3911, wedgewood-rooms.co.uk or on the door from 8pm.