Kodaline

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 three 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 Vinny 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 11-song opus In A Perfect World, out 17th June, which they’ve spent the best part of the last year making, and is an album of honest, melodic, soulful and romantic songs.

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 two.

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.”

Vinny 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 Vinny.

The album In A Perfect World is out 17th June.

It's simple: Once you see and hear LP, you remember. She's a gripping performer, a curly-headed force of nature looking kind of like a cross between a young Bob Dylan and Marc Bolan, albeit often wielding a ukulele. A rockin' ukulele, in front of a dynamic, versatile band, that is. And her voice is instantly ear-catching, a natural instrument of power and grace.

But there's much more to it. There's just something about the Los Angeles- based singer-songwriter-artist that grabs hold - a spirit, an exuberance, a belief in her gifts as a musician and in the power of music to reach people. It comes through her songs, whether written for Rihanna (the 2011 hit "Cheers") and Christina Aguilera ("Beautiful People" from the movie Burlesque), or for herself, such as "Into the Wild" (the song that has tantalized ears through its use in a Citibank Card TV commercial) and the hauntingly epic "Tokyo Sunrise," also from a live EP to be released this spring.

While writing songs for others was rewarding (artistically as well as in other ways), her most natural habitat is on stage. It was playing the L.A. club gigs that reenergized LP's drive to write songs for herself and get back out there as a solo artist. Thinking back about her earlier days, performing live is what motivated her while living as a rock 'n' roll road warrior: "We were doing 250 shows a year, driving around the country in a crappy van my brother leased for me, one hotel room for all of us in the band," she explains.

Fueled by a contagious, pure love of performing, LP's stage presence is inherently powerful with a free-flowing, infectious confidence honed through a few years of touring around the country with her band fueled by a contagious, pure love of performing which has brought her to this point as a solo artist in her own right. At a recent show at the Troubadour in West Hollywood in January, it became abundantly clear after just one song that the energy shared between artist and audience reflected a breakout buzz gig confirming LP's status as an artist to watch in 2012.

In fact Esquire Magazine has singled out LP as one of 2012's rising stars, adding its voice to a growing, global legion of fans. All this comes before she's even released her Warner Bros. Records debut live EP, let alone the full album she's currently working on with producers such as Isabella Summers (Florence and the Machine), Rob Cavallo (Green Day, Alanis Morissette), PJ Bianco (Metro Station, Veronicas), and Fraser T. Smith (Adele, Ellie Goulding) among her collaborators.

And then there are the multitudes of people online Google-ing to find the striking voice behind the mysterious "Somebody left the gate open". A vocal snippet (from LP's song "Into The Wild" ), which can be heard accompanying the daredevil rock climbers on the much-discussed Citibank Card commercial. The success of this song and commercial was the subject of a recent CNN news piece, not to mention the surge of popularity of the viral videos of LP's concert performances, whether she's singing her own songs or soaring versions of everything from Guns 'N Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine" to Beyonce's "Halo." The beauty behind this kind of growing awareness is what happens on its own when an audience begins to discover an artist for themselves. It's that pure word of mouth which continues to be the catalyst for that organic curiosity and attraction. This is not the work of the PR machine; it's just the natural order of events which has brought fans to the music of LP.

LP - born and raised in New York and now a Los Angeleno — came to music early, despite coming from a "family of doctors and lawyers." Her mom loved to sing, though, and the youngster was not to be deterred. She was drawn heavily to transformational artists, those who blended mystique with the rare ability to make an instant connection with listeners, both as performers and writers.

When LP talks about her favorite music or artists who have provided inspiration, she admits: "I'm a huge Jeff Buckley fan. Kurt Cobain's another one — he was able to make the most unique kind of music that stands on its own. What about Chris Cornell's voice or Joni Mitchell, Jim Morrison, Robert Plant, Chrissie Hynde's swagger...and I really appreciate rappers like Jay-Z; the wordplay is really important to me. I'm into so much music.

Trying to describe LP's music can be a daunting task. There is an elegant energy that rocks but does that make it rock music? The structures are memorable and melodic but does that make it pop music? The lyrical content has its own emotional depth that holds a universal appeal which draws the listener closer but does that make it folk music? One might detect traces of Roy Orbison, or the aforementioned Jeff Buckley, a hint of U2 or maybe some suggestion of Edith Piaf but it somehow doesn't really sound like any of these per se. This is the music of LP.

Her performances were honed during her years of intense touring, and her songwriting developed while working with such top songwriters as Billy Steinberg and Desmond Child among others. "When I went in to sessions with people, I had to make it rain really fast or they wouldn't want to write with me again. You learn to hit your mark pretty quickly."

All of those factors are coming into play as LP makes her Warner Bros. debut album, which she hopes will be worthy of her teachers and will also satisfy her own creative expectations. "I want to make a journey of a record, something that flows as a full and complete piece of work," she says.

It's the same for her approach onstage. "I'm at my best fronting a full-on band," she says. "I feel like I am a 'force of nature' from the love that comes from connecting with the audience. That's what I strive for."

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Kodaline with LP

Thursday, February 13 · Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM at World Cafe Live Philadelphia