Ahead of the release of their Small Mercies EP, Red Empire’s frontman Craig Cahill chatted to Robert Morrissey about the new tracks, upcoming shows and how Joy Division have a “profound effect” on his songwriting.

Red Empire formed almost five years ago when members of the band were collectively looking for something new. 

The band met through a mutual friend, Joe Jewell, a well-known musician in his own right who knew Craig and Gar McCarthy.

“He did the same for Richie, Des and Deco for years while they were playing in a different band,” explains Craig. 

What they might call a “fluky coincidence” turned out to make perfect sense as other members Richie Connolly, Deco Connolly and Des Finn were having some problems with their former band.  “It just made perfect sense to join forces and we haven't really looked back since,” says Craig.

Having started writing songs from an early age, the Red Empire frontman has written with a melody in mind for most of his work.  As influences go, it would turn out that Joy Division would have a profound effect on the singer.

“I have a very clear memory of watching a music programme that showed a recording of Joy Division playing ‘Transmission’ on Something Else,” he says. “I must have been about 13 or 14 but it had a profound effect on me. I watch that performance sometimes even now and it still pulls me in.”

As influences go, there’s a mixed bag of acts that make up the band’s musical taste.  From Britpop to classical, The Prodigy to The Stone Roses, the band makes it work.

When it comes to live shows, the band are focused on providing an energetic experience for their audience.  Having played the likes of the Olympia Theatre, Vicar St and the INEC in Kerry, they are in for a different string of intimate gigs over the next few weeks. 

“Obviously, it'll be quite different but we've deliberately set ourselves that challenge. Our acoustic set is sounding really good at the moment. It used to be a really significant thing for a band if they could pull off a live acoustic set in an interesting way - I'm talking about the likes of the hey-day of MTV Unplugged.”

Playing live can take place in many different types of venues, but for Craig, festivals seem to offer a ‘no nonsense” alternative “They each have their own little rules and conditions but I really like playing at festivals. There's usually a good vibe in the air and you know people are up for it so it's no-nonsense.”

The band’s new EP Small Mercies is full of funk and even has disco influences like White Cherry and Chic.

“When we all get together to have a few scoops and listen to music,” Craig says, “we invariably end up listening to those bands by the end of the night because there was just so much quality and joy in what they were doing.” 

The single of the same name is about knowing what the right thing to do is but not doing it :“It's about people who are principled only when it suits them.”

As for the future, Red Empire’s plan to conquer is simply down to gigs, writing and “hopefully, a cheeky album release very soon!”

Red Empire’s EP/single Small Mercies is available to download on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon.

Follow Robert on Twitter: @rob_moro.