Tomorrow (March 21), Dublin band Raglans will release their much-anticipated debut album, which will be launched at their biggest headline show to day on March 29 in The Academy, Dublin.
Miriam Doona caught up with the four lads – Stephen Kelly, Sean O’Brien, Rhos Horan and Conn O’Ruanaidh – before the big day.
Miriam Doona: You are not long back from supporting The Strypes on the UK leg of their tour. How was it?
Stephen: It was amazing. We were playing really big venues and they were all sold out and the crowds were brilliant. The minute the doors were open people were pouring in. It was an amazing experience.
Miriam Doona: I saw you at Groove Festival last year at in The Academy back in September last year, again supporting The Strypes. How did you get involved with The Strypes?
Stephen: Well, Finn (Keenan), who makes our videos, is from Cavan and he makes their videos as well. We did a gig down in Cavan and the lads played before us and we thought they were amazing. Evan, the drummer, was only 13 at the time. We asked them to come down and support us for our EP launch in Dublin. I think it was one of their first gigs in Dublin and they were really up for it. They went down great with the crowd and you could feel a really good buzz about what they were doing. It was really cool and they have repaid the favour, I guess. They are genuinely nice lads and they have surrounded themselves with great people.
Conn: People always ask us how do you know the Strypes....and we always say that we have known them for years, which sounds so weird as they are so young but we go way back. They are genre music. If we didn’t know them we would not have supported them, I guess as we are more of an indie band. It is a benefit for both of us and a variety in music for the audience too. The friendship is mutually beneficial.
Miriam Doona : Your single ‘Digging Holes’ is brilliant and the video really makes me smile. What’s the story with the video?
Stephen: It's just a day in the life. We had three hundred quid and we went down to Cavan with Finn. He had the idea, really. We just drove around Cavan for two days and let it happen!
Conn: It was best to get it done like that…and to see the finished product was amazing too and to get such a great reaction was also pretty amazing.
Stephen: There is a real difference between the style of music that it is and the video that came to be. It is a pretty tribal sound and then you have got four lads doing quintessentially Irish things. We didn’t set out to make a funny, weird video. It wasn’t contrived or intentional to make a video that would go down well online, it just happened that way. [Finn’s] just a mad bastard…in the best way.
Miriam Doona: You are just back from the UK and you are continuing to tour. Can you tell me a little about your plans, starting with The Academy gig here in Dublin on March 29?
Stephen: Three days after the last Irish date we go to the UK for a twelve day tour. We do twelve cities in the UK and then we come back and it's festival season, which is our favourite time of the year...Electric Picnic last year was amazing…we played at 1am and we were expecting literally no-one to be there, but there was about a thousand people there so that was one of our favourite moments so far. We had only released one single at the time too – we were still waiting to do the album so for it to be that packed was great.
Miram Doona: Do you think, on that basis, that even at that stage you had accumulated a bit of a cult following?
Stephen: We would like to think so, the crowd we really into us and really supportive. It is hard when you are playing all over the place as opposed to one central main event such as Electric Picnic. We want to be everywhere, and that was what the UK tour was about too, the opportunity to appeal to larger audiences, as it is more densely populated. Irish bands generally have to do this migration to up their profiles and their popularity then trickles back to Ireland…Aslan and The Coronas are the only two Irish bands I can think of that can financially survive purely on Irish soil.
Miriam Doona: If you could describe what kind of a band you are, what would you say?
Sean: We have trouble with this one! In three words: loud, positive and direct.
Miriam Doona: Who writes the songs or do you all contribute?
Stephen: Well…it is a case of all songs are welcome. If one of us have a song and we all like it then we will work on it together until it is finished. A good song is a good song. We always Raglan-ify it! We tend to use the name Raglan to describe anything really. We write all our own songs, it is just us four lads in a room writing and creating our own stuff.
Conn: There seems to be a blurred line…between real artistry and X-Factor today. We all do it but if for example, Ross writes all the songs for our next album it is not a problem once they are good songs.
Miriam Doona: How did you all meet each other, how did Raglans come into existence?
Rhos: It was really from a festival we were at as punters and it just happened. We were just in a little tent and it was really early in the morning and we were just chatting and playing music. I saw Stephen perform with his band and I thought he was really good.
Stephen: Yeah and then he sent me tracks and I thought, oh he’s actually legit, he’s cool. I thought I would never see him again and then he added me on Facebook and the rest is history. We started playing together and then we got Conn in and then Sean joined just over a year and a half ago...and we are on the go ever since!
Follow Miriam on Twitter: @miriamdoona.
Raglans self-titled debut album is out tomorrow, March 21. Raglans play The Academy on March 29. Tickets (€12) are available here.