Having already appeared on the Late Late Show and looking forward to supporting big acts both in Ireland and abroad, Wexford natives Corner Boy have achieved huge success in the short time they’ve been together.Lead vocalist and guitarist Michael D'Arcy talks fame, fortune, and the importance of home.
Laura Flathery: Wexford seems to be a big theme with you and your songs, like 'Ghost Town City'. Why is that?
Michael D'Arcy: There are not a lot of rural Irish bands that are getting into the limelight. We’re all from Wexford, we all still live here. It’s very important for us all to stay connected to our roots in Wexford. We’re touring, but every time we’re off we’re back in Wexford. It’s where we were born, where we were raised, where we learned music. The whole community is behind us; it’s Wexford that has gotten us to where we are.
LF: You had spent a year in Canada, what was it that drew you back? Did you find it hard to fit in?
MD: Oh no, I was raging that I had to leave Canada, but I had to come back to finish my final year of college, it was either come back or defer it. I wanted to get the education out of the way and really kick off with the music. I was actually doing my thesis, doing the Red Bull Bedroom Jam, and I got a first in my Bachelors of Science and Business, don’t know how I did it. I came home for the year to finish college, and pretty much started gigging straight away. There hasn’t been a week passed where we haven’t been gigging.
LF: It’s a strange combination, a Bachelor of Science and a lead singer of a band...
MD: Yeah, a lot of people were saying that I obviously study music, but no, I’m a complete poser here. I was studying economics and finance, it was mad. I was living in Dublin with some highly motivated people and all the Wexford people living together in Dublin was a very interesting time.
LF: Your band name came from a teacher of yours at school, would you say that you were more music orientated in school?
MD: Absolutely, I went to school in Saint Peters in Wexford, which over the years has produced some literary giants, international best sellers. There’s a massive culture in the school for music and literature, and an appreciation of the arts. Now, I went in there Happy Hurler, I just wanted to play hurling. By the time I left, I was more well rounded. I met some of lads there and joined a few bands, I think one was a Blink-182 tribute band! You have to start from somewhere. The name came from an old teacher of mine, he saw potential in my short stories, and said I just needed to cop on and apply myself, so he started calling me Corner Boy. When I came home from Canada, I had a load of songs online and a lot of Wexford people were interested so I was asked what I was going to call myself, and a friend of mine said ‘remember when that teacher called you Corner Boy?’ and I went with that one. It has a story behind it.
LF: As you said, you had a lot of interest from Wexford people, in starting a band. Was it just the other members of Corner Boy that came to you, or did others and you just chose the four?
MD: What it was, was I got back from Canada and I had songs, with a lot of instrumentation. The thing about the Wexford music scene is it’s very communal. I was playing gigs with a few friends playing fiddle, and the banjo. Every gig we played, we sounded great and loads of people came to see us. The EP’s were selling out of the shops, things were really kicking. We were getting bigger and bigger gigs, getting festival slots and we figured “sh*t, we’re gonna need a band”. So, these guys who just came in to play with me, ended up just being the band. Since then, the last EP (True North, on itunes), is a collective effort, whereas the first band was just my writing.
LF: How would you say you’re handling the fame?
MD: It’s mad. This time last year we were an underground band. What can happen in the space of a year for a band, as a band we have a high work rate, its intense. We think it’s justified, because we work so hard, we do it every day. It’s a job. We’re going from Wexford, to Sligo, to Roscommon, to Galway, in three days. No band does that. It’s a weird thing for us, we never chased fame. We weren’t expecting to get on tv for another year or too, but it shows that other people in your music, it’s a confidence boost.
LF: Obviously there’s a high caliber of Irish musicians on the scene, like the Script, Kodaline, do you think you could reach that level?
MD: A lot of bands strive to play on bigger stages, being on tv, more coverage, but we look at getting more music out. We’ve only been together a year, we shouldn’t have achieved as much as we have in a year. We’re in a great position, we have some leeway, a bit of freedom to work on our sound. It’s strange, we haven’t thought about it yet. We’ve just been secured to support David Grey in Waterford, an exclusive there for you. We’re playing some nice stages this summer. We’re not about taking over the world just yet. We’re doing a tour of North America and Scandinavia soon, and that’s only because we’ve been invited.
LF: How do you feel about Talent Shows and The XFactor?
MD: I think they’re a great springboard for artists, but myself and the lads are of the old ethos. Oasis were asked how they got big and they said “well, we got into a van and we drove up and down the UK, playing gigs, then we got home and got into the van and did it again, and again, and again. We’re of that variety. It’s not the path we want to take, it takes away the integrity of the thing. If you see an artist who has struggled for years, playing the worst pubs, constantly getting refused for years and years, until they finally make it, then you see someone who signs a form for the Voice of Ireland and automatically sings a load of shows. I think people respect the work we put in. If you are willing to put your life aside and work at it, stuff will happen for you.
LF: During your gig at the Wexford Opera house, you got down into the crowd and performed there. Why so?
MD: We never really liked the formality of “this is us on the stage, that’s you in the audience. We’ll stay here and you stay there.” We kind of like to break down the barriers and make it a nicer experience for everyone in the room, you can chat to people. It relaxes people and makes everyone more at ease. It makes people remember the night, more than anything. We all sing together and tell a few jokes and have the craic together. We care a bit more.
LF: Can you see Corner Boy being a continuous thing? Can you see yourself being in the band for the next few years?
MD: Absolutely, I don’t see why not. We’ve only been together a year and what we’ve achieved is pretty impressive. If we keep going at the trajectory we’re going at, keep writing more songs and gaining fans, we can continue to do this. We’re having the times of our lives. We found a group of people who do it for the love it. We’ll continue to do this for a long time. We set goals and targets and achievements for ourselves, and the ones we set are really unrealistic. We always think “yeah let’s do that, we’ll never manage it, it’ mad” and then we do it! So we recorded a music video, with hundreds of people there, we like doing weird stuff like that. Everyone has this perception that rural bands can’t make it, they have to move to Dublin or London, but we have managed it just through graft and hard work. We’re aiming for an album, and that’s a year away. We have much bigger plans, to do a world tour. In hindsight; we’re making no money, but we don’t care!