‘Coming Up For Air’, Kodaline’s second album, is out today. We caught up with the band and talked about living the dream, cucumbers and cabin fever.
I go from journalist to fangirl in 2.36 seconds every time I cross paths with Kodaline. I don’t think they’ve realised though, I laugh at all their jokes discreetly and I’ve only hinted that we’re besties once. They’re guitar-wielding dreamboats with soft Irish accents, what’s not to love? I very quickly discover that they’re also one of the most easygoing bands I’ve ever met. Steve Garrigan (lead) and Mark Prendergast (guitar) met at school and over the years, Vinny May (drums) and Jason Boland (guitar) joined the line-up.
Today sees the release of Kodaline’s second album ‘Coming Up For Air’. The sophomore offering comes with expectations for any band, often impossible to meet, because you have to maintain your style, supersede your debut’s success and mix things up, all in neat little package of approximately 10 tracks. I ask the boys about the sinister second album curse but they’re nonplussed. “We kind of avoided it somehow,” Jason says, “everyone talks about the second album syndrome. We didn’t really stop before we started recording so we didn’t have a moment to let the pressure build up or to even have any pressure. By the time we were halfway through the record we didn’t even think we’d started it, so it kind of crept up on us!” ‘Coming Up For Air’ was finished in just eight weeks. Mark explains, “It just kind of happened so quickly. We went in to write some songs and came out with an album!” I’m baffled, they chat to me about it like it’s nothing, just another album, you know.
Eight weeks in a room of the same four people sounds like hell to a lot of people, myself included, alarm bells ring and cabin fever sets in simply at the thought of it. Jason jokes, “I tried to get away, there was a wall – it won.” I’m laughing like a hyena, it’s the fangirl fever. Mark continues, very sweetly and sincerely, “Like any band, there were times when it was tense, but you need tension in order to get the best out of us. It was nice to be in the one place for two weeks here and there and actually unpack your suitcase and bring your slippers with you.”
Despite being completed in just two months, ‘Coming Up For Air’ is a fully formed record. At their showcase at The Box, Soho, Kodaline played a selection of the songs to their harshest critics – the biggest names behind the industry and their friends and family. Amongst the velveteen surroundings, the tracks were obstructed and restricted by the confines of the packed room. ‘Coming Up For Air’s’ hits are made to be sung back by thousands and reverberate around the edges of arenas.
“We’re a live band, that’s our bread and butter,” Jason says when I ask if they prefer to perform or create, “That’s where we’re most comfortable but before that we were a studio band. So we do love both sides and they bring out different sides in us.” I’m trying to work out whether Kodaline are in this for the love or the money, (even though surely they’re scraping in enough to pay the bills by now, album two went straight to number one in Ireland) so I ask what their goal is, suggesting whether they would rather headline the likes of Glastonbury or have 10 consecutive number ones. Mark’s answer is instantaneous, “I think Glastonbury is like the holy grail of music. That’s probably my favourite place on Earth when it’s there and there’s people there, the vibe just sucks me in, you just become a part of it.”
“15-year-old you has that dream,” Jason continues. “We’re a very ambitious band, we’re not afraid of that, we’re not going to say we don’t want to be huge – but you have to believe yourself to expect everyone else to!” The confident attitude is certainly working for them so far, but once again, upping the likeable factor by one hundred per cent, Vinny slides in to summarise, “What we’re doing now is our dream. When we first started, when you first picked up your instrument it was to make music for the rest of your life.”
At this point Steve enters, after having finished a phone interview – that’s the trouble with being the frontman, you’re always in demand – and he immediately dives into conversation when I ask whether a particular song seems to resonate with fans, “It’s quite strange because when we released our first album, we wrote the songs, like all the songs we write, in our bedrooms or in jam rooms and as you know we grew up together,” He says everything in such a hushed and humble tone. “It was really strange when people started singing back our songs, it’s like somebody singing back a letter you wrote for somebody. A big crowd of people just talking it back to you. It’s hard to explain but yeah, it’s kind of amazing, there’s no better feeling.”
It’s clearly something that’s touched them all, bless you Kodaline fans, they appreciate your support. Jason tells me about the first time they played ‘One Day’ a track from the new album written for the wedding of a friend, “Steve sang it with an acoustic and the whole crowd sang every word from the verse the whole way through. That’s the difference, you expect people to sing that big song that everybody knows but when someone sings track seven of the first album it’s weird, it’s like – you actually like our band!”
Plenty of people love the band, there’s two girls on twitter who have made a Kodaline calendar from shots they took themselves at gigs, Vinny has one in pride of place on his kitchen wall, but he does remark how weird it is to see Mark peering at him while he makes his coffee. They’ve been given personalised teddy bears and there were even two girls in the US who sold their mattress to pay for their way to a show. “I hope that was a good night for them!” Mark laughs.
Despite people selling their possessions for a glimpse of them, Kodaline aren’t making any A-list diva demands just quite yet. The most raucous they get on tour is when they don’t get their cucumber to go with their G&Ts. “Its gotta be cucumber with gin or shit will go down.” Mark says in half serious, half sarcastic tone. “Shit will be said.” So that’s my suggestion boys and girls, you want to be Kodaline’s number one fan? Throw cucumbers (finely sliced not whole) instead of the classic knickers or making banners.
‘Coming Up For Air’ is available to purchase now. Kodaline tour the UK, Europe, Canada and the US throughout February-May.
Words: Lily Walker