It’s been a weird year. One that has gone in the swiftest of flashes, yet also seemingly screeched to a halt in the most painfully slow fashion. We’ve blinked, and – behold – we’ve found ourselves in the midst of the lead-up to Christmas. And while it may not feel particularly festive right now, one band igniting a jolt of heartwarming cheer into our lives is Dublin four-piece Kodaline with their new track “This Must Be Christmas”.
The Irish outfit rose to fame with their 2013 critically-acclaimed debut album, In A Perfect World, which included tear-jerking pop crooners “High Hopes”, “All I Want” and “Love Like This” – characterised by the group’s signature raw emotion and captivating melodies. Tissues required, always. And since then, the band have gone from strength to strength, with three #1 albums in Ireland, two Top 5 albums in the UK, and more than a staggering billion streams on Spotify. And now, they are gearing up to release the deluxe version of their fourth studio album One Day At A Time, which has already garnered 75 million streams, and sees the band going back to their roots.
“This Must Be Christmas” bristles with that earthy, warm feeling you only get from your local pub when you’re home for Christmas: familiar faces, cosy jumpers and loved ones all around. The perfect antidote for an uncertain year that has impacted us all in more ways than one.
We caught up with Kodaline and talked about making a cheese-free Christmas single, covering The Undertones in their deluxe album, and what’s next for them…
Hi guys – how have you been during this uncertain time? How has it impacted your music and creativity?
It’s been a tough year to say the least but I’ve been trying to focus on writing music and staying positive, not much has changed in terms of writing music as I’m usually sitting at home at my piano when I write, I suppose I’ve gotten to do that a lot more this year but we really miss touring that’s for sure.
Congratulations on your new track “This Must Be Christmas” – what made you want to do a festive track?
Every year I’ve always made an effort to write a Christmas track, I suppose it’s something that’s always been in the back of my mind. We wrote this track together last November. I like the fact that it’s not that cheesy, it’s kind of an anti Christmas song about drowning your sorrows at Christmas. I’m excited to see what people think of it.
What were the biggest challenges putting your own spin on a festive track, and making it seem nostalgic and homegrown, without it seeming trite?
That’s kind of what I was touching on above when I was said I didn’t want it to be cheesy. For me when it comes to song writing I’ve always believed that there’s a very fine line between cheesy and cool. We wanted to make a Christmas song that had a bit of depth to it and we wanted it to be a bit dark lyrically. We’re proud of the song and hope people like it.
And you’ve got the deluxe version of One Day At A Time coming out?
Earlier on in the year we released our album digitally as the factories that make the CDs and vinyls closed due to Covid. We then decided to do a deluxe version with a few extra songs on it but to also have physical copies for sale on our website.
It marks your fourth record – what did you guys want to channel with this one?
We wanted to capture the raw emotion and heartfelt lyrics that we had on our first album, I suppose in a way we kind of came full circle, as we experimented a lot on our second and third records.
You’ve said this record sees you going back to your roots – what does that mean? And how do you guys think you’ve progressed lyrically and sonically since your debut?
We’ve worked with a lot of producers over the years particularly on our third album and I suppose we learned a lot from them. To be honest though I always say to myself you’re only as good as your last song and with songwriting and recording I don’t think you ever stop learning.
The record features two new tracks, including “Everybody Changes” with Gabrielle Aplin – how did the collab come about?
We’ve known Gabrielle for a few years now, I’ve always been a fan of her voice, I felt that that song was crying out to be a duet so we asked her to sing on it, fortunately she said yes , her voice really adds to the song and takes it somewhere else.
And it features covers of iconic tracks ‘Teenage Kicks” and “The Rare Auld Times” – what made you want to cover these?
We wanted to do two covers of classic Irish songs and try to put our own spin on them. The Rare Auld Times is a song that’s built into every proud Irish person around the world, it’s a beautiful song, with a beautiful melody and powerful lyric. Teenage Kicks is another iconic track, we wanted to try to slow it down and make our own unique version of it. I hope people like it.
And you’re planning on going on tour next May – what are you looking forward to?
To be honest I’m looking forward to getting into a venue again with a real live crowd in front of us, we’ve spent 7 years touring so for that to just stop in 2020 was tough. I can’t wait to play a show again, as a band we live for playing live.
Do you have a lead lyric from the album that you hope your fans will resonate with?
I really like ‘In The End’, for me it’s quite a personal song, it’s the last track on the album. The chorus is about persevering through the tough times, forgiving each other and moving on. I suppose we’ve had a lot of ups and downs in the band and in a way I was talking about them but I think it’s important to forgive each other forget about the drama and move on, sometimes it’s easier said than done but yeah I think it’s a cool lyric with a nice message.
What’s next for you? What are you looking forward to next year?
I’m really looking forward to touring again, fingers crossed it goes ahead, all the latest talks about vaccines has me quite hopeful that the live industry will come back soon. It’ll be great to play these new songs live, I suppose I’m also looking forward to writing new music too.