Since the release of their 2012 debut EP The Kodaline EP, Dublin-based band Kodaline has been coveted by music lovers. They’ve seen great success in Great Britain and are now attracting attention all across Europe. We met with singer Steve Garrigan and guitarist Mark Prendergast a few hours before their gig at Stockholm club Debaser Strand.
On the table between us stands a plate of Swedish Christmas pastry saffron buns. Mark says he tried some but didn’t like it and Steve thinks they look a bit too weird to eat. Our interview session starts relatively serious but ends in absolute nonsense, talking about which celebrity you would prefer to paint a fence with…
How would you describe your music?
– It’s emotional, honest, true to life and… fun, Steve says.
Who writes it?
– I write most of it, Steve says.
Have you always been making music?
– Yes, since we were sixteen, Mark says.
– The first song we played as a band was Johnny B Good with Chuck Berry, Steve tells us. We kind of got together just to play that song. Then we started writing our own songs very early, so we’ve been doing it for a pretty long time. We were friends before we made music together, the three of us. Then we met Jay, the bass player.
– We met Jay like a year before we even knew he was playing the bass, Mark explains.
Where do you find inspiration?
– I think the main thing is just experiences; like people, places, travelling. All our songs are about things that have happened to us. Now it’s just like cities and people we meet. It’s basically the same as before, but now we get to travel a lot more so it’s wider. In terms of inspiration it’s almost too much now, Steve says laughing.
Why am I sitting here, feeling sorry for myself? You gotta think positive. You only live once
What is your song High Hopes about?
– It’s about going through a really tough time, Steve says seriously. I was sitting at the piano and had just been reading a book about positive thinking, so at a certain point I felt: “Why am I sitting here, feeling sorry for myself? You gotta think positive. You only live once”. That’s where High Hopes came from, it’s a melancholic song. It’s sad but it’s hopeful. That’s what a lot of our songs have.
Where do you wish to be in ten years’ time?
– I hope we’re still touring, still playing music and making albums. It’s our dream. For the last year and a half we’ve been doing what we love. We’re going to start working on our second album, we’re very future focused. We just want to get bigger, Mark says.
– We know how fortunate we are to be allowed to do this. It’s such a fickle industry and bands come and go like that, Steve says and snaps his fingers, but it makes no sound which turns into a conversation about being able to click your fingers and clap your hands and how Steve is trying to do it.
– We put a lot of clicks in our songs and when we’re in the studio, whoever is recording us, just says: ‘Steve, get out!’. Apparently I have a ‘dead clap’ too, he says. But each to their own.
If you didn’t make music, what would you do?
– I would be a professional clicker, Steve says.
– I tried a few jobs when I was younger, but nothing stuck, Mark says.
What kind of jobs?
– I worked in a call centre, Mark explains.
Who likes that though?
– I did it to save money for this college course to learn about live music. So I had that in mind when I had this job, but I hated it. I worked in a supermarket too.
– I had no bar experience so I made up references and made a fake CV and got a job working in a bar, but it was a lot harder than I thought it would be, Steve recounts. I got fired after two weeks, they found me out. I was pretty proud of the fact that I got a job absolutely no experience. I was in college too, but I dropped out. I think music is what we always gravitate to. It would be cool to work in the music industry, if not musicians, then just anything.
– Work for a band. Just go on tour. Lift the guitars for the band, Mark adds.
– Or just being a professional clicker, Steve says.
What’s the hardest thing about writing music?
– That’s a really good question… Steve says. They are both quiet for a few seconds.
– If a certain song gets too hard you just stop, Mark says after a while. If you’re really in to a song it’s not easy but it’s natural. If it ever gets difficult or hard you just walk away from it.
– That’s such a good question… The hardest thing…, Steve says thinking. I think sometimes going your way to really try to describe exactly what you want to get across can really mess with your head. Down to the last word, like an ‘us’ or an ‘and’, sometimes those little things manages to get very stressful. But once you get to a certain point when the song is there, everything is gone and it’s great. We invest so much of ourselves into the songs that it’s like holding a diary up, and that’s a bit daunting as well. It can be a bit scary. When you put it out there it’s not really your song anymore. That’s a really good question, he says again thoughtful.
– We still haven’t really answered it. The whole thing, don’t get involved, Mark says with a laughter.
Name some of your favourite songs?
– Another difficult question, Steve says.
– Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits, Mark says after some consideration.
That’s so strange, it’s one of my favourite songs too!
– Did you hear The Killers version of it? Steve asks.
Yes, it’s good too.
– It’s such an eighties video to the original song though.
I know, it’s a terrible video.
– I haven’t seen it and I’m not going to now, Mark says.
No, don’t do it, it will destroy the song for you.
– They could’ve done so much more, Steve adds. I think A Change is Gonna Come with Sam Cooke is a great song too.
Making soup with Paul McCartney. Or painting a fence
with Robert De Niro.
Good choices! Do you have a dream collaboration you would want to do?
– I’d love to get in to a studio with Bruce Springsteen. Or Daft Punk, Steve says.
– Or Tame Impala, Mark adds.
– Or if it’s dead or alive there’s too many. The Eagles would be cool! Steve states.
– Who would you like to collaborate with? Mark asks.
I don’t make music.
– No, who would you collaborate with in general? Says Steve.
Mark Knopfler maybe?
– No it doesn’t have to be a musician, Steve declares.
Just anyone in the world?
– Yes it could be a random person on the street. You could collaborate with painting a fence or building a bird house or cooking, Steve says.
I have no idea! I have to think about that.
– Making soup with Paul McCartney, says Mark.
– What kind of soup would you make though… Steve thinks aloud. Or painting a fence with Robert De Niro.
– No, what’s his name, Morgan Freeman! Mark shouts.
– Read a bedtime story with Morgan Freeman? Steve asks.
– That would be amazing, Mark says.
I still haven’t decided on my dream collaboration, but in the genre of doing a funny interview with a band, I might pick Kodaline.
Listen to Kodaline’s debut album In a Perfect World here.
Photos by Victoria Stillwell.