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Interview with Republic of Loose

 Juggling the recording of new material, treat entering the worldwide market and playing UCD in October to raise awareness about mental health problems, Republic Of Loose’s Benjamin Loose took some time out of his busy schedule to share his thoughts on one of Ireland’s biggest acts.

I asked him how the band fared when they played Electric Picnic earlier this month,

“Yeah, it was great. It was the first time we’d played the Picnic as Loose and it was a nice day. It usually rains when we play outdoors.” How did that compare to playing Glastonbury? “Every gig has its own different kind of vibe. At Glastonbury we did kind of smaller stages but it was nice to do the Main Stage for the Picnic. They’re very different kinds of gigs, you know. Every gig has its own characteristics, its own vibes.”

Moving on from that experience, Republic of Loose are playing UCD on October 10th as part of the First Fortnight tour, which aims to promote mental health awareness. I wanted to know if there was a particular reason why they wanted to get on board with this cause.

“They came to us”, he explains, “and it just sounded like a good thing to be a part of. I mean, college shows are always good fun. It was good fun to do a bunch of college shows together. It’s not a cause that I know a huge amount about but anything that lets people relate to other people or get stuff off their chest has got to be a good thing.”

Benjamin explains that they enjoy playing to student audiences. “There’s a lot of cynicism around about music but when you go to colleges, that’s one of the places where that hasn’t impinged yet. Students are just up for having a good time and enjoying live music and it’s just great fun to play college gigs.”

It’s no surprise, then, that he enjoys playing the band’s most popular songs live. “Comeback Girl is great fun every time just because people love it. The Steady Song is something people know really well so it’s great fun and then there’s other songs too.” He can’t pick a favourite though. “We’re doing a lot of the new album which is great to play live so it’s hard to pick one. They all have their own attractions when you’re playing them.”

He explains what the band are up to at the moment.
“At the minute we’re in the studio. We’re finishing off a couple of singles that we’re going to release for Ireland and we’re putting out a compilation of our first three albums in France, Germany and the rest of Europe in the next couple of months, as our first album.” They’ve had some limited airplay in Europe before but Benjamin explains that those songs “have never been properly released in Europe”.

What does the future hold for Loose after that?
“Well, we’re going to release another single in January and then hopefully over to the States for Paddy’s Day. We’re hustling away; the hustle never really stops. We’re getting new music out there, we’re getting the older stuff to people who’ve never heard it before.”

I ask if they’ll be touring America or Europe in the near future and receive an optimistic answer. “The plan is to hit the States for Paddy’s Day next year and depending on how the release goes in Europe, hopefully some of it will take on the radio and then we’ll get over there and support that release.”

The band has played with many high-profile and influential artists. I venture to ask who Benjamin’s favourite collaborator was, bearing in mind that Republic of Loose have recorded with artists as renowned as Sinéad O’Connor.
“Well, it was a huge honour working with her.”, he says of the famous singer-songwriter. That was amazing because we actually got to be in a room with her recording and rehearsing and stuff. That was great.”

“Also Styles P, the rapper from New York. He’s one of the top ten rappers of all time. We’re huge hip-hop fans and that was a pretty immense experience for us getting to work with him as well. We’ve been very lucky in the people we’ve gotten to work with and obviously Sinéad is right up there as one of the highlights of our career so far.”

Republic of Loose play the Student Bar on October 10 as part of the First Fortnight Student Tour challenging mental health prejudice and discrimination. For more information see firstfortnight.com.

Conor Manning