Minutes before they took to the stage to play the UCD Fashion Show in aid of the Jack Kavanagh Trust, buy cialis Raglans seemed confident of a warm reception, rx and having had a sneak peek of their set at the soundcheck; it was easy to see why. With their debut album ready to drop on the 21st of March, the Dublin lads are most certainly on the rise.
The band’s bassist, Rhos, gave me a rundown of how the foursome found their feet: “I met Stephen, our lead singer at a festival about three years ago, and then I got Conn in to play the drums, I knew him from a band I was in before. Sean joined about a year later.” Of course, every new band has to find their own sound, and things were no different for Raglans, “things were a lot different at the start,” offers Conn. “Wildly different!” stresses Rhos, reflecting on how the band’s sound has evolved over their three years together.
Known now for their jangly high energy, indie-punk-folk style, the lads aren’t comfortable with limiting their sound, but they also won’t let a good song get away from them. “There’re a few tunes that we still play that are on the album, and those are some of the first tunes we’ve ever written. But we’ve scrapped a lot of stuff.” When asked if we might see any of these forgotten songs as B-sides in the future, Rhos wasn’t so sure: “We don’t really believe in B-sides. Like, you’re just letting people hear your bad songs!” The appeal of this approach to songwriting is obvious – if you take away all of the bad stuff, then you’re only left with the good stuff: “And we’re all A-sides!” Sean interjects.
Compared to acts such as Mumford and Sons and Lumineers, Raglans have a level of familiarity that makes them accessible and appealing, but a unique take which sets them apart from their contemporaries and genre peers. What inspires this direction however, is taken from many sources: “I think we all take inspiration from different things. Like, we’d all be into different bands and stuff. I dunno, It’s whatever comes out, do you know what I mean?”
Rhos continues to explain how the songs are made, “whatever the song is at the time, we all just start playing. We don’t just go ‘Right, we want it to sound like this,’ it just comes out.” “We just write the songs, hope that they’re good and you can kinda tell what goes down well and what doesn’t,” adds Con.
When asked whether or not they write most of their stuff in the studio; the band explained that they use the stand-up comedian approach to writing: gig it, and see if it works. “This album, we’ve been gigging loads of songs on it almost since we started, so we’ve whittled it down to what works and, not ‘what doesn’t go down well’ but what shouldn’t be on the album or what doesn’t go down as well,” said Conn, echoing the band’s ‘only A-sides’ sentiment. “We’ve been together for about three years, a bit over a year with Sean. We didn’t write anything in studio, we got everything, played the gigs and when it was time to record the album we went and recorded it. There was like the odd little bit, but we didn’t write it in the studio, we wrote it in our own little room.”
When making music professionally, three years isn’t a particularly long time, so how exactly does a band go from formation to debut album in such a short space of time without some kind of Simon Cowell helmed hype machine providing momentum? “We’ve been surrounded by people who’ve been really sound to us, real nice to us. People who’ve been like really open to us and just really helpful. There was no one around to put us down – they were just really receptive. So when we were at the bottom it was easier to claw our way up. People were really receptive. It was pretty shocking, really.”
On these really supportive peers, the band had high praise for the Irish music scene. “The reason Sean joined the band is, we saw him in another band. He had a different band and we thought ‘Oh! That is very good’. The reason the Irish scene is so good is that it’s small. It’s so easy to get to know everybody. If we were in the London scene, we’d be lost. But it’s also bad – because it’s so small! Everyone knows everyone. Everyone can be in everyone else’s business. But once you’re not a prick to anyone, you’re grand,” says Conn. Like the band’s approach to their own music; they appreciate the need for diversity to avoid stagnation. “So that’s what we do. Or try to do, anyway.”
To further stress the need to mix things up to keep things interesting, when compared to their critically lauded 2012 EP Long Live, which hosted the band’s biggest hits to date Digging Holes and The Man From Glasgow, the band could point to obvious differences: “sonically it’s a massive departure. That EP, and I’m really going back on myself here, is really an EP of B-sides, aside from two songs. We went over to Portugal because we won some competition and had 10 days to knock out these songs, so we thought we should knock out whatever songs we could. We didn’t really think about putting it out. They weren’t our strongest songs.” Conn remarks with no small amount of harsh self-criticism. “It was just a good opportunity to get them down,” Rhos adds.
For this upcoming record however, the band has evolved in their musical craftsmanship, “what we tried to do was make it cohesive. The lad that produced it, Jay Reynolds, we kind of went to him and asked how we could do that… Because we wanted to make them cohesive – some of the songs are standout choons and one song was written like, two weeks before recording the album but then other ones have been knocking around for a year and a half. So there was a natural kind of difference in them and we wanted to make it more cohesive; but we do a lot of different instrumentation. We want it to sound like us. Our identity.”
As the call for Raglans to take the stage at the Fashion show is given, I ask them if they have anything they’d like to say about the album in a nutshell – Conn sums it up by saying “it’s the culmination of everything we’ve been working on – we’ve pulled out all the stops! Insert cliché here!” he finishes, laughing.