Irish indie rock band The Academic might not be a common household name just yet but after recently completing their UK headlining tour and confirming that a lot more music will be coming our way in 2017, it won’t be long until these boys get the recognition they deserve. Bitter Sweet Symphonies’ Emily Leonard grabbed a few minutes with three of the four members, where they dish fun facts and personal truths.
Ok so first question: Whisky or Vodka?
Stephen: “Vodka for me.”
Matt: “This is gonna split . Whisky for me.”
Dean: “Vodka for me. Definitely.”
Matt: “Craig is definitely whisky as well.”
Stephen: “Yeah it’ll be about half and half.”
Where did the name of the band come from?
Matt: “The name of the band came from a book, Catcher and the Rye. It had a big influence on all of us. We were sort of reading it in school and we um, the word ‘Academic’ is mentioned in the first few pages and I think Craig is the one who kind of pointed it out and he was like that’s pretty cool. It was ultimately him. We had a list going of names and he jotted that down, and everyone was like, it looks cool, it sounds good and we were all in school together so it kind of made sense, you know?”
Last week you had a gig in London which sold out. What is it like to sell out a gig?
Stephen: “Yeah it’s great, our headline shows in London are usually funny because something usually goes wrong so the fact that that one sold out and we actually played the show we were happy with, it was like the best night ever!”
Matt: “Yeah something bad has always happened when we play in London. Dean’s bass drum broke one time, guitar strings have snapped, something has always gone wrong and this is the first one where we had our own headline show in Camden, it sold out and we played it pretty well, I thought. It was nice.”
I imagine being on tour is quite tiring, how do you manage to keep fresh?
Matt: (laughs) “We don’t really.”
Stephen: “Well we had a day off yesterday and the loading today wasn’t until like 4 o’clock so I got up this morning and we were staying in a hotel up the road and thankfully, it’s a nice establishment and it had a sauna and steam room, that was nice. That doesn’t usually happen so I took advantage of the sauna and steam room and I’m feeling fresh today so that’d be my one.”
Matt: “Normally though it’s a lot of falling asleep in the back of a van and your neck is kind of at a weird angle.”
Stephen: “Travelodge showers.”
Matt: “Well travelodges aren’t bad I don’t think. They do the job.”
Dean: “We stayed in a hostel in London so that wasn’t… you know. When you go from a hostel to a hotel that’s like paradise.”
Chuck Berry passed recently and bands like The Beatles and The Stones have said how influential he was to them. Who would you say has influenced you the most?
Matt: “Um I mean I guess it’s hard to say we all draw so many different influences. Like even individually, all of us like a lot of different kinds of music. I think all of that coming together is maybe what is good about music. Actually it’s weird that you mentioned Chuck Berry because I remember at fourteen trying to play ‘Johnny Be Good’ on guitar. ..So yeah, The Beatles. Me and Stephen are brothers so we grew up in a house listening to the Beatles a lot. I guess collectively for all of us bands like The Strokes, we all liked listening to them growing up and The Killers.”
So you just said Matt and Stephen are brothers. How did you all meet as a band?
Dean: “The two of these guys and Craig were in a band together in school and we were all in school together so we all did meet in school. The two of those guys are obviously brothers so they’d met beforehand.”
Matt: “Yeah we all met when we were 12 and me, Stephen and Craig were just all kind of in different bands, different names. kinda pretty shit bands to be honest. Some covers, some originals just kind of experimenting and then we could never get our hands on Dean because Dean used to play in a different band and then he finally joined when we were in our last year of school.”
Dean: “Like 17. 16/17.”
Matt: “17, I think we were. Yeah, that’s kind of when it took off.”
Name a random fun fact about each other?
Matt: “I got one for Stephen!”
Stephen: “I’ve got one for myself as well. Just in case.”
Matt: “What your one’s gonna be? Stephen when he was I think maybe 8 years old…”
Stephen: “No dude it was 11 or 12.”
Matt: “Alright, alright. When he was 11 years old made his national television debut in Ireland on a show called ‘Quiz Zone’, he came last as well.”
Stephen: “Oh yeeeahhh. I was part of a team, I didn’t individually come last. I was let down by some sloppy team mates. I’ll say that louder just so it comes across, SLOPPY TEAMMATES.” (Laughs)
Stephen: “Umh, Dean, I suppose the fun fact for Dean would be that his mid teenage years were spent gigging across Ireland in a country band.”
Dean: “Yeah it was good money so… literally the only reason was the money. I don’t even like Country. I like old classic, like Woody Nelson, Johnny Cash and that.”
You had a US show earlier on in the year, do the US audiences differ from the UK crowds?
Stephen: “Yeah I think so.”
Matt: “I guess they do. They’re pretty into it the Americans. I mean, when we were doing our shows in America, it was a lot of shows in one week but it was all near St. Patrick’s Day, so like if you’re Irish in America on St. Patrick’s Day you’re basically a celebrity. So when we were up on stage and we were like “Hey we’re the Academic. We’re from Ireland” so everyone was like “aaahhhhh”. So yeah, we got a pretty mental reaction. I guess it’s kind of hard to tell because we were there on an Irish holiday but yeah, they were cool. UK audiences are great as well though.”
The first and last gig you went to?
Dean: “My first one was Oasis.”
Stephen: “Yeah I think it was 2009. I was there as well. It was a pretty sick gig.”
Matt: “Mine was Snow Patrol in Dublin and that was Craig’s first gig as well because we went together when we were both 14. The last show I payed to go and see, I went to see Foals in Corg in Ireland, that was cool.”
Stephen: “My last one was probably Dean’s as well, in LA we went to see an Irish band called Bell X1 in the Troubadour which is a really famous club over there so that was really cool!”
Have you got any hidden talents and if so, what are they?
Matt: “Yeah I can play the tin whistle so that’s kind of a hidden talent. I choose not to flaunt it.”
If you could choose one artist, dead or alive, to collaborate with, who would it be and why?
Matt: “I think it’s better to say someone dead usually. Maybe like George Harrison for me.”
Stephen: “I’m just trying to think of dead people.” (Laughs)
Matt: “Oh no no no sorry, I’m going to change mine to Prince! I would 100% like to collaborate with Prince.”
Stephen: “Umh there was a singer in the sixties called Donny Hathaway and he died young and I think he would have been like as big as Marvin Gay or someone like that but he died young so maybe someone like that.”
Dean: “I’m going to go with someone alive. I’d love to be Bruce Springsteen’s drummer. That would be an amazing job. I’d love to do that!”
Ok now I’m on to the last question and this is the most important question – Is there a new EP or album in the mix?
Stephen: “There is.”
Matt: “There’s lots of new music that’s been recorded and it’s going to be out this year for sure.”
Stephen: “That’s all we can really say. We can’t really say when it’s coming but it’s coming. It’s not secret anymore that we will release an album in 2017…”
Matt: “We will release our first, debut album in 2017, for sure.”
The Academic’s latest single ‘Mixtape 2003’ is out now via Room 6 Records.