[Exclusive Interview] Kodaline’s Steve Garrigan On Making An MV With Fans

Western Highlights Interview
KKBOX Editor

Irish rock band Kodaline is set to release its fourth studio album One Day At A Time next month. Formed in 2005, the indie-pop band is made up of four childhood friends: lead singer Steve Garrigan, guitarist Mark Prendergast, drummer Vincent May and bassist Jason Boland. Their music genres traverse the indie and pop circuits and the group is known to produce songs that have characteristic soaring styles. Their widely-anticipated fourth album is bound to bring positive energy to the chaotic pandemic-stricken world today.

KKBOX recently sat down for an exclusive video-call interview with Steve, who is currently quarantined at home in Ireland. He shared about how Kodaline is reaching out to fans in never-before ways through live-streaming and home footages. The 32-year-old vocalist also talked about the overwhelming response to their latest single ‘Saving Grace’ and the band’s excitement and palpitation in releasing their new album.

Bridging the gap with fans, Steve’s ‘wedding singer’ debut

Live concerts and events around the globe have had to postpone or cancel due to the ongoing coronavirus situation. Set to perform for eight nights in Dublin this May and June, the quartet had to put a pause on their concert plans too. But the prolific foursome has been keeping busy holding weekly live-streaming performances, Q&As and song requests with fans every Friday. They have even rallied fans from all over the world for quarantine footages to piece together for their ‘Saving Grace’ music video. In this time of social distancing, it is clear Kodaline is doing a mighty fine job closing the distance with fans.

“We have lots of ideas when it comes to live-streaming. Our bassist Jason first had the idea to invite a fan to sing ‘Unclear’ with us, but we didn’t expect to receive hundreds of videos! You don’t have to be a singer. You can even speak the lyrics if you feel awkward singing before a crowd,” he said.

The #StayHomeChoir idea was unexpectedly brilliant and the videos they received were powerful and heartwarming. “This was our first time ‘singing’ with our fans. It felt great! We plan to do more of it and we hope to get more of our musician friends to join us. That will give a different spin to our music too.”

For long-time fans of Kodaline, these live-streaming episodes are truly rare as they get to hear songs rarely played at the concerts. “Some of the song requests are old songs or the less popular ones, like ‘Big Bad World’ [which had not been performed for close to five years].” When asked if the band had to rehearse before live-performing this track, Steve laughed, “There were some mistakes made while performing, but we’ve known each other since we were young. We have good chemistry and thankfully we pulled off the song without a rehearsal. Of course, on a usual day, we definitely go over the songs we perform!”

Kodaline’s wildly popular track, ‘The One’, from their second album Coming Up For Air, was intended as a wedding gift to Steve’s close friend, but it has since gone on to become one of the group’s more recognisable songs. It has even topped the list as the song of choice for a wedding first dance. This song has been performed exclusively by the quartet several times as a surprise for fans. Last month, Steve got ‘invited’ to be a wedding singer for a pair of Kodaline fans who are with NHS. He raved about the amazing experience, “The newly-weds are Britain healthcare workers. Due to the pandemic, they chose to conduct their wedding over Zoom, with their friends and family witnessing it virtually. When I started singing ‘The One’, I saw the couple dancing and that was really touching!”

〈Saving Grace〉MV Features 500 Fans

感动

“Our latest single ‘Saving Grace’ was finished only very recently. It talks about how much we need each other, and how we can stand strong to get through any hardship,” described Steve. While filming plans for the music video were shelved because of the pandemic, the band requested for quarantine footages from fans and selected 500 of them to make up the music video of the song. The end result was spectacular. “When I first watched it, my girlfriend and I were on a couch and tears were just flowing down our cheeks. The video was so powerful. Many of our fans also loved it and they thanked us for releasing this song during this timely period to tide them through the tough days.”

The uplifting lyrics in Kodaline’s new single are especially precious in these fearful and confusing times. Even the meaning of the song title amplifies the spirit behind the song. Which other songs, like ‘Saving Grace’, was borne out of the doldrums, we asked Steve. “I’m a music fiend, so I often listen to old songs. There are so many of them, but to me, the two songs that have the positivity to unite the world are The Beatles’ ‘Let It Be’ and John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’.”

New Album 'One Day At A Time' Coming Soon

Kodaline’s upcoming album One Day At A Time will be released on June 12. Steve said, “We initially planned to postpone the launch due to the pandemic, but we are going ahead after much thought because we feel that it is such a time when people need music. Our fans are also looking forward to our new works, that is why we are pushing ahead.” Currently, three singles — ‘Wherever You Are’, ‘Sometimes’ and ‘Saving Grace’ — have been released.

“The title of the album expresses how we feel and the mood of all the songs,” Steve revealed of the 10-track album. He shared, “My favourite track is ‘Spend It With You’. It is a very sad song. We composed a make-believe apocalyptic love story. If the world is ending tomorrow, what would you do? The answer is to spend it with you. It is a very beautiful song and I can’t wait for fans to hear it.”

“Jason Boland, our bassist, is producing the album this time around. This is the first time we are producing our own album, so this process has been very scary. But we are very pleased with the final result. I am both expectant and nervous,” quipped Steve.

With three highly-acclaimed albums under their belt, worldwide fame, and the unofficial title of Ireland’s pride on their backs, we did not think that producing an album would make them this nervous. Steve chortled, “You’re right! But I think we will always feel such nerves. We have given our all in our music, so of course, we will feel scared when you put it out to the world. There will be people who will not like it, and even people who will hate it… But it is fine! I enjoy this mixed bag of nerves and excitement. I hope it never goes away.”

Inspirations Abound at Kodaline’s 2019 Asia Tour

In March last year, Kodaline had an extensive Asia leg on their ‘Politics of Living Tour 2019’, which brought them to many Asian countries including Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia. “The Asia tour was the best we have done!” said Steve. “We are definitely making plans for another tour, but of course, the current situation has held everything back.” He emphasised, “We are always touring Europe and America, but we found ourselves reminiscing the Asian tour a lot. I am not just saying it as a crowd-pleaser, but we really loved that leg of the tour!”

Even though the segment of their world tour was especially tiring, the experiences triggered plenty of inspiration. “After the concert, I usually unwind in the hotel, and when inspiration comes, I will write them down — whether it is the entire song or just a verse. ‘Wherever You Are’, for example, was written during the Asian tour and completed when we came back to Dublin. ‘Sometimes’ was written in the hotel in Jakarta.”

Kodaline is no stranger singing to thousands of fans at their European stops, so their concert stop at Taipei’s Legacy venue last year was a tad more intimate than usual. Steve raved about the particular concert, “We have never been to Taiwan, so to see all the fans singing along to every one of the songs was really surprising for us. They are true die-hard fans. I can’t wait to go back again.”

This exclusive interview with Steve was done via video-call. Watch the highlights on IGTV and catch a glimpse of his #stayhome look.

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