Kodaline have some preeeetty big plans for 2015, including a headline tour around the UK in support of their new record, Coming Up For Air.
We caught up with the band before they hit the road to talk venues, following in U2’s footsteps and filming their gigs on your phone. Read the full interview with bassist Jason Bowland and drummer Vinny May below.
It’s tour time again! How’re you feeling about getting back on the road?
Vinny: Good! The tour starts at Barrowlands, Glasgow, which we played for the first time on our last UK tour. It’s such a famous venue in Scotland and Glasgow and a lot of our crew are from Glasgow, so they’ve told us legendary stories of different bands that have played there. It was awesome to find out that’s where we were starting the tour – we love Scotland as well!
Jason: It’s just so rock and roll! I think it’s got the same crew since the day it’s opened which is nice.
What is the backstage atmosphere like when you’re on tour?
Vinny: Every venue has its own kind of charm; some places are really nice and they’ve been done up, but others are a little more grotty. That doesn’t really matter to us, it’s more about the people that we have in the dressing room,
Jason: As long as we can bring our speaker in and we’ve got some food, we’re pretty happy with whatever building we’re in.
So, what’s on the dressing room playlist?
Jason: There’s an Irish rapper called Lethal Dialect that’s just put out a really cool record, and Phox, a new American act. Arcade Fire and Damien Rice’s new albums are amazing. The four of us are completely eclectic. I listen to a lot of electronic music, Mark listens to The Beatles, Steve would be more soul and blues, but Vinny and myself are quite rock and roll!
Vinny: That’s what makes it fun backstage, the music is a bit of everything! Everybody takes turns; sometimes you get scolded for your selection, but the oldies are always the goodies. Something that’s cheesy.
Jason: Vinnie’s got a good selection of ‘80s on his iPod, that you all completely forget about but love.
Vinny: Yeah, everybody loves it deep down!
How else do you spent your downtime on tour?
Jason: Australia was the last tour where we had down time because it’s the only place where you have to fly between places; you almost have two days off between every gig. We went to koala sanctuaries and had days at the beach, you squeeze in what you can. In Europe, you’re just driving so much. You wake up at the next venue and you’re going straight in for sound check.
Vinny: You always say that you’re going to look around the town but that never happens. The only person that does it, is one of our techs, Neil. He’s like an energizer bunny, as soon as the bus stops, he’s awake and out. He’s also the last to bed every night so I don’t know how he does it.
Jason: We did play a castle in Italy, so finding the dressing room felt a bit like tourism.
What’re the next cities on your bucket list?
Jason: We haven’t got near South America yet, which is a huge dream. We can’t wait to go to Brazil and Mexico. We had plans for it towards the end of the last album, but we had to cancel a few things when I broke my wrist.
Vinny: We’ve been to Japan, but going to The Philippines and China would be incredible. This is the only job where you can be in five or six different countries and continents in a week, and it’s incredible. We’re so fortunate that we get to travel and see all these amazing places. It would cost an awful lot otherwise!
You’re no strangers to Coldplay comparisons, are the huge capacity venues they play something you’re aiming for?
Jason: Colplay were one of the bands that were just up there when we were growing up. It’s very hard not to be influenced by those kind of things subconsciously, but even looking to how U2 broke America, there’s so many stories from bands that have gone to prove it’s doable. For a band in this day and age, it is possible if you’re willing to put the work in. It’s really positive because it means, if we’re willing to put as much of ourselves into it as we should, then maybe it will go somewhere and maybe we will get to those venues.
How has the impact of Twitter and other social media channels changed the music industry since U2 broke America?
Vinny: It has changed, it’s made music more accessible to a lot more people. People don’t necessarily always have the money to buy a CD or vinyl, or to download an album, but they can watch YouTube or listen to Spotify, and then come to a live show. We are a live band, the four of us play our instruments and we’ve been playing them since we were kids. We’re not the best band in the world but we’re definitely not the shittest! Playing live is what we love doing, and our albums really come alive in that setting.
Jason: I think the industry changing had to happen, but it’s made it a better industry for bands and for artists that are willing to put the work in and do it themselves. That direct connection with fans, that just wasn’t really there before; it’s just made it a much quicker industry. You can get out and suddenly your song is being played in Holland. We went to Holland before we’d even been to the UK. That was because on Twitter we realised that there was a few Dutch people that had heard the song. It just puts the bands back in power and it’s more about playing live again.
How important is it that fans are filming your shows and putting footage on YouTube?
Vinny: It’s the age we live in; people are always on their phones and we’re always on ours. People like capturing things and sharing them online, it’s content. If people want to see a live show and wonder what the band are like, they’ll go onto YouTube and try to search for live videos. Then based off that, they’ll make the opinion on whether they’re going to buy a ticket and go to a show. So we don’t mind it, obviously for us, it’s better to watch a band live than through a phone, but we don’t mind it.
Jason: We’ve used it to our own advantage, so when we played our biggest show of the last tour at the O2 in Dublin, we asked the crowd to take their phones out at a certain point in the show. We wanted to make a good record of it and I think that’s the good part about it. It’s about everyone being involved and that community aspect of a gig. You want to tell your friends about it and have something to show, it’s the new word of mouth.
So how quick are you Googling yourselves after a show?
Jason: We look after our own socials so we respond whenever we can. Sometimes we won’t have WiFi directly after the show but usually by the time you’re at the hotel, you’ve seen your timeline and you’re talking to people that were at the show. It’s great, it’s such a great connection.
Vinny: The big reviews are still important, a huge amount of people still read them. A lot of people read them that have influence. The modern world that we’re in means reviews can go up an hour after the show, or an interview goes up half an hour after it’s done and you don’t get to think about what you’ve said.
Which bands will be supporting you on this tour?
Jason: We have The Mispers for the whole tour, and Seafret from Birmingham, who are really cool, and an Irish band called White Chalk, who are opening for a couple of the shows, and Sykes for one show.
Vinny: Any chance we get, we like picking our own support acts. They’re either bands that we like or that we’ve heard of and want to give people a helping hand. It’s something that we never got when we were starting out. We were never asked to go on a support tour and play these size venues, and it’s a really important part of the show.
If you could support anyone on tour now, who would it be?
Jason: Thin Lizzy in 1976 would’ve been pretty good!
Vinny: Or Foo Fighters when they did Wembley Stadium. That one would be for me because I’m a huge fan, and I still watch that show on DVD. The bit when Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones come out and play with them is incredible.
Catch Kodaline on tour in the UK this February and March. Their new album, Coming Up For Now, is also out now.