October 2017 // Tulsa, OK // Cain's Ballroom
On their first tour in the US, we were able to chat with one of Ireland's top musical prospects and a Honey Punch Mag favorite!
The Academic are on the road with Judah and the Lion, have already supported bands like The Pixies, racked up millions (MILLIONS!!) of plays, and they haven’t even released an album yet.
Read below and see what the guys have to say about road tripping, their new record, and how their little town has shaped them into who they are.
(note from the editor: read it all in an Irish accent)
our favorite tracks: "Mixtape 2003" + "Different"
So this is your guys’ first tour in America! Did you have any expectations as to what it’d be like compared to tours in the UK and Europe?
The Academic: We've done lots of long drives before but the main thing is that these are much longer than expected!
Do you guys like roadtripping?
I don’t think we mind traveling at all but you sometimes you do have to remind yourself that there are worse things than sitting down all day- you just have to download TV shows!
Are there any things you all were really excited to come see in America?
The schedule is so strict that we are basically just following the tour bus and there’s been times that we are able to go out and do things, like see the White House, but it’s great because next time we come back we will have more time to go out and do things!
As a supporting act, do you feel like theres anything you have to do to try and win fans over?
There definitely is that element of going out and giving it your all because the crowd is there to see the headline act, but on the flipside theres less pressure because you're not the main deal. Obviously with these shows people don’t know you and you just wanna go out and smash it to win as many new fans as possible. Plus, American fans are really good for wanting to go out and hear new music. I think that’s one of the main differnces between here and crowds in Europe. If they don’t know you, they're more eager to get to know you.
You're from outside of Mulling, which is super small and I hear sports is a big deal there. What's the music scene like?
It does have a rich history of music, but yeah, I would say sport is bigger there.
Big musical acts come out of there, but there isn’t much of a scene. Not as big as like Dublin or anywhere like that.
Would you say that since it’s a smaller place without an impactful music scene, that it created an eagerness to grow an explained as a band?
When we started we were like “We don’t want to just play in Mulling forever. We wanna break out.” It was first there, then Dublin, then London, and now we’re here! So it's just kinda like pushin' ourselves forward. But it definitely gave us the mentality to go out and get our music everywhere.
You have been together for years, even going under other band names and such. When you started out, were you guys confident in your music?
We were more so naïve and just wanted to make new music. We would write a song every weekend, sometimes two. We were just copying shit and making the best music we could.
Speaking of writing, we are so excited that you finally announced when the new record will be out! Were there any songs on that album, or even tracks you’ve already put out, that stick out to you as a song that came very naturally?
"Bear Claws" is a song that we had written when we were very young and hasn’t changed a lot since. The chorus has stayed the same and it's always felt like a naturally good indie-pop song.
I can't remember when we even put "Mixtape 2003" together in the rehearsal room. For me, it's always just been .
Since you’ve finished your new record in the Summertime, what has it been like to just have that sitting there and not being able to release anything yet?
It's horrible, you have it on your shoulders and you wanna show everybody!
Would you ever leak your own album?
Do like a Radiohead?!
We've had the album done for a couple months and have listened to it front and back but no, we can't leak it. But we are relasing a few new tracks before January!
What have been some defining moments in your career so far?
A recent one, we just sold out Vicar street which is a 1500 cap in Dublin!
We did it last year but didn’t sell it out and this time since we've put "Bear Claws" out, we've sold it out in two months.
Last year it was on sale for months and the fact that its sold out this quickly has really shown our progress.
Back home people are looking for tickets and we're like “There's nothing we can do!”
Which is a good problem to have!
Another thing is just finishing the album. Ever since we were kids in a band, we wanted to record a full length debut album.
Is there anything that you want to say about the album? What does it say about you as people or as a band?
It's about growing up. A lot of songs tend to have lyrics about growing up as a needy kid and trying to be an adult and a young person. Dealing with friends and family and all that.
Did you all go through university?
I went through two years and then dropped out.
I went through a year of music college but left to do this!
Do any of you have specific moments where you knew you wanted to do music? Like a specific album you listened to or a concert you went to?
I went to a career guidance counselorin school and they were like “What are you good at?” and I said “Playing music” and they were like “You cant really do that as a career.” But that’s what I wanted to do!
We went to loads of gigs together as kids. I remember when I was 17, Steven and I went to see Arcade Fire together and it was (still to this day) the best show I've ever been to and I was completely mind blown. That’s was kinda like the "I want to keep playing music and do that” moment.
Did you guys have a lot of support? Or were people, like that guidance counselor, like “You cant really do that!” I know we've definitely heard that music is a “risky” thing to go into.
My family is very supportive, like before went to college, I was about to take a vacancy course and do printing where you wear overalls and…print stuff. I rang my mom and I was like “I can't do this” and she said, “We will put you in music college” and then I never went back!
I think most of our families were pretty supportive. I mean, I don’t think any parents want to hear “Hey mum and dad, I'm dropping out of college to join a rock and roll band” but ours believed in us.
Would you have any advice for musicians coming from small places like Mullingar?
Just put yourself out there and set yourself up to make mistakes.
Especially online now, it's so easy. If people don’t like it, it doesn't matter. If you like it then keep going, keep writing, and keep playing.
In honor of one of our favorite songs, "Mixtape 2003," if you were to put together a mixtape right now, what are some tracks you guys would add?
On the long drives one person sits upfront with the driver and DJ’s and within the 10,000 miles we've put in, we've listened to like every song ever!
Do you repeat albums ever?
I don’t think an album has gotten fully played! I do that with songs, like 40 seconds in I'll be like “I didn’t appreciate that intro enough” and start it over. But if I had to put on one song, it'd be The Talking Heads "This Must be the Place.” if I had one song on repeat forever, it'd be that!
"Hyper balled" by Bjork!
My song for the tour is "Whole of the Moon" by the Water Boys.
That'd be my top song would be "Suspicious Minds" by Elvis Presley.
Make sure to check out their newest release, "Permanent Vacation" from their debut album set to be released on January 12, 2018!
See live photos by Emma Watts from the show in Tulsa, OK here.