Before their intimate 7 Up gig, Kodaline spoke exclusively to Hot Press. On the agenda? Their time with One Direction's Harry Styles in the studio, meeting the American Idol cast and the success of their US jaunt in general, where a copy of Hot Press hitched a ride on the tour bus. They were also keen to thank readers for their Hotties wins and open up about much, much more…
Kodaline were recently crowned winners in three categories of the Hotties, the Hot Press readers poll, scooping 'Best Debut Album', 'Best Album' and 'Best Track'. After returning from a sold-out North American tour, Hot Press caught up with the Swords band prior to a special 7 Up unplugged concert at the Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin.
In this exclusive interview, the four members give their reaction to their big Hotties success, shed light on the rumours of writing with Harry Styles of One Direction and also tell us what it meant for them to sell out the O2 Arena in Dublin...
JAMES O'BRIEN: What have you guys been up to?
KODALINE: We've been busy doing a tour of North America – we fought our way through hail, snow, a crazy polar vortex, we almost didn't make it through! At one stage our bus broke down in New York on a bridge and we nearly missed some gigs. There were literally cities being shut down because it was so cold, but on the plus side, the whole tour was pretty much sold-out. Which was insane! We turned up in Toronto, Canada, and there were people sitting outside for eight hours before the show started with blankets over them.
So it's fair to say things have taken off for you stateside then...
Yeah. We were even on American Idol, meeting Ryan Seacrest and the whole crew, which was surreal! What is different about touring the states – in contrast to Ireland – is that wherever you go, you don't know what to expect. It's almost like each state is another country. That is what is exciting about it, the venues are completely different everywhere you go. You don't know whether you're going to be playing in a dive or big theatre, which is not a bad thing, some of the best gigs we have ever played were there. It reminds us of when we did a gig in an Eamon Doran's. We played in Athboy when we were 18 years old, and there was a button you could press and the stage would rise! So yeah, it was a bit like that, a bit different everywhere you went.
Tell me about the 7 Up gig, how did it all come about?
They asked us if we wanted to do an unplugged gig with competition winners, to have it really small and intimate – kind of juxtaposing to the O2 when you're playing to 30,000 people or whatever it is. We said immediately that we'd love to do it. The venue here in the Smock Alley is lovely too, we couldn't have asked for a better venue.
What's the difference between this and bigger gigs...
We're massive fans of doing unplugged shows, and of just doing a capella stuff. It gives us that excuse to get closer to the fans. We haven't been in Ireland for so long and it's great to get back and to do something a bit smaller and more intimate. I didn't know we were going to be on the side of a bus though!
My dad picked me up at the airport when we got back and said, 'oh there you are, look!" 7 Up even have those cardboard cut-outs of us too. I've heard we are all over Tesco and other supermarkets. There is a friend of the band, who is a bit of a messer, and I was talking to him when I arrived back. He said to me: 'I'm surprised you haven't scoped out a Tesco and robbed one yet, you've been here an hour!' It's like one of those things that ends up in your room after a night out (laughs). One of those nights that you don't speak of!
What did you think of the winning entries in the competition?
Some of them were very funny. We were getting sent them on twitter and we got a few laughs while we were on our tour. It was all over Facebook, people just commenting on our page. Some of them were very creative.
Your thoughts on winning three categories in the Hotties readers poll and any message to the fans that voted?
Amazing, it means a lot to us. We found out when we were on our tour so thanks very much to the readers of Hot Press! We've been reading Hot Press since we were kids and we even had a Hot Press issue with us on the tour bus – the one with Ellie Goulding on the front. So we were doing interviews on the back of the bus in the back arse of nowhere in America and journalists from there were asking us, 'what's that magazine?' That's Hot Press, man!
Tell me about your upcoming tour of Ireland and the UK? The O2 show for example, that must be a big deal for you guys...
I don't think it has hit us yet that we're playing it. We saw Youtube videos from Beyonce's concert and it just dawned on us that we're in the same venue as her, how can we compete with her? Well, we were thinking of hiring a baby elephant for visuals, ya know to have that visual shock factor! So there are nerves, but it's more excitement. It won't hit us until we come on stage. Its hard to believe we're on our first album and playing such a venue. We've gone to gigs our whole lives, seen big American bands and international acts in those places and I suppose it was a bit cheeky to think of doing it. But we said, 'why not? Let's try it.' We couldn't have expected it, we just couldn't have....we're bricking it basically (laughs).
What about the Kings of Leon? Are you fans of them?
Yeah, that Marlay Park gig was another surprise for us, we are really looking forward to it. Kings of Leon are another band we've grown up with. I love all their albums but I disagree that their first and second albums are better than the others... I just completely disagree with that because Only by the Night is pretty epic.
What's this about you hanging out with Harry Styles, are you writing for One Direction?
We aren't writing for One Direction (laughs). We played a few shows in LA and Harry Styles is a big fan of us, he came to both shows. He just turned up unannounced. He came up to us after and said he was a big fan of us. We got on well with him and he said he wanted to write with us. I wasn't really sure what to expect but we went into the studio with him when we had a day off and he's a good writer, we wrote a really nice tune with him.
Do you think you'll release it?
Who knows? It's a cool track. We didn't know what to expect but he was really into his music and really into lyrics and stuff like that, which was surprising. We got into the studio and we said, 'right, we have got three hours.' He came out with a really cool song. He had a lot of fun and we had a lot of fun, so let's see what comes of it.
There was an article about you in the Irish Times that compared you to the likes of Coldplay and was not overly positive towards you – they said you really had nothing to say. How do you deal with negative press in general?
We read that, it doesn't bother us. That's just one person's opinion. We know not everyone is going to love us. Not everybody should love us – we are not trying to please everybody. We are trying to please ourselves, focusing on just going into a studio and making the music we want to make.
Does it not piss you off to read bad reviews?
We are not exactly the band that are hailed by the press. When we started out two years ago it might have meant something to us but not now. I remember when we played The Sugar Club a while back now. There was one of the worst reviews we had ever got, and somebody said to us before the gig if we wanted to read it! We just said no. You shouldn't take reviews to heart because everybody has an opinion. The songs that we write we genuinely love and are genuinely personal to us. That's all that matters to us.
You were Top 20 in the iTunes American chart.
It's pretty surreal, that was the day after we did the American Idol show. We were watching the chart closely, at one stage we were No. 19 and then went to No. 13. It only dawns on you when someone reminds. The US seems like an unrealistic goal because it's so big, so when you break into the Top 20 in iTunes that's just mad!
So highlights for the year and tell me whats coming next for Kodaline
Highlights of the year will be the O2 show in Dublin, without a doubt because we have been building towards that for so long now. And then all the other gigs we have – the Brixton Academy and INEC in Killarney, which is meant to be amazing. We are looking forward to the festivals in the summer too, to get the opportunity to do some of the festivals that we didn't get to do last year.
So talk to me about a second album.
We've started it, we have been writing a lot on the road. We have got a lot of tunes that we love. The plan is to have it out early next year 2015.
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