- 17 Oct 18
Fresh from their heroic appearance at Electric Picnic, pop-rockers Saarloos talk ambitions, peculiar band names, and why they're stronger together than apart.
Saarloos first burst onto the Irish scene last Christmas. While some debuting acts take a little time to find their feet, this pop-rock trio emerged as instant ass-kickers. Indeed, they cracked the internet in two with anthemic first single 'Changes', which racked up a staggering 1.6 million streams on Spotify in just a few months. When Hot Press meets band member Brian McGovern, he tells us he's thrilled at the love they've received thus far.
"When we first decided to release 'Changes', I said if we can get 10 or 20 thousand streams over a year I'll be delighted," he reflects. "But we got that in the first day! I was like, what the hell is going on? 1.6 million streams is unbelievable! 'Changes' was actually the first song we wrote. We played it to a few people and they said it was really good, so we put it out. I can never judge a song I've written until I get people's reactions to it. I could love it, but people mightn't connect to it like I do."
Saarloos came to life when Brian and long-time friend/fellow successful singer-songwriter Craig Gallagher decided to take their regular collaborations further. He feels they made the right decision leaving their solo days behind.
"Myself and Craig had been writing together for a couple of years for his solo project," he explains. "We'd met on the singer-songwriter scene and he'd been touring with Gavin James a bit. I ended up joining that tour too and it snowballed from there. The most enjoyable part of those shows were when Craig and I came out onstage together, so we thought we'd give a band a go.
"It was and wasn't difficult leaving behind a solo career. I was in a band a couple of years ago, The Fallen Drakes, and that kinda faded out, so I went solo. I liked the freedom of it, but I didn't really enjoy it. It's much better to be onstage with other people and have someone to buzz off. I think we're stronger together than we are separate. We drive each other."
Completed by Andy Kavanagh, the band named themselves after a breed of wolf-dog. McGovern tells us that it was Gavin James who unwittingly helped baptise them with their unusual moniker.
"We'd a list of names that weren't already spoken for on Twitter etc," he recalls, "and Saarloos was one of them. We don't know why it was on there, we can't even spell it sometimes (laughs). Anyway, we were over in London recording and staying in Gav's house. He tweeted, 'Everyone check out me pal's new band Saarloos' and we were stuck with it from there, so he's to blame!"
One of the highlights of this year's Electric Picnic, Saarloos have already established themselves as a formidable live act. Such is the demand for the band, they've added a second Dublin date to accommodate fans who missed out on tickets for the initial show in the capital this winter.
"It was our first time playing Electric Picnic and we got the Cosby Tent," notes Brian. "I was like, that's a big stage and I was worried about filling the place, as we were on at the exact same time as the All Ireland final, but we packed it out. It was amazing. Now we're about to do our first Irish tour and we can't wait."
If 'Changes' is anything to go by, it should only be a matter of time before they follow in the footsteps of friend and mentor Mr James. While he's excited about his band's potential, Brian prefers to be level-headed about the future. "The immediate goal for Saarloos is to sustain itself so it can be our job," he says. "From there, the sky's the limit. We've toured around Europe with Gav and if we get to that stage that'd be unreal. But the immediate goal is to concentrate solely on music."
Saarloos play Dolan's, Limerick on November 24; Cyprus Avenue, Cork (25); McHugh's, Belfast (29); and the Grand Social, Dublin (November 30 and December 1).