Something a Little Bit Different

Eoghan Scott sits down for a quick catch up with The Academic, before they perform at UCC’s RAG Week.

“We love playing Cork, especially Cyprus Avenue. We’ve always had great shows there – the crowds are always crazy, so I’m looking forward to more of the same in a few weeks’ time!”

So says Dean Gavin, drummer of fast-rising Mullingar band The Academic. The Cyprus Avenue date in question is the band’s upcoming show UCC Rag Week show, only a few months after their last visit to the city during the final leg of their autumn tour.

Barely out of their teens (for the most part), the four lads have come a long way in the few short years they’ve been together. Matt Murtagh, lead guitarist for the band, explained their formation as such: “We formed in school, we were in the same class with the exception of Stephen (Murtagh, bass guitar) who at the time was a couple of years below us. We had been playing since we were about 12 or 13, but by the time we were in 6th year we started to take things a bit more seriously and that’s when we actually began to write and place a more heavy emphasis on live performance.”

Matt went on to describe how the band’s shared influences brought them together: “Collectively we all share a love for The Beatles… However, we actually all have pretty different tastes musically, which I think really helps our songwriting process.”

Dean also refers to the local acts that have piqued their interest right now. “There’s a lot of great Irish acts out there at the moment. We’ve got the likes of All Tvvins, Otherkin, Gavin James and more on our playlists.”

In recent times, the band have played a variety of gigs, from small venues to some of the country’s biggest festivals, to supporting the likes of The Pixies and Noel Gallagher Live at the Marquee.

Craig (Fitzgerald, Lead Singer) explained that the band don’t really have any particular preference when it comes to the size of their gigs: “Any venue that’s full of people who want to hear our music is what we want. It doesn’t really matter if the place is big or small, as long as the people there are interested.”

Not content to be seen as another Strypes-like group of punky adolescents, The Academic have managed to carve out their own niche in fast-paced indie pop bolstered by the success of recent single Different. Having racked up almost a million plays on Spotify, as well as an abundance of radio play, they must surely be pleased with the song’s reaction.

Craig admits: “we were pretty surprised alright… It was recorded a couple of weeks after being written: so it all happened pretty quickly. People seem to connect a lot with it, which is what you want as a songwriter.”

Different and Bear Claws, with their obviously romantic lyrics, suggest a thread throughout The Academic’s songwriting, focusing on the nuance and fragility of personal relationships. Speaking about their lyrical process, Matt explains that this isn’t exactly a conscious decision on their part.

“A lot of our songs are based around everyday life, the various relationships you have when you’re growing up and what you see and what you hear day-to-day.”

After whetting fans’ appetites with the release of Different, it would appear that the pressure is now on for the band to follow up this effort. Can we expect an album release from The Academic any time soon? Matt is positive.

“Hopefully within the next year. We’re on the road quite a bit across Europe for the next 6 months, but we’re constantly writing and already have tons of material so it’s definitely something we are working towards.”

Whatever is next for The Academic though, it’s clear that touring and performing their music live is a top priority right now.

“We’re going to be heading out on the road across the UK and Europe for a bunch of shows and festivals, so there’s gonna be plenty of gigs on our plate at the moment! After this college tour around the country, we’ll then play our biggest headline show to date at Vicar Street on March 11th,” explains Dean. “You should go!” he added, (though I’m still sitting here waiting on those free tickets).

Right now, Mullingar’s most famous export Niall Horan may currently be on an indefinite hiatus with One Direction, but it’s looking from here like there’s four more musicians on the rise…

The Academic play Cyprus Avenue on the 17th February. ‘Different’ is available to download now.