INTERVIEW: Kodaline 

“But I’ve got high hopes, it takes me back to when we started”. It’s inventible that as soon as you read those lyrics that the soothing melody will instantly begin to play in your head. After all, the song has played in every TV show and romantic comedy possible as it perfectly embodies the honest and vulnerable emotions of heartbreak and represents the feeling of hope even in your darkest hours. But behind that song is a very talented four piece alternative rock band who have risen to success from their social media impact thanks to songs like ‘High Hopes’, All I Want’ and ‘Brother’. Kodaline have toured extensively through their home country of Ireland and have even played multiple runs of sold out shows in UK, America, and Asia. And now they are heading back to Australia for some massive headline shows for the first time since 2014 to celebrate the release of their third studio album ‘Politics Of Living’. 

I recently chatted to drummer Vincent May about how they made sure they evolved as a band whilst creating their new studio album ‘Politics Of Living’, how the message of ‘High Hopes’ has impacted their personal lives and discussed what fans can expect from their upcoming Australian tour. Check out the chat HERE; 

TB: You guys have stated that your new album ‘Politics Of Living’ was all about evolving and progression as a band. So when you started working on this record how did specially make sure this goal was achieved? 

VM: With this record, we opened ourselves up to working with other people for the first time. We’ve been quite a insular band before that, only working with the same kind of producers and only songwriting with each other. I think the most we had done in the past is work with one or two other people but for the most part it’s just been the four of us. So I guess the difference between this album and our previous two was that we worked with a bunch of different producers, some songwriters and I guess we just wanted to open ourselves up to that experience and see what would happen. So, the result of that experimentation was ‘Politics Of Living’. 

TB: One thing that Kodaline have always been pretty in touch with is your individual vulnerability. So what would you say is one of the most vulnerable moments on the new record for you as a band? 

VM: There is a track on the album called ‘Angel’ and that was written by just the four of us in a room about a fan who passed away at one of our shows in Dublin. She had an underlining health condition and unfortunately she took ill at the concert and passed away. We were on a high from playing this huge sold out show and then we got told by our tour manager that this had happened and it kinda put everything back into perspective and brought us down to earth. A day later we all met up at the studio in Dublin and we didn’t really know what to say to the family of the girl so the only thing we could do and the only thing we can do was write a song. So we wrote a song for the family to give to them so we could express how we were feeling about the whole situation. It was never intended to be on the album, it was only meant for them and their close friends but once they heard it they loved it and and wanted us to put it on the album so we did. 

TB: Reflecting on your debut album ‘In A Perfect World’ and where you are now as artists, would you go back and change anything about that record?

VM: Back then when we made that album it was the first time we had really recorded a full body of work. For us it was just a huge learning curve so I don’t think I would change anything. That first album means so much to us, it still goes down so well in live shows and some fans’ favourite songs are off that record. So I don’t think I would change anything about any of our albums to be honest. I think they are perfect snapshots of where we were mentally and who we were as individuals at the time. I think we would be doing ourselves a disservice if we were to change anything because that’s who we were as people, as songwriters and as a band at that moment in time. Each band and artists album is just a screenshot of where they are in that moment of time. So I don’t think we would change anything, well *laughs* I mean, I wouldn’t change anything *laughs*

TB: Over the years, ’High Hopes’ has become an anthem of heartbreak and hope. So now that song is out in the world, in your own life how do you deal with those pressing thoughts that make you question why everything happens?

VM: I guess you just have to find the positives in all situations. We are quite positive people even though our sound doesn’t sound so happy all the time. But we do have some happy songs out there now *laughs*. During the creative process of our first album, both Mark and Steve were going through some really bad break-ups with long-term girlfriends so I guess it really helped them to get what they were feeling off their chest. So that’s how we’ve always approached music since. We are very close as a band and as individuals so I hope that comes across through our music. I think you can tell when someone isn’t being real or when a band are making up a story so we just wanted to write about things we were passionate about.  We wanted to almost create a time capsule of how we were feeling at the time. 

TB: Yeah, I guess that music has almost become a cheaper way of therapy now

VM: *laughs* Oh yes! Psychologists are so expensive! So songwriting has become s way of getting things off our chests. I think you can can tell when someone is being super honest and vulnerable over artists who are just making things up. ‘High Hopes’ was written about our hard times growing up as teenagers and having people telling us not to do music and to get “real” jobs. And we are so fortunate that we now get to make music as our full time job. Then on this album there are tracks like ‘Head Held High’ that are about keeping your head up when things aren’t going your way and there is something so therapeutic about that. We wrote that song in the studio whilst it was absolutely raining outside in this dark and depressing winter afternoon. And it’s so funny that we wrote this bright and happy song from it *laughs*. 

TB: I find it really interesting because you have previously stated that you don’t think you have had any hits globally because you haven’t had big chart success outside of Ireland .But when you look at your Spotify numbers alone there is over 117 million streams on ‘High Hopes’ and 284 million on ‘All I Want’. So I call that a hit. Do you think the way we consume music is changing for the future of music and that maybe streaming numbers are a better representation of what is a hit?

VM: The way we look at it is that we have never really had major commercial success but we know we have had success in different way. Like we know that selling out our shows is major success. Being able to travel the world is major success. And being able to connect to so many different people and get instant reactions about songs and gigs is success. All of our albums have charted in the top 10 in the UK and Ireland but for everywhere else in the world they haven’t and it’s okay because we have still been able to play sold out shows and tour all of those places and have people come up to us and tell us that our music has changed their lives. It would be nice for them to but it hasn’t happened that way for us and it’s okay. I do think the industry is changing because the days of physical CD’s and people buying song on ITunes where all the chart data comes from is changing. People are listening and discovering music at different mediums now and I do think we are going to see a change in algorithms of how charts are represented because Spotify and Apple Music play such a big part in how music is consumed now. 

TB: ’All I Want’ and ‘High Hopes’ have been played almost everywhere. It’s insane just how much they have been embraced. So where is the weirdest place you’ve heard one of your songs playing? 

VM: I haven’t really heard them being played in any really weird places but we do get tweets from people saying that they’ve heard them played in really obscure places whilst on holidays like at a random beach shack or in Cambodia. But in saying that, there are a lot of Irish people around the world, so it’s probably just someone we know playing the song *laughs*. 

We do get a lot of tweets and comments about Brazil, Mexico and Argentina which are places we’ve never gone to and that’s crazy to us. It’s definitely on our list to go and play shows out that way because it’s crazy to think that we have a massive fanbase out there but we haven’t played shows over there yet. 

TB: You guys are returning to Australia at the end of this week for a big run of shows. This will be your first time back since your sold out shows in 2014, so reflecting back on that Australian tour what was one of your favourite memories? 

VM: It was Mine, Mark and Steve’s first time to Australia where as Jason had been there when he was younger. And I just have really fond memories about that trip because the weather was incredible and the people are really friendly, outgoing and always up for a good time. We just really felt at home there. And now we have some friends who have moved there so this time we get to catch up with them which is nice. But it’s crazy to me that we are playing to bigger venues because we haven’t been there since 2014 and people still want to come see us. 

TB: With the release of your new album ‘Politics Of Living’ being added to the mix how are you wanting audiences to walk away from the live show feeling?

VM: Energised! There is a lot of energy from us as we’ve been working on this set over the past couple of months as we’ve played a massive stint of shows in Europe and America before Christmas. We have changed the set slightly for this run of shows but there’s a good mix of old and new songs in this show. Even though the tour is called ‘The Politics Of Living Tour’, it isn’t just new stuff, there is a healthy mix of old and new. At the end of the day, we are music fans and we know what it’s like going to see your favourite band and they don’t play any of your old favourites. So we don’t want that to happen. 

TB: Playing songs from a new album is always exciting and fun. So what has been your favourite song from the new album to play in your live shows recently? 

VM: ‘Follow Your Fire’ and ‘Brother’ have been so fun to play as the crowd has really gotten into it. But then some of the old stuff like ‘Love Like This, ‘High Hopes’ and ‘All I Want’ are always special moments in the set as everyone goes crazy for them. 


Sunday 17 March – 170 Russell, Melbourne *Sold Out*

Monday 18 March – 170 Russell, Melbourne
Tuesday 19 March – The Triffid, Brisbane 

Thursday 21 March – Rock Rover, Perth
Saturday 23 March – Enmore Theatre, Sydney 

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