When you think of Irish rock, you can’t help but think of the boisterous, in your face style involving a heap of men cramped in an old stinky pub, with beer sloshing around (think Flogging Molly).
To much delight however, when The Cast of Cheers grace your ears, their Irish indie rock is nothing of the sort. The guitar-led quartet from Dublin don’t slam years of Irish rock culture down your ears; they don’t play jigs or any kind of riff that makes you want to slap your hand on your bouncing knee.
They just play rock like any other, the only difference being their brilliant accents. But their energetic and refreshing take on the genre does make them stand out, as they’ve nabbed a spot on this years’ Splendour In The Grass lineup, and their newly released album, Family was recently named Triple J’s album of the week.
Chatting to frontman Conor Adams, about the release of Family and their upcoming trip to Australia, it’s clear they’re over the moon at their newly found fame.
“We haven’t been to Australia before so we’re absolutely ecstatic. I know loads of friends who’ve lived over there, I’ve heard amazing things,” enthuses the frontman.
Forming in 2009, The Cast Of Cheers have come a long way in little time, starting as a bunch of mates jamming. They didn’t even have a name to begin with.
“It was a joke, we were just calling it ‘Band’. We needed to come up with something, so I told John the bassist to bring me fifty names. He made the list and they were really bad. At the end he’d written The Cast Of Cheers as a joke, and we were like ‘that’s the one!’,” explains Adams.
“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you’re called until the music proves itself, then you just relate the music to that name, you don’t really think about the name.”
They released their debut album, 2010’s Chariot, online for free and have since moved to London, released Family, and spread their name right across the world. While Chariot was a great start for the band – earning them a Choice Music Prize nomination – Adams admits it was rough, thrown together in a few days. Family, however, platforms a fresh outlook and sound for the boys.
Or as their singer puts it, “If you look at it in terms of a picture, Chariot was a big scribble. But a nice scribble. Family is still a scribble, but a scribble that’s kind of boxed off.”
“I wrote Chariot in my attic in the space of three or four days. Not much thought went into it. Family is focused on songs, as opposed to pieces of music. It was started pretty much straight after Chariot, we had at least thirty songs, but we whittled it down to the ten we most liked,” Adams continues, “not necessarily the ten smash hits, but the ten that glued an album together.”
Confessing that a song like ‘Go Getter’ is one such example. Not exactly the cream of the crop, but a song that blends the album.
“We could’ve had ten songs that we just bang out, real up-tempo, but I love the concept of an album being a body of work that flows. You’ve gotta have songs that are slower and more dramatic.”
Getting their inspiration from books, and music to the likes of The Mars Volta, The Relic Manifesto and 90s favourites The Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam; Adams says the album is primarily based around the people they love most. Hence the title.
“I think lyrics-wise this album is a lot about relationships and that kind of connection.”
After discussing the music video for ‘Family’ and how Adams accidentally rocked up with a weird looking beard that day, the subject turns to the trend of boys in bands with beards.
“I don’t know what I was thinking that day. I think the beard thing is lazy. I think it’s poverty as well. Musicians can’t afford razors. But really, if you see someone with a beard, they’re not being fashionable, they’re just being lazy. I have a beard most of the time,” Adams laughs.
Particularly on tour, when the follicles can grow in excess. They may do just that as The Cast of Cheers head to our shores in September for Splendour and sideshows with Django Django; Adams contemplates the pros and cons of the touring lifestyle.
“The best thing is seeing new places and meeting people. The worst thing is the smell of the tour van. Put a lot of men in a van and it just doesn’t smell good. Especially shoes. Peoples’ shoes stink. Not mine though.”
Does the singer have anything else to declare? “There’s not really a bad thing about touring… you hear people complain it’s gruelling and you don’t get much sleep, but at the same time what other kind of occupation do you get to see the world like we do?”
The Cast Of Cheers are keen for a headlining tour over here, but surprisingly have no preference over festival spots or solo tours. “Both kinds have their merits,” explains Adams.
“I think festivals have people that don’t know you; they wander in drunk, kind of like ‘who are these guys we’ll give them five minutes’… but we definitely encourage more crowd participation, we shout at people and try to get them hanging around.”
Adams logic being, “if you wander in and see a lot of people going nuts you’re gonna tend to stay and watch what’s going on; and then our own shows – indoors, like hot sweaty boxes – they’re intimate, you can hear the crowd sing back. Splendour has such a great lineup, we can’t wait for that tour, but we’d love to come back on a headlining tour soon!”
Following their Byron Bay appearance, they’ve a heap of international festival spots lined up, and a tour of the UK, giving The Cast Of Cheers plenty to fill their horizon.
“I suppose when you start out you have to think you’ll make it, otherwise it doesn’t give you the drive. Ever since I was a kid I dreamed about being in a band,” Adams ruminates.
“You don’t understand what that means as a kid, but now when it’s actually happening you realise you just want to get your music out to as many people as possible, and when that starts happening it’s pretty special. And it doesn’t compare to anything else.”
Family is out now through School Boy Error. The Cast Of Cheers play Splendour In The Grass this weekend and support Django Django at Melbourne’s Corner Hotel on July 29th and Sydney’s Oxford Art Factory on August 1st. Tickets available from venue website.
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