The name Kodaline is enough to stop most people for a second or two as they ponder the possible meaning of this neologism that is pronounced “code – ah – line,” but the word actually represents two distinct things. In the World of Warcraft, it’s the name of the computer game’s “Night Elf Restoration Druid”; in the real world, Kodaline is the made-up title of Steve Garrigan, Mark Prendergas, Vinny May, and Jason Boland’s Irish rock band—which they arrived at independently before hearing of its gaming significance.
Kodaline is signed to RCA records and has been spreading their bizarre name and sentimental sound to all corners of Europe since they founded in late 2011—although they’re still in the new-kids-on-the-block role as far as North America is concerned. This small group of down to earth musicians started off locally in Dublin, but with the major success of their debut album In a Perfect World (2013) and the popularity of their “All I Want” music video, Kodaline is now taking off for a world tour that will make stops in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, United States, Ireland, United Kingdom and Australia over the next few months.
Lately, waiting for their big musical adventure to begin, the group has been working on developing the sound for their new album while hiding out in rural Ireland. Luckily, I was able to catch an interview with founding member Steve Garrigan during this busy time, in advance of their Montreal shows on Feb. 9 and 10.
After a day of listening to their album on repeat, I gathered that Kodaline has a very raw, emotional, and empathetic trend to their music. Songs such as “All I Want” and “The Answer” provide a platform for inner reflection and release, as the group uses guitar crescendos and deep percussions with inflections of traditional Irish choruses to map the course of an emotion’s journey through time.
“We really focus on the muses of daily life and struggles,” explains Garrigan. “If one of us is going through a break-up, we write about it; if one of us is having a good day, we write about it. We want people to feel the same emotion we are experiencing in the words and notes of our songs.”
Though Kodaline is working to ensure that their music always retains its honest vulnerability, it doesn’t mean they can’t experiment. Garrigan remarks that the band will be trying new things on their next album such as changing their instrumentals to create a more “diverse vibe.”
“Our goal is [to be appreciated from ages] eight to 80, we think everyone can benefit from our songs,” says Garrigan.
While many young musicians who start to make it in the music industry go full-throttle into all the glitz and glam of the fast-paced scene, this small group of Dubliners—whose growing list of accolades includes selling out their hometown’s O2 amphitheatre, Ireland’s largest venue—have retained their wholesome roots. With other young stars facing DUI charges and other misdemeanours, these young 20-somethings are setting an example of the more stable behavior new social figures should mimic.
When asked about any pre-performance rituals or pick-me-ups, Garrigan responded, “We just sit around drinking Irish tea.” Although I have personally never tried this Gaelic beverage, all members of Kodaline are fanatics and remark that the “lack of properly prepared Irish tea” is their least favourite thing about being on tour. But this small detail is lost as soon as the band gets on stage and begins their performance—the impetus behind their hard work and travel.
“Our favorite part of being on tour is the chance […] to play live every night,” says Garrigan. “Our live shows are our strength, and we love the chance we have to connect to audiences all over the world.”
Needless to say, not only because of their sexy Irish accents and charming sense of humour, but because of their integrity as musicians and sentimentally-packed songs, Kodaline has an appeal to music audiences everywhere who wish to get back to the untainted, community-driven movement of music known by honest self-expression.
Kodaline plays on Feb. 9 at 8 p.m. at La Salla Rosa (4848 St. Laurent). Tickets are $20.93 including fees. They also play on Feb. 10 at 8 p.m. at Corona Theatre (2490 Notre-Dame W). Tickets are $28.15 including fees.