When attempting to convey the sound of a band many might not have yet heard, it is not uncommon for writers to compare the sound of the band to a more established act. It is rarely fair to the newcomers because of the unreasonable expectations that surround comparison to a superstar act.
Accordingly, when one attempts to provide a shorthand comparison to Kodaline -- an Irish alternative rock quartet -- one's thought drift to Coldplay, specifically in the young group's ability to mix soaring guitars, big (bordering on bombastic choruses), and powerful vocals from frontman Stephen Garrigan.
Groovevolt.com spoke with Garrigan several days before the North American release of the band's RCA/B-Unique full-length debut, In A Perfect World, and discovered a singer who has not been overwhelmed by the commercial and critical success that the band's full-length debut has engendered since its European release.
Some of Garrigan's confidence likely stems from his days as the frontman of 21 Demands, whose debut single "Give Me A Minute" was the first independently-released song to reach the top of the Irish Singles Chart when it was released in 2007. At the same time, 21 Demands did not evolve in the way in which they had hoped, and Garrigan has said in previous interviews that he prefers that it no longer be brought up.
Those feelings are evident in the way in which Garrigan discusses In a Perfect World, calling it the band's "true first album" and saying that the band is "pretty proud of it." He described the disc as "unintentionally accessible," explaining that "it's all about an expression, obviously. It's like holding up a diary, passing it around, and everybody is celebrating it, in a good way."
Over the past two years, the band has evolved significantly thanks to the time it's spent on the road. Kodaline is about to hit North American for the fourth time this year -- the first time as a headlining act -- but the band is known for its proclivity to take its act to the streets. During their previous tour, they busked in every North American city they visited. The band has been known to stop in random towns along the road, and those unplanned performances have had an impact on the band. Garrigan spoke about a "random stop in Hot Springs. [Arkansas]," where the band stopped at a bar and "Jimmy Young went out of his way" to make the band feel at home, a feeling that Garrigan said he encountered in so many cities in North America.
"We focus on the live shows," Garrigan explained, adding that he "never expected" people to be singing the songs from the album back to him long before the album was even released. "It's given us a lot of confidence."
That confidence is evident when one looks at the band's recently completed summer tour of Europe which found them performing at "thirty festivals all over Europe," often sharing the stage with the biggest names in music. Garrigan mentioned a support slot for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at Hyde Park Calling as being one of the highlights. He also mentioned the thrill the band got from closing with shows in their native Ireland.
And while Garrigan and the band "can't wait to record the second [album]," they still have miles to tour before they can do so. In the meantime, it won't surprise anyone if this polished, energetic group, with its engaging sound and real love for live performance, will capture the ears and hearts of audiences everywhere, forcing them to spend more time on the road in support of their debut. One suspects that should they find that level of success, they won't mind traversing those interstates.