It was two years ago when Irish rock band Kodaline performed in Malaysia for the Good Vibes Festival, and with fans having high hopes to see them perform again, the band surely didn’t disappoint by returning for their Politics Of Living Tour in Kuala Lumpur last weekend.
With over 1.5 million albums sold worldwide, the buzz around Kodaline doesn’t seem to be settling down anytime soon. The release of their third and latest album, Politics Of Living, continues to increase their popularity, but behind closed doors, they’re just like any other groups of friends who have a strong brotherhood.
Comprised of four lads from Dublin, Steve Garrigan (vocals), Mark Prendergast (guitar, keyboard), Vincent May (drum, percussion) and Jason Boland (bass guitar), the band first came to attention after appearing on RTE talent show You’re A Star under the band name, 21 Demands.
After reforming in 2011 with the new name Kodaline, the quartet rose to fame in 2013 with their popularity track “All I Want” after it was selected as BBC Radio 1 Record of the Week and featured as soundtrack on popular shows including Grey’s Anatomy and The Fault In Our Stars. It’s no surprise if you first took notice of the band through this hit song of theirs, after all, it was exactly this song’s heartwrenching, melancholy lyrics that caught my attention as well.
“All I Want” and “High Hopes” may have defined the band’s success, but their second album, Coming Up For Air, portrayed a huge shift from the first album with more emphasis on production while still staying close to the quartet’s style of profound emotional lyrics. Yet, upon listening to the first track of their Politics Of Living album, Follow Your Fire, one could instantly notice the establishment of a more pop-driven style for the band.
FEMALE: How did you feel when you found out your show in Kuala Lumpur was the first to sell out among all the other locations?
Mark: Someone told us at the airport that it sold out in minutes, and that the tickets were gone straight away. Normally we get an email telling us how many tickets we’ve sold and we check it every few days but when we got the first email for Malaysia, it was just completely sold out.
Vincent: It’s so surreal. We only have one show in Kuala Lumpur so for it to sell out is really awesome.
M: It means that fans who got their tickets straight away were sitting at the computer waiting for them to be released, so I was thinking they must be hardcore fans. We had a few shows in Dublin and London where they sold out straight away and the energy is always at the maximum.
F: Your latest album Politics Of Living comprises of songs that are a lot more pop-driven compared to your previous albums that are more acoustic. What led you to make this shift into a different music style?
Jason: The songs still come from the same place and the important thing to remember is that we’ve always treated every song very differently. This is why for the first and second album, there are tracks that still sound a little more pop. But this time, we wanted to put so many people into making the album that there wasn’t a core sound to start with. On the other album, they started with an acoustic guitar and the piano, where else this time around, we’re shifting studios so much and working with different people that it just developed in a different way. We did want to try something a little bit different, but there are still our parts on there and Steve’s voice kinds of brings it back to make it sound like a Kodaline record for us, so yeah, we just tried a few new things.
F: You’ve collaborated with a few interesting characters like Johnny McDaid and Wayne Hector. How was the experience like?
M: Working with Wayne Hector was great because he’s such a pop songwriter. He’s written for Westlife and many other singers for the last 20 years, but we found that we didn’t actually write “pop” pop music with him. His way of writing is like, you write a song really quickly and the second the song’s finished, you straight away jump onto another song. I’m used to living with a song for a while before moving on but he’s like ‘done, next’. He was awesome. That collaboration kind of blew us away the most.
V: We worked with Johnny McDaid on the second album’s last track Love Will Set You Free, so we got to build a relationship with him during that time, so when it came to working on this album, everything was natural. He’s such an incredibly talented songwriter and singer. He’s an amazing lyricist.
M: He’s in Snow Patrol as well — a band we grew up listening to. I remember I was 18 when I went to a festival in Dublin where they were performing and said “I’d love to play with them someday” and it happened. It’s nice to be doing a writing session with someone who’s in a band as well because he understands the dynamics of a band. Bands are weird, you know. He also makes you feel good about yourself.