The Academic Find Inspiration in Growth

Our interview with The Academic
The Academic by Christian Tierney

Starting young has made all the difference for Ireland’s The Academic.

Northern Transmissions: How did you figure out how to delay Facebook’s live-stream and what inspired you to mess with it once you figured it out on “Bear Claws”?

Craig Fitzgerald: We’ve always been a fan of doing interesting things to promote our music, we were always a fan of the OK-Go videos, and the one-take stuff was always an interesting way of making something for people to watch. We had noticed a couple times that when we were supporting a band who was streaming on Facebook live, we could hear the delay from the dressing room. The idea came from that, and we thought it would be cool to manipulate that into something where you could loop it and take a song apart and build it up. We teamed up with some guys in New York who could make it happen, and freeze the delay so it would be consistent. We used “Bear Claws” because it fit the time frame of the delay perfectly.

NT: How did your new found attention from that change things?

CF: It definitely was a slow build. We did it on our Facebook live, and when we do them it usually gets about 30 000 views, which is great. So we did ours, and that was the initial reaction. We went off on our tour, and a couple days in we woke up in our motel and someone had put it up on Reddit. It was getting thousands of upvotes, and all of a sudden it was at 100 000 views. We’d go out and do something, and come back to refresh it and it was at 400 000. We’d never broken a million before and we woke up the next day to it being at 1.2 million. We were touring America, and we were new at the time. Each night there was one person who brought up our live looper, so it was a really organic boom which was great.

NT: I understand you’ve all known each other since you were young teens, and have all been playing music in some fashion, so how did the band develop?

CF: Stephen and Matthew are brothers, and they played music together from the earliest age of any of us. It wasn’t until I moved from Dublin to the Midlands, where we started secondary school, about 13/14. Me, Matthew and Dean were all in the same class so we were all hanging out at lunch. Matt used to bring his guitar in, and we had all learned off of that. We never really started a band, we’d just jammed and played with other musicians that we hung out with. It wasn’t until 17/18 when we were in final year, we were in final year and none of us had a band. We were hanging out a lot and going to festivals, liking the same bands. Dean used to be busy gigging a lot, and when he was free we had a jam session in his garage. We went in to do some covers just to play a couple shows, but in our first rehearsal we accidently had a song we wrote and it became the main focus of the day. The initial vibe was just so great we decided to be a band and write our own songs.

NT: After releasing your previous EPs, what made now seem like the right time for a full-length with Tales From The Backseat?

CF: We were building up our name as a band, and we had very little time because we were playing a bunch of shows. We were also running ourselves as a band. We wanted to get a decent body of work, and the EP felt right at the time, it gave us time to get out and start touring the UK. We got some interest from labels, and they wanted to start an album pretty quick. It didn’t feel right at the time, we felt young and thought going into to make an album was a naive choice. We built up the songs and didn’t put out anything we didn’t think was right. We got an opportunity to fly out to L.A. to record the album and we thought at the time we’d worked hard enough to go in and make an album we could be really proud of. We played the waiting game a little bit but we think it paid off in the end. We all feel like we’re better musicians and creative thinkers now, and we’d wanted to call the album Tales From The Backseat for years so we’re glad it’s out.

NT: How did you want to reflect the realities of becoming an adult on this record?

CF: That’s been my favourite theme since I was 17. I wasn’t much a writer back then, but I was going through some adolescent stuff, being a moody kid and not finding much enjoyment out of it. You go out partying, people were changing. It wasn’t until I was given The Catcher In The Rye by my English teacher, it was the first book I properly sat down and read. It opened my eyes to the idea that your problems aren’t the biggest problems in the world, but they’re still problems, and it’s okay to talk about them. I started taking my experiences with my family and friends but wanted to write it in a way that people could relate to it.

Words by Owen Maxwell