This coming Thursday sees the start of the once infantile music gathering, Hard Working Class Heroes (HWCH), tumbling through our favourite venues for another serving of both old and new Irish talent.What began as a low-key event in 2003 has grown into an annual necessity for those of us hungry for fresh, local talent. The platform for many bands causing waves in the oceanic music world today including Villagers, Jape and The Strypes, and introducing newbies to a wider audience, HWCH has become a means of assessing the new Irish music nation.
In anticipation for the gluttonous instrumental feast before us we’ve gathered together some of the bands playing for a quick chinwag on influences, name choices and university degrees.
Galway based trio So Cow have been on the steady incline for a while now. With a name coming from “an erroneous answer given during a South Korean elementary school spelling test” the trio have an infectious way with sound, linking melodies together that have you shimming against your will in no time.
Lead vocalist, Brian Kelly cheekily describes the band’s sound as “being the sound of now. I’ve been reading the music press for years now and I know that’s pretty much the way to go with such descriptions. We’re an amalgamation of all previous Mercury Music prize winners, only a little more ‘now’.”
This subtle charm and charisma echoes through their ever growing repertoire, with the members plucking musical influences from the king of crowd-enchanting anthems himself: Freddie Mercury. “I think I speak for the entire band here when I say that Queen’s Greatest Hits I & II shapes every single musical decision we’ve made. It’s not a popular opinion, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that there’s a member of each band called Brian.”
The band’s writing processes today are fueled by very simple catalysts, but Kelly concedes that “the second [making music stops being fun], I’ll just answer that we’re a very political band or something like that.”
So Cow’s HWCH must-sees: September Girls, Dott and Bouts.
I HAVE A TRIBE:
Cloaked in mystery and anonymity, I Have A Tribe is certainly at the top of many people’s lists for HWCH. Their obscure, riddle-like online bio will have you scratching at your head and banging at your keyboard to uncover more about this one-man show.
However, giving meaning to the band’s name puts this demeanor into perspective. “I like the idea of a live show, performing under this name,” says the band’s only member. “It pulls away from having a boundary between performer and audience. Some of us are playing music and some of us are listening, but we’re all in the tribe together.
A past Music and English student, who unashamedly claims Harry Potter as his favourite book, I Have A Tribe has an eclectic mix of influences fueling this dream-like act. It certainly is an aural delight and his appreciation to those who’ve inspired him is tangible.
“It’s a strange feeling to feel grateful to people you’ve never met, and maybe won’t ever meet, for the musical direction they might have pushed you towards, whether you knew it or not. Funny, because you never get to say thanks.”
I Have A Tribe’s music is more of a stream of conscious thought, a story that reels you in and holds you tight. “Concerning the lyrics,” says its creator, “I need them to stand up on their own as pieces of writing, without any music.
When I go to a show, or listen to a record, I’m after something that moves me, whether that’s physically, or otherwise. I want a sound, basically, that has some sort of impact.”
I Have A Tribe HWCH must-sees: Liza Flume, Hozier and Let’s Set Sail. “But maybe the best thing is just to wander wherever, you never know what you’re gonna fall in love with, really. That’s my shout, anyway.”
This Dublin four-piece are the injection of 1960s bright, woozy vibes we all need. A name bred from their experiences in a rehearsal space “with flickering lights, gross smells, weird noises and mysteriously disappearing slices of pizza,” their beginnings certainly don’t mirror the sun-drenched melodies the quartet have been creating since.
Describing their sound as retro pop, their influences range quite rightly between The Beach Boys, Ronettes and Link Wray. “Although there were particular bands that we were all into and informed the sound we were looking for on paper, when we actually started playing a totally different sound materialized” the band.
Cave Ghosts entwine dreamy female vocals, soothing harmonies and soft timbre that gently sway you from side to side. Light sun rays beat through each of their tracks, with the likes of Best Coast coming to mind, least of all for the cat related references branching from their artwork to custom social media bios.
With band member Jen completing her final year in Multimedia, everything the band release is directly their own production. “Juggling jobs, college and the band has been a huge challenge for us, but Jen’s multimedia skills have been a major bonus as she does all our artwork and random cat-related concepts like Cat Medicine on Tumblr, which gets great feedback from our followers.”
From psychedelic twists and turns to feline imagery, this band is certainly one to catch if you want to revisit your hazy, somewhat sun-soaked, summer gone by.
Cave Ghosts HWCH must-sees: Windings, Groom and I ♡ The Monster Hero.
Fresh from sharing the stage with Bobby Womack & Emelie Sandé on Arthur’s Day, not to mention Lauren Laverne singing their praise for sharp-edged tune ‘We Tried’, Bouts are on the cusp of major success.
Describing their sound as “portent, brash, intense, colourful guitar-grunge with unashamedly indie tendencies,” it sounds as though band member Niall Jackson is reading from a musical thesaurus; yet he’s dead on.
Conceived by the minds of former Computer Science and Advertising students, the band, although bold and brash melodically, wanted “to capture the essence of something immediate, short, sharp” with their name.
Considering each band member branched from previous line-ups including Green Lights and Modern Skins whose “presence lurks online to this day,” Jackson assures that together as Bouts, they’re simply “informed, but not overcome by [their]
Explaining the thought behind their writing process, Jackson reinforces their preference for simplicity over complexity. “A hook, an unpredictable progression. That conviction that what we’re doing makes us feel good, because what’s the point otherwise?”
Similarly, much of their writing journey involves “taking the familiar and twisting it slightly.” A testament to their ear-catching
With the likes of Weezer and Pavement sounds blending amongst their tumbling riffs, Bouts are an infectious mix of easy listening and light-hearted grunge.
Catching them in the comfortable setting of the Workmans Club’s resident stage, with dimmed lights and the ambiance created by flowing pints and carefree jubilance circling the room, will definitely make their appearance a memorable one.
Bouts HWCH must-sees: The Late David Turpin, Come On Live Long and Halves
Another Galway-based, harmony-infused band playing this weekend are the four-piece, Dott. With the additional T just fitting right for their band title, this layering is seen time and time again in their songs.
Throughout the past few months, Dott have become the band to watch in the Irish music landscape; their sound representing shiny, harmony-driven guitar pop, for fans of Giant Drag, The Breeders and Best Coast. They are pure, unfiltered talent serving us a platter of both soft-edged grunge and melting indie vibes that have you salivating for more after a single bite of their early
Band member Anna muses about her humble music beginnings, telling Otwo that she “moved to Galway when [she] was 18-years-old and started working in the Róisín Dubh where I was exposed to loads of deadly music.
“It was an amazing time discovering all of these bands I had never heard of before and falling in love with them. I had a couple friends who were incredible for making mixtapes for me and I can’t even imagine what I’d be listening to today if it wasn’t for them. I was quite the musical sponge, and I now have a really varied taste in music thanks to that.”
Since then, the band have gone from strength to strength, with melody being the backbone of their tunes, enclosed further with accompanying guitar and lyrics. With a Late, Late Show appearance under their belt, a plethora of appearances in venues across Ireland and a trip to New York penciled in for the New Year, catch this band while you can before every Tom, Dick and Harry know of their brilliance.
Dott HWCH must-sees: Elastic Sleep, Princess and Lie Ins.
Check out HWCH website for addition information on the weekend’s schedule: