It’s 6: 30 pm at Indiependence Music and Arts Festival and I’m sitting with lead singer Patrick Sheehy and drummer Evan Hadnett of hit Irish band Walking on Cars. The three other bandmates are busy pitching a tent before they headline the event at 9pm. It’s a venue the band have been playing for the last few years working their way from the smaller stages to this year finally hitting the main arena. “We’re very excited, we played here three years ago and last year, and this year we are playing the bigger stage”, muses lead singer Pa in his unapologetic Dingle accent.
2014 has been one hell of a year for the five-piece Dingle band. Having been slogging away on the music scene since 2010, the band secured a new record deal In January. But surely there was a time when the five band members just wanted to pack it all in and get a “normal “job? “We were all in college”, says Pa “We just wanted to gig. Sometimes it was in front of only three or four people, but gradually it got bigger”
And it certainly did get bigger and better for the band. In 2012 their song Catch Me If you Can reached a respectable number 27 on the Irish charts and in a world where the craziness of Miley Cyrus wins out in the charts, this position is no mean feat. Its head-banging chorus, coupled with an insanely quirky video allowed the band to break free from just jamming in their bedroom to become a household name. The video which is set in their native Dingle, is certainly a tribute to the town. While speaking to the band it is clear that Dingle and indeed the entire south-western county is close to the band’s heart. Having formed the band as five school friends from Dingle and played one of their first gigs in their local Youth Cafe in the town, the band are very proud of their routes.
“The whole town is completely behind us. Everybody knows everybody. It’s true that our first gig was in the Youth Café. We don’t really like to talk about it”, laugh both lads as crew clamber outside the pokey porta-cabin we are sitting in.
The video for their latest release Hand in Hand is as gripping as the former, documenting the sinister ways in which strangers can connect. When I mention to the lads the disturbing plot of a girl being held hostage by her lover in this video, they erupt into a volcano of laughter.“We do have control of our videos, but the record company sent us on a few different stories for the video and we chose this one. The more interesting the better we thought anyway”, says Pa who is still chuckling to himself.
When speaking of their enthralling videos which appear on Youtube, it is impossible not to mention the 1.3million views their videos have received on the site. With over 31,000 Facebook likes and a loyal Twitter following of over 10,000, the band are well aware of how important a factor social media has been to their success.
“I don’t think we’d be where we are today without social media”, say Pa as he jerks his head over to Evan who is in obvious agreement. “I don’t know how bands back in the day did it. Something gets retweeted these days and everyone can see it, it’s great”
While nobody would blame the lads if the success had gone to their heads, this couldn’t be further from the truth. They are as eager as I am, answering every question with enthusiasm and are humbled by what they’ve achieved, knowing that it could all end in a heartbeat.
Hailed for their glorious live gigs, in which Pa’s husky tones are accompanied by booming drums, a lively bass and a haunting piano, the band are also commended for their original mash-ups of songs from mainstream artists such as Tinie Tempah and Bruno Mars. While they insist they won’t be performing any of these songs at the Mitchelstown venue, they haven’t left them behind for good. “We’re working on a new one at the moment actually”, smiles Pa “We won’t be doing any of them tonight though”
With fellow Irish bands Kodaline, The Coronas and The Script firmly flying the Irish flag abroad with their music, Walking on Cars don’t have far to look for inspiration. The two bandmates are certainly aware of this fact and would be happy to emulate even a fraction of these band’s achievements. “I’m a big fan of The Script actually and have been listening to their new song Superhereos”, says Pa “Their success is definitely something to admire”
Having spent a fun-filled fifteen minutes with the lads I decide to ask them my final question, before I leave them to prepare for their upcoming gig. While my cousin wanted desperately to know whether any of them were single, I decide to ask them the second best question instead. So where exactly did the name Walking on Cars actually originate from, a drunken night in Dingle perhaps…? Both lads once again spill into a surge of Kerry laughter.
“That was probably it to be honest”, says Pa “But no, it was our friend who thought of it. We were looking for a name for over six months and it was just those three words and we went for it”
Satisfied with their answer, I thank the two bandmates for their time and allow them to relax before they take on the roaring crowds at Indiependence in just over two hours’ time.
Later on as a member of that roaring crowd, it’s easy to see that the five-piece were born for this. The music revellers are in love with the band, while the band are equally besotted with their fans. Entranced by their show, I can’t help thinking that the name Walking on Stars is more fitting for the dizzy heights that the band will undoubtedly reach in the coming years.