Irish Alt-Rock Quartet The Academic Release Playful New Single, “Aftertaste” [Q&A]

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While Ireland might not be the first country that pops to mind when thinking of the alternative-rock scene, the enthusiastic, up-and-coming band The Academic are well on their way to changing that. This tight-knit group originally hails from the small, rural town of Mullingar, about an hour outside of Dublin. Comprised of Craig Fitzgerald, Dean Gavin, and brothers Matthew and Stephen Murtagh, the band released their first EP, Loose Friends, back in 2015. 

While it often takes eons for bands to gain any traction in the music industry, this was not the case for the Academic. In 2018, the band released their debut LP Tales From The Backseat which received critical and commercial success, reaching all the way to #1 on the Irish charts. At first, the band’s songs may sound like those of other indie-pop artists; however, this is not the case. Beneath their soothing sound and remarkably catchy tunes, The Academic often add a hidden layer of emotion for those who take the time to discover it. 

Today, The Academic released “Aftertaste,” a bouncy, 80’s influenced indie-pop endeavor building off their continuously growing popularity. “Aftertaste” remains true to the synchronous nostalgic and refreshing sound The Academic’s growing fans have fallen in love with. Co-produced by the band in collaboration with Dublin producer, Cormac Butler, this track is a tantalizing teaser of what can be expected in the band’s second album, promised for the first half of 2020. Listen to “Aftertaste” on Spotify here or the official audio below. 

The Academic has headlined and sold-out shows on both sides of the Atlantic as well as joined notable groups such as Twenty One Pilots, The Strokes, and Cage the Elephant on tour. This reflects the band’s raw musical talent as well as their ability to captivate live audiences through their dynamic stage presence. The band has announced several shows in the UK this October. Grab your tickets here.

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In preparation for the release of their latest single, we recently chatted with the lead singer Craig Fitzgerald about the band’s beginnings, musical inspirations, and up and coming LP. 

OTW: What’s the meaning behind the band’s name? 

Fitzgerald: We went through a lot of terrible names before we decided on The Academic. It was inspired by J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. We were all around 14 or 15 and the book was a staple in the school curriculum. When we read it, we found that we all connected with it in some shape or form. It resonated a lot with us at that particular time of our lives.

OTW: What would you say has been the biggest influence on your music? (other musicians, people, events etc.) 

Fitzgerald: From a writing perspective and thematically and definitely on our first record, we were very much influenced by where we were from and the people and characters that we grew up around but very early on we found common ground with the sound of those early 00’s guitar bands especially those bands coming out of the east coast and the main reason we wanted to put a band together in the first place.

OTW: Reflecting back on the first song written as a band, how have you grown since then? What has remained the same? 

Fitzgerald: That’s taking it back a bit but if I remember correctly the first bunch of songs we wrote, were actually not half bad. Well we didn’t’ think they were half bad! “Bear Claws,” which we wrote very early on, is still one of the biggest songs in our live show. The difference for the most part is that now we have lived a little, had highs, some lows, and even though we are only in our early twenties, we have toured in a lot of countries, experienced a lot of new cultures, and have grown up in a period where the world is changing every day in every context. All that gives you more to think about in terms of the writing. What’s stayed the same? I don’t think, collectively as people we have changed all that much. We love what we do, we love performing, the excitement in playing a show is forever constant, something that we have had since those first gigs in front of maybe five or ten people in a local hometown bar to now playing venues to thousands of people.

OTW: Why did you choose “Aftertaste” as the first glimpse into the sophomore LP due next year? 

Fitzgerald: Our first record was very much a collection of songs that really encapsulated our lives as teenagers. We are very proud of Tales From The Backseat and what it has achieved but coming out of those teenage years and getting a little bit older, we feel that we have a new story to tell. We have so many songs already on the board at the moment for the next record and while there is no tracklisting set in stone we felt that “Aftertaste” was a song that showed a bit of a different side to us particularly in the recording process, where we were really hands on from start to finish and sonically where we embraced new musical elements and textures. 

OTW: What has been the biggest obstacle you as a band have had to overcome while working on the upcoming LP due next year? 

Fitzgerald: Choosing the songs that will make it onto the record! We have so much material that when it comes to narrowing it down to that final tracklisting there might be some difference in opinion but I’m sure we will get there in the end.

OTW: In anticipation of this next project, what would success look like to you? What would success look like in two years from now? 

Fitzgerald: Ah, time for the deep question! We are all pretty philosophical when it comes to the barometers of success! We have always looked at success as a road and not a destination but for sure it would be nice in two years’ time to look back and have had a record that made people feel something and that connected. Let’s have this question in two years time again and see how we got on.

OTW: Who would be your dream collaboration? 

Fitzgerald: Ever since we heard “Pretty Girl” from Clairo, we have been big fans. It would be cool to do something with her.

OTW: Who are your One’s To Watch? 

Fitzgerald: There is so much great new talent in Ireland now and the list could go on but 3 Irish acts we think you should watch are APRIL, Powpig and Inhaler.

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