The Academic may still be in their teens but this hugely promising four-piece band from Mullingar have already accrued a growing fanbase thanks to some impressive live shows and the release of debut single ‘Bear Claws’ earlier this year. Frontman Craig Fitzgerald fills us in on the story so far…
Can you tell us how the band got together?
Well, firstly, we all went to school together and started playing music around the same age. Three of us started our first band at the age of 14 and began writing music together. It was a long process of perfecting our sound and when we found Dean, our drummer, it all started to come together. At this stage, the band’s average age was 17 and we began to find a lot of common musical interests between us. This was when we became known as The Academic and really began to commit to original music.
Apparently you guys are either still in school or beginning college. How do you balance your educational responsibilities with band activities?
Yeah, that’s true! Three of our members (Craig, Matt and Dean) are in college and Stephen is doing his Leaving Cert this year. We have always made time for music no matter what school life has thrown at us, but this year we have to be organised with rehearsals and writing because of exams and college. But any spare time that we have is devoted to music and gigging.
For such a young band, you seem to have come right out of the gate with well-crafted, strongly melodic songs and a sense of self-belief. How did you achieve this?
Honestly, we knew straight away getting into the band together that original music was going to be our direction and since our first practice we have never lost direction or our originality. We were very aware of the fact that we would have to write the bad songs to get the good ones and we believe that we have found our sound. We just hope people continue to enjoy it and come see our live shows. We have our own formulae for writing songs and we keep it very communal and simple!
What bands or artists have influenced you? Are you tapping into what is around at the moment or have you delved into your parents’ record collection?
The four of us actually have suprisingly different musical influences and backgrounds which I think really benefits us when it comes to making music. But there is definitely a mixture of our own personal taste and our parents’ records. For example, The Strokes and Arcade Fire would be bands that we have found really helpful for writing and then we constantly have Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan playing so that’s definitely our parents’ music rubbing off on us.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the music industry, particularly in Ireland? It has changed for the worse in recent years with musicians struggling to make a living. Are you in this for the long-haul?
We are definitely in this for long haul and it is true that the music industry has changed, as far as making a living is concerned. Ten years’ ago it was all about album sales but now, because of illegal downloads, it’s down to our live shows (to make money) but we like that – we’ve always made sure our live show is as good as it can be. If our music career involves us travelling the world performing for people every night then that will keep us happy.
I see you are working on an EP. What are the immediate plans for the band? Are you working on more songs for a debut album?
We have the EP fully recorded and it’s now in the mixing and mastering side of things, which we are very excited to get started on. We are always working on new songs and trying to keep them up to standard and hopefully by the time the EP is released we can start looking at releasing a great album with strong original songs on it.
The Academic play their first headline Dublin show in Whelans Upstairs on the 23rd November. See www.liveloudmusic.com for more information.