How has lockdown been treating The Academic? Have you all been finding ways to be creative in these challenging times?
It has been ok for us. We are all safe and well, our families and those close to us are all good so we can’t complain there. We haven’t put any pressure on ourselves to be any more creative than normal. We had just finished recording some new material for a new EP before this all kicked off so we were lucky in that we had something to go. We had to think on our feet a little bit on the visuals for the music because we were quite restricted in what we could and couldn’t do but we got there in the end.
Does it feel strange to be releasing new material at a time when you can’t play live on stage for your fans?
Yeah, it definitely does and that’s the hardest thing. We were due to head out on a big tour across the UK and Europe in March. We were so excited to have new music to play and then like everything else it had to be postponed. We miss it a lot, playing live is the backbone of everything we do but how fucking special are the shows going to be now when we do get back out there!
Your previously released singles “Superlike” and “Aftertaste” have a cool, 80s guitar vibe to them. Were there any similar key influences that inspired your latest release?
I think it would have been easy to come back and write another record like Tales From The Backseat but as a band, we are always pushing ourselves and don’t want to defined by certain genres or eras. I mean we love music from the late ’70s and early ’80s.
With “Superlike” and “Aftertaste” we dipped our toe in a bit to the soundscape of that time. “Anything Could Happen” and some of the other songs on the EP are definitely a continuance of that vibe.
What was it like to work with ex-Kaiser Chiefs member Nick Hodgson in the studio for “Anything Could Happen”?
Working with Nick is great, not least because of his indie-disco heritage, that sound really had a lasting impact on us as kids. From the first time we ever met Nick, there was an instant connection. He is one of the few guys that, when we get in a room with him, everything just flows naturally.
Have the main lyrical themes explored in “Anything Could Happen” taken on a new meaning in these unprecedented times?
We wrote the song pre-pandemic and it was really about inspiring people to keep chasing their dreams, that it’s ok not to feel ok and that nobody is perfect. I don’t think there is anybody that goes through life without feeling some self-doubt, we just wanted to write something that made people feel positive about themselves. Now with what is going on in the world right now, it definitely has some added context.
Whose idea was it to create the DIY lockdown music video for the track?
We had such a great idea for the video for “Anything Could Happen.” We were due to shoot it in London but we had literally just stepped off a plane from a show in Dubai and we were told that everything was shutting down. Given that we all had to go into self-isolation did not make things easier but with technology and a few chats back and forth with the directors of the video, we thought of the crowdsourcing theme.
We reached out and got a huge response from couples who were also self-isolating in various parts of the world. We just wanted to show how people are resilient and keeping their spirits up in difficult times. We were really happy with how it turned out.
With artists like Fontaines, D.C., and Inhaler also making a name for themselves at the minute, would you say that the Irish music scene is thriving right now? Or, from your experience, has it always been vibrant with talent?
We get asked that question a lot! I think the Irish music scene has always been strong, there is so much talent in all parts of the country and in so many different genres.
What was it like having the opportunity to open for The Rolling Stones in your home country?
To this day it is still one of the most surreal experiences we have had as a band. We don’t normally lose our shit about anything but that moment when we met them was something that we will always remember.
So down to earth and the show they put on that night was fucking incredible. Also, the fact that it was in Croke Park, Ireland’s biggest stadium and 80,000 people was just really special.
You also mention that aside from your musical interests, you all became firm friends through your shared love for Nicolas Cage. I have to ask, what’s the ultimate Nicolas Cage movie?
The Wicker Man. Without a doubt!
Can we expect more material from you all soon?
Absolutely, we never really stop writing and we have a lot of unrecorded material but we are going to get this EP out in June, and then we will start planning for the album soon after.