The Academic is an up-and-coming four piece indie rock band hailing from Mullingar, Ireland. They released their debut EP Loose Friends in 2015, featuring the singles “Different” and “Chasers.” In 2017, the band released their brand new single “Bear Claws,” which is being played on alt-rock radio stations all across the country. The band is currently touring the United States with Judah and the Lion. They had a chance during their stop at The Rave in Milwaukee to talk with What The Kids Want. The band shared about their developing album, binge-watching Netflix, and playing live shows.
What The Kids Want: So, the album has finished recording, is there anything you can share with us about it?
Stephen: We’ve stepped up our production value from our EP. When we recorded our first EP all of the songs when they were being recorded were really scattered. We would record a song in two days, and then go back two months later to record another song. So this is more like a labor of love really.
WTKW: So there’s more of an orchestrated flow?
Stephen: Completely, it was all done in one big go, so it’s definitely got more of a flow, I would say.
WTKW: Are there any cohesive themes to the album?
Craig: I think the main theme would be, because we all grew up together, in small little villages in the middle of Ireland, I think we were always writing songs from about sixteen on. We were just writing about what we were seeing, what we were experiencing, in terms of change growing up. I would say the main theme of the album would be youth fighting against turning into a young adult.
WTKW: You just released a song called “Bear Claws,” is that going to be a single off the album?
Craig: Yeah, it’s out there doing its job. It was the first piece we led with.
WTKW: Can you explain that song for someone who has not maybe heard it? What’s it about?
Craig: It’s one of our older songs that we were first really proud of. The story of how it was written was Stephen was coming over to my house for a sleepover, and I had the hook, like a little bit, and a couple of lyrics. We stayed up and structured it to try to make it fun for when we play it live. So then we play it for crowds, they can sing it back to us, that was the original idea. The reaction was always really good and that was kind of the birth of the song.
WTKW: Are a lot of your songs written years ago?
Craig: Not fully, there’s obviously some older songs, but there’s a lot of new ones we’ve written when we’ve been touring. The songs on the EP, they were newer. There’s songs no one’s ever heard before on the album as well.
WTKW: So I have noticed you guys seem to be touring a lot in the next year- with both Judah and the Lion and the Kooks. Do you enjoy life on the road- what are your favorite or least favorite parts?
Stephen: Least favorite part is definitely the lack of sleep. The best part is just getting to travel and see the world, playing music for people every night. I know that’s a typical answer but it really is the best.
WTKW: Have you guys been to the US before?
Stephen: We recorded the whole album here. It took about two and a half months. We’ve played headlining shows in both LA and New York and a couple of festivals like SXSW. But, this is our first big tour.
WTKW: What does a day off look like on the road?
Stephen: Usually when we have a day off it’s because we need to travel a long distance, so a typical day off looks like the four of us in the back of a van binge watching TV shows.
WTKW: What TV shows?
Stephen: At the moment, it’s Breaking Bad. But we’ve gone through a ton. We’re just starting to get into Game of Thrones. We’ve arrived not long ago and I’m already on season four.
WTKW: Any comedies?
Craig: I think a lot of the comedy comes from inside the van.
WTKW: Who’s the biggest joker?
Stephen: It changes from time to time. On day three of the tour, everyone became a joker. We bring this guy with us, he’s like our crew, our guitar tech/photographer, he’s the biggest joker so it’s actually not any of the four of us. It’s all about him. He’s got an attitude.
WTKW: When you guys are driving, do you guys listen to music?
Craig: Yeah we do some DJ’ing. We’ve got our driver and then one of us drives up there with him. Whoever is driving up there is the DJ for the day. We’ve all got like our own playlists.
WTKW: What’s on each of yours?
Dean: I’ve only got one album and one song- the album is The Velvet Underground, and the song is “Heaven is a Place on Earth.”
WTKW: I read on Spotify that you started playing at a battle of the bands at your school. How has performing live evolved for you?
Craig: Quite significantly. That particular battle of the bands was not at our school, but the closest large town to us. We actually came last in it. Our live show has definitely evolved a lot over the years. Primarily, when we started we were always a live act. Some bands start as studio acts and then they have to adapt to playing live. Playing live is always our bread and butter. It was what we were naturally good at. But over the the years it has definitely turned into a better show.
WTKW: Do you have a favorite song to play live?
Stephen: It changes, I like the opening track we play, a song called “Permanent Vacation.”
Dean: I think “Bear Claws” for me, especially with the crowds we’re playing to right now. They’re throwing themselves into it and it’s really fun.
Matthew: There’s a song on the album called “Bite My Tongue,” I really like playing live as well.
Craig: On this tour, I’m enjoying the song “Why Can’t We Be Friends.”
WTKW: What would your dream job be outside of music?
Craig: I was studying music, so if it wasn’t for the band I would have been in music.
WTKW: You guys have been touring America for quite awhile, are there any restaurants you’re fans of?
Stephen: Denny’s! We’ve had Denny’s two days in a row now, we should probably take a break. It’s easy and reliable. We’re trying to hit like every big fast food chain before we leave. We’ve hit a lot of them so far.
WTKW: Is there anything you would like to do more of in the future?
Stephen: Eat better on the road. Go to the gym more.
Craig: Swim. We all enjoy swimming.
WTKW: If you could listen to one song or one album for the rest of your life what would it be?
Dean: “Sweet Thing” by Van Morrison.
Stephen: “This Must Be the Place” by the Talking Heads.
Matthew: Hot Fuss by the Killers.
Craig: “The End” by the Doors.
The Academic’s debut album Tales From the Backseat is set to be released on January 12th, 2018. Keep an ear out for the release of the first single from the new album “Permanent Vacation” tonight at midnight!
Interview by: Maria Kuhn