“It’s not politics in a political sense. It’s the politics of life…” - hmv.com talks to Kodaline
Ever since they rebranded in 2011 from rock band 21 Demands to become their current incarnation, Irish foursome Kodaline have been on a journey to find the perfect pop song.
For new album Politics Of Living, the band have gone all out, recruiting some of the biggest names in pop production. Among them are One Direction/Olly Murs key man Steve Mac, Jonny Coffer, whose credits include Beyonce and Rag’N’Bone Man, Jonas Jeberg, who has worked with the likes of Dizzee Rascal and Kylie Minogue) and long-time collaborator Johnny McDaid, who combines his role in Snow Patrol with songwriting contributions for the likes of P!nk and Ed Sheeran.
Politics Of Living, the band’s third full-length effort, is out today and we spoke to Kodaline frontman Steve Garrigan about how they made it...
How did you want this album to move on from what you’ve done in the past?
“The main thing we decided to do was change it up. We’re always writing, we never stop, whether we’re at home, on the road, in hotels, it doesn’t matter, but we knew we wanted to work with different producers.”
Why was that?
“We’ve always worked with the same people in the past and we wanted to branch out. We worked with loads and loads of different people, sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but the whole process was really inspiring. We loved bouncing ideas off so many different people.”
Did you end up with quite a lot of songs from all those different sessions?
“We never counted! We actually finished the album and then decided that we hadn’t finished the album and completely rewrote the entire thing. By the end, we probably had 50 songs and loads of half-songs floating around.”
Among the producers on the album are Steve Mac, who has written a lot of Olly Murs and One Direction’s biggest hits, and Jonny Coffer, who wrote a lot with Rag’n’Bone Man and Emeli Sande, what’s it like being in the room with super songwriters like that?
“It was pretty eye-opening, all those guys work differently. Steve Mac is awesome to watch, he’s very quick and he knows what a pop song is. We’re pretty good songwriters, but he’s something else. Our instincts are always to start at the piano or with guitar chords, but with someone like Jonny Coffer, he’s sat there with his laptop, whacking away and suddenly he’s playing you this melody you’ve never heard the like of before. It was a fascinating process.”
For all those songwriting sessions that do work, there must be plenty that don’t. Do you know straight away when you start working?
“Most of the time you’ll come out with a song, but we as a band have to love it. If it doesn’t get past the four of us, there’s no point. It might be a good song technically, but if we don’t love it then you can’t do it. At the end of the day, we’re the ones who’ve got to play it every night on tour.”
“For those sessions to work, you need chemistry pretty quickly. Sometimes you can come out with the bones of something and then go back to it. We worked with Johnny McDaid again, he’s a good friend of the band and he makes us so comfortable. You forget you’re writing songs, you’re just talking. That’s the kind of chemistry you need.”
What was there a song on the album that you struggled with? One that took a long time to get right?
“There’s a song called ‘Worth It’. There was a much rockier version of that, then a much more electronic version and then we dropped it. Jonny Coffer found it and he really liked and brought it back to life. It got thrown twice and re-used.”
What kind of album is it in lyrical terms?
“There’s no overall theme, every song is its own thing. There’s an old Irish ballad about family and friends making you who you are, that’s a whole world away from a song like ‘Follow Your Fire’, which is asking an old friend if they’re really doing what they wanted to do. The last one on the album, which is called ‘Temple Bar’, that’s a very famous pub in Dublin, you get a good pint of Guinness there! That’s a song about drinking on your own, drowning your sorrows!”
When did you decide it was going to be called Politics Of Living?
“We wrote a song called ‘Politics Of Living’ and we really like it, but it didn’t make the album. We still might release it. We actually did that before, our first album is called In A Perfect World and there’s a song called that, but it didn’t make the album. I don’t know why we keep doing that…”
It’s not a rallying cry against austerity…
“It’s not politics in a political sense. It’s the politics of life. We like that, it being open to interpretation, it’s a really good title…”
How’s your live schedule looking? Are you pretty busy?
“We’re pretty busy. We’ve got a European tour and an American tour before Christmas. Then we’re off to Asia and Australia. We’re putting together the final touches on another UK tour with an Irish date. That’s where we like to be, we love playing together…”
Finally, how’s your live set coming together? Are you enjoying having three albums to choose from?
“It’s new to us and quite exciting. I remember playing with barely any songs, just about getting half an hour together. It’s nice to have options, we’ll have chop and change, we’re up to about an hour and 40 now. That’s crazy. We like having so much choice.”