A made-in-Hong Kong moment for Irish rockers Kodaline?
Like their second album, Coming of Age, band's next one will feature songs they dream up while on tour. So they could be about to lay down a Hong Kong track when they play city next week
Fresh from playing summer music festivals throughout the UK, Irish alternative rock quartet Kodaline are preparing for their debut gig in Hong Kong on August 11. The Dublin quartet are riding high on the back of their second album, Coming Up For Air, released this May.
"It's been amazing to tour because with two albums we've got more to draw from," says guitarist Mark Prendergast from his home in Swords, outside Dublin. "There's more fast stuff, more heavy stuff, lighter stuff — so it's more exciting for everybody."
The other Kodaline members are lead singer Stephen Garrigan, drummer Vinny May Jnr and bassist Jason Boland.
Three of the band grew up in Swords. Boland came from nearby County Kildare. Prendergast first met Garrigan at a skateboard park when they were in their early teens. They spent hours listening to guitar solos — a lot of Led Zeppelin — and organised a battle of the bands at their school.
Originally known as 21 Demands, the band's debut 2007 single, Give Me a Minute, became the first independently released track to top the Irish singles chart. Then they promptly disappeared from the public eye and went through all the angst of growing up and breaking up necessary for writing and recording emotional, heartfelt tunes.
WATCH: All I Want music video
The band reformed in 2011, brainstormed a new name and came up with the made-up word Kodaline. Their first album, In a Perfect World, was released in 2013. Perhaps the best-known track is All I Want, which featured in season nine of Grey's Anatomy and then took off on YouTube. Other songs from that album continue to crop up on soundtracks — Pray features in the trailer for the Daniel Radcliffe film, Horns.
Coming Up For Air, meanwhile, has done more than give them new songs to sing on tour — it has changed their sound.
It began last summer when they were touring in the US with an invitation to spend a week with Irish producer Jacknife Lee, who would go on to polish the album's first single, Honest.
They recorded in London and Dublin, then crossed the Atlantic again to record Love Will Set You Free with Snow Patrol's Johnny McDaid in Malibu.
"Jacknife introduced us to a lot of new sounds. We moved around with producers and studios for this album, so it was kind of fun to meet the people and see these places, and it came together fast," says Prendergast.
Coming Up For Air has a grittier, tougher sound than the first album, which may be to do with the fragmented way it was produced — different cities, different studios.
"We tried to let each song sound individual. Like the song Better — we'd always programmed strings into our computer, it was catchy, but we had no money whatsoever. Then we sent the song over to Prague and the Prague Orchestra put on the strings," says Prendergast.
Another surprise touch came from gospel singer Christina Matovu, who features on Play the Game. Romantics will want to listen out for The One, which has a sweet back story: on tour in Toronto, the band agreed to let a fan up on stage to propose to his girlfriend and they played this song. After footage of the performance went viral online, they decided to include it on the album.
Despite all the jet setting, Coming Up For Air was recorded in just eight weeks, and Prendergast says much of it was written on the road.
"When we first started touring we were out every night," he says.
WATCH: Ready music video
"But now we're more about keeping our heads down and writing songs, because we realise that once the songs dry up people aren't going to want to see you play. You've got to keep going."
And when inspiration strikes, keeping track of song ideas on the road is a lot easier thanks to the iPhone. "The mic on the iPhone is brilliant — I wish Apple would pay me to say that. If you've got a guitar or a piano and you press record straight away, you've got a good enough recording to document what you want. It's like having a studio in your pocket all the time," he says.
It's good for the band that they're so productive on the road because they are constantly on the move. After Hong Kong they play Singapore, Tokyo and Osaka and then on to Europe. More tour dates for the US are to be announced soon, which will keep them gigging until at least April next year.
And what about that third album? Prendergast says they plan to start recording very soon. What else would they be doing on the road?
Kodaline, August 11, 8pm, Star Hall, Kitec, 1 Trademart Drive, Kowloon Bay, HK$588, HK$688, HK Ticketing. Inquiries: 3128 8288