Sometimes you come across a band that completely silences a pub. People walk in, go to order their drink, and get sidetracked by the music. The Young Folk are exactly that. We bumped into them at a small pub in Tullamore, where they were peddling their very Irish brand of folk fusion, and we had a chat with Anthony, lead singer and guitarist, about the band’s new album and where it’s come from.
‘The Little Battle’ was launched in New York in March this year, and is a carefully crafted album, a harmonious blend of Americana and traditional Irish sounds. They’re a great band to see live, but if you can’t make it to their shows, this album is a great substitute.
LLIT: You take the very real tradition of Irish instrumentation and approach it with a real raw energy. How much does Irish musical tradition influence your writing and performance?
Anthony: It doesn't directly influence us, but all our families are steeped in Irish Traditional Music so naturally we all grew up listening to it. We didn't have much of a choice, but of course we don't regret it and Tony would like to think that he's a great mandolin player…
You clearly hold the folk banner high and proud, but there also seems to be a sort multinational blend in your music, a bit of Americana Country, of course, Irish folk, the ballad, blues and American alt. Who are you musical heroes, in Ireland and beyond?
We all have our own heroes in the music world in The Young Folk. In Ireland we would probably rather not say because we don't want to mention one and not the other, but beyond that we would have to say it ranges from Crosby, Still, Nash and Young, The National, Fleet Foxes, Radiohead, Nick Cave, Tom Waits to The Band, Simon & Garfunkel, and Ryan Adams… the musicians and writers that put 100% into their work all the time. Oh and we are massive fans of James Brown, but who isn't!?
The Little Battle is sounding great, totally catchy and really mature for a debut. The songs touch on love, and fear and memory, how much do you see music as therapeutic?
Music has the same effect on everybody. It doesn't matter if you are writing it or just listening to it. Most people can relate to it and it can get you through hard times. So yes, I would say that music it can act as some sort of therapy, I suppose, but it’s what you make of it and thanks very much for your kind words.
Each song on the new album seems so intricately crafted, what’s your song writing process, how’s it divvied-up in the band?
We've all been writing individually for the past few years, but recently myself, Paul and Tony have tried our hands on sticking ourselves in a house in rural Ireland and seeing what we get out of it and the results are looking bright for the future so hopefully we'll start writing for our second album and involve Karen and Karl.
Coming from Dublin, we’ll assume you’ve spent some time busking. What are your thoughts of busking in general?
As individuals we have, but as a band actually we haven't done any busking at all together. Is that bad? I know each one of us would definitely recommend it, as it builds you as a musician whatever instrument you play or if you are just a vocalist, but I know myself that I have learned a lot from busking.
You’ve played gigs across the world, do any places or venues hold a special place in TYF’s collective heart?
Yes for sure, when we played Hagakyrkan in Gothenburg, which is a 19th century church, last September thanks to Harry Byrne. Our vocals and musicianship where tested that night and we'd like to think we came out alive. It was the hardest, but most rewarding venue we've played to date.
Do you have any words that you live your life by
What’s that one Batman said "I AM NOT INSANE" and I have to remind myself of that everyday! Music is a hard to business to get into and it has its ups and downs, but at the moment the ups for The Young Folk are becoming more frequent with the release of our debut album in March and with shows, such as the Cambridge Folk Festival, Lomond Folk Festival, Knockanstockan and Electric Picnic to name a few, all confirmed for this summer. Here’s hoping the future is bright!