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Interview: Walking On Cars Debut New Zealand Shows

Interview: Walking On Cars Debut New Zealand Shows

Chris Cudby / Thursday 17th October, 2019 11:30AM

Walking On Cars are bringing their soaring alt-pop anthems to Aotearoa for two special headline events, taking over Wellington's San Fran and Auckland's Tuning Fork in late November. Hailing from the semi-remote town of Dingle, County Kerry in Ireland, they'll be touring songs from their synth-soaked latest album Colours – recorded in the vintage electronics-packed Angelic Studios, set up by former Jamiroquai member Toby Smith. Finding initial popular success via winning the Redbull Bedroom Jam competition in 2012, Walking On Cars have since attracted fans across the globe with streams racking up in the literal tens of millions. Chris Cudby caught up with singer / keyboardist Sorcha Durham for an insightful chat about her group's first ever visit to our shores, their musical life in Dingle and more...

Walking On Cars
Tuesday 26th November - San Fran, Wellington*
Wednesday 27th November - The Tuning Fork, Auckland

Tickets on sale HERE via UTR*

Chris Cudby: When I first listened to your new album Colours, I loved the dramatic sound of the synthesisers in the very first song ‘Monster’, which to my ears, almost sounds like a John Carpenter soundtrack or a Booka Shade dance track. You recorded much of the album in a studio that was set up by the keyboardist from Jamiroquai. How much did that studio setting impact on the sound of your new album?

Sorcha Durham: That’s right... I think massively. We went in and basically, every vintage synth that you’ve ever heard of was there. So we did this ritual, we did a synth a day. We took out a new synth every day and tried it. Sometimes we put it in one of the songs just for the sake of it. I was definitely in my element. I've been big into electronic music and synths in general, so the moment we got there and I realised we had all those synths, I was just a very happy person.

Were you aiming to explore different sonic territory to your debut album [2016's Everything This Way]?

Definitely. I think naturally as a band, we’ve all evolved in our musical tastes and even just how we approach writing and recording has changed over the years. We were a lot more open to exploring different sounds and just kind of being a bit more adventurous and not sticking to anything too safe, do y'know?

Was it a challenge for Walking On Cars to follow up such a massively successful album as Everything This Way?

Yeah, it definitely was. We went through a whole phase where we were writing and the pressure was too much. We were concentrating on writing songs to please everybody else, or to please what we thought people might like or what the radio might want of us. Then we decided “d'ya know what, this is not working, we’re not happy with any of the songs,” so it was a bit of a realisation for us. We kind of just started again with a bit of a new approach. I think ‘Monster’ was the first song to come out of that new approach where we didn’t really have any agenda and it was a really natural process. The whole thing, I think we kind of had to go in that direction to realise what we were trying to do and then the rest of the album just started to come together after that.

Walking On Cars are from Dingle, which looks like an absolutely beautiful town. Is it a fairly isolated place?

It is in one way and not in others. We’re right at the edge of Ireland, of Europe essentially. It’s a peninsula jutting out, so we're miles away from any big town or city, thankfully we have a close enough airport which is about 45 minutes away. Fairly isolated but we’re a tourist town so during the summer, there’s basically an influx of ten to fifteen thousand more people. Because it's such a beautiful scenic, rich, cultural place you have a lot of tourists, but it has this kind of magic to it, we have this big rugged landscape. We all grew up here so I think it’s in our bones. [chuckling] The emotional drama we get from West Kerry definitely shines in our music.

There’s quite a few references on the album to the idea of memory and it talks about a town and places within a town. How do you feel being from Dingle has shaped the sound and lyrical content of Walking On Cars’ songs?

I think it’s definitely both of those. I suppose musically, there's a lot of Irish traditional music around here... both my parents played the Uilleann pipes which is an Irish version of the bagpipes but it's a lot more melancholy sounding, that’s definitely an influence for me. I think growing up around here, it’s all very musical and there’s this festival on every December, it’s called Other Voices... it’s been going for almost 12 to 15 years now. When we were teenagers massive bands were coming to play in our small town, so definitely we would have looked up to them. I know for Pat [Sheehy], he said he went to one of the gigs and it made him realise that’s what he wanted to do basically. In Colours we speak a lot about memories and reminiscing, maybe it's just the time where we are in our lives that we're thinking back to our youths probably.

I'm quite interested in how Walking On Cars initially reached such a huge audience with your first album, or even before that actually. What was the Red Bull Bedroom Jam 2012 competition?

That was a competition that we entered. We won it and it gave us the opportunity to record a couple of songs and release them, that’s what gave us the foot in the door. We got a little bit of radio play in Ireland and we started gigging, we basically saved every single penny we made to go and record an EP. We had two songs already recorded, we saved more to record two more songs... released that independently and I think it just kind of gained loads of traction. We were playing sold out shows all over the country and it was a bit mad. Then obviously we got some interest from the label, so it all went from there, we got signed and then we recorded everything and put it into an album and that was the main trajectory. It sounds like it happened really easily, but it took a lot of travelling and flogging. I think we all decided “let’s put our heads down and do this” and we’re really lucky how it happened.

Did you expect to reach such an audience with your music?

Not really I suppose. Obviously you always go in with your hopes and dreams but I never really imagined that we’d be going to New Zealand. We travel a lot around Europe and the reaction that we get from people for our songs, sometimes you can’t even believe it. You go “I can’t believe this is my life” do y'know? It's amazing really. It makes us realise in terms of what music we want to be playing, is just to keep it real because that’s what people seem to latch on to. If we put our emotion and feeling into these songs, that’s what people connect with and that's obviously part of what’s happened.

What can New Zealand fans look forward to with your live shows in November?

It’s a bit heavier than what you might hear on the record and a lot of emotion. People tend to be crying at our gigs lately with some of the new songs off the album. But we kind of just go in and try and have a bit of fun and get the energy going. Obviously we’ve never gigged there before - it’s unknown territory for us so hopefully people like us.

I'm sure people will love it. It’s pretty miserable around here at the moment, because we’re in mid-winter [update: now it's a grey blustery spring] but by the time you get here it should be pretty nice I reckon.

Well, it’s the end of the summer here and it’s pretty miserable as well. [laughs]


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Walking On Cars (ire)
Tue 26th Nov
San Fran, Wellington
Walking On Cars
Wed 27th Nov
The Tuning Fork, Auckland