Adam Rooney and Ronan Hynes from Ratoath rock trio NOAH told David Hennessy about moving in together to work on their band during lockdown, launching themselves as a band in the pandemic and getting signed to a major UK agency before they had even played a live gig.
Meath indie pop rock trio NOAH can count Kodaline and Laura Whitmore among their fans and have supported The Coronas at Ulster Hall.
And all the success they have had has come in spite of the pandemic as they had only just formed prior to lockdown.
When lockdown hit, the three friends Ryan Hill, Adam Rooney and Ronan Hynes moved in together to work on their music while there was so little else going on.
They released their debut single Shine to critical acclaim in September 2020, immediately grabbing the attention of Whitmore who invited them onto her BBC5 Live show and Kodaline who shared it to their fans.
They would follow this with singles like Darkest Hour, Take Two and Hands Up.
With a buzz growing around the band from the start, they were quickly signed to the newly founded Mother Artists Live Agency in the UK, and all before they had even played a live gig.
Their debut EP Echoes of the Night, recorded with Grammy-winning producer Ruadhrí Cushnan, was met with acclaim in October last year and it was in December that they would get to support The Coronas for their biggest show yet.
Reflecting on what has happened in their short time as a band, bassist and keyboard player Adam Rooney told The Irish World: “This time last year, you wouldn’t have been able to tell us that we would have been able to do what we’ve done.
“Last January and February was pretty bleak, and there was just not a lot of hope or optimism going around in Ireland in terms of live entertainment.
“But thankfully, we have a great team. They really sort of pulled it together and we really got to play a lot of shows compared to a lot of other artists, we played a hell of a lot.
“We played in Sea Sessions in Bundoran.
“We played with Josh McClorey from The Strypes.
“We played with The Coronas, our own headline show at Whelan’s, and loads of stuff.
“We’re really, really thankful for it.
“And we got to work with Ruadhrí Cushnan.
“It’s been a mad old year.
“Hopefully we can keep going if not top it again.”
Drummer Ronan Hynes adds: “I think 2022 is going to be quite exciting.”
The three lads decided to quit their day jobs in pursuit of becoming full-time musicians just as the pandemic hit.
Adam remembers, “Right before the pandemic happened, we had met her manager and we had come up with a plan in terms of how we were going to rebrand and hone our sound that little bit more.
“And then, as you know, the pandemic hit and we didn’t have a job.
“Well, no one really in the country had a job.
“So we decided, ‘There’s no better way to do this than to move in, write some songs, make the most of it really.”
Ronan continues: “We were all working jobs when the pandemic did hit.
“I suppose we took the decision to kind of make that leap by quitting our jobs, going full-time with the band.
“It was something that was scary, but it was necessary.
“I feel like beforehand we were treating the band as a hobby. “Whereas now it’s our life.”
Music aside, was it nice to have each other in that first lockdown when things were uncertain and bleak?
Adam answers: “Yeah, we’ve been best friends for years. We live in each other’s pockets for most of our lives really so it’s sort of like having brothers around the house.
“It’s not too strange. It’s not like having strangers that we hired as session musicians in the living room.
“It was good but we won’t be doing it again for a while. Space is needed, you know?”
The origins of the band can be traced all the way back to primary school where Adam and Ronan first played together.
They would later join up with lead singer and guitarist Ryan to form a band in Ratoath College.
The band would land some impressive gigs with a set at Electric Picnic and support for The Blizzards.
It was in early 2020 that the band decided to reform but with the new moniker of NOAH to symbolise rebirth or new life- Like NOAH and everything else after they emerged from the arc.
“It’s like Lord Voldemort, you’re not allowed to say it,” Ronan jokes when we ask about their previous band name.
“Electric Shore was the previous band and I think where the name NOAH came from was just that starting afresh again.
“The main idea behind it all was the fact that we were starting again. We were just scrapping everything and then just going for it.”
Adam says of the old name: “It had like an adolescent burden on us.
“We came up with it when we were teens, not that it tied us down or anything, but-“
Ronan interjects: “It didn’t have any meaning or anything like that so when questions like this in interviews came along, we were all hanging our heads in shame.”
The band were lauded straight from the release of their first single, Shine.
The Sunday World called them, “Ireland’s hottest rock band.”
Hot Press said it was sure to “cement them as an exciting up and coming act.”
They describe being signed to a major UK agency as when their success became very real for them.
Adam says: “When we got an email from Mother Artists, it was on the same lines as getting an email from any major record label.
“These people have recognition and respect in the industry and then for them to go and respect what we’re doing is a bit crazy.
“We love bands like Idols and Foster the People and these people are a part of that team as well, so it was really an honour to be asked to be a part of that.”
Ronan adds: “I think what was really special about that was the fact that we had never played a live show.
“Representing us from a live aspect, they took a gamble by never seeing us before but just deciding by the music that we were making, that they wanted us on their team.
“That was really special.”
Adam supposes, “It’s like backing a horse that you’ve never seen race. They trust us.
“We’re a good horse though. We come from good stock.”
They would soon record an exclusive acoustic rendition of the song for Laura Whitmore on BBC5 Live in the UK.
“I think another one (big moment) was being on Laura Whitmore’s show.
“I think that’s the first big thing we’ve ever done.”
Ronan says: “Yeah, it was (a big deal) actually. It was really good. She’s really lovely.
“Before that, people perceived us as three musicians in our circle, our friends and family.
“I think when we went on that show it was a bit more solidified.
“And so I think that was one of the big first indicators.
“She had only kind words to say about us.
“She was just really, really nice.”
Live music may have been off the agenda when the band first started putting out music but when NOAH did get onstage, they would find themselves playing some big stages as support for The DMA’s and The Coronas.
“We had our first show in a theatre in Navan,” Adam remembers.
“It was a sit down affair in the middle of a lockdown.
“It was literally a venue that holds like 600 people and there’s 50 people sitting there watching us play.
“It was strange as but it was better than the streaming gigs that we had done before because then you’re sort of just talking into the abyss.
“But at least there was a few people there that you could look at and when you talk to them, you’re addressing actual bodies.
“I think the first stand up show we had was Sea Sessions.
“That’s the first one where people got up and they could move.
“I say people could get up and move- that’s like 150 people, but then fast forward to two months later, and then we’re playing in Ulster Hall for nearly 2,000 people.
“So the contrast between 50 to 2,000 is fairly stark.”
Adam describes being ‘sh*t scared’ for the band to be supporting Danny O’Reilly’s well known band.
“I was sh*t scared walking on.
“I was like, ‘I’m not walking on first, you’re walking on first’.”
Ronan says: “I was the scapegoat. They just kicked me out.
“But it was a funny thing as well because I think every band or musician knows that when you’re supporting somebody, you’re not going to be playing in front of every single person that the headline act plays to.
“Whereas we walked out-“
“And it was packed,” Adam throws in.
Ronan continues: “There was at least 1,600 out of 1,800 there, and the roar out of everybody as we walked out…
“There was a moment where we kind of turned around and it was kind of like, ‘Do these know that we’re not the Coronas, we’re NOAH?’
“So it was a really, really strange thing to have that many people enjoying our music and kind of interacting with us as well.
“So yeah, talk about going from 50 to that many people.”
NOAH have already played The Fiddler in Kilburn and are looking forward to returning to the UK to tour in April/ May.
Has the UK been as receptive as Ireland to their music.
“If not more, “ Adam says without hesitation.
“There’s more appetite for indie rock or pop music than there would be in Ireland.
“I think it’s probably a cliche that Irish bands or artists have to go outwards to get recognition inwards.
“I don’t think we’re at that stage yet. We’re definitely still building everything.
“We’ll go anywhere and everywhere. It’s an international audience. Spotify goes to everybody.
“So we’ll play anywhere. And if they want to come, they can.”
So what is next? Are the lads setting their sights on producing a debut album?
Ronan says: “I think we’re not really sure yet. At the moment, we’re back to singles.
“We all kind of had this idea from the very start that we kind of want to be backed by a label or something like that when we release an album.
“The amount of work that we put in and the songs that we make, we don’t want to put out songs that we love and it gets to nobody.
“We want to make sure that we have the backing.”
Adam says the backing does not have to come from a major label.
He says: “I don’t even know if it’s about having a major behind us.
“We could do it independently but what we really are looking for is a big fan base who will receive it.
“We also need the independence and the budget to actually do it properly.
“We wouldn’t want to rush it.
“I think writing albums is a different sport to writing songs.
“Personally, the way we consume albums is from song one to Song 14 and there’s continuity between everything and we want to have that time to be able to write a long form story in 14 songs but until that comes about, we can wait.
“We need experience, we want to be on the road and meeting new people and developing before we put our first big piece of work out there.
“I think this is a good time for us to grow and learn.”
How would the band describe their sound?
“Adam says: “I think it is genuinely difficult to describe because it’s not straight up indie rock music.
“It’s not driven by guitar or driven by anything else.”
Ronan says: “The way we made the EP was to have no specific sound.
“We didn’t want to be pigeonholed into just one genre or sub-genre.
“There’s certain tracks where it is guitar driven. Then there’s other tracks where it’s synth-driven.
“There’s a lot of different things going on.
“You can only kind of judge your most recent work and there’s no genre that you could put on Echoes of the Night anyway.”
If it was lockdown that gave them the time and space to become full-time musicians, you do have to wonder where NOAH would be if there had been no pandemic.
Ronan says: “The only thing that the pandemic did for us was make us write a lot of material, and give us some space to experiment with different ways of writing and to get better.”
Adam says: “Maybe we needed the pandemic to get better in terms of becoming full-time musicians.
“So it’s hard. It is really hard to say.
“For example, one of the things that we missed was playing Other Voices because Ryan had COVID.
“We would have loved to play that so much.
“It’s just such a staple in Irish festivals and the music scene in general.
“That’s one little thing that it took away.
“If it hadn’t been there, it would have been great to play it but look, that’s life and we’re really lucky that we’re able to do this.”
The band waste no time thinking of where they would be without the virus whether that be more or less advanced than they are.
Ronan says: “That was a gig that we had, but I think the other hard thing to try and imagine is if lockdown hadn’t happened, and we’d been playing tonnes of gigs then we could be further than we are.
“But it is not something that we get hung up on at all.
“We’re kind of grateful for the fact that we’ve had the opportunities and the gigs that we have been able to play.
“So it’s more about being grateful than kind of thinking, ‘What if?’”
While it kept them out of Other Voices, Ryan’s Covid was thankfully mild although he did demonstrate his loss of taste to his bandmates in a unique way.
Adam says: “He was all right. He lost his taste. He’s mad- He sprayed Deep Heat on his tongue.
“And he was like, ‘I can’t even taste it, lads’.
“We’re like, ‘You’re a f**king idiot’.”
The EP Echoes of the Night is out now.
For more information, click here.
You can also follow the band on Spotify and Instagram.