By David Hennessy
With major UK label backing, Dingle-based five piece Walking on Cars look set to be the next Irish band to make a name for themselves in the UK. In the last year, the band have supported big bands like Paramore and The Script, a far cry from playing to 40 or 50 people in McCarthy’s bar in their home town. But this success could easily have not come their way as it was not so long ago that the band members, who hadn’t yet formed as a unit, were thinking of leaving Ireland. Now the band are just back from their first gigs in America and preparing to tour the UK as support for The Kooks.
“I suppose that was in all our heads because there really wasn’t anything to do here job-wise,” lead singer Patrick Sheehy remembers. “Two of the guys had part-time jobs in bars and cafes and I had a job which I hated so if this didn’t come along…”
Pianist Sorcha Durham finishes: “We don’t know where we would be.
“Probably the other side of the world,” Patrick adds.
Their next single Always Be With You, like the title suggests, is very much along the theme of emigration: “
“Fate,” says Sorcha. “We had nothing to lose where we were, we had done our various college courses and whatever and we were all just at a place where we were at home and it just happened quite naturally. At the start, it wasn’t like ‘oh, we’re going to be in a band and we’re going to make all these plans. It was more that we just started writing songs first of all, we did a few gigs around Dingle in McCarthy’s Bar and various places with just our friends and family coming and then we were like: ‘Wait a minute, people seem to like our songs’. We were just really enjoying it and we said why not give it a shot and continue?”
Patrick studied in London but eventually gave up his studies to concentrate on the band: “I was there for about 6 or 7 months down in Guildford, I did a little music course. It was actually the summer before that (2010) that we actually got together and then that September, I went away and I came back to Dingle at mid-term, around Easter, and we got together again and started writing.
“I actually didn’t go back for my last term because I was like, ‘we’ve got to give this a go’. I didn’t want to wait another three or four months to start. I just dropped college and started this. My mother probably still hasn’t forgiven me. One of these days now..”
But Patrick and the band have no plans to relocate to London like other bands have in the past. “We’re happily, happily based in Dingle,” he says.
Sorcha says: “We kind of like to go away and come back again if you know what I mean because we kind of have our own sense of normality here. This is what we’ve been doing all along so nothing’s really changed.”
The Irish World can see the logic in not wanting to be on a tube when the idea for a song hit, although Sorcha says: “You would have to type it into your phone or something, but we still do that as well. Sometimes if we’re jamming and we have a new idea, we’ll just record it into our phone. It’s the quickest way.”
Patrick quips: “Send it off to get mastered then, happy days.”
We doubt it is that easy but the band are currently working on their debut album, expected next summer. Their singles have charted in Ireland in increasingly favourable positions and amassed hundreds of views on YouTube. When did the band realise things were getting so serious? Patrick answers: “When that video (first single, Catch Me if you Can) hit 10,000, we were really excited and then a month later, it’s at 100,000. Then all these kind of figures become kind of normal at some stage. We made the next video (Hand in Hand), when it got to 100,000, we were like: (in an unimpressed tone) ‘Oh yeah, that’s already happened’.”
Sorcha adds: “It was pretty amazing to hear our songs on the radio. Catch Me if You Can was taken up by quite a lot of the regionals like Spin, Red FM, Beat. They were really good to us and a lot of the radio play that we got on those stations, listeners were the people coming to our gigs and becoming fans so that was really important to us. And still is. It’s still crazy when we hear our songs on the radio, always shocked, we’re like ‘whoop’.”
Asked what their best gig so far, Sorcha answers: “That’s a tough one. We’ve had loads of quite big gigs this year. I loved Electric Picnic because it was the first time the crowd sang back Hand in Hand to us and I had one of those moments.”
Patrick agrees: “I think that was probably the biggest one of the year.”
Walking on Cars supported The Script in the summer and tell The Irish World that Danny and co couldn’t have been nicer: “It was great to meet a big band like them and for them to just be down to earth and helpful for a band like us because sometimes egos get in the way but there was none of that with them, they were just really sound.”
The band are now looking to replicate such success in the UK: “In the short term, that’s our goal. When that’s done then, I suppose we can look at other places. It’s still quite a daunting task because the UK is way bigger than Ireland and it took us three years to get our name out here. Who knows how long it is going to take us to get our name out there.”
Walking on Cars tour the UK, supporting The Kooks November 6- 22. They headline King Tuts in Glasgow on Monday November 24, Night & Day in Manchester on Tuesday November 25 and Dingwalls in London on November 27.
The single Always Be With You is out on December 8.
For more information, go to http://walkingoncars.com/.