Faye O’Rourke told David Hennessy about disbanding Little Green Cars and returning with the new band Soda Blonde.
When popular Irish band Little Green Cars announced they’d disbanded in March last year, their many fans were surprised and disappointed.
But it wasn’t long before Faye O’Rourke returned with a new name Soda Blonde, a new sound…and all but one of her old bandmates.
Stevie Appleby led Little Green Cars but is not in Soda Blonde.
The other members Adam O’Regan, Dylan Lynch and Donagh Seaver O’Leary did join Faye.
“Deciding on a name is what took us so much time,” Faye laughs.
“We just wanted something that looked and sounded good. I think the music always supersedes the name – the name becomes the music after a while.”
Formed in Dublin while they were still at school, Little Green Cars came to the attention of major UK labels through their self-released early EPs. From there, the hype around them just grew and grew.
Faye told The Irish World the time had come to say farewell to the band they formed as teenagers: “I was heartbroken. It was the end of an era.
“We had our first gig together in 2008 and then we were kind of messing around as a band for probably about a year before that.
“It’s been a long time. It was a hard thing to let go of because Little Green Cars had such an impact, particularly in America and things like that.”
Their 2013 debut album Absolute Zero went to number one in the Irish album charts from which they built a big following in America, performing Harper Lee on The Jimmy Fallon Show on one US trip.
“I think being that age and having that hype created around you is pretty overwhelming,” Faye says of the band’s early success.
“I think I’m a happier person now than I was when I was younger, so we’ll see.
“It’s one aspect of a career that can be really positive or it can be detrimental, it depends on how you’re handling it but I’m hoping that we’ll top it.
“Touring became one of the best parts of being in Little Green Cars, so it was really hard (to call it a day) but everything has its day.
“It was time to move on so hopefully we’re no less ambitious with this band.
“We’re hoping to get touring again and make as much impact as we can.”
Soda Blonde released their first single in June 2019, Swimming Through the Night, followed by their debut EP, Terrible Hands, in November. Had it not been for the pandemic they may have released their debut album but the filled the gap with the EP, Isolation Content.
“People really responded to it. We feel like we had a new family coming in, just because it was so visually different and the music sounds so different. It makes you wanna move.
“I’ve seen it on socials and stuff, people really following on from Little Green Cars.”
“We cracked into that about a week into lockdown. We kind of thought, ‘It might just be a project to do’.
“We were kind of seeing what we could do in a short space of time. We didn’t know how long the lockdown was going to go on.
“It was a way of keeping ourselves connected and having a bit of a routine – it became so much more than that. We worked on it over a period of about a month or two.
“It showed that we could work in isolation from each other and still make music of the same standard as before.
How did she find working in isolation? “(There’s) no one criticising ya,” she says with a laugh.
“I would have a song finished and then I would come to the guys with it and then we would arrange it in the room, so the process wasn’t massively different for me.
“Maybe it was a little bit longer in terms of back and forth to people, but we’ve got a really good way of communicating and a good way of using constructive criticism.
“I wouldn’t compromise on lyrics – ever – if I’m going to release something.
“We wanted to lift people and try and provide a bit of escapism- not just say what’s happening.”
Like so many other leading Irish women performers Faye was asked to join RuthAnne and Irish Women in Harmony for their cover of Dreams and took part in the collective’s recent appearance on The Late Late Show on Irish TV.
“That was a real buzz to just be doing something. It was amazing to meet the other ladies. It really unified us all.
“Psychologically there are a lot of things that make you feel like you’re in competition with other women when, in fact, you’re not.
“It was an opportunity to be inspired and work with other people that are doing a similar thing to what you’re doing so it was brilliant.
“Hats off to RuthAnne for organising it especially during this time, it was a real booster for morale, and it’s raised €250,000-plus for Safe Ireland so it’s doing something and clearly it’s touching the public in a way that’s really beautiful.
“I think after the (Late Late) show, it went back up to number one. It’s the most downloaded track of any Irish artist this year.”
Soda Blonde have released their new single, Love Me World, which is about the darker moments of wanting to be loved by everyone, this week.
“That was written about a month or so ago.
“It is about not being satisfied by things in your life, wanting to bend the zeitgeist, almost, to be loved by everyone.”
The band were all set to release their debut album before the pandemic forced a rethink.
“We had it mastered and now, between you and me and everyone who’s reading, as time’s gone on, we’ve been writing more and more so there might be a bit of a revision of things. But it will be released in 2021. It’s kind of hard to know at the moment. The industry seems to be a little bit topsy-turvy.
“It’s very, very, very close. I mean one or two minor tweaks or changes possibly on my end, but (it’s) essentially ready to go.
“It’s hard for people in our industry because everything has been wiped off the table. We did have a full summer (booked). We were supposed to be playing with Sinead O’Connor and doing Live at Leeds and some UK festivals.
“We felt like we had a good momentum. I still think we do.
“On the upside, some of the best things come out of difficult times so what we’re making now will stand up. I know it will.
“It is frustrating especially in Ireland, when you see what they’re doing about sport to get people back into stadiums whereas the arts are overlooked.
“They’re still figuring out how to manage artists.
“My partner’s in theatre so the two of us are like, ‘aarrgghh’.
“You’ve just got to keep being innovative. We’ve just got to keep our heads above water and just be positive.
“Do you know that Baz Luhrmann song, (Everybody’s Free to) Wear Sunscreen? I was listening to that and it’s going to be my mantra from now on.
“It’s saying, ‘Everything is up and down. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind’. I’ll channel the frustration into making things for others, or protest. I might do that.
“That’s why Irish Women in Harmony was a good thing. The disparity of women not getting airtime and the way there’s so little value placed on what’s so important to everyone.
“Music is so fundamental to life; we’re not really valuing artists the way we should. It’s a consumer thing as well as a government thing.”
Faye is used to being the only woman in her bands.
“You certainly see it in the industry when you’re playing shows, there wouldn’t be as many females in the business of production and all that kind of thing.
“I just always wanted to be known for my music. It’s important to highlight the disparity but I do want the music to stand alone.
“I wasn’t really aware of it when I was younger. My late teens and twenties when we started, I was just kind of shell shocked just to be getting any kind of notoriety at all,” she laughs.
“Now Irish radio needs to update whatever kind of model they’re using because people will listen and enjoy whatever’s in front of them, ultimately.
“Make it more diverse, play Irish artists. There’s just a wealth of new music coming out of Ireland and it’s a shame it’s not prioritised.
“It’s not the same in any other European country. It’s a bit of a disgrace, really.
“I don’t know what’s at the root of it, but I would imagine it’s just copying a model that they think works.
“A lot of artists in Ireland have to go away to come back and be successful. Irish male artists like Niall Horan, Hozier, Dermot Kennedy were signed by massive international record companies and then they’re played at home. It’s maybe something within the Irish psyche.
“(But) I feel like there’s been a shift in gear so that’s a positive thing.”
Love Me World is out now.
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