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Child’s play

Cian Godfrey of Dublin indie rock outfit Somebody’s Child told David Hennessy about the band’s debut album, his move to London and when he saw Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream getting wrapped up like a ‘mummy’.

You can see Cian Godfrey, front man of Somebody’s Child, on a mural in his native Dublin or billboards in Hackney near to where he is now based in Bethnal Green.

The band are also featured in this month’s Hot Press in a big feature about the band’s debut album. The Irish music bible gave it an 8 out of 10 review and called it a ‘wonderfully accomplished first offering’.

All of this shows how far Cian and the band have come. At the very start it was a ‘project’ and Cian was reluctant to even show his face for fear of giving into the industry’s vanity.

However those days are long gone, seeing there was no credibility without visibility and the ‘project’ growing into Somebody’s Child.

The self-titled debut album follows EPs 20 Something, Hope, Amongst Other Things and Stay Sane.

The latest single I Need Ya follows We Could Start A War, Sell Out and Broken Record.

Recorded at East London’s Hackney Road Studios, the album is produced by Mikko Gordon who has produced big names such as The Smile, Gaz Coombes and Thom Yorke.

Somebody’s Child are touring the UK, Ireland, and Europe with many shows already sold out, they also have dates in the US including their debut at SXSW.

Somebody’s Child established themselves with early support slots in Dublin with the likes of Kodaline, Primal Scream, and Kaiser Chiefs, as well as national radio play and an appearance on The Late Late Show.

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Early tracks like The Distance, Love That Sound and Jungle earned them recognition and not just in Ireland with their 20 Something EP, released during worldwide lockdown in 2020, having airplay on stations such as BBC Radio 1 and Radio X.

“It feels like the start and end to a chapter,” Cian told The Irish World about the new experience of releasing an album.

“I’m just really excited to see how it is.

“It definitely feels different.

“I mean, it’s a much bigger thing than then we’ve had before and I think the industry still revolves a little bit around albums. It just seems to carry a certain weight that that we would hope for given the songs and the strength that that we think is involved in the album, so yeah, really excited.

“We released three EPS during lockdown and in hindsight, I think, maybe weren’t sure what direction we wanted to go in.

“Stay Sane was written in Bundoran and it was very kind of beach inspired and inspired by American bands such as The Drums and just had a different feel and look about it in my head, and then the previous ones were, you know, 20 Something.

“I think that kind of defined our sound and it felt like we needed to pay those songs the respect they deserved, and do a proper production on them as they were kind of just demos at the start.

“I guess I now have the chance to release some slower songs that are maybe a little bit more ballad-y or a little bit more intimate and personal, that you just don’t really get the chance to with a four track EP, so being able to share that other side of myself as a songwriter, because although people do probably put us in a box, that’s not how I feel all the time.

“The album) is a full spectrum of I guess who I am as a person and who we are as a band, looking forward to just being able to play them live and seeing how the reaction is.

“We just had the rehearsals there and it’s been two years since we’ve learned a song together, because the last tour was in maybe November of ’21 and now it’s ‘23.

“And it’s been a long time since we’ve had to learn anything new so it’s quite refreshing, some of the songs we’ve been playing from an early stage but some of the ones we only learned yesterday, we’re on tour next week.

“So it’s a really nice refreshing and obviously there’ll be some trial and error in terms of where to put them in the setlist and stuff but I think we’ve developed a lot as a band. We’re much tighter, I think. We know what we want, what we’re going for a lot more than maybe at the start.

“If you have three EPs, you’re kind of trying to give each of them their own thing but now this album is the focus, there’s going to be some songs that miss out and for fans that like some of our early stuff, unfortunately it’s not about that anymore. We’re not that band and while there is arguments to say that we should play some of those songs, I just wouldn’t write those songs anymore and because of that, I wouldn’t really feel like it’s me singing them.

“I have to just trust my gut on that and continue in the direction that we’re striving towards.”

Which songs would you be meaning there? “I don’t want to ruin them for people saying that I don’t like them but I don’t like the use of the word baby in any songs anymore.

“I kind of cringe when I sing it and there’s a couple that have that in it.

“That’s just an example, I guess, of what I just wouldn’t write anymore.

“I think at the time Somebody’s Child was just a project, it was just an experiment and we were putting out whatever the strongest songs were, but as my vision clears on what I want this to be, it’s definitely a more evolved version of that.

“I guess it’s a constant evolution and I think what we’re striving towards or working towards is better, frankly, and that’s what I’d say about that.

“It’s been a really exciting past few weeks really and now the rehearsals are putting it all together.

“Just can’t wait to get back on the road.

“Our whole UK tour now looks like it’s going to be sold out, which is amazing so it’s great to see the reception there.

“And then Dublin looks like it’s going to sell out as well.

“It’s great just to see people are showing up after a tentative two years during COVID.

“Our type of music, there’s just not really too many avenues for us to go down in Ireland.

“There’s no BBC 6 music or there’s no shows or radio stations that really help with ticket sales or any of that stuff so I think it’s quite natural for Irish people to kind of tear you down until you’ve made it elsewhere.

“I mean, Ireland is definitely our home and the music is written in Ireland and it’s based around my experiences in Ireland.”

Is that why you moved to London, limited opportunities in Ireland? “It’s more of a personal move, to be honest.

“I mean, creatively, I kind of rinsed Dublin for what it was worth.

“I spent two years working nine to five with Shay during COVID. Nothing came out of that and we were writing four or five songs a week and just the environment around me was dead at the time.

“And that’s not to do with Dublin, that’s to do with the global pandemic but the following six to eight months after lockdown was lifted, we wrote half of the album, so it just goes to show.

“And obviously a lot of the music we listen to was from the UK so it felt apt to record it there.

“But the root of our music is firmly placed in Dublin and that’s one thing that’s for sure.

“But also, I kind of have a bittersweet relationship with it now and that’s what the We Could Start a War music video was about, it was just kind of my ode to my hometown and showing the beauty and the menial sides of Dublin and Ireland and moving on to something new, because unfortunately, the housing crisis in Ireland is just crazy.

“It doesn’t make sense for me to pay a grand to move down the road and so, I needed a new chapter.

“I guess my mam can live with the fact that I’m in London rather than Australia or something, so I’ll give her that.”

Cian talks to us from Dublin having returned from London for rehearsals. He is the only band member to have moved over so far with other band members based in Dublin and Wexford.

Is that going to change? “Shay is going to move over in May, I think, after the tour.

“He’s my main song writing partner, and we’d kind of be the driving forces for want of a better word and we’re just so tight. We’ve been together long enough now that we have a couple of rehearsals, and we’re good to go so you don’t need to live somewhere for 12 months of the year if all you need is a few days to get back up to scratch.

“So I guess we’ll take it as it comes and see where it takes us.

“But personally, London is just an inspiring place and I needed a change.”

You did some of your growing up in Paris so were probably relatively unfazed when it came to starting again in a new city.. “Yeah, I did my J1 in New York as well.

“I think I’m definitely a city boy.

“But yeah, I lived in Paris as a kid and it was kind of a weird one coming back, I suppose just when I was starting to make some friends and London’s somewhere I always kind of had my eyes on.

“It’s the obvious move for someone from Dublin.

“I’d love to go back to Paris as well to be honest. I think it’s probably my favourite city.

“And yeah I don’t really get fazed by that ( moving cities) to be honest now, I feel like I belong in the city.

“I love Dublin. I think I’ll always come back here, but I guess London offers something different for me while I’m still in my 20s.”

Speaking of still being in his 20s, Cian is of course still young but reveals aging is something he feels some anxiety about.

He says of the album, “It is my coming to terms with getting older.

“Age is something that I struggle with quite a lot.

“I’m not scared of dying, but I’m scared of growing older and there’s a lot of nostalgia in there.

“I kind of live by the motto that you should stay young for as long as possible and some of these songs are a reminder to myself of that.

“It just is pretty much a journal of my life until that point, I use music as a form of therapy and sometimes I don’t know what I’m writing and the interesting part of it for me is figuring that out through my songs and sometimes it’s just intuition that gets me from the start of writing a song to the end, and then I start to figure it out over performing it or whatever else.

“And that’s the beauty in it for me.

“I’m not this crazy storyteller who has lyrics that are direct and to the point and on the nose.

“For me, it’s more fun than that. It’s self discovery.”

Why does age bother you so much? “I don’t know. I don’t know. That’s why I’m trying to figure out, why I keep writing.

“I think as a kid, you see yourself up to a certain point and I’m reaching the age where I haven’t seen past. So I guess it’s a fear of the unknown.

“That’s how I’d put it best.”

Cian attended music college with The Fontaines DC and has seen them go on to great things from modest beginnings.

“The Fontaines guys were in my year and I kind of knew them throughout.

“But we were all just kind of f**king around to be honest for that period of time.

“It’s great to see them achieve what they have.

“I remember seeing them play to six people in a pub in Dingle when I drove them down, and then the next time I see them play is at Alexandra Palace which is just mental.

“And so it was definitely a very creative space, I think at the time, but it was more knowing people that are doing stuff.

“I’m sure there was a few years that nobody really came out and it’s probably hard to see yourself doing it if no one else is doing it.

“The best thing about that is they pave a route for bands, I suppose that’s more testament to them,

“But yeah, really good guys as well so wish them all the best.”

Somebody’s Child have supported big names like Kodaline, Kaiser Chiefs and Primal Scream.

What was it like to support someone like Primal Scream? “Yeah, that was cool.

“They must have been struggling to find someone because I don’t know how we got that.

“I actually tried after the second night in the Ulster Hall to go up to Bobby Gillespie and say thanks but he was getting wrapped up like a mummy afterwards. I don’t know if he was injured or something and I was like, ‘I’ll leave it. I’ll leave it for another time’.

“Kodaline was our first big gig.

“We played in St Anne’s Park supporting them so that was a really cool. That was very big for us at the time.

“We had no idea what we were doing back then and then Kaiser Chiefs was our first time playing the 3 Arena and just happened before COVID came in.

“I was really happy then we were able to say our last gig was The 3 Arena for about two years.”

How much gigging have you done since things opened back up again? “Not enough to be honest. We did a few festivals last summer and we did our tour at the end of ‘21.

“But this is our biggest tour by a long shot.

“I think it was 10 or 11 dates last time.

“This time, it’s 30 something and it’s over an eight week period.

“So it’s really going to be testing of our personalities because you really have to spend quite a lot of time with people.

“So fingers crossed we all get along and there’s no hiccups.”

This current tour takes them all over Ireland, the UK, some dates in Europe and to the states.

“It’s all coming together now.

“I think it’s finally coming to the point where people are starting to recognise the name and that’s kind of all you can hope for especially with your debut album.

“It’s a nice thing for the parents to be able to say, my son’s doing this or that, finally proving some worth after four years of trucking along.

“The next week is huge for us. We’ll see how it does.”

They say success has many fathers while failure is an orphan.

The band may be called Somebody’s Child but they have many fathers.

Somebody’s Child the album is out now.

I Need Ya the single is out now.

Somebody’s Child are currently touring the UK, Ireland and Europe.

For more information, click here.

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