Academic evolution is a whole new production

The Academic....playing the Big Top at the Galway International Arts Festival on Saturday, July 20.

Groove Tube with Cian O’Connell

The Academic have been at the top of Irish music for the best part of five years – but the Mullingar four-piece could still feasibly pass for secondary school students. Fittingly, the group’s music has remained as vibrant and youthful as their appearance – their latest single SUPERLIKE emphasises just how contemporary the band’s sound has become.

The band – who play the Big Top as part of the Galway International Arts Festival on Saturday, July 20 – burst onto the Irish scene with a raw, rocky sound on tracks like Different and Mixtape 2003.

But the group chose to hone their production style on last year’s debut album Tales from the Backseat. Retaining the gritty, raspy vocals of lead singer Craig Fitzgerald, the songs have slowly embraced the key features of modern pop. With minimalist synth and reverb, the LP and subsequent single show that The Academic have made conscious efforts to adapt their sound.

“It’s definitely conscious,” Craig admits. “We didn’t want to step away from what the album was and we didn’t want to be too guitar-y at heart… we use guitars but just experiment a little bit more with sonics.

“We were listening to a lot of 80s music and synthesisers and kind of using those as textures in songs and then letting synth take up major lead parts more so than guitars. There’s a bigger need for space in modern production.

“Reverbs definitely help do that. Rather than having lots of things going at the same time, it’s nice to let the song breathe. I think we definitely did that on SUPERLIKE. It’s a modern thing… you can hear it a lot now in pop music.”

The Academic are Craig, Dean Gavin on drums and brothers Matt and Stephen Murtagh on guitar and bass respectively. Having partially formed in their early teens, last year’s album felt like the pinnacle of a long journey. It’s a record with real value for each of the lads.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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