Irish indie-folk four-piece Raglans have undergone a meteoric rise in popularity since their inception in 2010, going from a crowd pleasing, gig-opening favourite at Dublin's Whelan's hotspot to garnering widespread recognition across the UK.
Multi-instrumentalist and lead vocalist Stephen Kelly jokes about the band's conception, pinching Rhos Horan (bass, backing vocals) from his old band and setting off to the capital to meet Conn O' Ruanaidh (drums, backing vocals) and most recent addition Sean O'Brien (lead guitar, backing vocals) to begin rehearsing, touring Ireland and putting the name out there. “We recorded a demo of our first song 'Down,' and that was that, we were Raglans.”
The name? “It came from a famous Patrick Kavanagh poem 'On Raglan Road'. Any school student from Ireland would be able to tell you about that poem, so I guess it stems from being Irish, remembering our roots and how we started out.”
Fast forward a year on the Dublin circuit and the band were invited to spend a week producing and recording with the legendaryMorrissey collaborator Boz Boorer. “That was amazing, out in the mountains of Portugal, an hour's drive from the nearest shop,” says 24 year-old Stephen. “That was our first real exposure, and certainly helped us focus on the musical direction we wanted to take.”
With a host of new material under their belt, the four lads set to work on their debut EP 'Long Live,' drawing influence from contemporary folk/indie bands as well as heavier rock artists. As Stephen explains “With Rhos and Conn coming from heavier bands, Sean writing his own Clash-style music, and myself being into the folkier side, we all collaborated to make songs in a unique Raglans style.”
Raglans are now ready to release their self-titled debut album, out March 2014, produced by Ivor Novello nominee Jay Reynolds(Elton John, Pulp, The Verve and mastered by Grammy award winning Brian Lucy (The Arctic Monkeys, The Black Keys, Beck). 'Natives' and 'Digging Holes' are of course included, along with countless more radio-friendly hooks that have now come to be expected from the Irish outfit. The songs ultimately solidify Raglans' jovial vibes, with the additional weightier post-punk homage in previously mentioned, 'The Man From Glasgow'. There’s also moments of grittier folk with the punchy guitars and lackadaisical acoustics in forthcoming single 'Lady Roll Back The Years'. Importantly, though, Raglans are not afraid to delve into more anthemic sounds with soon-to-be festival favourite 'Not Now', as well as a revitalised polished version of that original 'Down' demo that started it all.
'Raglans', as an LP, encompasses the grouped vocals of The Lumineers, the multi-intrumentalist efforts of Of Monsters And Men, whilst highlighting the substantial post-punk camaraderie circa The Libertines. Raglans are now preparing to promote the album, setting off to support fellow bluesy wunderkinds The Strypes on a huge nationwide tour of the UK, playing venues such asShepherd's Bush Empire (NME Awards Tour) and Brighton's Concorde 2 across a number of February dates. “We've been friends for some time now, playing gigs with them. Even when they were playing at twelve, thirteen years old we could already tell the guys were going to be big. We're very excited to back playing with them.”
After The Strypes tour, there’s another support being lined up, with a headline tour of the UK and Ireland planned for March. Beyond that there’s the album promotion and more singles to follow, and then it’s festival time. Watch this space for more tour news, coming soon.
The self-titled debut album RAGLANS is out 24 March 2014 and their new single 'Digging Holes' will follow in April.