Last time Goldenplec caught up with Hermitage Green they were just about to release their debut album ‘Live in Whelan's’. Over the past twelve months the band have toured relentlessly, hitting America, Canada and almost every County in Ireland. Recently we met up with them again to discuss the previous year, new material and a multitude of other things.
Releasing a live album as a debut offering is a brave call. The band saw it as necessary at the time. “The idea of the album was to get songs out there and to allow us tour and keep playing. The live album was a way for us to distribute our songs. At the time we couldn’t afford to do a studio album so it was a means to get ourselves heard and make money for a studio album.”
Over the past year the band have changed how they approach the writing process. In the past they all wrote separately and only when they felt “inspired”. For this album they have forced themselves to write as a collective, which brings up its own challenges and benefits. “We write in this warehouse in Limerick every day. We throw all our ideas out and decide as a group which idea to work on that day. It’s new to us and feels fresh. It pushes us creatively because you need to be inspired when you walk through those doors.”
Like most musicians Hermitage Green find it difficult to look back on their previous releases. This is no different with ‘Live in Whelan's’. “There are of course things we would change,” says Barry Murphy. “Like the cringey talking and some mistakes. If a live album sounds perfect then it’s not real. It has been overdubbed. What we created was real, flaws and all. It will be a while before we can listen back to it but as a band we are all incredibly proud of it, we just need time to divorce ourselves from it.”
Having released EPs and an album the band have never found themselves feeling overly protective of their music. “Criticism is part and parcel of everything in life. If you start to worry about other people being a musician is impossible. The second you start to write what you think people want to hear then you’ve just lost something special. We haven’t got a lot of public abuse yet. Maybe it's because we’re a big bunch of lads and people are scared of us, but so far we have been lucky.” With this there is an eruption of laughter from the band.
The recent HBO TV series from Foo Fighters has a lot of people talking. Dave Grohl openly admits to not having seen much of the world despite touring extensively for the majority of his career. When the question was put to the Hermitage Green collective they take a polar opposite approach. “We have been so lucky,” says Dan Murphy, with a smile on his face. “We always make an effort to see places we tour. We’ve been skiing, shark diving and surfing. We realise how lucky we are so we want to appreciate every moment of it. The music has been getting in the way of our holidays to be honest.”
The conversation sways towards Irish music and it is easy to see that the members of Hermitage Green are incredibly impressed with what Ireland is offering to the world in recent years. “The past few years have been amazing,” explains Darragh Graham .“The music being made now is a total rejection of what was on the radio during the ‘naughties’. All the commercialised radio friendly stuff has been ignored and real quality song writing has made a return.”
The band are proud to be active in an era with so much young talent emerging, not to mention some old stalwarts of the Irish music scene making a return. “It’s encouraging for us to see other bands around us doing well. Like with Hozier. As good as he is he doesn’t go by the rulebook of song structure. It’s great to see that people will still respect and listen to music that isn’t made especially for radio.”
It seems impossible but the band has actually added more instruments to their repertoire for both live shows and the recording process. “Our sound engineer hates us at this stage,” laughs Dermot Sheedy. “We have added more drums and piano and a few other bits. We need bigger stages.”
With an as yet unnamed album in the works and an extensive tour around Ireland planned, Hermitage Green are on course to top the successes of the previous twelve months in 2015.
Hermitage Green play the following dates this month:
Thursday 18 December – The White Horse, Ballincollig
Friday 19 December – Roisin Dubh, Galway
Saturday 20 December – The Button Factory, Dublin
Sunday 21 December – The Button Factory, Dublin
Monday 29 December – The Royal Theatre, Castlebar
Tuesday 30 December – Tullamore GAA Centre (alongside The Riptide Movement)