It wasn't that long ago when Kodaline were the young upstarts trying to make a name for themselves in the music industry. Six years on from their debut release 'In A Perfect World', it feels as though they are veterans of the circuit. This means they have a chance to impart their wisdom onto the next generation of artists.
Speaking at the launch of Vodafone X at Camden Recording Studios, the band performed an intimate set while also offering a chance for a young artist to spend five hours of studio time with them. It was something they were clearly very passionate about as they remembered those early days trying to get enough money together to record demos.
After working with well known British producers like Stephen Harris [Satanna, Dave Matthews Band, U2, Miles Kane], and Steve Mac [Kelly Clarkson, NicK Jonas, One Direction] they are producing their fourth album by themselves. As lead-singer Steve Garrigan puts it, "It's different in the way that it's just the four of us again. We don't even have a producer, we're kind of producing it ourselves with Jay (Jason Boland) at the helm."
Boland – who is the bassist in the band – thinks they are at a stage where they are confident enough in their abilities to produce it on their own. "If we hadn't gone out and worked with all these incredible producers on the last record maybe we wouldn't be in the position to do it now.
"There is no one way that is the right way, it's just now we're in a position where we have learned enough that we're kind of trying this for a bit, but it might not be the answer in six months time either," explans Jason.
Even though they are in the early stages of writing their fourth album, they are confident about the songs they have created so far.
While they are fully aware that they have a signature style as a band, as Garrigan states they don't want to be labelled as the band that only writes about relationships. "People say there are a lot of songs about break-ups, there actually isn't. There are probably only about three, with 'All I Want' being our biggest song and that is about a break-up."
That does not mean they are changing up their formula too much as they said they are going back to basics for their latest album. There has been some creative touches so far when it comes to instrumentation, as drummer Vinnie May explains, "There is an angle grinder on it somewhere."
They have also experimented with different recording techniques. "There was one song where Vinnie is tapping on his knees and we put two microphones up to it and it sounds amazing!" explains guitarist Mark Prendergast. Overall though, they have gotten the experimentation out of their system and for now they're focusing more on the songwriting.
Even though it is early days in the process they believe they have created some of their best work to date and there was an air of confidence when we spoke to them. It can be hard to keep your feet on the ground when you are treated like royalty when you go abroad though. On their recent tour of South East Asia they were mobbed coming out of the airport in South Korea.
The bond they have with their fans is clearly something they cherish and while it is clear they have struck a chord with many people, they're not quite sure how they did it. "I think if we did figure out what it was, and we tried to recreate it, it wouldn't happen," says Mark. Even though they are a band that writes music for the mainstream, it is their authenticity that people gravitate to.
"We find it easier to write songs that are relatable, you know. I think that comes through in the music that people know that it's coming from the right place. Not controlled, and it's coming from an honest place for us. It's not like we were trying to make up stories," states Vinnie.
Their fans are not shy about expressing their love for them as well. While they have not received any unusual fan mail, it seems tattoos are a more common occurrence. As Mark recalls, "The funniest ones are when Steve will write out a lyric to a song and a year later they show up a with a tattoo with his handwriting on it," As Steve said though "My handwriting is like a three years olds! *laughs* but they don't seem to mind."
It is not just tattoos though, they also take personal mementos with them from the different countries they have been in. "There was a fan in South Korea who met us in the airport, who sent us a flag with all these messages. We said 'oh that flag is hanging in our studio' and she couldn't believe it," says Mark.
They have a whole collection of flags from their tours over the years, as Steve explains "In our studio space where we are recording now we have flags from every country we have played in and they're all signed by fans."
It was clear from the way they spoke about them that they are incredibly appreciative of their fan base around the world. They also ensured fans that their new album will be out next year, even though they are just getting started on it. They were clearly very excited about the direction of their new record, but when I asked them about their thoughts on doing a fully acoustic album, they said they have thought about it a lot recently.
Most of their songs start off on a guitar or piano anyway so it comes naturally to them. Also with the success of their acoustic versions of Brother and Ready To Change it feels like the logical next step.
Mark summed things up perfectly when he says "People will always respond to a voice and a piano, that will never change," and when it comes to Kodaline, while their production or sound might evolve, it is their honest approach to songwriting that continues to resonate with listeners.