NewDad’s debut album ‘Madra’ debuted at No.6 in the Irish charts this week following a whirlwind rise for the Galway quartet who went from recording in their bedrooms to recording in the legendary Rockfield studios in the space of just four years.

Early single Blue caught the attention of international indie stations such as BBC6 and KEXP, and it wasn’t long before they were being hailed as the best new rock band in Ireland.

“It was kind of weird,” recalls singer/guitarist Julie Dawson on their sudden popularity. “…we were in lockdown so there were no shows and Blue was recorded in my bedroom and Chris (W Ryan) mixed it.”

“…and then suddenly we came out of lockdown and we were playing a sold-out tour, even though we’d done like five shows in our lives.”

Despite the initial success of Blue and international radio support, it wasn’t until the group found strangers singing their lyrics back to them that they realised that NewDad had the potential to become a serious undertaking.

“For me, it was the show we did with Fontaines after lockdown,” recalls drummer Fiachra Parslow. “There were people singing back the words of the songs, there was a moshpit during I Will Recognise You, which was a bit ridiculous… that was the first instance we were like, ‘Oh, wow, this isn’t just our friends who like this, it’s actually a thing.’”

Subsequent EPs ‘Waves’ and ‘Banshee’ solidified NewDad’s popularity at home and abroad following the success of Blue and cemented their relationship with Northern Irish producer/musician Chris W Ryan (Just Mustard, Gurriers, Enola Gay), who is best known as the front-drummer of Robocobra Quartet.

Like many other Irish artists, NewDad soon found it more productive to base themselves in London to avail of industry opportunities. The group soon found themselves shopping for recording studios and producers for what would become their debut album. Following a number of experiments in London, the group decided it was a case of better the devil you know.

“They were all great producers in their own rights, but it just wasn’t NewDad and we literally came to the conclusion of ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, we better hit up Chris and see if he’s available,” explains Fiachra, adding, “…he just gets us. He just knows how to bring across what we want but we can’t actually say it ourselves …and since we just wanted the album to be like the old stuff but better and more produced, it made sense to do it in the same way, just with better equipment in a better studio like Rockfierld.”

“It was definitely a case of we wanted the album to connect with the people who had been there since the early EPs,” adds Julie. “We didn’t want it to be wildly different, we just wanted it to be stepped up. Chris gets it, he’s literally day one.”

Smashing Pumpkins is always a big influence.  They very much go hand in hand with The Cure and Pixies for us

However, not all of their industry experiments were fruitless. Two of the album’s tracks, Nosebleed and Nightmares, were co-written with songwriter to the stars Justin Parker, whose credits include Video Games and Radio by Lana del Rey.

“It pushed me to use my voice more,” explains Julie of her experience working with the music industry heavyweight. “It sounds kind of silly, but I would tend to go with the safer, monotone, chilled vocal delivery thing and with Nightmares he was like, ‘Nah, there’s more in there, you should push it a bit’. Julie also credits Parker for introducing electronic elements into proceedings. “I love things like that, and Justin is really good at finding the right little sounds to stick in.”

The experience was so positive for Julie Dawson that she would like to write with more people in the future, both for NewDad and other people. “That would be something I’d love to do,” she says, bashfully adding,“Hopefully, somebody asks me.”

The secluded nature of rural Wales offered the band a slice of home away from home, something they struggled to find in London.

“…when you’re doing it in London (recording) you’re thinking, ‘Okay, I have to leave at this time because I need to get the last tube’ and you’re not fully in it because you’re just so aware of your time, but in Rockfield it was just like time didn’t exist….we landed in there and then it was all kind of a blur,” explains Julie, adding later, “London is chaotic and we’re not used to it, so having the peace and quiet was so nice.”

Alongside Chris W Ryan, NewDad decamped to Rockfield with a clear vision of what they wanted to achieve – a record that was bigger, crunchier and more sonically proficient than anything they had done before.

By that measure alone, ‘Madra’ is undoubtedly a success. It’s an accomplished sleek affair, bursting with pristine, widescreen angst.

“I think a lot of it was working with Sean (Genocky, who co-produced several of the album’s tracks). He’s just insane when it comes to guitar tones and pedals,” states Julie, considering how they accomplished this modern, yet classic sound.

Nailing those guitar sounds and bass sounds and drum sounds was very important to make it seem bigger because we were definitely a bit more lo-fi on the EPs but I think we weren’t afraid to be a bit bolder with it in a way.

References points for ‘Madra’ included some of the greats in grunge from The Cure to Pixies.

“The Breeders was a big one, say, for Sickly Sweet and for that raw vocal thing,” explains Julie, adding, “I think Nirvana was a big one the guitar sounds … that very snarly kind of thing.”         

When we speculate if Billy Corgan had influenced the album in any way, Fiachra Parslow agrees, while also throwing in an unexpected name, which makes perfect sense on reflection.

“Smashing Pumpkins is always a big influence.  They very much go hand in hand with The Cure and Pixies for us, especially with heavier stuff ,but we had so many references for this, like Waking Up in Vegas (Katy Perry)”

"we came out of lockdown and we were playing a sold-out tour, even though we'd done like five shows in our lives.”

When we enquire what success looks like for the band, they seem decidedly nonchalant with regard to sales figures and are instead solely focused on how the album makes people feel.

“As long as whoever listens to it likes it, that’s all we really give a shit about,” says Fiachra. “The numbers and stuff doesn’t really cross our mind as much.”

Now that the album is out in the world, NewDad are itching to get back on stage and bring the record to the only people whose opinions count – their fans. Naturally, the group are excited to get back on stage, but they are also putting some pressure on themselves to make the shows as good as possible.

“White Ribbons and Madra are great ones (to play live)” says Julie, noting, “I’m terrified about Nosebleed to be honest.”

“Actually, that’s true, we need to practice that one,” interjects Fiachra, who is also displaying some pre-tour jitters. “I’m scared of that one too.”

“Nightmares, I’m still always a little bit afraid of, but that one, Nosebleed, I’ve got an SBD now. I have to do stuff on that, so it’s just terrifying.”

No doubt these nerves will dissipate in rehearsals for their upcoming tour, which includes two nights in Dublin’s Button Factory on February 28 and 29th. Remaining tickets here.

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