You’ve heard The Academic’s indie anthems, but how much do you really know about the Irish four-piece?
Formed at secondary school back in 2013, the four-piece band, made up of Craig Fitzgerald, Dean Gavin, and brothers, Matthew and Stephen Murtagh, started out writing songs and playing music in their school corridors during break times. Growing up in a tiny village about an hour outside of Dublin in Ireland, the friends used music as something to pass the time: “There’s not much to do, you’re either into sports - and we were never really good at it at all - so the only other option for us was to start a band!” says lead singer Craig.
Originally named The Frescos, it wasn’t long before The Academic were playing gigs in their local pubs, covering their favorite bands and trialing a few of their own songs: “To get gigs in the pubs in our hometowns you had to play covers, but there was a little wiggle room to throw in some originals as well” Matt told B-Sides in a 2018 interview. After lots of local gigging and some attention around their original tracks, the band scheduled a show in Dublin in 2015, which sold out. Shortly after, the boys were picked to represent Ireland at the Eurosonic festival by Irish Radio station RTÉ 2FM, securing them a run of festival bookings across Europe.
But it wasn’t until releasing their 2017 track, ‘Bear Claws’, that the band made it big. Reportedly written at a sleepover, the track features a twangy guitar intro, akin to that of their idols, The Strokes. The song gained even more popularity after they recorded a ‘live looper’ version on Facebook, reaching 1 million views in the first 48 hours. Their debut album ‘Tales from the Backseat,’ went straight to number 1 in the Irish Chart securing them as one of the biggest new indie bands to watch. After lots of hard work and dedication, the band signed to major label Capitol Records in May 2020.
But what do they sound like? With a combination of rock and roll and noughties influences, the band has an upbeat indie-rock sound that feels like a blend of The Kooks and The Strokes, with lyrics that reflect on personal experiences. This seems to have been something that’s worked in the band’s favor as in the last couple of years they’ve gone on to open for both of those bands - and even the iconic Pixies in various gigs across the world. Not bad right?
But the boys are set on breaking out of their comfort zones for their next album, evolving their sound, and are listening to music they wouldn’t usually listen to for new influences, with the upcoming LP featuring modernized synths and plug-ins. Continuing to write the catchiest songs possible is still the priority though, says Craig: “There’s nothing better than when someone can sing your song back to you, that’s the best feeling you can possibly get.”