“On this day in 1820, poet John Keats, age 24, coughs up blood and realizes he, like his brother Tom, is doomed to die of tuberculosis. Despite the tender care of his fiancée Fanny Brawne, and a journey to Italy in the hopes of improving his condition, he dies in February 1821, only 25 years old.”
Little Green Cars make lively folk rock heavy on the harmonies. Their debut album, Absolute Zero, arrives in March via Glassnote Records, home to Mumford & Sons and Two Door Cinema Club. And with this soaring a cappella rendition of “Red” at the Tibet House in Chelsea, done exclusively for The Bowery Presents Live channel on YouTube, it’s clear the Dublin five-piece is poised for bigger things.
In an interview, also filmed at the Tibet House, Stevie Appleby and Faye O’Rourke reminisce about the band’s beginnings, their childhood influences and why writing happy music is a challenge. Watch the interview: http://tbp.im/VP1Bnt. See them perform “The Consequences of Not Sleeping”: http://tbp.im/VQWfrO.
And subscribe to The Bowery Presents Live for more intimate performances and revealing interviews, plus the latest info on our upcoming live-streaming shows, like Ra Ra Riot next Tuesday at Music Hall of Williamsburg.
Written by Jayden Wilson
With their debut album Absolute Zero recently released to acclaim around the world, Irish indie rock band Little Green Cars are rapidly proving to be a group to watch out for. Forming in 2008 from the ashes of Dublin band The Revolts, the five-piece went on to write and record demos between gigs that would eventually form the eclectic album.
Calling in while currently touring the US to support the album release, the band are still trying to wrap their heads around the reality that surrounds them. “It’s been completely insane, totally surreal. We’d always dreamed of being able to play our music to as many people as possible,” explains frontman Stevie Appleby.
The release of their debut album however, has brought out mixed emotions in the band members, as Appleby acknowledges – “It’s probably at the same time one of the most ecstatic and frightening feelings.”
Produced by the renowned Markus Dravs (Mumford & Sons’ Sigh No More and Babel, Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto), the album sounds almost like a perfected live gig.
“When we first met Markus we were rehearsing in this vacant building in Dublin,” recalls Appleby. “It was just a completely empty warehouse, so that’s where he first came to see us. He really liked the way it sounded where we were and wanted to capture what we were doing there. So he wanted it to be like a live album, while having it sound as best as it could.”
From that point, they headed into the studio to attempt to create a refined recording that simultaneously fed off the energy felt in their live performances. “When we first went in [to the studio] we wanted the album to recreate everything that we had live.” Appleby states. “I suppose we didn’t really want to be pigeonholed into something, yet at the same time we weren’t too caught up in making something original.”
They worked tightly with Dravs on achieving this ambition, the producer giving guidance on how to achieve the sound that the band hoped to accomplish. “He wanted it to be an anti-production album … which is kind of ironic,” Appleby jokes.
Absolute Zero varies from rollicking rock tracks such as “The John Wayne” to mellow, emotional storytelling in songs like “The Kitchen Floor” – all the while maintaining beautiful and sometimes haunting vocal harmonies. Each track ventures sonically into new territory, crossing styles and moods and making it difficult to label Little Green Cars with a specific genre.
It’s hard to imagine how such an array of influences can combine to create an album that doesn’t feel like it’s trying to jam opposing genres together. However, that’s exactly what Absolute Zero smoothly does, morphing sonic various elements and characteristics to create the band’s unique sound.
“I suppose it almost happened naturally because we’d been writing the album for so long,” Appleby says. “The album is made up of songs that we’d picked out of about 30 that we’d written over three years. The oldest song on the album is three years old.”
“One of the reasons that we kept going this far is because we felt that we were on the cusp of something,” he continues, “but we were never too happy with it. I suppose we still feel like that, but we’re on the verge of something new.”
“I suppose we didn’t really want to be pigeonholed into something, yet at the same time we weren’t too caught up in making something original.”
Even with the release of their debut album, Little Green Cars have no plans of strictly keeping to their current sound. Appleby suggests that they will continue to experiment with different styles in the future.
“I definitely think we’ll keep trying new things,” he states. “One of the reasons that we kept going this far is because we felt that we were on the cusp of something, but we were never too happy with it. I suppose we still feel like that, but we’re on the verge of something new.”
From a young age, Appleby has long been intrigued by music that speaks to the listener emotionally. “My dad was a classical pianist so that was kind of my first introduction to music.”
"I remember there was one piece on the piano that he used to play and it would scare the crap out of me, so I would run out of the room every time he played it,” Appleby laughs. “I remember thinking that it’s so weird that this song is making me terrified, and I was always wondering how it was happening.”
“It’s funny because, with us, the five of us all have very different musical inspirations… On one hand I love folk music, and others really like hip-hop music, so I guess there’s a wide range.”
Thematically, Absolute Zero explores the themes of growing up, love, madness, and ultimately finding yourself. The band felt it was important to create an album that deals with the sorts of relatable issues that are faced by younger generations.
“It was something that I felt like when I was younger I would have liked to have heard,” explains Appleby. “That was the kind of mindset that I kept while writing the lyrics. You have to be honest, so people know you care. People know if you’re genuine or not. It was just something that I felt at the time when I was 15 or 16, it would have been a reassuring thing to have heard.”
The international success of their most recent single “Harper Lee” is something that the band are extremely grateful for. However, it was not something they openly hoped to achieve. “It’s something I tried not to think about, it would have had a subconscious effect I suppose,” Appleby ponders.
Following on from the likes of Mumford & Sons and Of Monsters And Men, Little Green Cars are a band to keep an eye on in 2013.
Remember that one time I went to ACL and requested of Dylan Lynch to make me a setlist since they didn’t have any for their actual set and then he actually did it? And then the entire band proceeded to sign the setlist and Donagh even drew a picture in the bottom corner?
WELL I DO
Apparently this setlist is the only physical one in existence because they never use setlists at their actual gigs and OHMYGOSH!!?!