Playing On Your Heartstrings:
Jason Boland of Kodaline Reports From Dublin With Love

Words by Cher Dunn
Photo by Ben Johnson

To put it lightly, Dublin band Kodaline is killing it right now. With a heart-wrenching yet equally uplifting debut album, they’ll play on your heartstrings as well as they play their instruments. After selling out their US tour and releasing their epic album In A Perfect World just last year, we were ecstatic to hear that they were coming back to play more US shows, including a stop at Webster Hall this Wednesday and World Cafe Live on Thursday. In anticipation of the shows, we caught up with bassist Jason Boland and found out about recording the album, the band’s on-tour Nerf team, and that time they left their drummer at a truck stop by accident… you know, normal tour shenanigans.

In October of last year, you released your gorgeous debut album, ‘In a Perfect World’. What was the writing and recording process like for the record?

We recorded the album over about 6 weeks, but they were broken up weeks, it was quite a mongrel record made in lots of different rooms and studios. We started the main bit of tracking in a studio called Vale in the UK and then came back to Ireland to continue working on songs. We worked in a little studio in the middle of nowhere in Ireland near Mark’s parents’ house where some of the songs were originally written. Steve (Garrigan) and Mark (Prendergast) had spent about a year and a half in each other’s houses between bands just writing so the record was just our favourite songs that we had by the time it came to release it. A record is never done – it’s just released šŸ™‚

How many hearts did you set out to break when you wrote the song “All I Want”?

It was never about breaking hearts really, as it came from Steve’s own heartbreaking experience. We have all been through similar things at some point, so when we heard it we all knew what it was about straight away. It’s been astounding reading everybody reacting to the song and the videos since we released them, it really gives you a new outlook on a song when others tell you their experiences and how it relates to them.

Was it a relief when the record came out and was met with such high regard so far?

We had been touring for about 7 or 8 months by the time the record came out, so we were in our little bubble/van for the whole time. By the time we stopped and looked back at the reviews and the online response it was really breathtaking, we never expected the album to travel so far and we’ve spent the last year trying to catch up. The internet and social media spread our music to people that we might not have ever had a chance to meet and now we’ve been able to play festivals around the world and play our own headline shows, it’s been a whirlwind.

You are back to the US to play a slew of tour dates, after selling out your first US tour! What are you most excited for your next visit to the US and the live shows?

The tour poster has had to be changed about 5 times because so many venues sold and and got upgraded so we’ve been looking forward to this tour for quite a while! The reaction the last time was so incredible and we met some really amazing people so we’re just happy we’re able to come back so quickly. We have a lot of driving to do but we’re hoping to get a bit more tourism in this time, the highlight last tour was driving by Niagara Falls, so this time we’re going to try stop at a few places to take the obligatory funny photos.

How cool and weird is it to hear your music in TV shows? Are you a major fan of any of the ones that have used your music?

It’s very weird, you kind of half-expect it when you hear your song on the radio but TV is still such a shock. I was just sitting at home over Christmas watching MTV and our song was used in an episode of Catfish which I’ve been watching since the movie. It’s a huge compliment for a director to choose your song to help them portray an emotion, even when it’s different from the original intention.

Growing up in Dublin, which bands and musicians influenced you? Does Dublin have a strong music scene now and are there any local bands you are into right now you can tell us to listen for?

We were all big Thin Lizzy fans as kids, but there were just so many great Irish bands it’s hard to pick out any! The Frames were a huge influence, just seeing them go out and play two hour sets made you dream of getting up there. Growing up there were always so many bands and musicians in all the venues around town, in the end you know everyone and everywhere involved in music. Mark and Jay worked as light and sound engineers in lots of different venues around town and that’s how they met. Jay used to do sound for a band called Overhead The Albatross who make really incredible instrumental music and another band called Kid Karate who are making waves for themselves this year on the international scene, so Ireland is in a very good place musically. Bands like Villagers, Hudson Taylor and Hozier are already touring the UK and Europe and backing up the Irish claim to Live Music.

What music do you listen to while on tour?

We’re actually going to make a Spotify playlist on this tour for the first time so we can answer that question more accurately, we have quite eclectic tastes so it’s hard to say what goes on. There’s always some LCD Soundsystem or Led Zeppelin but it can go from Bruce Springsteen all the way to Jay-Z.

What are your favorite tour activities? Do you get to explore at all while you are here?

We usually walk as far as we can from the venue before we have to sound check and you’d be surprised how much you see. We always buy silly toys as well so we can often be seen at truck stops throwing around a Nerf ball or shooting each other with BB guns.

For the last few tours we’ve been recording demos on the road which helps get you through the long drives, it’s nice to have something to focus on.

What is your favorite place you played so far in the US?

New York is still up there for us just because we haven’t had a chance to even scratch the surface of the City. We were thee for a week for CMJ last year and we just had a great time, even running from venue to venue was exciting in New York. We’re really looking forward to playing Webster Hall this time, it’s a beautiful venue dripping with history.

What is you best tour memory? What was your worst?

At Pukkelpop we got to steal one of the radio presenters’ buggies to drive around the festival, it was no golf buggy though, this thing was fast! Vinny (May) has a bit of a car obsession so his highlights are whenever he gets to drive or rev a fancy/loud car. Vinny is also owner of our worst moment, we left him at a truck stop on the side of the freeway, it was about 30 minutes until we noticed he was gone and there was no way we could remember which truck stop it was, so it took phone calls back to the UK and all sorts before we found him. He was not a happy man.

What can your fans look forward to this next year? Will you be releasing any new music or playing any festivals?

We’ll be playing a lot of festivals this summer, not sure where has been announced yet but I think we get around the world by the end of the summer. We have a new single coming out this month called ‘One Day’, which is a new version of a track from the album. We’re currently working on demos and songs for Album 2 already, so who knows what will come out this year. We’re big believers in EPs as you may have noticed, so we will definitely be releasing more music this year.

Catch Kodaline in a city near you – see all tour dates here! | Dublin