The Academic are a four-piece band hailing from Mullinger, Ireland, consisting of Craig Fitzgerald, Dean Gavin, Matthew Murtagh and Stephen Murtagh. Their most recent EP, ‘Community Spirit’ encapsulates a feeling of nostalgia brought to life with dreamy synths and a blend of exhilarating rock and ebullient pop rhythms. Fitzgerald’s vocals glide over the track, echoing in your ears and in your soul.
Through Universal Music Group and Capitol Records, Tonitruale was presented with the opportunity to attend a press conference prior to the release of ‘Community Spirit.’ The band’s passion and pride towards their latest body of work was evident as they answered questions from several publications. Tonitruale was able to ask a couple of questions, discussing the reflective essence of the EP, creating during lockdown, touring, and more.
Anaïs: What was it like revisiting old lyrics and using them for something entirely new and fresh?
Craig: A good example of what it was like was for the song ‘Kids Don’t End Up Like Me.’ That was a song we played before Dean was ever in our band and we tried it so many times. I actually have an old version where Matt is drumming on the original version. I definitely think it was strange because I just sent over an acoustic thing and I remember just putting it into our band Whatsapp and then letting them decide whether it was still a thing or not. I think everybody felt kind of good about it and then we had a bit of a duty of care to try and make sure that we weren’t making the same mistakes we did over the last couple of years trying to make that song make sense. I think that goes for a couple other songs on that EP.
Matthew: That song was written so long ago that when you come back to listen to it, you have completely fresh ears and a completely different perspective on life and songwriting. So, it can totally change. Like lyrics that you thought were really naive when you were 18, you can come back a few years later and they make so much more sense in their simplicity then.
Stephen: It’s strange the effect that time can have on lyrics because the lyrics stayed almost the exact same on ‘Kids [Don’t End Up Like Me]’ and I suppose when we were younger, it felt like looking forward and very anxious. Now that we’re a bit older, it sounds more self-reflective. It’s strange the effect that just letting lyrics sit can have on it because you change as a person over the years and like Matthew said, new eyes, new ears–it’s amazing.
Anaïs: I think it’s a great thing to do and really shows the ability to just reflect. How would you describe the upcoming EP in three words?
SM: It’s definitely energetic. We started as a live band and we always try and bring that energy we have when we’re performing into our recording. So, one word I’d definitely be comfortable calling it is energetic.
MM: I would say it’s more bare bones this time. I don’t mean that in a bad way, I just mean more minimal maybe.
CF: Yeah, and not completely melancholic but more melancholic than we’ve done.
SM: You said the word reflective and I think it hits the nail on the head. It’s a bit more mature and self-reflective than anything we’ve released before.
Dean: I think overall, ‘Kids [Don’t End Up Like Me] is a bit more melancholic ut the rest of the EP I find very positive, catchy, and organic. Those are some words I’d use to describe it.
Anaïs: How did the lockdown inspire you to get more involved in the production aspect of making music and how has it changed you point of view on that form of creating?
CF: Back when we were just at the tail-end of making the debut album, I think I got my first MacBook. I used to record when I was much younger and studied it also but then I forgot everything. Then I think at the end of the album process, we went on the road. I was used to writing songs in this room and kind of just doing a voice note on the phone and just saying that was it, whereas things needed to be a bit quicker. We needed to keep touring and playing as much as we can. It kind of came about that way where I was able to come up with ideas calmly in the back of the van driving to the next gig, whispering into what is now known as the TikTok duet mic. I was doing vocals that way and had no equipment. Over the years, I got more interested in it and we spent a bit of time with producers. We just met a guy who produced a song for us called ‘SUPERLIKE’ and I learned an awful lot off him– his name is Cormac Butler. It was only a kind of side thing. I never thought it would get to a point where I would land in a situation where I was responsible for recording a band or whatever but because of the pandemic, that’s what became the case because we weren’t able to get to studios. We’re a big fan of bringing somebody else in who has got the knowledge to take our songs and push them the extra bit
MM: Sometimes an extra voice as well is helpful.
CF: As fun as this EP was, for the next album, I’m very happy to sit back and not do that. But yeah, it was enjoyable. Especially being online, I used a lot of social media platforms for help just with the basics and stuff like that. It’s something I enjoy but I also like just being a singer and showing up.
Anaîs: What about the upcoming UK tour are you most excited about and can we expect tour dates outside of the UK?
MM: The short, non-detailed answer is yes, there will be tour dates outside of the UK. I just don’t know right now off the top of my head.
SM: We will be straying further into Europe, we just don’t know exactly when.
MM: The thing we’re most looking forward to about touring is– I mean UK crowds, those and Irish crowds are probably the two craziest just in terms of energy and vibe. But honestly, I’d tour in my back garden at this stage. I don’t really mind where the tour is, mainly just looking forward to sinking into that lifestyle again of just going from going from gig to gig and living out of suitcases. That’s the part that I’m really looking forward to anyway.
SM: Same as that. As much as I can’t wait to be back on the stage performing again, there is something about that lifestyle of being on tour that is just really nice. Like when you’re in the back of a van together, it’s like ‘lads on tour!’