The Academic: “These songs were made to reach people”

With an EP born from recording sessions with a former Kaiser Chief, and a big old headline tour on the horizon, Irish up-and-comers The Academic aren’t letting lockdown get them down.

Following the release of their debut album back in 2018, Irish quartet The Academic have spent pretty much every waking minute on the road. They’ve played a lot of gigs. A lot. Now though, as they prepare for an autumn headline run which may or may not happen (keep your fingers crossed, etc. etc.) they’re sharing their new EP, ‘Acting My Age’. Frontman Craig Fitzgerald tells us more.

Hi Craig, how’s it going? Are you having a fun day?

It’s going good, thanks. It’s been a pretty relaxing day so far, am enjoying the good weather but suffering from hay-fever!

It’s a bit of weird time, isn’t it, are you coping okay with everything?

It a weird time is, but we are all managing okay thanks, yeah. I can’t remember the last time we had so much time at home. We’ve been out on the road so much for the last couple of years. It’s not a bad thing, though. It really gives us a time to pause, reflect and reset a bit, and good to reconnect with family.

It must be difficult trying to get on with band business at the mo, have you had to cancel or postpone much?

As far as touring goes, it’s been a complete write-off. We were just back from a show in Dubai and about to head out on a big UK and European headline tour, and it’s just got completely wiped out. We’ve been able to reschedule our dates for the autumn, so hopefully, that will still go ahead, and we can get back to doing what we all love.

How sensitive are you lot to current events, does the news get you down? Is it tough to be creative when the world’s in chaos?

There is a real existential fear about the state of the world right now, so I think it is pretty difficult not to be affected by what is going on.
From a creative standpoint, in one way nothing has really changed too much as far as we can still get a lot of stuff done, but in another way, the whole context of it has changed. I think it is okay to let your creativity go if you need to focus on the world around you.

You shot a video during lockdown, right? How was that?

We had planned out a really great video for ‘Anything Could Happen’ and the night before we were due to fly to London to make it, everything got shut down, so it never happened. The news just seemed to be a never-ending barrage of negativity, so we decided to create something that was a bit more uplifting and positive. We had a chat with the directors and came up with the idea to crowdsource people in lockdown all over the world who were making the most of being together in such a difficult time. It worked really nicely.

Was the new EP all done and dusted before lockdown kicked off? What was the timeline like?
Yeah, we pretty much had it all done right before lockdown. There was still some mixing and mastering to do, but basically, it was in the bag. Re-planning the videos and creating them has been the only real difference from what we’d already got planned.

How did you end up working with (former Kaiser Chiefs drummer) Nick Hodgson? Was it good? Do you like working closely with other musicians?

We have known Nick for a couple of years now, and he has become a good friend, so it wasn’t like we were just jumping into a session with someone we didn’t already know. Nick is a great listener and offers up great advice. Working together always feels easy, and his insight is immeasurable. He also doesn’t mind all that much if you shout “RUBY RUBY RUBY” at him. We have started to self-produce quite a bit too, but working with a producer like Nick is a lot of fun.

What does ‘Acting My Age’ mean? Is it about growing up? Being young? Both?

Hmm, it’s probably about both of those things. Being young and growing up, but perhaps more about the growing up side of things. It’s basically all about accepting that anybody can make a mistake, but it doesn’t make you a bad person. Accept the mistake for what it is.

Did you try out anything new for the EP?

I think our writing and recording process has naturally evolved as a band. Before, a lot of our songs came together in the rehearsal room where a rough song structure eventually became a song, and we would just go into the studio and record it as we put it together, but we definitely have got more hands-on in production. We’ve each got our own small personal studio space set up at home, so we were able to do more pre-production for this EP between us.

What are your plans for summer?

Now that the festivals have all fallen, it will be lots of writing. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get back into the studio together and start properly working on the album soon too. Then we can get back out on the road and start playing all the new stuff to people, and making some new fans. We miss that a lot! These songs were made to reach people.

Taken from the July issue of Dork. The Academic’s EP ‘Acting My Age’ is out 26th June.

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