The Academic’s Pursuit Of Fame

The Academic
Shore Fire Media
– The Academic

“We always dreamt of getting in a van and driving through America,” The Academic’s Craig Fitzgerald told Pollstar in an interview on touring the band’s upcoming album.

The Ireland-based indie act, consisting of lead vocalist and guitarist Craig Fitzgerald, guitarist Matthew Murtagh, bassist Stephen Murtagh and drummer Dean Gavin, began playing together when they were 13 years old.

After releasing its debut single, “Different,” in 2015, the band got its big break when it played an opening set for The Strokes at the British Summer Time Hyde Park concert series in London.

Most recently, the band wrapped up its first American supporting tour with Judah & The Lion, which kicked off with a sold-out show at The Blue Note in Columbia, Mo. Other highlights included sold-out shows at Boston’s Paradise Rock Club and Washington D.C.’s 9:30 Club.

With more U.S. dates and the upcoming release of its debut album, Tales From The Backseat, 2018 is bound to be a big year for The Academic.

How was it recording the new album?

Craig Fitzgerald: The recording process is a fun experience for us as a band. We had been super busy touring for the last two-and-a-half years with just an EP that we put out. We never really had a lot of time to get into a studio and record for a long length of time.

When we finally got to the point where we felt like we toured a lot and had written a lot more songs, we felt like we finally had the guts of the album ready. At the start of the year we went to LA to record. We’d look at the songs and chose what would tell the best story. We made sure they would all fit as part of one piece.

The experience was fun, and it was great to have so much time to give each song the same amount of care. It became like a labor of love, is what we like to say. We worked like 12 or 13 hours each day just trying to make the songs as good as they possibly could be.

How has touring been?

The touring this year has been amazing. We got to do our first American tour where we got to open up for Judah & The Lion.

It was an amazing experience because we always dreamt of getting in a van and driving through America and seeing all the cities and the interesting spots. That was like a dream come true for us as a band. We had a great time and the shows were awesome and the crowds were brilliant.

The Academic
Shore Fire Media
– The Academic

How have fans reacted to the new material?

The reactions from the fans have been awesome. We’ve been getting to try out a lot of the songs that we haven’t got to play live because they were created in the studio. It’s been fun, we hang out after shows a lot of the time to talk to fans. Overall, it’s been great to get out there and put our music out there and see their reaction.

What was it like touring America for the first time?

We just announced our first ever U.S. tour dates in February, in support of the album that drops in January. There’s certain places we can’t play, and we get fans saying, “Why can’t you come here or why can’t you go there.”

It’s cool to know that there are areas that will be areas that we won’t be hitting this tour that we can go back to next time. It’s a good way of us knowing where the fans are at. It’s nice to see how much our fanbase have grown in the past year.

What were some of your favorite cities?

We got to spend some time in Seattle, which was really cool. It reminds of Ireland a little bit in that it was a laid-back city. Stephen is a fan of Seattle – he loves Twin Peaks – and he went to where they shot a lot of the locations for that show.

How have you prepared for the upcoming tour?

We’re completely ready for it. We always love getting out and touring new places. It’s great to be out there on your own turf. It’s even better to get to the places we never played and show them what we’re all about.

This time I think we will be a little more relaxed about it because we’re in control of what the show will be like and we’re excited to put that on for people who are coming to see us.

You guys have been together since you were 13 years old. How has it been growing up and playing together?

Yeah, we all met in school, and Matthew and Stephen are brothers. I think a lot of bands still don’t have that same connection that we have where we know each other inside and out and we’re basically all brothers. We’ve grown up and seen it all together.

It makes for a comfortable life on the road and in the studio. I’m here with Stephen and he gave me the middle finger when I said that. (laughs)

What has changed since you were kids?

I think we’re getting more creative on our thinking because we have been writing for so long together now. You learn a lot from doing this. We’ve learned more about our music and what works and what doesn’t work.

That’s one of the great things that helps us as a band. When we sit down to write or when we play shows, we feel very comfortable with each other and we’re open because we all know everyone is trying to do what’ best for the band. There’s no stepping on eggshells, everyone is upfront with each other.

The Academic
Shore Fire Media
– The Academic

How was it to open for The Strokes?

Fitzgerald: Yeah, that’s kind of mad to think about. It was a one-off show that they did in Hyde Park and we kind of just chanced around and we had a couple friends and different booking agents and we were cheeky enough to ask.

For a while, nothing was said of it. Then we got a call saying that we were going to do it and it was kind of one of those moments where it doesn’t feel like it’s actually happening, but it’s crazy. What a great day it was to go and play our own music and then watch The Strokes later.

You guys have also opened for Pixies and Noel Gallagher. Does opening for someone of that caliber ever blow you away?

We’ve had some serious moments of excitement when we got to support these bands. We’re lucky because Ireland is a great place for those types of shows.

The time we opened for the Pixies was like the first big support that we ever had. We were just a new band, we didn’t even know if that type of show was possible for us to get. We just kind of showed up as the Pixies were finishing up sound check, and it was just kind of strange, surreal even.

Being in the same environment as people who you really look up to and respect to as musicians, it’s a crazy thing.