Irish band The Academic chats about rise to fame, new album release

The band was formed in Rochfortbridge, County Westmeath, Ireland back in 2013. Tales from the Backseat received generally favorable reviews.

The band was formed in Rochfortbridge, County Westmeath, Ireland back in 2013. ‘Tales from the Backseat’ received generally favorable reviews.

The Academic, a four-piece indie band from County Westmeath, Ireland, has been on the horizon for a while now. Members Matthew Murtagh (guitar), Stephen Murtagh (bass), Dean Gavin (drums) and Craig Fitzgerald (vocals/guitar) all joined together at a young age.

“The four of us came together in secondary school, (Irish equivalent of high school) where we bonded over the sounds of the likes of Vampire Weekend and MGMT,” Stephen said. 

After bonding over the same music, they decided to start creating some of their own. Stephen describes their sound as “youthful, uplifting and melodic.” Their unique sound comes from the range of influences the four of them have as individuals.

“Most recently, we’ve found ourselves drawing inspiration from our favorite new wave artists such as New Order, Talking Heads and Elvis Costello,” Stephen said. 

This led to the release of their 2018 debut studio album, “Tales from the Backseat,” containing hits like “Bear Claws,” “Northern Boy” and “Why Can’t We Be Friends?,” which helped them sign a major label record deal. 

After signing to Capitol Records, the group began recording their first EP in January of this year, “with the intention of releasing it soon after with a tour of the UK and Europe in the spring,” Stephen said. Sadly, their plans were placed on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Fortunately, they were still able to release their six-track EP, “Acting My Age,” at the start of summer, which has songs like “Anything Can Happen” and “Them” that really give the youthful and melodic sound Stephen described.

“Although it was the strangest release we’ve ever experienced, it was probably the most rewarding too. The reaction and support from our fans have been phenomenal,” the bass player said. 

With the outstanding amount of love and support the fans give them, even during a worldwide pandemic, the band is shocked at how much attention they have gotten during the past few years. They’ve gone from playing small shows at SXSW in 2017 and 2018, to touring with bands like Judah and The Lion, The Strokes and The Rolling Stones.

“It’s truly been a wild few years for us. We’ve always been very driven and ambitious as a band. We feel very grateful to be able to do what we love for a living. We’ll never take it for granted,” Stephen said.

With over 642,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, the band is quickly becoming more popular. 

Although they didn’t expect to get this big so fast, the band remains humble. Stephen suggests for other bands who are just starting out to “be patient” since “it’s certainly a strange time to be a musician and songwriter [during this time].” 

In the meantime, if you need some good music to jam out to during quarantine, stream “Acting My Age” on Spotify or Apple Music.