On the Record with Kodaline

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Fun fact: the Irish alt-rockers were originally called 21 Demands. The band changed its name in 2011 and has since released two albums—In A Perfect World and its recent sophomore disc, Coming Up for Air. Prior to Kodaline’s show in Edmonton, lead guitarist Mark Prendergast answered some questions about the album for Vue via email.

Vue Weekly: How long did it take to make Coming Up For Air from the initial songwriting through to the end of the recording?
Mark Prendergast: It’s hard to pinpoint where we started writing Coming Up For Air because we are constantly writing songs all the time. Some of the ideas started during the recording of our first record. But we finished the album at the end of November last year. It’s been a quick turnaround for us, but we have a ton of ideas ready for what will potentially be album three.

VW: When you were first writing the songs, did you come at them a particular way? Lyrics first? Music first?
MP: We didn’t approach the writing process in any particular way really; every song went through its own journey. We went in with about 10 songs, but luckily we wrote pretty fast while in the studio. Sometimes we would write and record a song in the same day. Lyrics can come first and then other times music and melody—depends on if you initially have something to say or if that comes later.

VW: Where did the lyrics begin for you and what did you want to express with them?
MP: We write about what we’re going though; there’s never an overall theme that we stick to. On this album we started writing about other people. There’s a song on there called “The One” that was written for a friend’s wedding. That was nerve-wracking because we wrote the song for the most important day of his life. But he loved it, so happy days. It was an amazing wedding.

VW: What were the recording sessions like for this album? Is this the kind of thing you recorded live or did you piece it together one track at a time? Why?
MP: We had a bunch of songs ready, so we chose to mix it up and work with a few producers. The first producer was Jacknife Lee. He was all about building the song up and using the studio as an instrument. It took us way out of our comfort zone, but that’s good in a way. For all the other producers we worked with, Steve Harris, Johnny McDaid and Jim Elliot, we played live in the studio.

VW: Were there any other songs written that were left off the album?
MP: Every song we finished made it onto the album or the deluxe version. If we’re not feeling a song, or it’s not exactly sparking anything significant in us, then we’ll lose interest and stop. It can be hard to do when you’ve spent a bit of time on something to finally draw a line under it.

VW: How did you decide which songs to include on the album? Did you have an idea of what you wanted Coming Up For Air to be when you started, or did the finished shape emerge as the writing and recording went along?
MP: We just chose our favourites after we had recorded them. Luckily we were all on the same page so we didn’t have to have a wrestling match to decide which songs would make it. We kind of had an idea of what we wanted Coming Up For Air to sound like but it changed as we started work on it. That’s the great thing about the studio, the possibilities are endless once you walk in.

VW: You worked with a couple of different producers on the album. What drew you to them and what did they bring to the process?
MP: Every producer brought something different; it was nice to mix it up. Also, each producer brought us to different locations. Jacknife Lee was all about introducing us to new sounds—he blew our minds. It was comfortable to go back working with Steve Harris because we had done the first album with him and Phil McGee. Working with Johnny McDaid was great—we actually just got back from his house. We were hanging out with him the last few days. He’s a good dude.

VW: If you were to trace a musical map that led to Coming Up For Air, what would it look like?
MP: It would be in the shape of a dragon, because dragons are awesome and I can’t trace on my iPhone :)

Wed, May 13 (8 pm)
With Little India
Starlite Room, $22.50

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