Adam O’Regan is in a strange place. He’s in his hometown of Dublin, among friends and family. But the sun is shining in the Irish capital, and he doesn’t quite know what to make of this unusual circumstance.
“We’re on a two week break at the moment, and there’s Irish sun everywhere,” the co-songwriter of band Little Green Cars says. “We’ve just come back home from a six week tour of the States, and the place is unrecognisable. Dublin is shining today, so naturally we’re heading indoors to start recording,” he laughs.
The band began life in 2005 under the name The Revolts, with O’Regan playing alongside bassist Donagh Seaver-O’Leary and pianist Utsav Lal. From the ashes of their former band Little Green Cars was born in 2008, and released the Volume I and Volume II EPs the same year on their own Little Green Records label. O’Regan and Seaver-O’Leary share songwriting duties, and are joined by Stevie Appleby, Dylan Lynch and Faye O’Rourke.
“Stevie and I have known each other for a long time,” O’Regan says. “We actually went to high school together, and it was one of those athletic high schools – we were not really athletic people, at all. In fact, I’d go so far as to describe us as the dorky misfits that played guitar.
“One day, a while after school had finished, we decided to bring it all together. Stevie knew Faye, and I knew the others and we just made it happen,” O’Regan neatly summarises.
The Irishman makes his band’s formation sound simple, which neatly echoes the appeal of their work. This year’s Absolute Zero is their debut album proper – produced by Markus Dravs (Bjork, Arcade Fire) – and its shape and tone is at once familiar and fresh. Big singles like ‘Harper Lee’ and ‘The John Wayne’ recall some of the smoothness of popsters like Fleetwood Mac and Arcade Fire, while offering the Irish group’s own interpretation of the dynamic possibilities of alt-country and folk-rock. (In the latter song, the shift in time signature midway through the song exhibits a keening joy that a younger Win Butler probably once dreamed about, growing up among Mormons in Texas.)
“It’s hard for us to know why our music sounds the way it does,” O’Regan says. “On the one hand, we all have eclectic tastes in music – probably the only things agree on are Nirvana and The Beatles. We definitely don’t consciously attempt to sound like anything, or sound like anything we know now.
“If anything I think our sound is the result of five years of constant writing and development, from all angles,” he continues. “We are very, very considered in what we do. We do not rush anything.”
The band feel ready for their Antipodean jaunt, following a six week tour of America that meant many hours squashed together in the van. “We were all living on top of each other over there,” O’Regan laughs. “There was very little downtime, or alone time, probably because the US is such a huge country, and it’s even bigger when you’re driving the whole time. We were able to make use of the time, though; we were writing all the time along the way. We all keep sketchbooks and notepads, which maybe is our way of ensuring we’re always able to record any thoughts or flashes of creativity we might have.”
The recent tour highlighted the variety of people who are attracted to the band’s music. “We really noticed the age demographics were quite spread out. The music seems to transcend generations. Maybe that has something to do with us saying we’re Irish, and then people are nicer to us,” O’Regan laughs.
BY BENJAMIN COOPER
Little Green Cars play the Metro Theatre on July 24, supporting Daughter. The band will also play Splendour in the Grass come Sunday July 28.