Gimme Your Answers: An Interview w/ The Academic

The Academic
Photo by Jane Jimenez

While enjoying our time in the sun at Barn on the Farm Festival in Gloucestershire, we met up with AMBY favourites The Academic. Enjoy our exclusive interview below as we discuss varied sports skill levels, loving film, their debut EP, and more.

AMBY: We are here at Barn on the Farm 2015 with The Academic, how are you guys doing today?

The Academic: We’re good.  Very well.

AMBY: You guys just opened the Main Stage! How was that for you?

Matt: It was cool.  We’ve been kind of following the festival, seeing the footage from over the past few years and stuff.  It’s cool to open it and it was a great crowd.  They were very enthusiastic.

AMBY: Great! So you’ve also opened for other big acts this year.  Could you tell us more about that?

Craig: Yea, we got some cool stuff.  We’ve done Hyde Park with The Strokes which is nice… and Pixies.  We’ve done Pixies.

Matt: That was such a big thing for me cos I’m like such a big Pixies fan.

AMBY: What’s your favourite Pixies song?

Matt: My favourite Pixies song? Definitely ‘Hey’…  definitely ‘Hey’.

Craig: What’s that one? “Shake your butt”?

Matt: Oh! Erm… [clicks fingers]

Craig: Shake your butt!

Matt: Is it not…? Oh, I can’t remember.

Craig: I’m going to say ‘Crackity Jones’.

AMBY: We are also quite curious about your name.  How did that come about?

Craig: How did the name come about?  We had loads of bad band names for a long time.  And then we kind of did like a shortlist of names.  It’s from ‘Catcher In The Rye’.  He says “Academic”.  We were all in school together when we started, not any more…  right?

AMBY and The Academic: [laughs]

Craig: Yea, so it made sense for us to kind of go with that name.

AMBY: You were all in school in Mullingar in Ireland?

The Academic: Mullingar, yea.

AMBY:  Can you tell us more about what it’s like to grow up there and how that’s influenced you?

Craig: I didn’t grow up there [laughs].

Dean: We grew up in villages a few miles outside the town so we kind of just say that we’re from Mullingar, but we’re really from the country.  There isn’t exactly a lot to do there except maybe sports.

Matt: You can play sports and play music.

Craig: Exactly.

Dean: We picked the music.

AMBY: The first time you featured on A Music Blog, Yea? we saw that one of the factors of you joining together was because you weren’t good at sports.  Is that still true?

Matt: Well, I’m going to straighten out this fact [all laugh] okay? Because I was the one who sent on the answers and I’m terrible at sports, but these guys are actually all pretty decent.

AMBY: So they’re quite annoyed at you for saying that?

Matt: Yea, I know!  Dean was like “Why did you send that answer?! I’m actually a really good football player!”

AMBY and The Academic: [laughs]

Dean: I didn’t say it like that! We’re decent.. we’re decent.

Craig: I think what happened was we all used to play soccer over there- football we call it.  I think what’s happened is maybe, Matthew and me are not that good any more [Matt laughs].  If you let Dean and Stephen play, they’d probably still be good; they’d beat our asses.

AMBY and The Academic: [laughs]

AMBY: Apart from football or soccer, what other interests do you have outside of music?

Craig: Film.  Film is a big one.

Dean: Yea, film. Big film nerds.

AMBY: You’ve got a song called ‘Forrest’. Can we hear a bit more about that?

Craig: ‘Forrest’ is an old song for us.  We’ve always enjoyed playing it live and stuff.  We didn’t play it today, but..

Matt: It’s a homage kind of, I guess.

Craig: Yea, it is.

Matt: Forrest Gump.

Craig: It’s one of them movies that you grow up with.  It’s a nostalgic movie.  The song is nostalgic; it’s got a kind of youthful vibe.  And we just wanted to pay homage to that movie.

Matt: Also, Jenny is like the biggest film villain I’ve ever seen in my life.

AMBY and The Academic: [laughs]

AMBY: The film is quite similar to our backdrop right now when they hide in the cornfield.

The Academic: That’s true! And the farm house…

AMBY: What is the process for your songwriting?  Is it done with all of you collaborating?

Craig: I might come up with an idea or something to show the guys.  We’ll just be in a room and I’ll be like: “What do you think?” And they’ll be like “Maybe…” [all laugh].  Sometimes it’s very fast- it’s very quick.  It’s two extremes.  Sometimes the song will come in: bam, bam, bam and it’s done and then other times, we grapple with it for a few days.  Sometimes a song will come in and by the end of the process it’s totally changed.  It could be a bass part.  Dean will have a lot of arrangements/ideas and stuff like that and then it could totally change.  So it’s quite elaborate.

AMBY: Are we to expect your debut EP to come out soon?

Craig: Yes! [laughs] We were so bad I reckon. We’re always gigging.  We were saying probably last November we’ll do an EP, but we did say that to a lot of people.

Dean: Saying to ourselves as well! [The Academic laugh]

Craig: I think we realised that being a live musician and then a studio musician is a totally different thing.  I think we kind of gotten a lot better in the studio and then ‘Different’ was the first time we were like, “Yea!” You know? We’re enjoying this so we put [Different] out, but yea you should expect an EP very soon! Very soon.

AMBY: We’re really excited about that! You’ve also said that you’ve been gigging.  What are your pre-gig traditions?

The Academic: Pre-gig traditions…

AMBY: Or post-gig?

Craig: Post-gig is definitely a beer and a smoke.

The Academic: Yea.

Dean: And a beer and a smoke before [all laugh].  We tend not to talk too much before a gig.

Matt: No.  It’s a strange one.

Craig: To mentally prepare.

Matt: I get really paranoid about the tuning of my guitar and I always think “No, I have to go on stage and tune it again.  No, I gotta go up!” But everyone is saying no, I can’t go up, the lights are all on and people think the band are coming.  Most of the time we’re pretty chilled.  We’ve been gigging together since we were like the age of 14 and Stephen was 12.  We’re so used to just playing live and  we’ve been doing it for like more than half our lives.  We are just so used to being in front of crowds.   Stage fright doesn’t really come into it any more, it’s just kind of… you want to enjoy it.  You want it to be a good gig.

AMBY: And to wrap up, what is the best part of being The Academic?

Craig: We could go cheesy…  Being on the road with your four pals [All laugh].  I think it’s more so just calling this work.  For me, I don’t know about you guys.  [Daily life has] always been school.  Stephen only finished his final exams, we call it the Leaving Cert I don’t know what you guys call it.

Matt: GCSEs?

AMBY: Yes [exams taken at 16 years of age].

Craig: So I think the most favourite part is this is our job now.  If we’re not playing gigs, we’re at home still hanging out which is cool.

Matt: And I guess, to be kind of cheesy, to do it with people you’ve grown up with and stuff you know?  You’re not doing it with people you met a year ago and it’s not like we’ve put an ad up in the paper and said, “Hey! Be in my band!”  We just decided to come together as friends and be a band.  Getting to do it with them is kind of cool.

AMBY:  Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview!

The Academic: Thank you so much.


Thank you The Academic, for giving us your answers!

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Interview by Jane Jimenez | @bporthos

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