Emerging Galway band NewDad told David Hennessy how their success doesn’t feel real due to coming in the middle of a pandemic, their UK and Ireland tour later this year and their plans to get Chris O’Dowd in one of their videos.
There has been a buzz growing around Galway alt-rockers NewDad for some time
The four-piece rock band emerged at the beginning of last year and have been steadily gaining traction on the back of singles like How, Swimming, Blue, Cry and I Don’t Recognise You.
Since then, the band have been streamed nearly two million times on Spotify alone in addition to being a Hot Press ‘Hot for 2021’ act and being nominated for Most Promising Act and Best Track of the Year by the Irish industry magazine.
The hype surrounding them has reached the UK with the likes of BBC6 Music and BBC Radio 1 DJ Jack Saunders and Annie Mac championing them from early on.
Unless another spike or lockdown throws a spanner in the works, the band will finally get to play to UK audiences when they come here in November on their first ever tour.
The band is made up of singer/guitarist Julie Dawson, guitarist Seán O’Dowd, bassist Áindle O’Beirn and and drummer Fiachra Parslow.
Sean O’Dowd is the nephew of Hollywood star Chris.
However, the band admit their success feels less real somehow for coming in the middle of a pandemic meaning they have yet to play any shows or meet any fans.
Julie told The Irish World: “It doesn’t feel real at all. We can’t grasp that we have actual fans who like to listen to our music because we’re not meeting them and experiencing that reaction from live shows and stuff. It feels like nothing has changed at all even though it has been massive.”
Áindle adds: “It’s so lovely to hear all the nice messages and to see people support us online but it’s going to be weird to have to interact with another actual human again. That’s going to be tough.”
Sean continues: “It’s just that disconnect. It’s so lovely but it’s so hard to take it in when it’s..”
Fiachra suggests: “Just a profile picture?”
“Yeah,” Sean agrees.
Áindle adds: “It’s kind of changed the way we write songs as well because before we were kind of writing them and we were like, ‘We think this sounds good’. But now we’re like, ‘We think people will love this’. We’re just thinking about playing for people now and we can’t wait to play some new songs for people.”
Fiachra says: “We would play songs before in small gigs and then the only people we talk to afterwards would be our parents. They say it’s great but they have to say it’s great. Now it actually means something so it’s cool.”
Julie says: “We never thought that would happen. That’s why it took us so long as well. We wanted to make sure we were happy with our sound but once we started releasing music and actually getting postive feedback we were like, ‘Okay, maybe we’ll give this a go’. But before that we never imagined that any of this would be possible.”
The band will get the chance to meet their fans when the band come here on their UK tour in November. The tour has sold so well, there has even been an additional London date added.
Julie says: “The fact that we will be playing sold out shows is crazy because we’re just used to playing to our mum and dad in the Roisin (Dubh). That’s all we’ve ever known so it will be very cool.”
Áindle adds: “We’re just so excited to be playing to people. I think everyone’s going to be so excited for gigs to come back because it’s been such a shite, terrible year. Can’t wait.”
Julie says: “When our agent said they were going to book another date we were like, ‘No, that will not sell’. We were like, ‘Why are you doing that? That’s so much pressure’.
Sean adds: “It was so quick they were gone. Crazy.”
It has long been an ambition of the band to make the move to London and it could be a move they make soon.
Julie says: “We’ve always wanted to move to London but now the music is doing so well we just feel like that’s the place to be. We probably won’t move until next year. We’re thinking in the new year we’ll probably move. Once we’re vaccinated and all that.”
Sean adds: “Before Covid, it was the dream but we didn’t really plan on it. It was what we wanted to do but we were still working. I still had a year left in college.”
Áindle continues: “We had no feasible means of actually getting there. We couldn’t just get a lift from our mum or anything.
“We can wait. We love Galway. We definitely wouldn’t move without spending another summer here. It’s just such a nice town to spend the summer in so hopefully this summer is not too depressing.
“It’s very reassuring that our plans were to move to London and now we know people in London might actually want us over there. It’s not like we’re going to be booed and have stones thrown at us at the airport.”
The band have come a long way since three of them first played together for the Leaving Cert practical music assessment. Julie, Áindle and Fiachra joined together probably not anticipating it would go so far beyond the exams.
Julie explains: “Yeah, we hate playing alone so it was nice to just have other people there to back you up to make it less daunting, I suppose. We just did the odd gig after that. We didn’t take it too seriously or anything.”
Sean joined the band later when he helped them record some demos.: “I kind of came in because I was doing music tech in Limerick and I knew the guys.
“I was like, ‘Do you want me to record some demos?’ I invested a bit of money in a bit of gear and I just wanted to practice. We have always just been wanting to release music and wanting to go further with it.”
Julie says: “I think we wanted to stand out and be different and only have one guitar and a keyboard but there’s a reason two guitars, a bass and drums works. That was the right move to have two guitarists.”
Áindle continues: “It just felt so right. It just sounded so natural and Sean instantly clicked with what we had been doing for years.”
Sean remembers: “It came together at the right time. I think the band had been practising for ages trying to find the sound they wanted and then they were kind of finding it and I was able to accomodate.”
Áindle adds: “And then Sean delivered the sound we wanted.”
The band had not been looking for a guitarist before Sean joined for a gig here and there at first. In fact, nobody can remember a moment when he officially joined.
Fiachra says: “I don’t think we discussed it. We all individually kind of just realised that Sean is in the band now. It was just all of a sudden: Sean’s here now.
“Like a cat we just kept feeding him and now he won’t go away.”
Sean says: “It’s so surreal because I had been trying it with the bands before and not getting anywhere with it so seeing it now with NewDad, obviously it makes sense but it’s amazing to see.”
What inspired the band of NewDad?
“It was just randombandnamegenerator.com to tell you the truth,” Áindle reveals quite disappointingly.
However, he goes on to say: “But I think it works because we’re quite awkward and I feel like that’s what it would feel like being a new dad. I wouldn’t know from experience or anything but we’re kind of just fumbling around and we don’t know. It works.”
Fiachra adds: “We’re just trying to keep the baby alive. Trying not to accidentally kill the baby: That’s it.”
And the hype around the band has travelled much further than the UK.
Áindle says: “To see our records in shops in Japan is ridiculous. It’s crazy.
“Because we’ve been shipping out the EPs ourselves, to see Canada and America and South America, Germany, it’s phenomenal.”
The band just released their debut EP Waves last month
Fiachra says: “It’s gone so well. We can’t believe we’re getting messages every single day off people on all platforms just telling us they love the music. It’s great hearing all that kind of feedback.”
Sean says: “We’ve been waiting for ages for it as well. We recorded it in September and we were saying, ‘This is going to come out before Christmas’. And then other stuff kept coming up. Blue had just come out so we were getting a lot of support from radio on that so we kept on that train and just waited until we had more time to release the EP.”
Dawson has been receiving plaudits for the emotional nature of her lyrics but she admits she finds it hard to share her feelings even with her bandmates sometimes mumbling them in practice so the other musicians don’t know what a song is about.
Julie says: “I love that, I love when people message saying that they could connect with the song and stuff because I guess it is scary putting your feelings out there. To have people come back and say that it really meant something to them is like, ‘Okay, I haven’t just embarrassed myself. People are getting something from it’. Which I think is the most important thing.
“It gets easier to share the lyrics but I always feel awkward or something.”
Julie, Sean and Fiachra live together in their bubble, while Áindle resides just down the road.
The band have a well known fan in Kate Nash who discovered the band early on.
Julie says: “That’s so cool. She was always massive in my house. We always played her music. It’s just so insane. I can’t believe it.”
Áindle teases: “Julie and Kate are best friends now, they talk all the time.”
Julie laughs in response to that.
Fiachra adds: “She followed us very early on as well. She found us so early.”
Julie says: “She’s always posting about Irish artists.”
Fiachra asks Julie: “Do you know this because you’re best friends with her?”
Talking about A-list names, what about the guitarist’s famous uncle? Will we see Chris O’Dowd in a NewDad video?
“He’s been begging to be in one of the videos,” says Fiachra.
The Irish World suggests that it’s not unthinkable that the band and the actor could be on the same talk show some time very soon.
“Graham Norton, Graham Norton, Graham Norton,” Áindle says crossing his fingers.
Sean adds: “All the O’Dowds on Graham Norton at once.”
Áindle shoots back: “That would be a train wreck. We need to get you on the Last Leg, Sean.”
“Redeem the O’Dowd name,” says Julie.
Sean’s father John O’Dowd is an actor who lives in London and works with the Irish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith.
The Irish World interviewed John about the lockdown soap Coronamona last year.
It was Sean who worked on the music for Coronamona.
Sean says: “It was fun, it was great craic. There’s talks of pitching it somewhere so hopefully that happens.”
And John will of course be there when the band play in London.
“He has the two (London) dates,” says Sean.
Áindle adds: “Nothing’s changed. Our parents are still at every gig.”
“I think he’s going to Bristol and Manchester just to be sure,” says Sean.
So what is next? Will we see an album in the near future?
Sean says: “We are going to do another EP before the album but it’s definitely on our minds. The next big step I guess.”
Fiachra adds: “Even now when we’re meant to be just practising for recording the EP we get sidetracked and we start writing new stuff. We have been very creative so it’s definitely going to happen.”
The EP Waves is out now.
NewDad play The Poetry Club in Glasgow on 12 November, YES (Basement) in Manchester on 14 November, Louisiana in Bristol on 16 November, the Lexinton in London on 17 and 22 November and Elsewhere in Margate on 21 November.
For more information, search for NewDad on social media.