Getting Intellectual with The Academic
by Kayla Marra
From Mullingar, Ireland, The Academic are an indie-rock quartet. The band was formed in 2013 when brothers Matthew and Stephen Murtagh and Craig Fitzgerald and Dean Gavin met at school in Rochfortbridge, a small county in Westmeath, Ireland. Over the new two years, the group got closer and started making their own original music together. They released their debut EP titled “Loose Friends”in 2015, which immediately caught on fire across Ireland. They even sold out at Vicar Street in Dublin, Ireland, which was huge for the guys.
In 2017, they released the single “Bear Claws” and performed the music video live on Facebook live stream. This went viral on Facebook, bringing in over a million views in less than two days. In 2018, the band released their debut album Tales From The Backseat, which became an instant hit.
Their highly anticipated sophomore album Sitting Pretty was just released, featuring a new, exciting sound and catchy tunes.
We were lucky enough to attend a press conference with the group and heard them discuss all things from their writing process, how they got together as a group, their upcoming Sitting Pretty album and tour, and more. Fortunately for us, we were able to directly ask The Academic couple of questions that we, and the fans, are dying to know the answers to!
When we asked how the group would explain The Academic’s music in three words to a new listener, Stephen explained, “I think that the three words we would use now are very different than the three words we would’ve used on the first album. On the first album, we probably would’ve said that The Academic is energetic, boisterous, and youthful. Whereas this album is so much more mature. I would say mature, pensive, and older. We’re just a little bit more tired than we used to be!”
The three words that Matthew chose to best encapsulate the group’s sound for a new listener were “earnest, more honest, and grown-up.” Dean went with “colorful, thoughtful, electric, and developed.” Lastly, Craig chimed in saying that he feels that The Academic’s music is “emotional, up, and down.”
We then asked Dean, Craig, Matthew, and Stephen which song out of “Pushing Up Daisies,” “Don’t Take It Personally,” “Homesick” and “My Very Best” from their recent release best represents The Academic’s new era. Matthew started off by saying that they would “all have very different answers for this.” He went on to share that the song that best represents the group’s new era for him is “Homesick” because the song “shows the most development” in their songwriting and “you wouldn’t have heard a song like that on Tales From The Backseat.”
Matthew explained that this “sad bop” is most representative of this new era because it shows how much they’ve grown up since their last release.
Stephen agreed with Matthew’s answer and explained that the song is “so drenched in reverb” and so “vulnerable” that they weren’t bold enough to go that direction on their first album. Dean and Craig both agreed with Matthew and Stephen’s response, Craig said that it’s his favorite on their upcoming album titled Sitting Pretty. He also shared the fun fact that it was written in Kansas City. Pretty cool!
When talking about the album, Craig explained that it’s “lively” and back to the band’s “roots as four guys who like to play music together.” Using this free-spirited vibe to get inspired, the foursome hit the studio and began writing and recording the album.
Matthew added on that “musically, this album sounds much more like a band in a room” and that you can “hear every instrument very clearly” without many “frills and production.” The realness and rawness of these tracks is a theme we sensed here, making fans much more excited to listen to Sitting Pretty!
Though the writing process of Sitting Pretty sounds like a breeze, the group had to overcome the challenge that we all faced (and are still facing) – the COVID-19 pandemic. Matthew explained that their creative process changed substantially over the course of the world-altering health crisis. He shared that, like all of us, the group had to get much better at working remotely together as well as practicing ways to better get ideas across to one another, which in turn helped shape their writing process.
Through the ups and downs of creating an album during a global pandemic, there were many memories made along the way that will stick with Craig, Stephen, Dean, and Matthew for life. One of these memories included playing Fifa in the lobby of the studio where they wrote and recorded the album, which got them extremely energized!
When asked which three songs a new listener should check out first when getting into The Academic’s music, Stephen shared his top pick. He chose “My Very Best” because of its vulnerability, and the creativity that went into the creation of the music and lyrics. Matthew chose the energetic track “What’s Wrong With Me” as well as “Buying Smokes” because it shows off a “slightly weirder” side of The Academic. Craig’s choice to play first for a new listener was the ballad “Rain” because of how exposed the actual music is, as well as how strong of a place it holds on the upcoming album.
Over the years that the band has been together, they’ve evolved both musically and in their relationships with one another. Craig explained that it feels like nothing has changed at all and they are still the same four boys who met in school, but they’ve gotten better at understanding each other as a group. He shared that even though during the pandemic they spent the most time away from each other than they ever had, they got closer than ever before, and their bond continues to grow. This closeness clearly translates through their music.
Make sure to listen to The Academic’s sophomore album Sitting Pretty! The boys also have just hit the road in support of the album. Get your tickets HERE to see the boys live in a city near you this spring: https://www.theacademic.net/live/
Copyright ©2023 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: February 10, 2023.
Photos by Ed Cooke © 2023. Courtesy of Capitol Records/UMG. All rights reserved.