Interviews

Amid a Pandemic, The Academic Keeps it Cool

It’s always hard to be an indie band, but given the fact that touring is out of the question, as well as most recording and shooting methods, being an indie band right now is probably harder than it’s ever been.

Fresh off their first major label release, however, Irish band The Academic are keeping their heads held high. Between having to completely reimagine their latest music video, the aptly titled “Anything Could Happen,” and trying to stay afloat in these… er… unprecedented times, The Academic are doing the best they can with what they’ve got — and what they’ve got is pretty damn good.

Soundigest spoke with lead singer and guitarist Craig Fitzgerald about influences, first major label releases, and of course, pandemic stuff.

First and foremost, this is your first release on Capitol Records. Congrats on that! How do you feel about, well, everything?

Thank you! It’s has been quite possibly the strangest couple of months that I can ever remember. We always said to ourselves we would never sign until we found the people who shared the same ambitious vision for the band that we have always had ourselves. We knew almost immediately after meeting the team there that it was where we wanted to be. They just get us as a band, they understand and appreciate all the work we have done independently to this point and who wouldn’t want to have a chance to play some songs on the roof of that iconic Capitol building! Obviously, we weren’t expecting to be releasing our first release during a pandemic, but in a way, it’s brought us closer as a band and made us not take what we get to do for granted. We can’t wait for live music to return and hit the road again.

What was it like working with Nick Hodgson? The Kaiser Chiefs aren’t nobodies in Indie music, after all!

Nick is great, he’s like a fifth member when he works with us, a wacky and wonderful fifth member! He really pushes us out of our comfort zones and we really love working with him. It’s a little strange considering we were fans of his band when we were growing up, but we have gotten to know him pretty well now and consider him a close friend. Also, we love to sing “Ruby” very loud at him when we get something good down in the studio.

You’ve probably answered this question a million times, but let’s make it a million-and-one: what’s it like being a band during a global pandemic — and how has it affected you, especially since you’re indie artists, and not someone like, say, Beyonce

It’s been a very strange time. Going from being in each other’s faces for the best part of three years of constant touring to not seeing each other has been weird. I don’t know how people keep those long-distance relationships going. At the start, I think releasing music during a global pandemic was quite stress-inducing, but we felt people would still want music and it pushed us to engage with our fans in a more unique way. Ideally, we would like to be out there playing music, but the pandemic is a reality and I think we just have to make the most of it and stay positive and adapt as best as we can.

Speaking of pandemics and quarantine, your latest music video for “Anything Could Happen” was filmed in a unique way because of all of the social distancing guidelines. What was the original idea, and how different is it from the finished product?

Yeah, it was massively different. We had plans to make possibly the best music video ever. I mean it was crazy and off the chart, with the best plot twist you would ever have seen. We are talking a video of epic proportions, but then it all got shutdown. We were just back from a show in Dubai and due to hop on a plane the next day to shoot it, but we had to make the tough call not to do it.

It didn’t feel safe or responsible to go ahead with it. We adapted, and with the directors, came up with the idea to reach out for fan footage and make an uplifting snapshot of life in lockdown. The song took on a completely new meaning for us and we were really happy with how it turned out — but that other video… who knows maybe we will do an alternate version in the future!

What was your favorite part about “shooting” this music video the way you did?

It’s definitely different from how videos are normally shot. I think the positivity that everyone involved had for the video was my favorite part. When the idea was first put to us, I was slightly nervous and generally a bit down over the news around the world and found it hard to see the possibility of making something artistically positive from lockdown. But everybody did such a great job and the video actually really lifted our spirits. It’s something we are really proud of to look back on.

As a band from Ireland, now is an interesting time to come stateside, to say the least. Has your perception of the United States changed any since everything has happened, and could you still see yourselves touring here in a distant future?

Some of our favorite touring experiences ever have been in the U.S. Despite everything, we are optimistic and hopeful for the U.S. It is a great nation and we have so many friends there. There is no doubt that action needs to be taken in so many different parts of society there, and while we are not in the country, we stand in solidarity with so many of the important movements that are happening on the ground there.

While you’ve been compared to acts like Vampire Weekend, I want to hear in your own words what your biggest influences are.

It always makes us smile when people pick up the influence of bands we love in our music. I don’t think our new EP can really be pinned down to one genre — it’s probably the most diverse we have been in terms of putting a body of work together.

Featured Image: Instagram (@theacademic)

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