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Kodaline’s Dublin Guide

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Having just released their second album Coming Up For Air to critical acclaim, Kodaline are one of Dublin’s most exciting acts. As they prepare to embark on a tour of the USA, guitarist Mark Prendergast takes time out to chat to Visit Dublin about what makes their hometown so special.


Kodaline’s Dublin Guide

As a Dubliner, would you consider it to be a musical city?

Absolutely, I think the music scene in Dublin is amazing at the moment. We’ve met so many musicians over the years who we’re still friends with and who are doing really well. All the Irish bands know each other too. I met Danny from The Coronas recently, I hadn’t seen him in about five years. He’s a lovely guy. They’re selling out shows in the UK now, which is great to see.

Who has inspired you?

I’ve loved U2 for as long as I can remember too. I was at their last show in Croke Park. It was crazy! They get some stick from the Irish, but when they put on a show here, it sells out straight away, and you see the Irish fans in the front row with tears in their eyes! That was one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to. And it was around the time Steve and I started writing songs – so it was really awe-inspiring. Here are these four guys, who live about ten minutes from where we grew up, doing this amazing thing.

How did you get started?

I started playing guitar when I was 14, but got serious about it at around 19 or 20. I had a job in the Button Factory, a well-known Dublin venue, where I operated lights for bands. Doing that spurred me on to write. We got together as a band and it just kind of happened for us – soon after, we went off on tour.

Image: Dave Ma

Where did you buy your first guitar?

Argos! It was a Fender Squire – a cheap guitar. From the second I got it though, I played non-stop. I bought my first expensive guitar in Musicmaker on Exchequer Street. When I was growing up, I’d go in there, pick up the guitars I couldn’t afford and generally look at all the ‘toys’ like pedals and amps! It was a great place to go, because the staff are lovely: they’d let you pick up and play a €4,000 guitar. I used to do that on my lunch break!

Do you remember the first gig you attended?

Do you want the honest answer!? My mam took me to a Childline concert in the Point Depot (now 3Arena) when I was about eight. It was Westlife, the Vengaboys, Samantha Mumba and a few others. I thought the Vengaboys put on the best show I’d ever seen in my life! The first gig I bought a ticket for was the White Stripes in (home of upcoming festival Longitude) Marlay Park – I was 15. I got there really early and headed right up to the front. Seeing Jack White play guitar like that – I had just started playing myself – made me think ‘you can do that with a guitar!?’ It was very inspirational. The first song I learned on guitar was ‘Seven Nation Army’.

Image: Ratemyarea

Kodaline’s Dublin Guide
Kodaline’s Dublin Guide

What’s your favourite Dublin venue?

My favourite venue is probably the Olympia (left). We did three nights there about two years ago. That’s where I would have gone to gigs for years when I was growing up, so it felt like such a big moment for us to play it. We tour a lot and get to see a lot of venues, but the Olympia is definitely up there with the best. Even before you bring in your light show, it’s already so beautiful. 

Is it special to play Dublin?

Yes absolutely. The whole summer for us revolves around the Dublin show. That’s the heart of it – our friends and families are there and it’s just really special. Plus, the Dublin crowd is the best we’ve ever played to. Sometimes when you walk on stage, energy levels are really high at the start but dip. In Dublin, it’s amazing the whole way through. People are proud of Irish people doing well – it’s a really warm feeling when you walk on stage.

What do you miss most when you’re away?

It’s the sausages. You can’t beat Irish sausages. And Barry’s tea! We drink a ridiculous amount. And Ballymaloe relish, which you can’t get anywhere else. When we go to America, I’ll pack 80 teabags – the tea over there is horrendous!

Any ‘pinch me’ moments so far?

There are two. We played the Dublin O2 Arena [also now the 3Arena!] in March. As I said, I was at my first ever gig there, and to be back 15 years later as a headline act was amazing. The biggest moment for us outside of Dublin was Glastonbury. We played this amazing slot on the second stage at 5pm. The sun came out, and there were 50,000 people there singing back the words to us. It’s hard to describe how that felt.

Touring must bond you as a group?

From living in each others’ pockets, we’ve actually got even closer. You know in advance what’s going to annoy someone! I just try to be in a good mood myself, and that rubs off on everyone. It’s not all roses every day, but we get on extremely well – that’s the only reason we’re still together. Even when we’re not on tour, we hang out together.

Do you get recognised a lot?

Yes, occasionally. It’s usually really nice, people come up and ask for a picture, or just say congratulations – it doesn’t bother us at all. Success comes with that kind of attention, so you have to either accept it or do what Zayn from One Direction did – vanish! We’re very lucky though, we get moderate recognition, but also get to do what we love.

Kodaline’s Dublin Guide
Kodaline’s Dublin Guide

Have you a favourite Dublin pub?

I actually went to a traditional Irish pub in the Dublin Mountains called Johnny Foxes for the first time yesterday! I thought it was great, it’s genuinely a lovely old pub. It was a perfect day, and the weather was fantastic too. In the city, I love the Palace Bar on Fleet Street – that’s a serious Guinness. The Gravediggers, beside Glasnevin Cemetery, is a good spot too.

Any Spinal Tap moments?

Quite a lot, yes! Sometimes it’s hard to find Steve – he’ll often go for a nap or take a shower three minutes before we’re due on stage. Sometimes when we’re playing bigger venues, we’ll get lost on the way to the stage too!

What new Irish bands are you fans of?

There’s a great band called The Academic, they’re starting to get played a lot on Irish radio. They supported us in Whelan’s and I think we’re going to bring them out for a few more shows. They’re four guys, only 18 / 19 years old, and they write these amazing songs. There’s another excellent band called White Chalk. Niall Horan from One Direction is doing well too, of course!

Favourite song by an Irish artist?

I love the Hudson Taylor song, ‘Care’. ‘Work Song’ by Hozier is great too – another guy doing pretty well! We can’t have a conversation about Irish music and not mention him. We met him a few times, and he’s just so humble. He’s unbelievably talented – he deserves all the success he gets.

You have 24 hours to show off Dublin to a friend...

I’d go to Howth. We’re northside boys and that’s where we go when we want to get great views of the city. There’s a lovely trail, then you walk along the cliff and from there you can jump into the water. You see the boats coming in as you look out at Dublin Bay – it’s probably my favourite place in the city. There’s a pub in my hometown of Swords too that we practically live in – it’s called the Old Schoolhouse. That’s where I’d go for a nightcap at the end of the 24 hours!

Kodaline’s Dublin Guide