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Interview: Wild Youth – “We always give it our all”

Wild Youth kicked their tour off in Cork’s Cyprus Avenue last weekend and before they took the stage we spoke with David Whelan and Conor O Donoghue.

Wild Youth
We caught up with David Whelan and Conor O Donoghue of Wild Youth, before their show at Cyprus Avenue.

Since breaking out in late 2017, Wild Youth have been on an upward projectory in the Irish music scene, cementing themselves as one of the most popular acts around right now.

Packing out marquees at festivals, selling out shows consistently and regularly getting air time on national and local stations. Many bands would be lapping it up but keyboardist and founder of the band Conor O Donoghue plays down their early success: “I think we always had, we always were big dreamers. I mean David and I have been playing together since we were really, really young.”

He continued: “So we always had big dreams but I suppose like any normal human being you kind of have natural doubts. But we never thought about being big and we never thought about doing these things, we always thought about the music.”

Wild Youth @ Cyprus Avenue 16/03/2019. Photo by author.
Founding members David Whelan and Conor O Donoghue (on the left) @ Cyprus Avenue 16/03/2019. Photo by author.

Conor went on to explain, “For us it was just about making the best possible songs and just play as many shows as possible whatever way we could do. Once we were doing that we were gonna be happy.

“We’ve done gigs in front of 5 people and we’ve done gigs in front of 25,000 people and we’re just always happy when we’re playing shows and now it’s a little bit better because all of the shows are sold out.”

Later that night the Dublin quartet took to the stage in the recently revamped Cyprus Avenue and Conor’s point was backed up, beaming smiles on each of their faces and that feel good factor washed over the crowd.

Wild Youth @ Cyprus Avenue 16/03/2019. Photo by Nicholas O Donnell
Frontman David Whelan @ Cyprus Avenue 16/03/2019. Photo by Nicholas O Donnell.

Frontman David Whelan, doesn’t worry about how many people attend their shows, every gig gets the same treatment: “Playing gigs is our favourite part [as a band] so we always go out there and give it our all. We end up leaving it all on the stage, I think it’s just something we naturally do. We don’t overthink it, we don’t script anything, we go on there as mates and just have fun and we absorb energy and give as much energy back as possible.

“We’ve played gigs to five people saying, “that was fucking ridiculous” and we’re sweating and the people that were there are drenched. When you’re looking around and we’re thinking that’s amazing, just as much as the big gigs.

David continued, “there’s obviously a big difference as well though, we’ve played Electric Picnic for example and 10,000 people came to see us. The energy in that room was unbelievable. If there’s 10,000 people in there, the bodies are all bumping off each other, there’s so much energy and it’s in a tent, it’s electric. So obviously it’s a different feeling but we always go out with the same mentality of giving everybody who’s there the same, whether it’s four or 45,000, give them the exact same.

“We like to see people having fun, so we’ll do our best to make sure the people from the first song are buzzed.”

Wild Youth @ Cyprus Avenue 16/03/2019. Photo by Garrett Stack.
Wild Youth @ Cyprus Avenue 16/03/2019. Photo by Garrett Stack.

Recently, the ‘Can’t Move On’ band announced that they’ll be supporting Mumford & Sons this summer in Malahide Castle. Yet when asked by promoters MCD Promotions, David had to check Mumit wasn’t April Fool’s Day: “MCD our promoter in Ireland, sent us an email saying Mumford & Sons are putting on a show, they’ve actually requested that you guys support them.

We were like, “is this a fucking April fools joke going around?” checking the calendar. I mean it’s a buzz, like ‘Little Lion Man’, ‘The Cave’, they were our go-to y’know? It’s so mad like to get that email then and we see Mumford & Sons want us on the bill.”

When the band take to the stage, it’ll be a homecoming show for them, with their homes only down the road from the iconic venue.

Wild Youth’s rise is inspiring for any musician looking for their chance or for someone thinking about picking up an instrument. It was The Script who inspired Conor and David to start a band and since then have worked with lead singer Danny O’Donoghue on their debut EP The Last Goodbye, and supported them.

Speaking of worked for them and what others could take on board, Conor said: “Always keep grounded no matter how good you are, that nothing is more important than the songs and work hard. Sometimes I find now basically that because of talent competitions on the TV and people look to celebrities and think you have to dress a certain way, look a certain way, your hair has to be this way and have to everything. It doesn’t matter fuck what you look like or what you dress like. If you have amazing songs, if it’s a banger, it’s gonna translate and it’s gonna work.

Wild Youth @ Cyprus Avenue 16/03/2019. Photo by Garrett Stack.
Conor O Donoghue @ Cyprus Avenue 16/03/2019. Photo by Garrett Stack.

“Just make the songs honest and that’s the one thing we have, is the lyrics are written from very personal experiences that we’ve gone through. People will then message us and be like “oh my god, I’m going through the exact same thing”. When you’re real honest about stuff that you’ve gone through and you’re willing to open up, it actually turns out that there’s hundreds of thousands of people have gone through the exact same thing and I think that’s when you connect.”

Meanwhile David believes it’s a case of just having fun and perseverance: “Music breaks all barriers y’know? Past language, past everything, it fits with everything. So have fun with it and be true to yourself and if it’s your passion and your dream, don’t let anyone tell you stop, just keep doing it. It doesn’t matter where you are…”

They describe their music as “sad songs that make you dance” and Conor sees the irony in it but it all falls back to honesty being vital when putting pen to paper: “I think a lot of people deep down are quite sad as well but we’re quite emotional people. If we were to write all the lyrics like the sound we’d be quite down. We try to make the music as uplifting and positive as possible but the lyrics, we have to be true and honest to ourselves.”

Not wasting anytime, it mightn’t be all too long before Wild Youth release more new music: “We’ve just been in L.A. recording some early demos. We’ve about five or six songs written already for the second EP. Like the first EP has only been out a month and a half and we’ve got so many songs that we’re working on at the moment. So we’re going to have a big collection of songs and could probably have some new music out just before the summer”, said Conor.

Wild Youth @ Cyprus Avenue 16/03/2019. Photo by Nicholas O Donnell
Wild Youth @ Cyprus Avenue 16/03/2019. Photo by Nicholas O Donnell

The band are in the thick of their Irish tour right now and with many gigs ahead in 2019, Conor shared what he loves most about being on the road: “We like to go to the gym sometimes and if there’s maybe a steam room. We like to get out and explore too, walking around, checking out the coffee shops and grab some food and then go.”

While David reminisced about a stop-off in a small Spanish town when on their way to Madrid: “There’s actually place called Santa Plaz and we weren’t playing there but we stopped off, it’s in Spain. We were driving across Europe, we were doing the Can’t Move On tour. We were driving from Paris to Madrid I think and we stopped off in this place called Santa Plaz and it was just this lovely little town on a river and it was just one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever been to, it was pretty sick. We had a day off there as well so we all went out and got fucked up.

“There was like this American tour group there and we jumped in with them then went on a pub crawl with them, it was unbelievable craic but that’s probably up there as one of my favourite places.”

Wild Youth @ Cyprus Avenue 16/03/2019. Photo by Nicholas O Donnell
Wild Youth demonstrated why they’re hailed as one of Ireland’s most exciting new artists. Photo by Nicholas O Donnell.

For the Wild Youth lads, if they’re not giving it their all on stage, then they’ll be out and about: “We get very lethargic if we stay in the one place for too long, even after an hour, we’re like “fuck this”, we need to get out” David pointed out.

Check out the review from the opening night of Wild Youth’s tour at Cyprus Avenue by clicking here.

  • RuthAnne supporting Wild Youth @ Cyprus Avenue 16/03/2019. Photo by author.
    RuthAnne put on a soulful performance opening for Wild Youth. Photo by author.

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