Interview with Rowdy Outsider: ‘It’s a song you can have a bit of fun with’
Drogheda, Ireland-based alt rock band Rowdy Outsider are still riding high on the success of their recent single, ‘Sunday Afternoon’, with their next single due out in June.
Rowdy Outsider was formed three years ago and comprises vocalist Matthew Doyle, drummer Sean Murtagh and guitarist Conor Whearty, who have known each other almost half their lives, since meeting at St Mary’s Diocesan Secondary School. Their name comes from a day on Doyle’s ongoing music production degree when someone was hoovering outside who was then referred to as the ‘rowdy outsider’ when they were recording: ‘I owe them some royalties!,’ Boyle joked.
‘Sunday Afternoon’ hooks you from the off with Murtagh’s energetic drumming before Doyle’s vocals kick in and pull you along: ‘I wrote it on a Sunday morning, it sounds like a cliché,’ Boyle said. ‘It’s a sarcastic look at a failed relationship, it’s tongue in cheek. It’s a bit like Green Day’s ‘Pulling Teeth’ but without the violence.’
As the song goes: ‘She’s standing at the bus, hope it comes on time, she’s calling you back but she’s crossing a line. You don’t know what to say, you don’t know what to do. Nothin’s ever easy, on a Sunday Afternoon.’
Interestingly, the version they released bears little relation to the initial version of the track that they wrote: ‘We finished a version in November but I wasn’t happy with it and kept working on it,’ Boyle said. Whearty nods: ‘What we released is the rawest one we did, picking at it until we had a version we were happy with.’ ‘Yeah,’ Doyle said. ‘We speeded it up a lot, there’s a difference of 14 bpm.’ Whearty describes it as ‘a song you can have a bit of fun with’: ‘It’s fast-paced energetic pop!’
‘There are synths and some big riffs with a nice chorus’
Next up is a single (I’m not allowed to disclose the name) which will come out in June: ‘It’s a continuation of the story in ‘Sunday Afternoon’, the end of the relationship and into the next part of it,’ Boyle said. ‘It’s more indie pop than punk pop, it’s more spatial, there are synths and some big riffs with a nice chorus.’
Typically, Boyle writes the first version of a given song, putting down drum beats and vocals before tweaking it together in band practice. ‘The release is normally an expanded version of the demo,’ he said.
Another track, ‘Take a Breath’, was synthed up by their former bassist, Conor Elmes, who left the band last month. It’s their most mellow track to date and sounds very different to ‘Sunday Afternoon’: ‘Lyrically, it’s very different, it was a move away from the rock music we’d done before,’ Boyle said. ‘There’s not a lot of story about it!’
I tell them that I love their song ‘Say the Night Will Never Come’, which could easily be a Green Day song, and which features some insanely catchy riffs from Whearty: ‘It was the first song we did,’ Boyle said. ‘When I wrote it, the riff, I’d got into the bad habit of not having a riff. A friend told me to put hooks in, hooks are very important!’ Or as Whearty put it: ‘We added a bit of flair to it. I try to add my personality when I play, me and Matthew play the guitar very differently. He breaks a lot of strings and I look after mine!’ Matthew is looking amused. ‘There was that gig where you broke a string at the start and I had to give you a set of mine,’ Whearty said. I tell him I’m assuming there’s not a lot of guitar sharing going on and he laughs. ‘Nooooooo!’ Whearty’s go-to guitar is a red Epiphone SG, which he describes as ‘very Angus Young’. Boyle’s favourite guitar is his Epiphone Wildkat Royale which he holds up for me to see, a gorgeous white guitar with gold hardware.
‘It’s a testament to a small island that there are so many great bands coming out of here’
Whearty is a fan of Irish singer, Robert Grace, in particular of his song ‘Fake Fine’. He’s also a fan of Dublin’s fuzz-laced trio Bitch Falcon and Dublin-based singer CMAT. ‘It’s a testament to a small island that there are so many great bands coming out of here,’ he said. His musical inspiration is very diverse. ‘I grew up with two parents who love classic rock, so we listened to bands like The Eagles, AC/DC and Thin Lizzy.’ Boyle describes his own inspiration as more ‘modern rock”: ‘I love Green Day, Foo Fighters, I get all that from my older sister. My dad has always played folk and country and western.’
If they could tour with anyone, Whearty picks the Foos: ‘I do really think we’d tour really well with them. I want Dave Grohl to be my dad!’ Boyle goes with Linkin Park: ‘I’d love to tour with them, seeing the big American stadiums, the atmosphere on stage, it’s insane.’ If he could have written any song, Boyle picks ‘Wake Me up When September Ends’ by Green Day, which is probably also my favourite song of theirs. ‘To be able to look at the story behind it, of his dad passing away, I’d love to get into Billie Joe’s head.’ Whearty is thinking: ‘There are so many! My song of the year last year was ‘Chocolate’ by The 1975. If I could have written one, I’d say that one, I think it’s the groove of it. The guitar parts are so groovy, so clean and I’m a bit obsessed with the drums!’
(Photo from left to right: Conor, Matthew and Sean)
Harry Pane is a British indie folk singer/songwriter. Growing up in a crooked old farmhouse with his dad in a peaceful part of the UK, Harry was always surrounded by music and creativity. How did growing up on a farm shape you? "I did indeed grow up in an old farm house in Northamptonshire in the UK with my dad. I felt lucky because it was truly unique in comparison to anyone […]