They have yet to get stuck inside a giant stage prop – or be successful enough to own one – but Ireland’s Little Green Cars have definitely had their share of Spinal Tap-esque moments from their recent American travels.
Vocalist Faye O’Rourke, whose booming vocals are as powerful as a cannon and instantly make the Dublin quintet stand out from a pack of harmonizing folky pop acts, has had to get a mid-show steroid shot to battle a case of laryngitis and finish a gig.
Guitarist-vocalist Stevie Appleby, meanwhile, got into a bar tussle in Kentucky.
“I bumped into a man that wasn’t very pleasant,” Appleby said a couple of weeks prior to Little Green Cars’ show at the Great American Music Hall Tuesday. “He needed an ol’, you know, punch in the teeth. So I obliged him.”
For the curious, the Kentucky man threw the first punch, and it wasn’t at one of the band’s shows. Still, the strangeness seems to occur from time to time for Little Green Cars.
“Things just seem to happen,” Appleby laughed. “I don’t know why. It just follows us around.”
Little Green Cars, which includes bassist Donagh Seaver O’Leary, guitarist Adam O’Regan, drummer Dylan Lynch and touring keyboardist Kevin Horan (of The Thrills), have been busy lately. This is their fourth tour of America in the last 12 months, which makes sense, given that they first signed to U.S. indie Glassnote Records (home of Phoenix and Mumford and Sons).
The band first convened while all members were in their early teens. Their first gig was a battle of the bands, which they lost. In 2008, after a lineup shuffle, they began taking the music more seriously. Their EPs began to draw the attention of record labels, so the band (now all 21) postponed college by a year.
“Labels were flying into Ireland to watch us play, and they’d come to watch us practice,” Appleby said. “And they’d leave again. People would say that they’d sign us, and we’d never hear from them again. We became really disheartened.”
The year was drawing to a close, and while Little Green Cars had no intention of giving up, they were preparing to shift priorities, with some of the band members submitting college applications.
“A week before that year was over…(Glassnote Records founder) Daniel Glass came over,” Appleby said. “He saw us play a show in Dublin. We signed a deal that week.”
For their debut album, Absolute Zero, the band brought on producer Markus Dravs (Mumford and Sons’ Sigh No More and Babel, Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible and The Suburbs and Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto) – or, rather, he agreed to work with them, which goes to show the high hopes Glassnote has in the Dubliners.
The album’s eleven songs lean toward the somber, with haunting harmonies from all band members, and are partly inspired by Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird (“Harper Lee”) and the work of author Charles Bukowski – the album’s title is a nod to him – of whom Appleby is a huge fan.
“The first thing that I read was ‘Bluebird’ – it just hit me in a really profound way,” he said. “It was at a time where the poetry that we would have been reading in school I just wasn’t connecting with…I just had a more cynical view of the world.
“And then I saw Bukowski…He was so brutally honest. It didn’t matter whether it was ugly or beautiful, just because it was honest. It’s something that we’ve put into our writing.”
School is once again off the band’s short-term agenda, but Appleby said that the band’s love of literature and film, and the opportunity they have been offered to travel the world, will provide an education.
“I never thought that that kind of thing would be possible,” he said. “I just thought that I was going to live on the same street in Dublin and stay within a mile radius of my house. We have broadened our horizons.”
Little Green Cars
Great American Music Hall
October 8, 2013