With their self-released debut album, ‘Tales From The Backseat’, The Academic announced themselves with an unlikely bang. Buoyant guitar hooks and earworm melodies coalesced with Craig Fitzgerald’s lyrics about teenage romance and tribulations in rural Ireland to place the band firmly amongst many ones-to-watch lists.
Released in 2018, it hit number one in the Irish Albums Chart but had enough of a global reach that over the next few years, the band toured the UK, Europe and North America.
In fact, the four friends from the small village just outside of Mullingar in Ireland have been on an upwards trajectory since they decided to learn Kings Of Leon covers to play in their local pub in 2013, all in their early teens at the time. A debut EP of guitar-driven originals followed in 2015 alongside one of the fastest ever sold-out shows at the iconic Vicar Street venue in nearby Dublin.
Since then, they’ve released two more EPs (2020’s ‘Acting My Age’ and 2021’s ‘Community Spirit’) and supported the likes of The Rolling Stones, Twenty One Pilots and The Killers. Fans have got lyrics tattooed and their songs have been used to soundtrack weddings.
New album ‘Sitting Pretty’ packs an energetic punch. With the band having not played a live show for almost two years due to COVID, by the time they went into the studio with former Kaiser Chief Nick Hodgson, their excitement was at an all-time high.
Inspired by the likes of The Kinks, Talking Heads, Elvis Costello, The Beach Boys and The Velvet Underground, The Academic were drawn to music that “feels genuine and without pretense,” for this album, which makes perfect sense really. “If this band is any one thing, it’s 100% genuine,” says Stephen. “This record is us wearing our hearts-on-the-sleeve and following our instincts.”
The band hopes ‘Sitting Pretty’ “connects on a visceral level with people who are grappling with their sense of self-worth, their identity and not knowing where they belong in the world. It is a struggle to know where you fit or what’s around the corner and it feels like that’s only getting harder,” explains Stephen. “I think a good chunk of young people feel lost or confused. Hopefully there’s comfort to be found in knowing other people feel the same way.”
As an Irish guitar band, The Academic have forged their own path. “We started this band from a young age and we’ve always trusted our gut and the music we make. That’s not going to change now,” he explains. Afterall, if you’re following someone else, you’ll always going to be in their shadow.
“It just highlights our confidence,” continues Stephen. “We are always willing to change, we are willing to evolve but we also know exactly who we are.