Saturday, 15 December 2012

Hermitage Green

Hermitage Green became a Youtube sensation when their folk/trad cover of Florence and The Machine's Cosmic Love clocked up over 250,000 views. But the last thing these Limerick lads want is to be labelled a cover band.

“What happened was we started off as a jam session. We would play covers of songs that we liked and make an effort to make them original or make them our own. We had videos up of songs like Cosmic Love and they kind of snowballed.” Darragh Griffin tells us as we meet the band in a busy cafe.

All the lads.

“But it was a bit of a double-edged sword. It gave us a very wide fanbase here and across the water but at the same time it very much established us as a cover band which we kind of resented after a while”.

The band, consisting of brothers Dan and Barry Murphy, Darragh Griffin, Dermot Sheehan and Darragh Graham started playing together in the back room of a Limerick pub after bonding over a shared love of folk music. But it wasn't long before the regulars were inquiring about the ruckus.

“We were playing in their brothers pub, in a back room, behind closed doors just for our own enjoyment. After a few jams, a few people could hear us and asked us to come out and play for them. We started treating it as a gig then, with more and more people were coming to see us” says Darragh Graham.

Though it was playing covers that gave them their first taste of success, the band were keen to progress and quickly set about writing their own material.

“Generally it's always harder to play to a crowd if your playing original stuff rather than covers. If they're not familiar with it they'll zone out. We were together for probably about six months before we started playing our own stuff. We slowly worked it into our sets and now we have a full set of originals. We have the makings of an album there for next year”.

The band were recently charged with the task of firing up the Irish rugby squad in a private performance ahead of their fantastic win over Argentina, of which singer Dan Murphy quips “We're fully responsible for the win I think!”.

“It was different actually. Normally we'd be playing in the bar or recently now we're playing venues. But that gig was just a group of 30 players and ourselves so everyone was paying close attention to everything we were doing, it was a very different atmosphere. It was really nice because we had their full attention for the whole thing” he adds.

Of course being from Limerick the lads are no strangers to the rugby scene. Barry Murphy was a Heineken Cup winning centre with Munster, only to have his career tragically cut short.

“I was forced through injury to retire. It was tough to leave it behind but I think I was very lucky that I had another passion to go straight into. We'd already started as a band while I was playing so I just came straight out of one, straight on to the next” he says.

Having the band to fall back on was a major boost for Murphy after having to call time on his playing career.

“It's not an easy thing to do to retire, especially under circumstances like that. I don't think I would have been able to go straight into a nine to five. The only job I'd ever had was a professional rugby player. To go from that to a job, or to try and find yourself, I'm sure a lot of lads would find that transition difficult. I was very lucky to have something like this, to have the lads, to just keep busy. I haven't looked back since”.

The band released their warmly received The Gathering EP in September, and are now set to release their debut single, Golden Rule, with a launch gig in Whelan's next week.

Songwriter Darragh Griffin reveals the track deals with some rather hit and miss experiences with the ladies they've encountered on nights out.

“Basically there was a girl out one night who was winking at me and giving me all sorts of nods, and having good craic. So I went over and said hello and she sort of looked at me like I had two heads and said 'I have a boyfriend!' So I'm standing there going 'What the f**k are you winking at me for?' So it's kind of about these women you meet and you think 'Oh would you look at her, she's wonderful' and they're not wonderful at all”.

The band are set to go on a major tour early next year, taking in dates in the US, Australia and the Middle East before returning to release their debut album late in 2013.  

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