Having graced the cover of Hotpress and won a coveted spot performing at next year's Artur's Day celebrations, Donegal natives In Their Thousands have come a long way in 18 short months.
But it's little wonder. Made up of brothers Declan and Aidan McClafferty, cousin Ruairi Friel and longtime friend Liam Kelly the boys have been playing together in various projects for years. They're well known in their home county for playing in different cover bands, but they knew they would never reach their full potential playing other people's songs.
|Spoiler Alert: They've moved on.|
“Even when we were playing in cover bands we were always writing. It came to the stage where we were playing cover gigs and just not enjoying it. We felt we should be playing or at least trying to play our own music. We put more time into that rather than putting time into other people's music. It was just a better thing to do for ourselves” guitarist Ruairi Friel says.
“It was kind of difficult, whenever you're playing covers regularly you can make a decent enough wage out of it, but there's no money in playing your own stuff. Even though we weren't making any money, and we still aren't making any money out of it, it still feels better. It feels like exactly what we want to do”.
The band quickly won themselves a dedicated following with their skillful guitar playing and mesmerising four part harmonies. In singer Declan McClafferty they possess a truly distinctive voice, veering effortlessly from raspy yelps to lilting falsettos. These talents didn't go unnoticed by Hotpress editor Niall Stokes while the band were participating in the Play On the Day competition
The nationwide event aimed at finding the best new talent to perform at next year's Arthur's Day celebrations provided stiff competition for In Their Thousands, and Friel admits the band had no expectations going into it.
“Listening to the shortlist we didn't think we would get that far in it. In Dublin when the final four bands were there the standard was pretty high. There was the guys from The Hot Sprockets, who're a serious band and so are Protobaby and The Calvinists. We thought it was very steep competition. We were very happy just to be able to play along with those other bands”.
As part of the competition the band were featured on the cover of Hotpress and even caused Niall Stokes to label them “A band with huge international potential.....Superb musicians making a truly original and epic noise”.
In Their Thousands recently released the Cellars EP, the second in a four part series by the band, which they recorded with Villagers guitarist Tommy McLaughlin.
“He has a studio in Termon in Donegal and we went in there for about a week. He was great to work with. It was a very free, open atmosphere to record in. He'd just let you go in and do your thing and recorded it in the best way we could have hoped for” Ruairi says.
Deciding to do something unique for the launch, the boys lured their fans far into North Donegal for a very special show.
“We wanted to do something a wee bit different with the launch for it. So we decided not to tell anyone where it was going to be and sold some tickets. In the end we took about 3 or 4 buses from Letterkenny way up into Fanad. We emptied a shed and set it up like a venue, with drapes and a proper stage and a good PA and all. It was pretty cool”.