SPECIAL INTERVIEW: Hermitage Green

theaussieword.com catches up with Darragh Graham from Irish folk/pop/rock group Hermitage Green.

Give us an introduction. How did it all begin? What had you first interested in music? We have a set of brothers in the band, Barry and Dan. Barry and I would jam together and Dan and his mate Darragh Griffin would also. One night Barry brought asked me and Dan asked the other Darragh to meet up. I brought my housemate Felix (who has since been replaced by Dermot) and we just started messing about in a back room of a bar. After a few sessions the people in the bar asked us to come out of the back room and play for them. We did and on that night we were asked to play in another bar, then another and another and that was the start. We all have our own beginnings but mine was a late one. I started playing music myself while in college. I was probably influenced by my parents are they are big into their folk and used have big sessions in our home, so music was always around.

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What motivates or influences you in your quest to make great music? For me there are a few reasons. Music can be a great escape, or even when playing, a form of meditation, so on occasion when you reach that place it can be amazing. I get a massive buzz onstage when there’s a special moment, when the crowd are letting loose, there may have been a build up of some sort and then for a brief moment there is that release where your completely lost in playing, and when I look across the stage and see the other 4 lads in the band feeling the exact same moment, it’s a great feeling….  that’d be another motivation… to get back to that place… just one more time! In terms of writing and being creative again it’s a great feeling if you pour yourself into a song or album and express your thoughts feelings and emotions through your songs and then amazingly people enjoy what you have created and identify with parts of it and on occasions even those songs or even one lyric can assist someone with something they’re going through. I suppose that’s a great feeling and something you don’t start off thinking when writing a song, but when it happens on the other side of the process its great.

What are your biggest goals you hope to accomplish as an artist? I could give you the wholesome line and say to be content and happy creating credible music, which we can all stand over, and be proud of… which is true… but on this occasion I’m feeling blunt and honest! To be one of the biggest god damn bands in the world would be nice, and why not! Someone has to be!

What can we expect from you in the coming months? Any plans to tour? We have some of our biggest shows to date coming up in Ireland including a hometown gig in a castle in Limerick with 2000 people overlooking Irelands largest river the Shannon. That’s gonna be pretty special for us. We also have a long list of festivals in Irelands and across Europe. We’ll be touring the UK, Belgium, Holland and the US before we make it to Australia in November.

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Tell us a bit about your latest album and how would you best describe your music. Always the hardest question to answer…. describe yourself! Our latest EP of 6 songs is a bit grittier and sounds less shiny (if that makes sense) from our previous album. We first released Live at Whelans, a live Album, which is as raw as, you’ll get. Then we found our debut studio album Save Your Soul a polished sound for us, especially after coming from a Live Album. For the latest EP Gold and Rust as the title suggests we wanted to find a happy medium somewhere between the polished Gold of the studio album and the rusty Live album. I think that may have been our best explanation ever of how our album sounds! In describing our music it really is such a mixed bag. From folk sounding songs to full on rock songs and lately songs with more of a pop/folk/rock mix, its hard to box it off…  your listeners or readers will just have to come to a gig to decide themselves! We do place a strong emphasis on our percussion having 2 drummers and our harmonies.

Success, what is the secret to it? When we find out we’ll let you know! Success is I guess all relative. To us we have yet to call ourselves successful as there is so much more we hope to do, yet we are very aware that other acts who have tried to make a name for themselves and where it may not have worked out or other bands just starting out would see what we have done and consider us successful. The cliché of staying true to oneself is probably apt for us. We have two singers, two drummers, two guitarists, and an unorthodox array of instruments including djembes, banjos, didgeridoos, dobros and bodhrans, which you would think probably shouldn’t work but we went with it and allowed ourselves the space to explore those instruments and we made it work.

What has been your biggest career highlight? Travelling the world playing music is a pretty big one of mine. Playing festivals all over the place including Australia day in Darling harbour was pretty surreal especially when you don’t expect much playing in a foreign place where people probably aren’t that aware of you, yet you see them react to your music and then the gig becomes a major highlight.

Which stars of the music industry do you find inspiring? LP, Hozier, Glen Hansard, Rodrigo Y Gabriella, U2, Damien Rice, Damien Dempsey this list is endless

Any new projects in the pipeline? We’re always writing, we will likely release another single in Aug/September. We’re gonna release material in Australia and Europe and an exclusive for you!…. we’ll probably record our next EP or Album in February 2019 in Canada.

The music industry is huge, where do you see yourself a few years from now? God only knows! Somewhere between sipping on a whiskey bottle between cover songs in a wedding band or breaking America with a top ten Album. Either way we’ll still be losing it on stage having a ball!

Name a few of your favourite Aussie artists. The Paper Kites, Oh Pep, Xavier Rudd, Tame Impala, Nick Cave and and the amazing All Our Exes Live in Texas.

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The shape of the music industry has changed significantly over the years, including the use of social media, how do you feel about the industry as a whole and what does it mean to you in getting your records out into the public eye? The industry can be a dark place where there are too many sharks all trying to make a quick buck and take an extra large piece of the pie where the artist is the last one that thought of.  But then people are people, there are good, bad and awesome! Believe it or not there are great people out there in the industry who are in it for the right reasons and really care about their artists and their music. So it’s about finding the good guys and going with them. The industry seems to be constantly playing catch up with itself with the recent explosion of social media and streaming. We have seen and experienced many sides. Initially we were we used the likes of youtube and facebook to showcase ourselves and it worked massively to our advantage, where the public decide. That is a true test of your music. We have also had experience where things have been definitely harder when your independent without the weight of a major label trying to get into certain festivals or spotify playists etc. etc. so we can see the advantages and disadvantages of being independent and signed.

Thanks for the interview! What final message do you have for us today? We can’t wait to get to Australia and play our gigs and sing our songs to all ye beautiful Aussies! See you soon HG x

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