For the last two years, Irish band Hermitage Green have been touring extensively, with a schedule that has seen them play over 500 gigs. Two of which were played in Whelans in Dublin recently, where the band recorded a new live album. In a brief chat with Hermitage Green, banjo and djembe player Darragh Graham talks about the new album, the band’s strangest gig, influences and appearing on RTÉ’s Second Captains TV show.
Live Is Best
As Hermitage Green’s ‘Live at Whelans’ album is due for release in the next few days, those who attended the recorded gigs will know what to expect. The band have a strong emphasis on live music in their mantra, as they mix covers with some new originals throughout their shows. “We wanted to move away from the normal way” says Darragh on the phone from Cork, “Live is best”.
The band worked with acclaimed songwriter and producer, Joe Chester, on this record. Chester is known for his work with Gemma Hayes, The Shoos, Mundy and The Coronas, for whom he produced hit ‘Heroes or Ghosts’ for. “He’s brilliant” explains Darragh about the in-demand producer, “he hasn’t got a big ego and his advice is great”.
Touring is something that the band seem to do religiously, and with so many gigs done to date, there are of course some weird and amazing ones to talk about. “We used to play at Thomond Park on matchdays for the Cork fans” says Darragh. On the band’s regular appearance at the venue, they grew accustomed to the routine, until they got a surprise one matchday “One day we were led into this room, and just set up as usual. But as we played, we noticed we had no reaction from the group of people we were playing for. They weren’t even talking. A few songs in we were approached and told why we got no reaction”. It turned out that the band had been brought into the wrong room, which was full of deaf people attending the match as a group “It was really weird” laughs Darragh.
The five-piece have a range of influences, from Dermot and Darragh Griffin’s trad to lead singer Dan Murphy’s metal. There are also influences from “intimate guitar” players like Nick Drake and Mick Flannery for Darragh Graham also. As a collective, the band look to Fleet Foxes and Arcade Fire, who would seem to be along the lines of what sound the band play themselves.
A Turning Point
Hermitage Green also played the sold out Electric Picnic this year too for the second year running. “It was a turning point for the band” says Darragh, “a gauge of what we’ve done”. A crowd of 7,000 turned up to see the band at the Electric Arena in the afternoon of the festival, a major increase on the 300 that watched them at the Salty Dog stage the year before. “I remember we were writing out the setlist that morning, and afterwards we were really happy with it” recalls Darragh.
RTÉ’s Second Captains show also featured the band on its debut. An appearance on television is never easy, but for Hermitage Green it seemed to go just fine “We got to know the lads, but more pressure was on the guys to present. But it was enjoyable to do live TV”.
Back On The Road Again
After the release of the live album on 22 November, the band are already planning the road ahead. Getting back to live shows, some of which will be in student venues across the country. Christmas gigs and a UK tour are also in the works before the band set off to the US in March and hopefully to rave reviews at SXSW.
Hermitage Green’s ‘Live at Whelans’ album is out 22 November.
A documentary about the band and recording of the album is available to watch below.