The Academic
26th April 2024

18:30 - 22:30

£21 + BF

Kilimanjaro Presents
The Academic
+ Siobhán Winifred

14+ (under 16s must be accompanied by an adult)

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 a good chunk of North America.

In fact, the four friends from the small village just outside of Mullingar have been on an upwards trajectory since they decided to learn Kings Of Leon covers to play in their local pub in 2013. An EP of guitar-driven originals followed in 2015 alongside a sold-out show at the 1500 capacity Vicar Street 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 Pixies, The Rolling Stones, Noel Gallagher and The Killers. Fans have got lyrics tattooed and their songs have been used to soundtrack weddings. “The fact that our music has soundtracked someone’s life is incredible,” says bassist Stephen Murtagh. “What an unbelievable privilege.”

However new album Sitting Pretty has “a more matured edge to it,” he promises. “We’re different people now but that’s natural. You grow out of things.”

Leaning into that, Stephen explains how the songs on Sitting Pretty are “reflections of where we are now and who we’ve become. We’re in our mid-20s and experiencing all the chaos that comes with that. No one really knows what they’re doing or where they’re going, but nobody is panicking because we’re all in it together.”

‘Sitting Pretty’ still packs an energetic punch though. 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. “We were just buzzing to be in a room, playing loud music all together,” says Craig. That same excitement drove those early years of The Academic and that giddy joy can still be heard across their second album. There was an emphasis on live takes. “If the magic is there, the magic is there,” Craig smiles.

As an Irish guitar band, The Academic have forged their own path while fellow countrymen Fontaines D.C. and The Murder Capital have demanded the global spotlight as part of the blossoming post-punk scene. Craig is a “massive fan” but was never tempted to try and jump onto the bandwagon. “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.

‘Sitting Pretty’ is the first time a record from The Academic is getting a push anywhere outside of Ireland. “The idea of breaking into new territories and seeing new parts of the world is what you dream of,” says Craig. “We’re ready for that leap as well. Right now, we’re playing the best we’ve ever played and we’re very comfortable with what this band is becoming.”

Having already conquered their homeland with their independently released debut effort, The Academic are back with the same hunger; now bolstered with the benefit of experience and a few more tools at their disposal. “It’s the idea that your music can take you further than you’ve ever been before,” Stephen says of their ambition, ‘that’s what lights a fire under me.’