IT’S good to be home, says Cast of Cheers frontman, Conor Adams. “We moved to the UK for a year. Gradually, we started missing our friends,” he says. “Some of those smaller tours of Britain can be difficult. People don’t have an awareness of you.”
A twitchy, urgent, pop-rock four-piece in the tradition of Talking Heads and Bloc Party, Cast of Cheers were becoming one of Ireland’s most popular new acts when they relocated to London in August 2011. In Britain, they started from scratch. At moments, it was soul-destroying.
“Our first tour was with a band called Theme Park and it was a weird one,” says Adams. “At first, it was really exciting. Then, it got harder. Some of the gigs were half empty. You had, maybe, ten people watching. The difficulty was we had released only one single over there. Nobody knew who we were. We didn’t experience the excitement our audiences felt towards us in Dublin. It was very different.”
There were highs, such as influential BBC DJ Zane Lowe spinning their track ‘Next Hype’. “It was this time a year ago, actually — we were on our way to our record label’s Christmas party and got a text saying he was going to put it on. So we listened — and he did. That was fairly surreal,” Adams says.
Sometimes, a band returning to Ireland, without having quite ‘made it’ in the UK, does so under a cloud. Not in this case.
Going to Britain, Adams and the rest had specific goals: to tour the country several times, record an LP, and raise their profile. Having achieved all three, Cast of Cheers saw no reason to linger.
“What we realised, after a while, was that most of the things you can do from the UK, you can do from Ireland, too,” says Adams. “So why not come home?”
From Britain, they made their first forays to the Continent. They received lots of love, especially in Germany, even if their moniker caused moderate confusion.
“It’s just a silly name, a reference to the American sit-com, of course,” says Adams. “In Germany, they didn’t get it at all. ‘What cast is this you are talking about’? They took it literally. We explained it had to do with Cheers and then they thought it was the funniest thing ever. Like, much funnier than it actually is.”
Last summer, Cast of Cheers released their second LP, Family. It received good reviews and decent airplay. Adams, however, isn’t sure radio matters any more. Nowadays, he says, the internet is arguably a bigger influence. He’d rather be blogged about than discussed on air.
“In this day and age, blogs and stuff might go out to a wider audience,” he says. “I’m not saying they carry more weight. Of course, radio helps. But, maybe online is a better way of reaching people. I think we’re in a period of transition in that respect. With radio, you have to wonder who is listening.”
He has butterflies as the group looks ahead to a January support date with Two Door Cinema Club, at Ireland’s largest indoor venue, The O2.
“Their fans are really eager and respectful of new music. We played a gig with them at the Zenith, in Paris, a few weeks ago. The capacity is about 7,000 and it was rammed. Beforehand, I was fretting. I mean, it’s such a huge stage. You gradually realise that, actually, the pressure isn’t on you. You’re not headlining. We can kind of walk on and do whatever we do. That is tremendously freeing,” he says.
In their own way, small venues are as intimidating. “With huge crowds, it’s like they’re not ‘real’ people. They’re so far away they are almost imaginary. With an intimate gig, you stare everyone in the eye. In that respect, it’s that much more personal,” he says.
Adams struggles to be heard over a bass drum. Taking advantage of a pre-Christmas lull, Cast of Cheers are ‘demoing’ songs for their next LP. They have 50 or so “floating around, half done” and hope to release new material sooner rather than later. “We’re always looking to record,” says Adams. “Often, it’s just a question of finding the time. We have a load of tracks hanging about, semi-finished. A week ago we said, ‘you know what, let’s knuckle down and get them done’. So we’re hard at it. This is an exciting time for us.”
Cast of Cheers play Workman’s Club, Dublin, New Year’s Eve and O2, Dublin, Jan 19