An impressive debut EP and a deal with Virgin have marked the trio out as ones to watch, writes
THE strangest night of Aoife Power’s life began with news one of her idols had passed away. “I was performing at the birthday tribute to Shane MacGowan at the National Concert hall,” says the Whenyoung singer. “Everybody heard about Dolores O’Riordan that evening. It was surreal. She should have been up there on stage.”
Power sang ‘Dark Streets of London’ — the Pogues’ debut single. It was appropriate, she felt, given that she was just as obscure as the Pogues had been at the start of their career. Amid a glittering line-up that January evening that included Bono, Johnny Depp, and many of the original Pogues, she felt she stood out.
“It was really weird. I was the most unknown person there. But to hear people like Sinead O’Connor sing — it almost moved me to tears. I felt blessed.”
Whenyoung are regarded as one of Irish rock’s most thrilling new contenders. Their zinging indie pop recalls artist such as Pixies and Blondie. But because the trio hail from Limerick they are also likened to another band closer to home.
“I don’t think our styles are similar to The Cranberries. Of course they were a band from Limerick who did really well. That was a big thing for us. Limerick is a lot smaller than Dublin — so for them to be as huge as they were was an inspiration.”
Such was their sadness over the death of O’Riordan last February, they recorded a spritely version of The Cranberries’ ‘Dreams’. “We’d been covering it quite a lot. Then we contacted Noel Hogan from The Cranberries. He really liked our version. That was wonderful to hear. So we released it — as our tribute.”
Whenyoung have come a long way in a short time. Power, guitarist Niall Burns, and drummer Andrew Flood met as teenagers in Limerick. However, it was only as they were working in London in 2017 that they became Whenyoung.
They have since had a rapid ascent. A run of barnstorming shows across the UK capital brought them to the attention of the music industry there. A showcase gig at the Sebright Arms in Hackney 12 months ago attracted a scrum of A&R people.
“We were warned in advance it was going to be an industry show,” says Power.
“We’d read about things like that. But for it to be happening to us was astonishing. They were a lot of suits — and it was nerve-wracking. We just did what we normally do and got on with it.
“Our logic was that if they don’t like it, we can’t change it now. We just did our thing.”
Afterwards they were approached from a representative of Virgin EMI, with whom they bonded over a shared passion for New York punk.
“We had similar tastes. We really clicked. Our musical likes were similar and that was something we’ve bonded over.”
As with many Irish groups, Whenyoung have also had to play the traditional mixed-bag of support slots. They went down well at the recent Electric Picnic and over the summer opened for Nick Cave and Patti Smith at Dublin’s Royal Hospital. In a few weeks they’ll tour the continent opening for The Vaccines.
“You learn a lot from those situations,” she says. “I try not to think too much about [being up on stage]. It isn’t really natural. The best thing is to get on with it.”
Meanwhile, the first fruits of their deal with Virgin are about to drop. The band release their debut EP, Given Up, on November 9 and will play Cork, Limerick, and Dublin at the start of the month.
“We’re also going to start on our album,” she says. “Before we would have had to raise the funds to do that ourselves. Being with a label helps. We’ll see how it goes.”
- Whenyoung play the Workman’s Club, Dublin, November 2, Dolan’s, Limerick, November 3, and Cyprus Avenue, Cork, November 4. The Given Up EP is released November 9.