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The third album from J. Roddy Walston & The Business, Essential Tremors borrows its name from a nervous-system disorder that’s long plagued the band’s frontman. “It’s this condition where my hands shake?sometimes not at all, but sometimes pretty bad,” says singer/pianist/guitarist Walston. “I’ve referenced it throughout all our records in some way, but it made sense to be more open about it on this album, which is partly about owning and embracing your weirdness instead of letting it hold you captive because you don’t even want to talk about it.”
For J. Roddy Walston & The Business?who formed in 2002 in Walston’s hometown of Cleveland, Tennessee?embracing weirdness means a mumble-out-loud celebration of that great and terrible burden of being human. Forcing the oft-clashing worlds of art and rock-and-roll to make nice, the band (including guitarist/vocalist Billy Gordon, bassist/vocalist Logan Davis, and drummer Steve Colmus) deals in a scrappy yet sublime sound that honors both their Southern roots and punk spirit. On Essential Tremors, J. Roddy Walston & The Business builds off that formula with a mix of heavy hooks and elegant melodies revealing their affinity for artists as disparate as Led Zeppelin, pre-disco-era Bee Gees, The Replacements, Randy Newman, and the Southern soul outfits that once populated the Stax Records label. Co-produced by Matt Wignall (Delta Spirit, Cold War Kids) and Grammy-winning producer/engineer Mark Neill (The Black Keys) at Neill’s own Soil of the South Studios (a Valdosta, Georgia-based facility where J. Roddy Walston & The Business were the first to ever record), the follow-up to 2010’s much-acclaimed self-titled sophomore album also finds the band crafting lyrics that ultimately serve as a secret language to the initiated listener.
For Kodaline, music isn’t just music. “It’s therapy,” says singer Steve Garrigan.
“Break-ups make it really easy to write”, laughs blonde-haired Steve. “When we write music, the first thing we think of is, it’s therapy for us. Then we think of how we can use that feeling to touch as many people as possible.”
Teaching each other the principles of songcraft, the music they came up with – some of which can be found on their self titled EP (released in Ireland on Friday 7th September) – isn’t wan or introspective or self-serving. Instead, it’s bold, epic and stirring.
Currently maintaining an air of understated mystery (their Facebook bio used to state, merely, “we’re four lads in a band”, Kodaline are soon set to unveil themselves to the world with these first four tracks recorded with Steve Harris (producer for Dave Matthews band, mixer for U2).
Steve, Mark and drummer Vinny May – all aged 22 and 23 – have been working towards this moment for much of their young lives. Growing up in houses just two minutes away from each other in Swords, Steve and Mark met aged eight, when they were the only boys in the school choir. “We were there to pick up girls, of course”, jokes Mark.
Six years later, at a youth retreat, both were placed in the same house and both took guitars. A musical bond was formed over late night singalongs. Returning to Swords, they recruited Vinny, who also lived two minutes away (“Swords is a small place, for a big town” says Steve), and set about forming the first of myriad bands. The line-up was recently completed by bassist Jason Boland.