Irish indie four-piece Raglans have undergone a meteoric rise in popularity since their inception, going from a crowd pleasing, gig-opening favourite at Dublin’s Whelan’s hotspot to garnering widespread recognition across the UK. Multi-instrumentalist and lead vocalist Stephen Kelly jokes about the band’s conception, pinching Rhos (bass, backing vocals) from his old band and setting off to the capital to meet Conn (drums, backing vocals) and most recent addition Sean (lead guitar, backing vocals) to begin rehearsing, touring Ireland and putting the name out there. “We recorded a demo of our first song ‘Down,’ and that was that, we were Raglans.”
Fast forward a year on the Dublin circuit and the band were invited to spend a week producing and recording with the legendary Morrissey collaborator Boz Boorer. “That was amazing, out in the mountains of Portugal, an hour’s drive from the nearest shop,” says 24 year-old Stephen. “That was our first real exposure, and certainly helped us focus on the musical direction we wanted to take.” With a host of new material under their belt, the four lads set to work on their debut EP ‘Long Live,’ drawing influence from contemporary folk/indie bands as well as heavier rock artists. As Stephen explains “With Rhos and Conn coming from heavier bands, Sean writing his own Clash-style music, and myself being into the folkier side, we all collaborated to make songs in a unique Raglans style.”
Released in May 2012, the EP was bolstered by a collection of enthralling videos for singles 'The Man From Glasgow' and ‘Sand In My Pockets’, both created by the exceptionally talented young filmmaker Finn Keenan. But ultimately it was the EP’s standout ‘Digging Holes’, that started to get band recognition. Mixed by Cenzo Townsend (Florence and the Machine, Snow Patrol, The Kaiser Chiefs), and accompanied with another impressive video by Keenan, the infectious single won widespread acclaim throughout the blogging world, helping to rocket their Youtube channel to an impressive 300,000 + views. Released on Cuckoo Records in the UK, the single forced their name as serious contenders amongst indie counterparts throughout 2013, winning them supports with the likes of The Courteeners and HAIM. Off the back off these high profile tour dates, they released their next single ‘Natives’ in summer 2013, again winning acclaim for their catchy blend of folk/indie and finally, getting them an album deal withIndependent Records LTD.
Raglans self-titled debut album, was released in March and entered the chart at number 3, produced by Ivor Novello nominee Jay Reynolds (Elton John, Pulp, The Verve and mastered by Grammy award winning Brian Lucy (The Artic Monkeys, The Black Keys, Beck). ‘Natives’ and ‘Digging Holes’ are of course included, along with countless more radio-friendly hooks that have now come to be expected from the Irish outfit. The songs ultimately solidify Raglans’ jovial vibes, with the additional weightier post-punk homage in previously mentioned, ‘The Man From Glasgow’. There’s also moments of grittier folk with the punchy guitars and lackadaisical acoustics in forthcoming single ‘Lady Roll Back The Years’. Importantly, though, Raglans are not afraid to delve into more anthemic sounds with soon-to-be festival favourite ‘Not Now’, as well as a revitalised polished version of that original ‘Down’ demo that started it all.
‘Raglans’, as an LP, encompasses the grouped vocals of The Lumineers, the multi-intrumentalist efforts of Of Monsters And Men, whilst highlighting the substantial post-punk camaraderie circa The Libertines.