by / November 12th, 2015 /

Wyvern Lingo..”we’re really happy with how we sound.”

The unnaturally lush November sunlight manages to be simultaneously blinding and illuminating as Wyvern Lingo bound single-file into Dublin’s Library Bar. The light is a perfect metaphor for both their cheery demeanor and the brilliant flashes of music they’ve been responsible for over the past twelve months. It also underpins the spotlight currently trained on the Bray trio, and the appreciative acceptance of their fate. As we settle down to discuss the events that have brought Wyvern Lingo to the public’s attention this year; be it their self-released debut EP, supporting Hozier on tour, signing to a label or their first national tour, the band are in good spirits to say the very least.

“The past year has been pretty good” Saoirse offers by way of an early understatement. “We’ve literally just seen each other for the first time in two weeks, for us that’s a very long time,” says Karen before explaining just how close the three school-friends have become since going pro. “I’m just back from Australia and New Zealand, a mini-tour with Hozier, and that’s actually the longest time we’ve been apart in a year… actually that time it was only one week – this was 15 days. But nearly exactly a year ago we signed a publishing deal and it has been full on since then, literally a full-time job. We’re never apart anymore, really.”

Like many bands Wyvern Lingo followed in the musical footsteps of elder siblings. The younger sisters of various ex-bandmates, Saoirse Duane, Caoimhe Barry and Karen Cowley formed the bones of their current incarnation in time-honoured fashion. “We used to bang out the usual classics ‘Whiskey in the Jar’, ‘People Are Strange'” says Karen. “Teenage Kicks,” offers Saoirse with more than a hint of pride. “Let’s not get into ‘Eye of the Tiger’ with four-part harmonies – Jesus if anybody ever hears that…” interjects Caoimhe with slightly less verve. Nevertheless, the early signs were in place and barely concealed by dodgy cover versions. “Between school or work or college, or whatever it might have been, we were never able to commit fully to being in the band. It was always something going on the background but we always believed in it. Whether it was just bubbling away or we were throwing ourselves into it we always believed there was something there,” says Caoimhe. In auspicious company, however, the fledgling band were never too far away from tasting the successes of their endeavours. “Karen had been singing backing vocals for Hozier,” explains Caoimhe, “and it was seeing what was happening to him and getting to go out on the road with him that really inspired us.” “Even if it was a crappy version of his tour, sleeping on floors, being crammed into a van for hours,” states Karen, “this was always what we wanted to do. The AirBnB version of a Hozier tour,” she laughs. “Who needs champagne on a plane when you can be drinking cans in a van?”

Having access to one of the biggest Irish musical exports in decades is one thing, but being part of his inner circle and bearing witness to his transformation from student to world-beater left an indelible mark on Wyvern Lingo. “We are so grateful for what he did for us, not just in terms of advice about labels, managers or whatever, but supporting him on tour was amazing,” says Karen. “But success to him is nothing like what we expect for ourselves,” offers Caoimhe. “For us success is people liking what we do and for us to sustain ourselves.” “Obviously, though, if anybody wants to give us a plane or finance a private jet for a while that’s cool,” deadpans Saoirse. She adds, “we don’t expect to be winning Grammys or anything… but it would be class, let’s be honest!” “It’s a really interesting dynamic though, being able to dip in and out of his tour while doing our own,” explains Caoimhe. “The difference between his gigs and ours us is huge and I mean in terms of how we perform rather than the size of the crowds. With crowds the size of his you tend to leave the stage hoping you made a good impression because chances are they don’t know who we are. Whereas with our gigs we can be ourselves and actually enjoy it more.” “But it’s such a golden opportunity to get to play on his tour next year and to be honest, Hozier’s crowds are some of the most receptive crowds we’ve ever played for,” offers Karen. “Rhodes, one of [Hozier’s] support acts in Australia, got an unbelievable response from the crowds and more often than not they’d be screaming for him by the time he started his second song.” “Manchester, Leeds and Paris in particular were absolutely deadly gigs for us too,” states Saoirse. “We’re not sure why but those cities in particular gave us unbelievable responses!”

In April 2015, when details started to emerge of Wyvern Lingo signing to Irish label Rubyworks, there was a justified sense of expectation from the band. Many of Dublin’s bloggers had already latched on but far from being the final product, the band felt that they still had room to grow. “The idea of going full-time was huge for us, and not just financially speaking. The difference it has made to our sound and the improvement in our playing has been unreal, we have developed so much since then,” claims Karen. Was it a big decision to do so? “Kind of,” says Caoimhe. “Before we signed to anybody we met with our manager who asked us ‘how much do you actually want this?’ but already we were willing to give everything.” “We were able to tighten up our live playing, our writing has improved, loads of changes like that,” offers Saoirse. “But they want us to make sure everything is right and that we were happy with how things were going before we released anything.” “You only get one debut album,” says Karen. “Rather than the label making suggestions about sound or direction they want us to be happy about what we were putting out because you can’t take it back once it’s done.” “Honestly, though, we’ve really honed in on the sound we were going for all this time. When the new EP comes out people will definitely hear what we’ve been going for,” contends Saoirse. “Most bands record an album and look for ways to recreate it on stage but we’re the other way around. Because we have been playing live for so long we now want to bring our live sound into the studio.” “That’s true,” says Karen defiantly. “Even though there is always room to improve when you’re playing live we’re really happy with how we sound. And that’s what the label wanted for us, their approach has been ‘find a sound that you’re happy with and we’ll go from there’. Nobody puts more pressure on us than we do.”

The band’s new single, ‘Subside’, provides a case in point. “We didn’t come into this with a fully formed sound, obviously” claims Caoimhe. “We gigged and rehearsed for a really long time before getting signed so now we think that the single, and even the EP when it comes out, shows exactly where we are as a band.” “Plus we’re now messing around with loads more toys” laughs Soairse. “It means the dynamic of the band can stay as it is because we don’t need additional musicians. Caoimhe, what’s that new thing you got?” “A Roland Spd-Sx, or Spud-Sex as we’ve named it” laughs Caoimhe. “And we now have a Nord [keyboard] which just means we can have a few little tracks when we play live and don’t depend on somebody who’s there just to hit a chime. But we’ve only played one gig where we’ve used both so it’s not like we depend on technology or anything. We’re really happy with how we’re playing now but the toys will definitely be coming on tour with us.”

Besides their own tour, Wyvern Lingo will continue to support Hozier on his UK tour next year. Their debut single for Rubyworks, ‘Subside‘, is released on November 27th and their Irish tour culminates with a headline show in Dublin’s Whelans on Saturday, November 28th. The band’s tour dates are as follows:

Thursday 12th, McHughs – Belfast
Friday 13th, Atlantic Sessions – Portstewart
Saturday 21st, Shortts – Waterford
Sunday 22nd, Dolans – Limerick
Thursday 26th, Spirit Store – Dundalk
Friday 27th, Kavanaghs Bar & Venue – Portlaoise
Saturday 28th Whelan’s Dublin

Friday 4th, Brewery Corner – Kilkenny
Saturday 5th, Roisin Dubh – Galway