Having released their self titled debut EP back in February, four-piece rock band NEWT have been gathering momentum within the NI music scene.
Filled to the hilt with alt rock riffs and some funk influence for good measure, the three track EP has been making quite an impression since first hitting the shelves. “All songs on the EP have been getting radio play and the feedback we have had from listeners so far has been extremely encouraging” explained frontman Brendan when we caught up with him for a chat.
“[The EP] was simply meant to be an indication of what we are capable of. The positive response showed me that we can try different ideas but because it comes from me, people can still hear our sound and recognise us.
“I am hopeful that we can reach more of an audience because of the fact that we have been told, from so many people with different musical tastes, that they love what we are doing musically. In that regard I feel like there is something in our EP, and our sound in general, for people to appreciate.
Made up of Brendan Gallagher on guitar and vocals, Kealan Toland also on guitar, Vincent Fahy on bass and new band member Charlie Cairns on drums, the alt-rock indie foursome have been calling Belfast home since forming two years ago. “We are from Derry but some of us have lived or are currently living in Belfast. Most of the band were studying at University and we also wanted to play as many gigs as possible” said Brendan.
“Our other guitarist Kealan studied BSc Music Technology at Queens University Belfast and I myself just graduated with a BMus from Queens. I thoroughly enjoyed being based there in a great creative learning environment. Everyone was able to share in the experience and that brought us closer as a band. Studying different compositional styles and techniques as part of my degree informed my approach to writing new material. We have had a lot of fun playing shows in both Derry and Belfast and reaching great new people and friends through our music” said the Newt frontman.
“I formed NEWT in order to play live, the music and songs I have been writing and refining over the past few years” explained Brendan.
“I was recording demos on my own as a multi-instrumentalist and knew that I wanted to take it out live. I asked people to join that I had good musical chemistry with, and it has been great to see the band develop in a live setting and watch the boys give energetic performances. I always had a clear vision for the music and I think that is due to it being very personal to me and also because I am playing and writing for all the parts.
“To be honest I was extremely ill throughout my early to late teens with an autoimmune condition and writing music was what helped me through it. I feel like the band is its own beast live and that is because of what everyone brings to the table. We just keep working hard to get better at what we do.”
NEWT - Climax
Explaining the recording process and the band’s journey of capturing their unique sound within the EP, Brendan told us: “The EP was recorded in the Smalltown America Studio with a great engineer and friend of ours Caolan Austin. Caolan is a drummer like me and so is very methodical in achieving the right drum sound. The placement of the mics dictated the treatment needed during the mix and because I usually hit hard, I was sometimes exhausted after tracking, but we always made sure we got the best sound we could.
“I love being in the studio and building the track piece by piece, running from one instrument to another. I think I would stay in there all day if I could!
“The process was so rewarding and even though we took our time over a period of months I would not have wanted it any other way. My goal right now with the music of NEWT is to try and fuse the pop sensibilities and harmony of Steely Dan with the aggression and power of Biffy Clyro. I knew sonically what I was aiming for in each song and we had no problem using a different guitar, amp, pedal and mic combination for individual guitar parts and takes.
“These songs have dense groupings of altered and extended chords and this requires unique tones in order for them to be heard in the right way. I loved working with Caolan and we all had input together and worked on making adjustments as we went along. I and the band are extremely proud of the EP and feel that the quality of the sound is a big achievement for something we made on our own.”
The guys got their first experience of festival life when they took to the stage at the popular Sunflower Festival this summer and loved every minute of it. “It was a fantastic opportunity and we would love to play there again anytime” said Brendan.
“It was significant to us as our first festival slot and we relished the experience. The whole festival is just very well run and has a nice vibe and atmosphere about it. They have something for everyone and we felt like we fit right in on their stage.”
With yet more tracks planned for the near future,‘Ricochet’ will be the next single to be released by the alt-rockers. “The EP is on our Soundcloud, Bandcamp and also online at Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Deezer, Google Play etc. I have been recording and writing much more material and we have a lot of plans in the works but we should be releasing our new single ‘Ricochet’ very soon as it was just recently mastered” said Brendan.
“We will be posting a list of gigs on our Facebook page very soon so be sure to look out for dates in Derry, Belfast and Dublin. We can’t wait see everyone at the shows.
“Music is what we are passionate about and what we want to do with our lives. I hope people can feel that passion in our music when they hear our songs or see us play live. If we keep our belief in ourselves then I know that we have the potential to be a great band.”