If you're any way familiar with the Dublin music scene you will have heard of the Booka Brass Band. The same can be said for any seasoned festival-goer. It seems like they been around for ages and yet it's barely been two years.
The eight-member New Orleans stye brass band have made quite the impression in such a short time, even playing Glastonbury this year. As well as being regulars on the festival circuit, they've played on many's the Dublin stage and are gearing up to basically take over the brass band world - nay, the music world in general.
Your next chance to see them is this weekend coming, on the Go Metro Music Stage in Merrion Square at Laya Healthcare's City Spectacular - and trust us when we say that you should definitely take that chance.
I caught up with tuba player Jack, who spoke New Orleans, not staying in B&Bs and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers...
You've been to the Laya Healthcare summer events as a spectator in the past, will it be nice to actually play at it and see everyone having a good time and enjoying themselves?
Jack: Yeah, it's weird being a part of these things. For so many years we were just watching and then suddenly you're in the other side of it. It's something that's happened relatively recently, it's a weird switch.
It must be. You've played some of Dublin's iconic venues and major festivals and you've collaborated with big names like Lisa Hannigan and Jerry Fish - and you've done all that in such a short space of time.
Yeah, our first actual gig really was March 2013. We actually had our big Button Factory show on March 28th [this year] and it was March 29th the previous year we had done our first proper gig, so not quite a year! That was just the front bar in Sweeney's in the middle of the day. You don't expect how quickly things can happen, I guess.
So what do you think is the appeal? What do you think people saw in you?
I think it's something a bit different. It's the brass thing we have that borders on funk and jazz while keeping it 'poppy' as well. It was very big in the 70s and the early 80s and you look at people like James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles. When they stopped producing music there wasn't anything filling that void and I think now recently it's starting to be seen again in the big record labels as well as just in small local music scenes in Dublin and elsewhere. You can see it in the sound that Pharrell has picked up - that 'poppy' thing as well - and I think that's being reflected in local music scenes. And that's the kind of void we are filling.
You're described as Ireland's only New Orlean's style brass band. For people who aren't in the know, what exactly does that mean?
Well, if you've ever seen the TV show Treme - that's the kind of proper New Orleans style brass band and we're kind of off-shoot from that. It's very difficult to say what it is...I think Youngblood Brass Band - who are another brass band here, they're very good, very successful - they kind of coined the phrase 'urban brass' to try to describe it but it's difficult to pigeon hole.
Some of the songs we play are classic New Orleans tunes even though we're mixing that with covers of Jason Derulo and Beyoncé. [Our style] has gone a bit from that but we're still doing, hopefully, what people would call proper New Orleans tunes.
Irish people love embracing new things...
Definitely. And the Dublin music scene is fantastic, fantastic for having a lot of diversity and accepting diversity - they don't just want 30 bands doing similar stuff to Coldplay.
And you played Glastonbury this year...
We did! That was two weeks ago, we were in the acoustic tent. It was an amazing experience. Amazing place to be playing. We were on the Sunday but we stayed the whole festival! We arrived on the Wednesday and I think the production office were a bit miffed that we had come for the whole thing. I think they're used to [musicians] just staying in the B&B up the road and hanging around for the day and coming down for their gig and going off again. But obviously, us, we're a group of young lads, most of us are still in college and we were just so thrilled so we were like, 'Oh, we have to go to the whole thing!' and they weren't used to that!
Tell me a little about the members. You are students; it must be hard to juggle it all.
Well, I'm studying law and then we have one lad, Eoin, who has just finished medicine and he's going to become an intern, this month actually, and then three of the lads are doing music degrees and one lad is doing a jazz Master's. We have a scientist and the last member is actually in the army band. So yeah, we have four music students, a soldier, a lawyer, a doctor and a scientist. It is peculiar. Before we started the band we met through music courses in years gone by. A few of us in the band at different times were in the National Youth Orchestra so we knew each other through that.
So what can we expect from your set at the LHCS?
Well, we may stay off some of the more explicit covers we have! You can expect a lot of of sunny, happy tunes, lots of melody, and we'll probably throw in some Beyoncé for good measure as well - that always seems to go down well, can't go wrong.
You've come this far in such a short period of time. What does the future hold for you?
Well for the rest of the summer we're going to be doing more festivals. The next big one we're doing is Knockanstockan at the end of this month at Blessington Lake and then...I should probably not say because I'm not sure what I can say! Without another band member here I don't want to start saying something I'm not meant to!
But it's exciting? The future's bright?
The future's bright - we'll continue doing what we're doing. There may be some more collaborations; hopefully, down the line at some point, an EP. So they're our plans but we'll see. We've come this far without planning too far ahead so, we'll take it as it comes. Keep writing music, keep doing covers, try to change our style...the next time you see us we'll be a 10 piece, electro style band in the vein of New Order!