Little Matador may be fronted by the guitarist from Snow Patrol but don’t call them a side-project. They’re determined to stand on their own feet and be judged by the quality of their music.
This is definitely not a letter of resignation for anyone who might think that myself and Gary were just exchanging our records. It’s the mutual appreciation society at the moment!” laughs Nathan Connolly.
The Snow Patrol guitarist is seated in the Whelan’s smoking area ahead of his new outfit, Little Matador, making their Dublin bow. With Connolly on lead vocals and guitar, the band also includes Dave Magee (LaFaro), Troy Stewart (from Lightbody’s Tired Pony) and an ace rhythm section comprising Gavin Fox (Turn/Idlewild) and Binzer Brennan (Bell X1/The Frames).
“I’ve been in bands over the years and I’ve been in Patrol now for almost 12 years,” he explains. “I’ve always wanted to make my own record. At various stages I’ve had ideas for different projects in my head, but never had the timw. At the beginning of last year I was at the stage where I didn’t care about excuses. I needed to do this. I had two weeks off in the summer. We went into a studio in Dublin and started writing. Little Matador came together really quickly, but I’d been building towards it for a long time.”
The Dublin show marks the end of the first batch of live dates, which also included a support to Nine Inch Nails at Belsonic and a London gig. How did the show with Trent and co come about?
“Our agent Steve got it for us,” Nathan resumes. “It really felt right; Belsonic, my home town and all that. Originally I was happy with any night but musically it just seemed to fit. We were initially meant to be on one of the other bills. I got a call saying, ‘What about Nine Inch Nails?’ I immediately went ‘yes’ and then hung up the phone and thought, ‘Fuck! No pressure!’ You have to throw yourself in at the deep end. It went great, the audience were fantastic. The Nine Inch Nails Nails show was amazing. Their fans were so receptive.”
Belsonic reports compared Little Matador to Queens Of The Stone Age. Having seen the Whelan’s set I’d have to concur.
“People have said Queens and also Nirvana, which is great. We love those bands. But really it’s just us. It’s pretty loud and raw. I wanted to make a modern rock record. I love bands like The Kills and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I grew up listening to Led Zeppelin, the Stones and Tom Petty. Then I got into Pixies and The Clash. All those influences are there.”
The outfit have completed their debut album, which is due for release early next year, preceded by a single in the next few months. For the long-player they picked producer Sam Bell.
“Sam engineered some of the Patrol records and he has an amazing ear,” Nathan enthuses. “I didn’t want someone who was already a name, because if we made a great record I didn’t want them getting the credit!” (laughs)
Speaking to Connolly you get the impression that he’s 100% committed to Little Matador.
“I don’t really like the expression ‘side-project’, although that’s what it is. It detracts from the fact this is a real band. We’re taking it seriously, it’s not a vanity project. And everyone is bringing stuff to the table.”
So it’s not a Connolly dictatorship?
“Maybe a little bit!” he laughs. “Every band has a leader. This time around that’s me. But everyone’s opinion is valued obviously. That’s why I picked these guys. I knew they’d get where I wanted to go. I wanted to make an honest rock record, that was my prerequisite.”
He’s anxious not to be perceived as riding on Snow Patrol’s coat-tails.
“Obviously there are perks that we can use because of what I do, but I want us to be judged on our own merits,” Nathan insists. “I’m trying to keep it as real as I can.”
And will playing guitar in one of the country’s biggest exports make juggling dual duties difficult?
“We’ll make it work,” he nods. “I’m already talking about the next record. I wrote a song the other day! Obviously Patrol will be making an album next year and I know when that goes on tour I could be away for up to 18 months. We’ll make it work. Even if I have to go away and come back. I definitely want to do another Little Matador record. We’ve only touched on the surface with this band. There are a few supports in the pipeline. I can’t say anything. I just want to play and have fun with it.”
Go here to read the article at its origin at Hotpress’ website.