There must be many a teenage band with unfinished business, dismantled too soon in the name of education or, heaven forbid, a proper job. Snow Patrol’s Nathan Connolly always felt that way about making music with Dave Magee, his sidekick in his very first band when he was growing up in Belfast – alternative rockers F.U.E.L.
No surprise then that when the time came for the guitarist and songwriter to put his own classic rock n roll band together as a side project, he went knocking on the door of fellow Belfast axe-wielder Dave. Adding the crack rhythm section of drummer Paul “Binzer” Brennan and bassist Gavin Fox, and third guitar player Troy Stewart, from Portland, Oregon, Little Matador were born with a dirty rock swagger at their core, their name inspired by a documentary about child bullfighters.
“I always wanted to make my own record, but I was quite content being the guitar player with Snow Patrol and I was really busy,” says Nathan, who joined the band in 2002, recruited from a Belfast HMV store just before they found major international album success; their 2006 single Chasing Cars was the most widely played song of the Noughties in the UK.
“But when the time came to do this project, I knew exactly what kind of approach I wanted,” he explains.
Nathan clearly remembers his early diet of his father’s Led Zeppelin and Rolling Stones records.
“Then the first record I bought when I was nine or ten was Guns N’ Roses Appetite For Destruction. No matter how cool your dad’s music – and it was – this had so much filth and sleaze and attitude,” he adds.
“It was the first record that made me think that I wanted to make music, and that is the kind of music myself and Dave were making as teenagers.”
With Snow Patrol on hiatus, the urgent, impassioned, hook-laden, footstomping, head-banging Little Matador album, on the Fiction label, was made in six weeks over a period of five or six months, whenever the ensemble could get together.
“We had a great time making it. It was pretty intense and had all the great ingredients that making a record should have,” says Nathan, who lives in London, where they recorded at Metropolis Studios.
“We wrote a lot of it there; I came in with a handful of ideas and it evolved and changed a lot. That’s kept it fresh.”
Lyrically it references what Nathan acknowledges was a traumatic period of his personal life.
“Listen and it’s quite self explanatory,” he says cryptically. “I guess that’s another reason why it felt right to branch away. I had stuff to get out; a lot of it was written when I was hurt and angry. I’d like people to take from it whatever they do.”
Now the band – who played on Dermot O’Leary’s BBC Radio 2 show last Saturday, have unleashed their sound in the live arena, and Nathan is more than happy to swap Snow Patrol’s stadium stages to get back to sweaty rock n roll clubs.
“We are very proud of the record and now we are going round the country and having fun. These are the kind of venues where the music feels like it belongs. I think it’s the right way to do it at this stage,” he says. “I want to be taken seriously and build up our own real fanbase.”
Nathan Connolly and his band Little Matador play Exeter Cavern on Friday, April 25.
View Jackie Butler’s article at the source.