Faye O’Rourke wasn’t expecting Little Green Cars to become the biggest little band in Ireland last year. ” I think it’s beyond anyone’s comprehension,” she says on the phone from Wexford, where Faye and the other four members of LGC, Stevie Appleby, Adam O’Regan, Donagh Seaver O’Leary and Dylan Lynch, are holed up regrouping and playing new music. “That was always the naive dream that was never gonna happen,” she claims.
But happen it did, and over the course of 2013, Little Green Cars toured the US four times, played a slew of festival shows and won over the radio airwaves in Ireland – no mean feat for an Irish band. They also released their debut album, Absolute Zero, a couple of years in the making and a wonderfully realised collection of pristine pop hits. ‘My Love Took Me Down To The River’ was among the demoes that gained Little Green Cars recognition a few years back and, surrounded by new tracks such as ‘Harper Lee’ and ‘Big Red Dragon’, as well as ‘The John Wayne’, well, the album was hardly going to plummet without trace, was it?
But while thousands have had it on repeat for the best part of a year, O’Rourke says she only ever listened to Absolute Zero twice; once with the whole band in a room together when they got the masters back from the studio, and the other time when she was with her parents in their living room, while The Shining was on television. Unlike, The Wizard of Oz and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Absolute Zero and the Jack Nicholson’s film don’t quite go together, she laughs. “Steven says it’s almost like our epitaph, you know? It’s there, it’s like a gravestone. It’s done and I know what it is and I tend to overanalyse things and it tends to drive me mental. I don’t really have any urge or need [to listen to Absolute Zero] – I’ve never really wanted to listen to it. I know that’s terrible but I want to go forward and continue going forward and not look back. But I love the album and I’m so happy with it.”
O’Rourke and the others have been playing together since they were about 14. Previously known as the Revolts, she says this is all she knows and all she wants to know; O’Rourke just loves writing music. “it’s what I’ve done since I was younger and now I’m getting the opportunity to travel with it and to play music to bigger crowds, bigger audiences, and it’s absolutely incredible, but I’m always hopefully writing myself and doing these things always. You do get a certain gratification, justification of what you’re doing when you get to see these places, go to these places and have x amount of people at your gig and all that kinda stuff.”
It hasn’t been a perfectly smooth ride, however. O’Rourke says the period before eventually signing to Glassnote Records was a “shitty, arduous process”. She recalls her 18th birthday, when the band talked to a label that wanted them on their roster. “You have potential to go on, go forward,” the band was told by a nameless person who had flown over to Ireland to see what the hype was about. “You think if someone’s gonna spend money on a flight, you think you’re gonna get signed. But it didn’t work out like that. We saw so many labels and so many people have sat [down with us] but didn’t want to go forward and didn’t have any interest. They were only coming over because our name was circulating. And so, you know, that was quite difficult. It was about a year of that. We saw so many labels and then eventually, when we got signed, it was kind of like ‘is this actually gonna work out?’ We got to a point where, unless it was a signed, done thing, then we weren’t going to get our hopes up. At the same time, through that whole process, that whole year we were writing music. We were never discouraged from writing music and making music. It was just whether people wanted to be involved or not, which eventually we thought we wouldn’t give a shit about it anymore.”
Were O’Rourke and the rest of Little Green Cars naive back then, around 2011/12, before all the touring? “I think that’s fair to say. I understand half of what goes on in terms of the industry and all that kind of thing. And I don’t really care too much. Obviously there’s a certain amount of politics. The sad thing about it is in everything that we do there’s politics and you have to play a game. There’s a lot of compromise involved if you sign yourself to something, you have to play the game in terms of, things might not always go your way. You’re dealing with people who, rightly so, know what they’re talking about and they know what they’re doing but it might not agree with your, for a better word, artistic viewpoint or whatever. Obviously I have full faith in the team we have and trust what they’re doing. But it can be quite hard at the time. You have such an idea in your head that it’s going to go one way and then sometimes it just doesn’t. This is all quite cynical, it’s just the truth about it. But the other side of it is, you get the opportunity to you know, you have a bigger platform, so it’s all necessary and you trust that these people know what they’re talking about unless it’s really compromising what you want to do.”
The touring was non-stop in 2013, O’Rourke claims, and remembers the fear she felt initially. “I remember the first day that we went to America [for the tour] and the first night; I just bawled my eyes out crying the first day we were away We were staying in motels and it was myself in a room with Steven, Adam and Dill? and I was just like, ‘shit’. I literally just remember thinking, I have no privacy. Cos I’m an only child, you know? ‘I can’t do anything!’ And I was so far away from home and it was just a harrowing thought that there’s no women here. And I’m so close to everyone, all the guys, but it was just this thing of ‘I’m not gonna be able to keep up with everybody.’ It was me and seven lads. I was excited to be away but it was just this feeling of isolation and it was just, ‘oh this is what my life’s going to be like for the next year, this kinda thing.'”
But she says she just grew to love touring. “It just got easier. I think it doesn’t become monotonous really – it’s becoming easier the more we do it.”
Though we spoke prior to the Choice Prize awards ceremony (O’Rourke claimed that if Little Green Cars didn’t win then she wanted Villagers to take home the prize because she’s such a big fan), one can be sure that the band weren’t looking back thinking ‘what if’ the next day. As they’re currently practising new songs, O’Rourke says they’re constantly looking forward. And it won’t just be a continuation of Absolute Zero. “I think people might be surprised by what continues with it. As a group of people we find that we do that whole pretentious, romanticising, darkness type of thing. I think it’s always a challenge to write something a bit more upbeat and happier for us just in terms of our tastes. I love chart music, anyway, all kinds of crap I love it, but actually writing something upbeat is difficult. But there’s definitely a continuation of kinda like deep lyrical content and a melancholy theme, but there’s also a little bit less [naievety] and innocent sounding, the stuff we’re going on with. There’s a little more – I don’t want to say badass, because that’s lame, just a little bit more anger? Not anger… but I think it’ll be a bit more exciting.”
Little Green Cars have a couple of big shows coming up this year, most notably a headline slot at the Iveagh Gardens in Dublin in the summer. “I’m just dying to do that show,” O’Rourke says. But first they play the Opera House in Cork tonight. And they have good memories of their last gig in Cork. The sold-out Pavilion in December “was probably one of the best of the Irish tour. You have a standard of what gigs are like and then there’s always one gig that always screws up your standard and pushes the boundaries further and that gig was absolutely mental. Just the response. We’re really excited for the Cork show because of that.” Chances are Little Green Cars will surpass that performance – there’s no stopping them.