When John McDaid saw U2 performing as part of Band Aid he knew his future was in rock & roll and years later following years busking Elvis songs in Leicester Square he found his home in Vega 4. A truly international line-up encompassing an Irishman, Canadian, New Zealander and an Englishman (the makings of a great joke as well as a band) with individual record contracts in every Continent bar Africa. Their debut album "Satellites" captures the familiar feeling of Travis and The Stereophonics and yet they never pin their influences too securely on their sleeves. Designer Magazine caught up with McDaid to discover this magical journey.
Q: As you saying before Vega 4 is a truly international
band encompassing band members from Irish, New Zealand, Canada and England.
How did the Vega 4 come to be?
A: I'd love to say we met in an AOL chatroom, but we did actually meet in London. London is just on of those places that attract people, a cosmopolitan stew pot of cultures and influences which is the great side of London. There's very few indigenous people here unless you actually go to the East End. I think that is why we all came here and we spent so long trying to find the right combination and chemistry and it was really when the four of us walked into a room that it all made sense.
I came here when I was 17 so I didn't know how to get
started or what to do, so I got my guitar and went to Leicester Square
and started busking and playing pubs. I played everything Buddy Holly songs
to Aztec Camera, Crowed House, REM and Elvis - anything people would throw
money at me for. But it was great because it really teaches you to get
people's attention and to sing out loud.
Q: Did you try and throw your own songs in there just
to gauge people's reaction?
A: Definitely, that was always the bonus. When I played pubs I tried to throw my own songs in and it really teaches you the craft of songwriting because peoples attention span for original stuff in a pub in the West End tends to be not long. So it definitely drags along the whole idea of melody and reaching people very quickly.
Q: When Brian the drummer joined there really was chemistry
in the band you hadn't experienced before and that was the start of Vega
4. Is it important for you that Vega 4 is a true band and not just a Noel
Gallagher style dictatorship?
A: There was one performance that really changed my life and that was Live Aid. There were two bands on there that really were great bands and that was Queen and U2. I was about 8 years old when I first saw it, but I can still remember it having a huge effect on me and thinking "wow, there was this amazing chemistry between them on stage and they're in a gang" and I went along with both of those bands and listening to their records on the back of it.
You see I always wanted to be in a band like that and I am in a band like that - a band that is much more important than each individual is. The Beatles were a band like that, The Stones and REM to me are a band like that. They may not be the coolest bands to name check, but what's important is that these bands connect with millions of people.
Q: The album "Satellites" was recorded with John Cornfield
in the last room the Beatles played in. A lot of history is surrounding
the release. Do you feel Vega 4 could be added to the list of great's?
A: The great thing about making "Satellites" is that it's all a big story book. Were very different culturally and grew up listening to different types of music and then we went to this totally cut off remote island...there wasn't even a road to it, you had to get a boat to the studio. It was the Studio where Oasis recorded their first album and the Verve recorded there and then we went over to New York right to the centre of Times Square. And then after a short trip back to Cornwall to record some new material we want to Hollywood. It was just this mass of constant contradiction that was flying about - not only were we from four different places and had all these different cultures, but we were also experiencing in the recording of one album all this stuff getting thrown at us.
Q: I think the thing that stands out about the album,
as you said before the band has a truly international line-up, but also
the sound of the band has that universal appeal. Would you agree?
A: That's the beauty of music to me - it shouldn't be territorial. It's cool when you hear a genre of music like Britpop and then you have American Rock and Emo and that's fine, everything has it's place. But for us it was always about not being attached to anything and not being a fashionable band that just latches itself onto the side of another fashion. This idea of having melodies in songs and really strong lyrics is important to us and were not disguising it behind anything.
The funny thing is that from reading the reviews of "Satellites" there's everything from Smashing Pumpkins, The Verve, U2, REM and The Beatles. There's just so many influences that we couldn't possibly sound like them all. Already at this stage were thinking about the next album and I think organic is really the way were going. When you strip things back they become more direct and soulful and what were finding now when we play live is we don't need layers and layers and that the rehearsal room has got it's own energy.
"Satellites" is out now on Taste Media
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