“Not Small Anyway” – Her.ie Caught Up With The Lovely Lads Of Hermitage Green
The name Hermitage Green has been in circulation since brothers, Dan and Barry Murphy, took paintbrushes to a wall in Limerick after failing to create their own garden area. In recent years however that name has graced the posters boards in almost every venue across the country and the mighty men of Hermitage Green have taken their edgy traditional Irish sound to pastures across the seas to the UK, France, the Middle East, South Africa, the US and down under.
Recently we caught up with Hermitage Green to discuss the live shows, Shane MacGowan, primadonnas and whether of not they’re sick of being compared to Mumford and Sons.
The five-piece formed in July 2010 and is made up with five men you probably wouldn’t want to mess with. Dan, an all-Ireland Kickboxing champion, Barry, a retired Munster rugby player, Darragh Graham, a former Leinster Rugby coach, former Primary School Teacher, Darragh Griffin, and Dermot Sheedy, a master of Taekwondo.
‘The Gathering’, their debut EP was released in September 2012, which went straight into the top slot in the iTunes chart and in October the lads recorded their debut, independently released album ‘Live At Whelans'.
“We’ve only played live in the last three years, it’s kind of all we know, we reckon we’ve clocked up about 500 gigs. We recorded our EP in the studio and although it did really well we thought it didn’t really capture what our live shows were about. We wanted to capture that and we thought Whelan’s would be one of the best venues in the country to get a nice intimate crowd in.
“We did two nights there and you get do see both sides off the band. The nice quiet songs and the loud ones where the crowd likes to join in and lift the roof. We were really happy with how the live album turned out.”
Although HG started out after a spontaneous jam session between friends, their strong acoustic sound was there from the offset. With hard-hitting rhythmic guitar lines, a combination of bodhrán and djembe, dobro melodies and fantastic four-part vocal harmonies, the band credit their sound to contrasting musical tastes.
There is one successful English band that’s name follows these Limerick lads around and so we asked, is HG sick of the comparisons to Mumford and Sons?
“It’s kind of all people ever say, but I think people like to peg you to a certain sound so it makes sense in their head but I don’t think if you listen to our music that we sound anything like Mumford and Sons. Although it is a lovely compliment because they’re one of the biggest bands in the world.
Behind the scene from 'Live At Whelan's'.
With over 500 gigs under their belt, the band has a few fond memories of a trip just north of the border to Crossmaglen in Co. Armagh.
“Monday in Ma Kearney’s Crossmaglen where we ask for a drink and we look to the side of the stage and there’s 16 shots of whiskey.”
For Barry and Darragh Griffin it was a certain festival in Stradbally, Co.Laois that was the highlight to date,
“For me it would have to be Electric Picnic last year, with 7,000 people in that Electric Arena, that was cool,” Barry said.
“I’d have to put Electric Picnic up there as well, I suppose one of the smaller more intimate venues in a little town in Cork called Ballincolllig,” Darragh added.
2013 was quite the year for HG, following the success of ‘Live At Whelan’s’ the group played some special Christmas shows with Irish musical legends, The Pogues.
“We gigged with The Pogues before Christmas – two sellout shows, it was amazing. They were incredible, obviously they’ve toured and played and live life to the extreme for the last 30 years, which you can see by the way they walk and they act. It was amazing to be able to play with them, eat with them before gigs, chat and get to know them. “
There isn’t a man, woman or child in this country that doesn’t know who Shane MacGowan is and so we had to ask the question, is he as off-the-wall as we’d expect or is it just a case of crazy genius?
“He keeps to himself, he only arrives two minutes before the gig,” Barry explained.
“He’s a law onto himself so you don’t really get to spend much time with him, but I don’t really know if that’s an act. It’s hard to tell what way he is but he put on an unbelievable show to 6,000 people and he’s a genius that’s one thing we all know.”
'Gibson', one of the band's favourite songs to perform live.
Other things you should know about Hermitage Green...
Favourite songs to perform?
“Gibson, Florida and Let The Flow.”
Sum up the band in three words.
“Not small anyway.” We're sure that was a reference to their music.
Irish artist you would like to collaborate with?
Dan would like a “Hozier and Jerry Fish sandwich” and all agreed on one man, “Mick Flannery in big capital letters”.
Any primadonnas in the group?
Name one Irish female personality you would take out for dinner.
HG opted for an eclectic mix that would make for a great dinner party, Ann Doyle, Mary Robinson, Laura Whitmore and Derval O’Rourke
When you’re not selling out gigs how do you wind down?
“Dan likes to dance with cats.”
One fact fans may not know?
Dermot was a Multi-award winning ceili player (we knew that already).
Plans for 2014?
"Tour and get a studio album out hopefully by September".
Join in with the lads on their famed energetic live shows at venues around the country. To avoid disappointment we'd suggest securing tickets ASAP, they've a tendency to sellout pretty fast - something certain members of the Her.ie team know all too well.
Before we go we'll leave you with this phenomenal cover of Florence and the Machine's 'Cosmic Love'.
Quite simply amazing. *Hits replay button*