Ahead of their headliner at Monroe’s on November 19th, Rónán Connolly and Matteo Poli of Dublin indie/rock band Big Sleep sit down to chat about the “DIY ethic”, the Irish gig circuit and the good will of audiences.
“As an artist or musician, your job used to be just to create great music and put on great gigs,” says Big Sleep’s lead singer Rónán. In an ever-evolving music scene where the artist’s role is becoming increasingly multi-faceted, he and his bandmates have had to acquire new skills in order to succeed.
“The DIY ethic is the most important thing”, he says. “We’ve learned to not wait around for a promoter to say ‘hey, now it’s your turn’.”
It cannot be denied that the band have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps. Since they began releasing music in 2019, they have accrued tens of thousands of listens on Spotify and toured extensively in Ireland as well as across Europe. This has not come without its stumbling blocks however.
Just two months after the release of their debut single ‘Paint on Cars’ in January 2020, the pandemic hit and the world descended into lockdown. As dreams of touring temporarily drifted away, Big Sleep were forced to go back to the drawing board.
“We’ve been a band for longer in a pandemic than not. Like everyone, we’ve had to make it work”, says Rónán.
The foursome’s pandemic project and debut EP ‘Feel Something Sunday’ was released in July 2022 as the result of much blood, sweat, tears and Zoom connectivity issues. Reflecting on the pandemic’s role in the conception of the songs on the EP, Rónán says “it was a time for looking at them, taking them completely apart again and putting them back together”.
Big Sleep’s sound is undeniably laid-back and nostalgic. When asked about their influences, Rónán and Matteo resolutely cite Angus Stone of Dope Lemon as a musical idol. Chicago band Whitney also get a mention.
Speaking about Whitney, Rónán says, “I love the vocal sounds that they get. They work with trumpet and horn sections as well which to me sounds really unique. We have a bit of trumpet sounds in our stuff so we were pulling from that influence”.
However, they approach the creative process with a sense of open-mindedness and are conscious of not being stylistically pigeon-holed. Rónán remarks that they “focus on the songs and take them as they come”.
Matteo, the band’s drummer, moved to Ireland from Italy several years ago to study English and hone his craft as a musician. As the band have made their way around the national gig circuit, he has become enchanted by the comradery on display between different bands.
“It’s not that we compete with each other; it’s more like we are on the same ship. You compete but in a friendly way”, he says.
Over the coming weeks, the band embark on a tour of Ireland with several UK dates thrown in for good measure. For Matteo, the enthusiasm and positivity of Irish audiences is a motivating factor.
“I love the way you can get to the farthest pub in the farthest place in Ireland and people are super up for listening to music. I think there is a great culture here for live music. I like the attitude of people”, he says.
This will not be Big Sleep’s first foray in Galway. Last May, they played at the Cellar Bar. In the lead up to the gig, they made time to become acquainted with the city’s famous busking culture.
“We had a busk down on Shop Street for the day and we made a good day of it. The busking scene in Galway is amazing so it was cool to be a part of it and we’d definitely like to come back”, Rónán says.
The band hope for a warm reception on their return to Galway but if the reaction to their last performance here is anything to go by, they need not worry.
Rónán recalls, “we played a new song that we’d written in the Cellar Bar. One of the lads in the crowd must’ve been a fan because he held up the show for a little bit after we finished that song demanding that we play it again. He wanted the same song back to back. We took it as a compliment obviously. Heckling but as a compliment”.
Big Sleep play Monroe’s on Saturday 19th November. Support is by Smythy and doors are at 8pm. Tickets are available at https://monroes.ie/products/big-sleep.