by James Fleming
Post junior certificate, Darragh and Keith Whyte, who claims he was “just come out of the womb”, alongside Chris Breslin, formed a band. That was six years ago. Joined a few years down the line by Cathal Sweeney, the band, as we know it today, was formed.
D-Day they’re called. They’re a rock n’ roll band.
A rock n’ roll band, of a peculiar sound. Mid-way between Thin Lizzy and The Killers as it is, it’s a stand out combination.
Not that they need it to stand out. On an island awash with indie, folk, pop and unholy mixtures of all three, groups, D-Day, clad in a modern take on traditional rock n’ roll garb, and bearing electric guitars and a Moon-esque drummer, would stand out with or without their clutch of what’s becoming their own signature tunes.
But, back in 2010, those original songs were a long way off. They’ve honed their skills over the past six years and moved on from playing AC/DC and The Knack covers, to their own original material. Which is what brings them here.
Upstairs in The Loft, Galway, D-Day are gearing up for the launch night of their new single Misunderstood. The crowd slowly filters in, a strong, dedicated, cult following, many of whom have been following the band since their earliest days.
This kind of loyalty is rare, especially towards a band as young as D-Day. Here on our emerald isle, we have a tendency to put down anything that doesn’t fit in to our very narrow tunnel vision. But D-Day pull together a crowd of all ages from all genres for their riveting show that Friday night in mid October.
Rock n’ roll was never meant to become bloated. And despite punk’s best efforts, it remains inflamed to this day where the smouldering torch is carried by the likes of tax-dodging U2 and the “Rolling in it” Stones.
There’s a very faint cry of rebellion just to the left of your radio dial. But, the young upstarts of the day that you hear on the likes of RTÉ sound all too willing to play the game. While D-Day don’t sound quite as radical as, say, Satisfaction did back in 1965, their sound and even their name are a marked contrast from other bands of the today.
“We came up with loads of crap names first,” Darragh says. “Like, loads of really, really bad names,” he refuses to give any examples, for fear of embarrassment.
“We wanted something simple and short,” he explains. “Something that kind of stood for something.” And, indeed, they succeeded. ‘D-Day,’ with its connotations of armed young men and revolution, is an apt name for a rock n’ roll band bent on changing the world of music for the better.
Every now and then, a tabloid headline will scream about how rock n’ roll is dead, how the guitar is a thing of the past. Not unlike what the Decca Records man said to Brian upon his visit to their offices; “go back to Liverpool Mr Epstein, groups with guitars are out.”
D-Day, think this is daft:
“I think, from a standpoint of popularity, it’s fully there,” Darragh opines. “I think it’s being suppressed by the music industry and radio. I think the fanbase never went away, I think if the record labels opened up their eyes and got behind a rock band, they could easily reach the status of rock bands from years ago.”
People are scared of it, so D-Day believe. Keith is of the opinion that people are under-educated when it comes to rock that it’s negatively stereotyped:
“A lot of young people aren’t listening to rock because they haven’t really heard it. If you say rock to a thirteen year old, they’re going to assume that it’s death metal. I don’t know why, but they do.”
It’s this association with the more tuneless side of rock music that scares people and record companies away from rock. One of the plentiful obstacles that young bands have to face in this day and age.
Bassist Chris Breslin points out that a mere three or four years ago, there would be zero guitar based music on the radio. But now, with the onslaught of bands like Royal Blood, things are taking a turn for the better, and avenues for success, or at least a wage, are opening up for younger up-and-coming rock bans. “These things go in cycles,” he says.
Darragh is of a different mindset; “We’re repeating what happened ten years ago as opposed to going back thirty years ago. And, I’ll say I have an issue with that. It’s not really a cycle, it’s a loop.
“But, I do think, a band will come along and blow the whole thing out of the water and possibly change the whole thing.”
When I point out that it could be them Darragh agrees. Keith says it would be nice. But then Darragh interjects “so long as someone does it I’m happy.”
As Conman, one of the support acts, finishes up their soundcheck, D-Day stand up, smile, shake hands, and stride off to greet the incoming fans. There’s a tremendous sense of hope for the future. With a new single out, an upcoming video for said single, and recording sessions with world-renowned producers under their belts, D-Day have every right to be hopeful. Cautiously hopeful maybe. But hopeful nonetheless. The future’s in safe hands and who knows? It could be them to carry it.