Introducing: Little Matador

By Lais

There’s one particular thing about Little Matador that may make you biased against them, so let’s get this out of the way: frontman Nathan Connolly is also frontman for a rather well-known band called Snow Patrol. With that out of the way, you can cast any preconceptions aside, because Little Matador sound absolutely nothing like Snow Patrol. They’re a lot noisier and they have more in common with bands like Queens Of The Stone Age and Biffy Clyro than, say, Coldplay. We had a chat with guitarist Dave Magee to see just where they’re heading with this.

The five members of Little Matador – frontman Nathan Connolly, guitarists Dave Magee and Troy Stewart, bassist Gavin Fox and drummer Binzer Brennan – have known each for some time now. “Nathan and I have known each other since school and were in a band together years ago,” says Magee. “We used to play with Gav’s band Turn, who in turn, has known Binzer for countless aeons. Troy has been part of the Snow Patrol family for a long time and we’d all met at different stages but were never in a room together until Nathan made the initial call to start this new project. We all said yes, and here we are!”

With Nathan in Snow Patrol and other members in various bands, Little Matador have been referred to as an ‘Irish supergroup’. Do they find this a help or a hindrance to them? “I think our combined experience is certainly a help, as is any amount of connections we’ve all made over the years,” states Magee. “Any notoriety that has come with what any of us has done previously or alongside this project is of course a welcome tool to help spread the word, but we see ourselves as a band in our own right, doing our own thing from scratch. ‘Supergroup’ certainly isn’t a dirty word to us, but when we hear it, we think of a band perhaps consisting of Dave Grohl, Dave Lee Roth, Rex Brown and Jimmy Page. We’re just five musicians with a wealth of experience from different-sounding projects who have found our roads leading to this point.”

When band members have been well known for a previous projects, it’s sometimes hard not to compare the two. Do Little Matador sound anything like their previous work or is it a completely new sound for all of them? “I think it has lots of elements from our past ventures, healthily blended into a new sound for each of us, so perhaps both,” says Magee. “It’s unavoidable for a musician to write music and not carry some sort of influence from things you have done before, but when five people are all doing that at the same time, then it becomes something different altogether.”

To make it easy for you (before you watch the following video), how would they describe their sound? “It’s guitar-heavy, melody-oriented, stomping rock music. Everyone will hear something different in our sound and that’s what it’s all about, the freedom of opinion.”

Despite not being around for very long, Little Matador have played some high profile shows already, including providing support for Queens Of The Stone Age. How have people reacted to them so far? “We’ve been very lucky with playing such high profile shows so early in our life as a band and even luckier that we have been well received at each of them so far. People have been warm and receptive to what we’re doing which is great. We really didn’t think about how people would react or what they would think beforehand, as it’s not important in a lot of ways, you just have to do what you do, but yeah – everyone has been great.”

The band released their debut self-titled album in April and they’ve been pleasantly surprised with the response: “Again, worrying about what people think can be a stifling approach in any walk of life, but in the music business opinion can make or break a band. We just do what we do and try to do it well. We’re all very proud of the album as it brought the best out in all of us so for people to finally hear it and seemingly enjoy it, we’re thrilled.”

So, what does the year ahead hold for Little Matador? “We have lots of festivals through the summer, some club shows with We Are Scientists coming up and the release of our second single ‘Reasons’. We’re super duper mega excited about festival season, to get in front of larger crowds and see how things go. It’s a great time of year for people to discover and experience new bands in a live setting and for us to see some old faces too.”

And finally, where do they see themselves in five years’ time? “Hopefully we’ll still be making Little Matador albums in five years and still doing our thing. There are various other day jobs which will take priority when the time comes for all of us, but we still want to make time for this when we can. In band terms we’re still in nappies at this stage. We’re keen to see what we can do and learn to walk and talk. So in five years, let’s say we’ll be on solids, with a basic vocabulary, a full head of hair and headlining the pyramid stage at Glastonbury.”

Can’t say fairer than that.


Try these three interviews

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Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]