By Sarah Donoghue 

Every town has it’s own indie music culture. Populated by baggy jeans and Adidas Sambas, the music scene in Dublin is the peak of modern indie culture. It’s growing in popularity and so are the bands at the beating heart of the genre. But for these bands, staying together isn’t as easy as it looks. 

Pants on Fire are a self-described “heavy indie” band that’s been established in the scene for a few years now. After an album, two singles and an EP, you may think it would be smooth sailing for the young band. But other commitments, college and complicated friendships have caused some serious roadblocks.  

Pants on Fire, affectionately called Pants by the band members, had four original members, drummer, Mel Mehigan, bassist, Matthew Reid, and front men Finn Neilan and Ollie West. They met at school and started playing together as an Artic Monkeys cover band and backing band for front man Ollie. 

They only became Pants on Fire when they accidentally booked themselves a gig. “We went to a show in the sound house once and randomly on New Year’s Eve that year we ran into two of the lads who put on that gig. I started pitching my band to see if they could get us a gig even though at this point, we literally did not have a band. We got the gig, so we just had to make a band,” said Finn.  

Even though they were all close friends, it wasn’t always easy. “Back when we first started, we’d try to write together but it just didn’t really work. I remember thinking ‘wow bands just aren’t for me’,” said Ollie.  

They quickly found their footing as a band, and churned out their first album “Cargo,” along with two singles “Medicine” and “Peanut Butter”. They also released an EP titled “These are not on the Album” which included classics like “Medicine – shit version”.  

Just before Christmas 2023, their drummer, Mel, sat the rest of them down to tell them he’d be leaving the band after they play at Based Festival in January. They understood his decision to go. “He was the drummer but, in my opinion, he was born to be a front man, so I get it,” said Ollie. 

Mel leaving the band left them with a tough decision to make. “We wrongly assumed Matt would leave too. In the band, it was always like it was us and them like it was two sets of mates. They’re in another band together and at our gigs they’d go get food alone and stuff. We found out from Mel that Matt didn’t want to leave, so we didn’t really know what to do,” said Ollie. 

Ultimately, scheduling conflicts were the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Finn is studying music in BIMM and Ollie is a professional actor, but Matt went down the academic route when it came to college. “He’s in Trinity, he’s a busy man, it genuinely came down to a timing thing,” said Ollie. “We just want people who are fully committed to the music,” said Finn.  

Mel and Matt’s departure left the band in a stagnant position. They quickly found a drummer, Jeff Miller, but struggled to properly reform. “We’re trying to come out with another EP but we don’t know what should be on it. We just need a bassist,” said them. 

Despite their missing position, they were very optimistic about the new band dynamic. “I’m much happier with the dynamic now, it all seems like we’re on the same wavelength,” said Finn. 

They’ve since found a new bassist, Kaelig O’Donabhainn, and have gotten back to their usual antics. They’re teasing new music and played their first gig as a group on March 13th in Bello Bar. But more than anything, they’re just happy to be playing together again.