Private Idaho is the new band on the music scene taking Cork by storm. Made up of four local students; Harry on guitar, Liam on guitar and vocals, Finn on bass and Sam O’Donoghue on drums, their self-described rock infusion sound is quickly gaining them fans and prestige in the gigging world. With a debut album on the way, they are certainly leaving their mark. I reached out to Harry, Liam, and Finn to learn how they’ve been impacted by the pandemic, their inspirations and motivations and their advice for other young people determined to make a career in the music industry.
For starters, how would you describe your music to new listeners? Does it fall under one specific genre?
Liam: I don’t really know what specific genre the music would be but it’s in the ballpark definitely of rock music, sometimes it can be heavy rock sometimes it can be pop rock. I take inspiration for my song writing from all different sources and genres so pinning the band’s sound down to just one genre would be tricky.
Did you have a strong interest in music from a young age?
Harry: I did, my parents music taste was heavily ingrained into my brain which gave me a decent foundation and a kind of map to navigate the sort of music I did and did not like.
Liam: I started playing guitar when I was in 4th class, but I only knew like 8 chords, but then in 4th year in TY I got really into 90s grunge and alternative music, and I was like I NEED to start a band.
Finn: I did, my parents always played their favourite bands from their eras and that got me interested in playing an instrument and getting into music.
The pandemic has had a drastic effect on all industries, how did the impact on the music industry affect you at the start of your music career?
Harry: It already seemed quite impossible, so seeing the industry get pummelled deeper into the ground was a scary thing to witness. But it also left a lot of breathing room for practice and perspective.
Finn: It had bad and good aspects, obviously the bad being that gigs were gone, and we couldn’t even practice as a band. The good being that we took the time of quarantine to understand our instruments much better and now we’ve come out of the pandemic as a much more mature band musically as when we entered.
Liam: The pandemic and lockdown were incredible for my evolution as a musician, and I think having a year to find my sound and experiment with a little interface and an old laptop was really lucky and vital for me getting through lockdown.
You study in the Cork School of Music, does studying your instrument in an academic setting change the way you feel about playing for fun?
Harry: Sometimes they become one and the same. I thoroughly enjoy my time in Cork School of Music, and I don’t see my college work as a chore, it’s something to help me be the best I can be and maybe even make a living doing it.
And what would you say to others who are interested in studying music at third level or pursuing a career?
Finn: Play what you want to play, practice lots, and just enjoy it.
Harry: If you want to work in music then learn as much as you can. So many people think they’re going to be the next Nirvana, they live like Kurt. My God, take care of yourself, and double the effort you think is enough. Learn some theory outside of the Leaving cert course, learn some songs that sound too hard, waddle out of your depth. I wish I had done more of that sooner.
You’ve mentioned before that you take inspiration from a range of musicians and styles, who are your main musical icons?
Finn: Cliff Burton, Jimmy Page, Kevin Parker, Roger Waters.
Harry: I love Tom Waits. I don’t think anyone does it like he does. I still can’t put my finger on what it is I love, but it’s all there, it’s all perfect. He can turn the simplest of tunes into a complete emotional vacuum void of positivity yet still makes you enjoy it. Leonard Cohen scratches this itch when you don’t want something as dramatic as Waits. Jeff Buckley can really change the course of your day with his tunes. All just so good.
Liam: At the start it was Nirvana and the grunge scene but it’s more like Elliott Smith, Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Tame Impala and The Beatles these days.
Do you have any upcoming gigs/music?
Liam: We have a live performance coming out online later this year with Garageland and RTE2XM.
Now that things seem to be returning to normal, what are your future plans?
Finn: To get back out there with gigs and of course recording new music. We’ve done two shows in the last month and we hope to get back out as soon as possible.
Liam: After spending the last year writing our debut album, we’re going to start recording it next year and we’ll be gigging and performing as much as we possibly can. We’re really excited to get back out there and gigging.