WEXFORD four-piece Corner Boy have given up on music’s well-trodden trails. That’s not a bad thing: with the long-awaited release of their third EP around the corner, the imaginative folk act have settled on slow-dripping their music, and making the most out of the opportunities that it throws up. Instead of recording records or seeking deals, they’ve traveled the world in the back of a transit van.

That’s involved shows in North America, South Korea and the Middle East, a show at half time in the All Ireland final, and a trad sit-ins in Paris. “It’s been about getting out there and getting involved for us,” frontman Mick D’Arcy explains. “We’ve been incredibly fortunate with opportunities.”

“Even in the first year after we formed, we played the Late Late Show and half time at Croke Park to 80,000 people. All these things you’d expect more established bands to do after a few years. People just took to us straight away.”

“If you look back at our early music, though, it’s very obvious where our influences were. We decided we’d take some time off about three years ago, and we went out into the world, took whatever opportunities that came our way. It was about travel, meeting people, new cultures, and using that to inform our music.”

“All of that travel is the experience that has influenced our sound now. We’re incredibly happy. We have, I’d estimate, a 30-40 song backlog. We have a lot of material to release.”

There’s also a cyclical nature to the new EP ‘Goodbye Old Holy’, in that it returns to the scene of one of Corner Boy’s early successes. The band won the Red Bull Bedroom Jam in 2013, just as they started out. The contest that had a prize of recording in the famous Grouse Lodge Studios in Westmeath. They loved the place, and returned again for this record, with Dropkick Murphy’s producer Ted Hutt on the sound decks.

The result is a glorious mish-mash: in ‘Moira (Under the Pale Moonlight)’, for example, there’s a delicate, escapist huskiness. Moira, surprisingly, is a rural village, and the driving melody about getting out of dodge and living a better life. D’Arcy, who’s intimately connected with all aspects of the band, directed the video himself.

“Some people like the energy and lyrics, others just like the rhythm of the songs,” D’Arcy says. “The debut album is coming eventually. That album for a lot of bands sets the standard, which is why we’ve been slow to do it. I think we just want to stay true to the music we enjoy. I just ask myself if each song is something I can connect with. When we get to a certain point and we’re happy with the tracks, that debut album will eventually come.

“We’re absolutely a live band,” he admits. “We’ve played 26 of the 32 counties. We’ve toured the UK, Asia and North America. For us, unlike a lot of bands maybe, it’s really about getting seen and heard on the road.”

“Being in the band was an opportunity for us to get out of Wexford, and use this thing to see the world, experience new places and make music in them. We’ll have to do the last 6 counties at some point for completeness sake. We’ll get there, even if we have to play a phone box.”

“Besides, when you’re in a small room, it can be better. In August, we played to 5000 people in thirty degree heat. A couple of months previously, we had played a bar in the Netherlands to 50 people. In a way, looking down at the whites of their eyes, listening to every syllable you play, those intimate shows are what it’s about.”

Corner Boy’s new EP, ‘Goodbye Old Holy’ is out now.

This article is one of my weekly music columns for the Dublin Gazette, reproduced here with permission. Note: this column is published in the Dublin Gazette several days ahead of on this website. The Gazette is a freesheet paper available across Dublin, published on a Thursday. Pick up copies at these locations

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