LITTLE GREEN CARS – TUESDAY, 4/12 @ 5:30PM
When Little Green Cars were deciding on a title for their extraordinary second album, they discovered a poem that captured exactly what they were after. That poem is called Ephemera, and as soon as singer Stevie Appleby read it to his band mates, the album was too.
“It’s a transitional album,” says Stevie. “Lyrically, it’s all about change – the end of some eras, new beginnings, learning from the past and looking to the future. Ephemera means things that are important to you, but only for a short time. That could apply to music or relationships or even a particular day. The poem sums up the theme of the album, which we only realised ourselves when we’d recorded the songs.”
Two deaths, relationship break-ups and over two years spent touring the band’s widely-acclaimed 2013 debut Absolute Zero are among the key events that inform Ephemera’s richly-textured, harmony-soaked rock songs. While the impact of those events will change over time, the intense emotions they evoked will live on in the music.
“It’s an album that wants to be important to people,” explains Appleby. “Importance can fade but the feelings should stay. Say you adore a song at 16 because it expresses exactly how you’re feeling.
Hopefully, the song won’t always mean that much because you’ll move on, but hearing it should bring those feelings back.”
Little Green Cars are five former school friends from Dublin who were still in their teens when they were spotted and signed to Glassnote and recorded Absolute Zero with producer Markus Dravs. That album changed their lives, taking them on tour everywhere from Europe and Australia to Russia and the States, which they criss-crossed six times in three years.
Now all in their early 20s, Little Green Cars are both a different band and the same five friends who met every Sunday aged 15 in Stevie’s garden shed to start writing songs. Those changes, their shared experiences and individual ups and downs are candidly documented in Ephemera, a gorgeous, grown-up album about, well, growing up.
“We’re a sturdier band than we were three years ago,” says singer Faye O’Rourke. “We’re closer than we’ve ever been. Our friendships have been tried and truly tested.”
“We’ve been through this bizarre experience together,” adds Stevie. “No one else knows what it was like. We’ve been to places we never thought we’d see and we’ve watched each other change in different ways. So much happens, emotionally, in three years, although of course, no one notices they’re changing at the time.”
All the time they were writing new songs, some of which they honed live. All the time they were changing, as were family and friends back home, whose lives they could no longer relate to. Faye and Stevie – the band’s principal songwriters and interchanging lead vocalists – watched their love lives fall apart. All five questioned who they used to be and who they had become, not least guitarist Adam O’Regan, whose father passed away.
“The album could be perceived as melancholic, but that’s not how I see it,” says Faye. “It’s giving a perspective that people can relate to, but also offering hope because these situations always move on.”
All five members of Little Green Cars – which also includes Donagh Seaver O’Leary on bass and Dylan Lynch on drums – contribute to the music and harmonise. Having written on the road, the quintet returned to Dublin in 2014 to make demos. By the end of the year, they were ready to record their first batch of songs. Keen to co-produce, they sought a trusted collaborator. Enter Rob Kirwan, at whose treasure trove Dublin studio the band experimented with sounds, adding electronics, mastering reverb, bringing in a cellist and learning to play the toy-like Omnichord.
When Ephemera was completed in 2015, its theme became clear. A dozen exquisitely-crafted, exceptionally-sung, sumptuously-produced songs shimmered with the myriad of emotions the band had been through – restlessness, regret, love, heartbreak, hope and acceptance among them. Vivid lines of lyrics began to stand out. You won’t have your heart tugged harder this year than when Stevie depicts the disintegration of his relationship on You Vs Me: “It used to be, the whole world versus you and me/But now it seems, it’s just you versus me,” he sings in a spine-tingling tone.