Put five talented young Irish musicians together and what do you get? The raucous, boisterous, cheeky band that is 5 Dollar Shakes. Oh, did I mention unbridled energy too? Yes, they are all this and more.
The band, from Gorey, Wexford, is made up of Jack McEvoy on vocals; Colin Doran on guitar and vocals; Caleb Dowdall on guitar and vocals; Richard Deering on bass; and Ciaran O’Dohery on drums.
I first discovered the group with their song “Dutch,” a fun little party anthem with catchy hooks, a great melody and wonderful harmonies. Now, the lads are releasing their second EP, “Come and See Enough to Stay,” led by the first single, “Arthouse.”
“Arthouse” dives right in with a circular guitar riff that draws you in, then the bass cuts a good groove that keeps you there. The growth of the band as a unit is very evident and was the reason I wanted to talk to the lads and learn more.
Recently, Caleb and Jack had a chat with me to talk about the band, the new EP and their summer plans.
Let’s start at the beginning — you formed in 2012 — same lineup since then? How did you get together?
Caleb: Well back in 2012, Jack and our guitarist Colin decided to enter the school talent competition. They formed a group with a few other guys in the school and started practicing. I was passing by a classroom they were rehearsing in and heard them playing. I’d never played in a group before but had wanted to for a long while, so I poked my head in and was like, “Hey if you ever need an extra guitarist, give me a shout!”
The lads didn’t get into the talent competition, unfortunately, but they asked me to start playing with them! So when we started, it was the three of us plus a different guy on drums. Our current drummer, Ciaran, didn’t join till after the summer, and our bass player, Richard, joined when Jack decided to step down from the role of bassist and concentrate on vocals.
Ah, OK. So are you guys still in school now?
Caleb: We’re all in college at the moment, with the exception of Jack who graduated from the Gaeity School of Acting last year.
Jack: No, thankfully we all graduated from school! We have been finished since 2014.
So the acting comes in handy for the videos — like “Arthouse” …
Jack: Pretty much! I feel as though my acting training has helped me progress in a lot of ways. When we play live, I feel so much more at home on stage compared to how I was when we first started out playing live.
Caleb: Also, Rich is studying film and actually shot and directed the entire music video. So we really do it all!
Yes, as a frontman, you do want to know how to own the stage. That’s great that Rich did the video, very well done. Whose idea for the concept?
Caleb: Well the concept was originally Jack’s. We’d written all the music and left the lyrics up to Jack. When he listened to it he envisioned this Arthouse, an idea that we all really liked. The Arthouse can be anything — in a way it’s a representation of creativity and experimentation. If you listen to the lyrics, they can be seen in a subtle way to depict a tragic love story set in a post apocalyptic world.
This is the concept that Rich took and expanded, using the backdrop of a zombie apocalypse to tell the tale that the lyrics alone might not be able to express.
Yes, I definitely got that feeling. Kind of a “Walking Dead” feel. Musically, I love how the one guitar riff permeates the whole song, and you build the other instruments from there. I also love the harmonies — great work!
Jack: Glad you get it!
Haha, I’m sure others will too.
Caleb: I’m a “Walking Dead” fan myself so I’m glad to hear that!
What’s the feedback been like from others?
Jack: Overall the feedback has been great! I do feel personally that people might connect a lot more with the other tracks on the forthcoming EP, particularly “Aux Love.”
Caleb: Yeah the feedback has been great! “Arthouse” is quite different from anything we’ve released before. It’s a lot heavier, and definitely has a lot more emotion packed into it. It was a bit of a leap of faith we took so to see people enjoying it really means a lot to us.
Tell me more about the new EP — how many tracks? What styles?
Jack: Four tracks in total! That really is a good question as the four tracks completely differ from each other. When we hit the studio, we decided we wanted to record something for everyone and we hope that’s what we have achieved.
Caleb: Yeah, we all have very different music tastes. For a lot of bands this can be a problem but we try to use it to our advantage. We incorporate all of our own individual preferences and somehow they tend to blend really well. This was something we tried to fight on our last EP. You hear a band’s album or whatever and all the songs fit into one certain genre. This time around we’ve tried to break this unspoken rule and as such it’s a really versatile EP!
Cool, I can’t wait to hear all of it. Do you write songs as a group then?
Caleb: We don’t have a strict songwriting style. Sometimes one of us will show up to practice with a full song all ready written. Other times we’ll start jamming and slowly a song comes to fruition. We try our best not to force it. Whenever we try too hard to write something, we usually end up scrapping it a few weeks later. Instead, we feel it’s much better to feed off the energy in the room and just play. If a song comes out great, but we don’t put emphasis on it.
Lyrically, Jack has come into his own recently. The last few songs we’ve written we’ve given him control over lyrics and it’s been working really nicely.
Jack: We don’t really instill any form into our songwriting, though it seems more recently we have written the majority of our songs through the method that Caleb has just described. And has he mentioned, the energy in the room is a huge factor!
I think the key is finding the writing style that’s best for you, and I think you have. So what are all the musical influences everyone brings?
Caleb: Well for myself, I’m very much a fan of simple yet powerful chordal progressions. The type you’d find in a lot noughties rock. So old school Arctic Monkeys and Foo Fighters would be huge influences for me that I try to incorporate into our music. Colin on the other hand is a punk rocker at heart and loves those over the top, finicky guitar riffs. We blend these together to get a really energetic, lively sound.
Do you have live shows lined up? I know on April 22 for the EP release … Any summer festivals?
Jack: Yeah! we have a sweet festival gig in our hometown which is always fun and is a great way to give back to our community. There are certainly a few more dates that we won’t be able to tell you until nearer to the time I’m afraid.
Oh, certainly understandable. So, most venues you play — big or small, and which do you prefer?
Jack: Mostly throughout the calendar year the venues tend to be a little more intimate. And then of course during festival season you get these enormous stages! Big or small, It doesn’t really matter to us. We go out and play the same for each and every gig. it is always nice having the big stages though, haha!
I’ve seen the live videos on YouTube… The Rose of Tralee Festival — is that the local one you mentioned?
Jack: No actually, it’s not surprisingly enough! Tralee is a town about five hours from where we are based, although I think we can all agree that it has been almost like a second home to us the last number of years.
Caleb: No, our local is the Gorey Market House Festival. Although The Rose of Tralee Festival is definitely one of our favorites! There’s a lot of support down there so we absolutely love playing that stage!
Perhaps you’ll be back on it again soon.
Caleb: Fingers crossed!
Anything else we should touch on?
Caleb: We would like to mention the incredible Sam Ali who we’ve roped in to support us on April 22! He’s an amazing singer song writer so you should definitely check him out!
You can find the 5 Dollar Shakes on Facebook, at @5DSOfficial on Twitter, as 5dsofficial on Instagram, at https://soundcloud.com/5-dollar-shakes on SoundCloud and at their website, http://5dollarshakes.band/.