HWCH Music Festival

Little X’s for Eyes, photo by Kelly Hamilton, Gingham Sky photography.

Little X’s for Eyes, photo by Kelly Hamilton, Gingham Sky photography.

The Hard Working Class Heroes festival descended on Dublin yet again this year between October 2nd and 4th. HWCH is an Irish music festival for emerging bands and has been a pivotal fixture in the Irish cultural character since its debut in 2003. Irish talent from all over the country flocked to multiple venues in our fair capital city to showcase their abilities at the mercy of Dublin crowds.

Dublin 4 was represented this year by the performances of solo artist The Late David Turpin and indie pop outfit Little X’s for Eyes. The application process for the festival commences in the summer, which involves the creation of a Breaking Tunes page and the uploading of songs from the back catalogue of the artists applying.

David Turpin is a resident of Sandymount and has been a recording artist in his own right for several years now, releasing his debut album, The Sweet Used To Be, in 2008. David has played HWCH every year he has had a new record in circulation, this year’s release being his third independent album, entitled We Belong Dead. He has performed at the Fringe festival in the past, as well as numerous theatres and art galleries, while working with producers like Stephen Shannon and Adrian Crowley, winner of the Choice Music Prize for 2007.

David’s musical style is essentially a species of pop music that operates under a wide-reaching aural umbrella of vintage pop, Walt Disney scores and choral pieces. David spoke to NewsFour about his festival experiences this year as he played the Workman’s Club.

“The turnout was good,” David said. “I didn’t count how many people were in the crowd because there were lights shining in my face, but it was pretty full until close! I performed with a group of backing singers from Christchurch, so I think people were very interested in the choral aspect of it. Not many people do choirs at Hard Working Class Heroes. The largest slice of the pie chart is probably indie bands, though there are a lot of singer/songwriters around.”

In an environment where musicians make their bread through live performances, as opposed to recorded album material, events like HWCH take higher prominence in the calendars of home-grown artists. The Button Factory was David’s venue for his last festival appearance, and David told NewsFour of the visceral reality of being the centre of the audience’s attention.

“I play a lot of theatre stuff and gallery stuff, so I’m pretty used to people sitting down,” David said. “It’s a different thing, and you have to do a different kind of show.”

The group Little X’s for Eyes were the last band to play live in The Grand Social on the night of October 2nd. The six-piece band consists of members Bennie Reilly, Davey Moor, Michelle Considine, Lucy Jackson, Harry Bookless and Ed Costello. The band released their debut album, S.A.D, in 2011, to critical acclaim, and their follow up album, Everywhere Else, is due for release in the New Year.

“We got a great crowd and everyone seemed to be in good spirits,” Reilly said. “It was an ideal venue for us, the stage could accommodate all six of us, and the sound in there was really great.”

Lead singer Reilly is a native of Barrow Street, Ringsend, who grew up in a house right next to the railway wall that “rattled every time a DART went by.” The band are a harmony-heavy indie pop outfit who were formed in 2007 by Reilly and Moor after the disintegration of their mutual band projects during the same timescale. Reilly gave NewsFour an insight into the nascent stages of the band’s early days.

“We’d each started to write our own songs so we enlisted some friends to play them with us and that was the start of Little X’s. Kind of a rebound band… that lasted!”

Hard Working Class Heroes has come a long way since Reilly played the festival’s maiden event in 2003, when she performed with her previous band, Life after Modelling. In those lean times the entire event took place in one room with three stages, with each band allocated a set-list of three songs each. Little X’s have now played HWCH four times, which Reilly sees as essential to cementing the band’s future.

“The festival has really grown since then,” Reilly told NewsFour. “We are unsigned, so for that reason it is an important platform and tool for us, especially when we have new music and releases to promote. HWCH was a great help to us.”

By Craig Kinsella