Words by Ellen McVeigh
West Cork alt-rock band First Class & Coach have released their new single ‘My Oh My’, the first from their upcoming album Neon Hip, due to be released on FIFA Records in mid-2022.
The band, made up of Reuben Maher (guitars, keys, vocals), Jonathan Parson (bass), Geri Thomas (vocals) and Andrew McNeilage (drums), recorded their new album in Black Box Studios, France, produced by Tony Maimone of StudioG in Brooklyn.
The track, with layers of distorted guitar hooks, a driving bassline, and flawless uncompromising vocals, may seem like an obvious introduction to the album, but it was not always so clear. “My Oh My appeared out of nowhere at a band rehearsal, it immediately felt amazing, and then not,” says Reuben, “it almost disappeared for good. In fact, we had to question whether it would make it on the record at all, but I’m so glad it did.”
The single provides a taste of what is to come from the band’s second album; with a catchy and exciting track that harbours some of the biting intensity which characterised their debut album. Fans can expect the new album to have their signature loud, guitar-based rock music, punctuated by powerful moments of emotional rawness.
“Musically, Neon Hip will likely be viewed as a more ‘upbeat’ record,” says Andrew, “Perhaps ironic given the social circumstances created by the pandemic?”
Formed in 2017, their acclaimed first album The Truth About Honey was released just before the beginning of the pandemic, in February 2020. While live touring plans for the debut album were immediately scuppered, the group did not put their feet up during the two years since the release of the debut album.
“We are lucky that we have a rehearsal space near home,” says Jonathan, “so we have been able to continuously play and work on new material.” Despite the chaos of the pandemic, and the disappointment of losing out on an album tour; when it came to writing their new album, First Class & Coach stuck to what they knew. “In itself, the pandemic didn’t really have any direct influence on the writing of the record,” says Geri, “most, if not all, of the songs relate to personal relationships and the trials and tribulations of life, pandemic or not.”
As Ireland opens back up again, the band are excited to get back on the road and playing to live audiences, with a wealth of new and old music now under their belt. With upcoming gigs in Connolly’s of Leap on 11th March, and in The Workman’s, Dublin on 13th April, the band are looking forward to blowing off the cobwebs and getting back to some normality.
“What is exciting for us, is that we now have two albums to tour with”, says Jonathan, “that makes for the most dynamic shows and we can keep live sets interesting and fresh, for us and for audiences.”
This forthcoming album is their first to be released since they teamed up with FIFA Records, in late 2021. This independent label, based out of Cork, boasts a roster of artists that includes Emperor of Ice Cream, Klubber Lang, Cat Dowling, and Trouble Pilgrims.
“The spirit of that label is one of passion and love for music,” says Jonathan, “we are very proud to be working with individuals like Eddie in FIFA, and alongside other artists that are also passionate about the art, and not primarily focussed on the bottom line.”