Busking Everywhere They Go
As I made my way up Grafton Street, or the Grafton Quarter
apparently? I was consistently stopping to the buskers that lined the
street. It was these streets that made Hudson Taylor who they are.
From the age of 12 and 14 the Hudson Taylor brothers were making
YouTube videos and starting to gather their audience. 15 years later
Harry and Alfie have sold out the Olympia as well as touring Europe
and America. To get to this point the brother’s dedicated themselves
to braving the streets of Ireland on top of road bollards projecting
their talent to everyone.
The first time I seen Hudson Taylor about three years ago at the New Year’s Eve concert at the Customs House on the quays.
I remember being taken back by their harmonies resembling a
contemporary Simon and Garfunkel. Since the First album they have
been releasing multiple singles and EP’s with a substantial amount of
songs. As I looked forward to the interview I was surprised to see how
much material they have produced, from the first YouTube video to
the latest single “What Do You Mean” I watched and listened to hours
worth of music.
I would also like to add that I am moving to Madrid on Saturday for 7
months and have been actively listening to Hudson Taylor and have
not started packing yet. I chose to start the interview with this nugget
of information. I was met with a very energetic high five from Alfie as
Harry was chilling out agreeing with the positive benefits of moving. I
noticed a charming contrast between Harry and Alfie, perhaps it had
something to do with the slight age difference that Harry was cool,
and mellow while Alfie portrayed a high energy of excitement and
buzz. The conversation flew with ease and was easily one of the most
fun interviews I have had.
I couldn’t resist asking about their first ever busk 15 years
previous. Harry chuckled.
Harry: “ We started making YouTube videos around 2008 and it
wasn’t until two years later that we developed enough confidence to
go busk. The first time we ever went out we just brought a massive
keyboard, I knew more covers on the piano so we left the guitar at
home. It took the two of us to carry this thing. It was ridiculously big.
Then when we played, it was on the top of Grafton Street and it was
just embarrassing. It put us off for another six months.
Alfie: “It was shocking seeing your best mates and just going, “please
go away. The only thing was that we made sixty euro that day. We
made our pocket money so six months later when we asked for money
our mam said that we could easily make it on the streets singing. So
we did! We brought the guitar this time so that made the difference.
We started learning more songs and looked up to the other buskers
on the street.”
Harry: We also met brothers Oisín and Tadhg who ended up being
in our band and still are. We owe a lot to it. Not least of all it really
makes you learn your craft and how you keep people’s attention.
Basically busking is trying your best to entertain people who are just
going about their day and not there to see you.”
Alfie: “It’s like a festival, nobody would be at a festival just to see us,
fair enough there’s our fans who would be front row which is amazing
but the majority of people there are going to see so many different
things and maybe we’re part of it. In that sense it’s quite like busking.
There is amazing sense of Bravery with Hudson Taylor and even in
the early days they were buying inter rail tickets and travelling Europe
Harry: “Back in 2015 we went on a European tour and we wanted to
sell it out. The gigs themselves were very close to selling out but we
knew it would take one final push. We went out a month before the
gigs and would busk on the streets. That managed to sell out the
Alfie: “ When it started as I said, it was all just covers so we then
slowly started to put in our original songs. It was really vulnerable,
nobody knew our music so that was a scary moment. It also helpful
because the crowd would be quick to let you know which songs that
are well, crap. Our parents were big into music so they had brought
us up on Simon and Garfunkel and the Everly Brothers so close
harmony from the first song was just the craic like, we never thought
twice about it. Harry was always was on the third or fifth and we’d be
away. Our family were always giving us new music our older sister got
me into Oasis from an early age and an ACDC buzz for a while. Harry
was into piano from an early age and I was Irish Dancing, we have a
mad, mad musical family.”
Being Irish has clearly been a prudent influence for Harry and Alfie I
was eager to find out if Irish Culture was important for their song
Harry: “Lyrically there are definitely colloquium, phrases even place
names that find their way through. Obviously there are a lot of
melodies that are in our music that would be very Irish. Not
consciously but you can’t help pick up a mandolin or whistle throw it
into a track and instantly there is a Celtic style making its way
Alfie: “Yeah, even with the two other brothers we play with. Oisín
plays whistle and keys, Tadgh plays fiddle, it adds a real trad element
to our live set. Even growing up though we would have always been
going to pubs watching trad sets, there is a story telling tradition in
this country that if we had have grown up somewhere else maybe it
would be completely different. We have a way of talking in Ireland it
flows very well.”
In a HotPress pre album review they discussed getting back to the
busking basics and keeping to their trade. Alfie explained that the last
album was made in loads of different spots with lots of people where
as this album was just one producer and then just Harry and Alfie.
Harry: “This album was made with only one other person and
primarily in Nashville, we also got him to Ireland a few times but the
making of the album was a lot more refined. Whereas Singing for
Strangers was recorded with a lot more people including bits I had
recorded at home and was done over a really long time. This album
was done in 2 months.
Alfie: “We went to record the second album in Seattle and ended up
being offered tours and gigs everywhere so everything that was
recorded was going out as singles and EP’s so staggered the album
release. By the time it was all out it didn’t feel like we had made an
album so we wanted to get to make an album.”
The album “Loving Everywhere I Go” is being released on the 28th
of February and is heavily influenced by the early days busking of
Hudson Taylor. I had asked about their first ever busk and then
moved on to the last time they busked.
Alfie: “It was the most beautiful thing ever. It was the Christmas Eve
busk on the top of Grafton Street. There was something very special
about that. Considering our first busk was there and that year I seen
the Christmas Eve busk for the very first time. 11 or 12 years later we
were part of it.”
Harry: “We also had the pleasure of being invited to it by Glen
Hansard which was very special. Being able to play our Christmas
song with him was very cool.”
As the album release draws closer I was interested to know if we
could expect another street performance from Hudson Taylor.
Alfie: “Definitely man. I think because we’ll be doing so much
shouting about the album that we would bring it to Grafton Street
again to shout it out.”
A lot of people find their art busking and then move away from it once
they get bigger. Hudson Taylor have always been able to keep street
performing in their circle of making music.
Harry: “As long as we keep it in a close circle we can always jump
into it. We also get the great fans if we tweet about it beforehand that
have been with us since day one. The latest single we released “What
do you mean?” the video for it was a collection of all our videos we’ve
made on YouTube. The comment section on that was amazing seeing
someone saying “I’ve just realised I grew up with Hudson Taylor” they
were around the same age as us."
It really is something special seeing a community in music grow up
together, these relationships are timeless and also vital to a bands
success. This can also be seen with the likes of U2 having the title of
being the longest running band ever they also have their fans who
grew up alongside them. As well as Hudson Taylor growing up with
their fans, they’ve grown up together as brothers which is notoriously
difficult in the music industry, Gallaghers in Oasis, the Fogarty
brothers in Creedance Clearwater Revival, Kings of Leon, even me and
my brother and we aren’t in a band. How have Hudson Taylor kept the
peace after all these years?
Alfie: “We’ve been able to avoid it I think. Hearing the horror stories
helps definitely. Like okay, the Gallagher brothers didn’t work out but
they also made a thing of it. They used it as press. But we then knew
what we had to avoid to keep going.”
Harry: “Speak for yourself.”
Myself and Alfie started laughing at how blunt Harry had delivered
Alfie: “Imagine if your brother or sister was sitting here right now.
Trying to talk over you. But no it does make things easier for us. I
think at the end of the day when we wake up the next morning we’re
still brothers and that’s something that can never change. Harry?”
Harry: “We have mediators so could you please tell him I don’t want
to talk to him.”
Again I started laughing at the irony.
Hudson Taylor have a packed schedule over the next few months on
the lead into the festival season. Next month going to Swords in the
Chalk Venue as well as playing a few album release gigs doing Q and
A’s. They are constantly writing and doing so many things it’s hard to
keep up with them! But it makes me incredibly happy to see such a
beautiful band doing inspirational things. It clearly means a lot to
them to keep going, music is their life and the support that they got
from their audience has kept the fire burning. I am so excited to see
them on the festival circuit this year as well as busking across the
country. 2020 the year of Hudson Taylor.
By Darren McNulty