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Monday 21 August 2017

March 7, 2013. It was just after 10.30pm at Vicar Street, and the winner of the Meteor Choice Music Prize for Irish Album of the Year was about to be announced when Kieran McGuinness's phone buzzed. A friend of a friend in high places had texted the Delorentos guitarist and co-vocalist with some top-secret info. Actually, the text didn't say much.

But what Kieran read was that another band had beaten them to it. Bummer. Nevertheless, he switched his phone to camera-mode, fully prepared to capture the celebrations of his peers. Then, something funny happened. Delorentos were crowned winners. Their third album, Little Sparks, had in fact claimed the top prize. The lads were stunned.

"I don't even remember what I said. That was crazy," explains Kieran today, sitting opposite his band mate and friend, Ronan Yourell. "To be honest with you, we were lucky. It was a good year [for music]. I mean, that year, Glen Hansard and Sinead O'Connor released albums, and they could have been Choice winners themselves."

recognition

They'd also come out on top over fellow nominees Two Door Cinema Club and Damien Dempsey. "On a simple level, it's a recognition," says Ronan. "Particularly this award, it feels to me like a celebration of Irish music. Obviously, to win is the cherry on top, but it is really nice to be in a community of musicians. Nobody begrudges anybody else."

For a band without a major label, the €10,000 cash prize came in handy. "Well that went straight back into creativity," nods Kieran. "It was something that we said that we would do." And yet, he also put some money aside for his family.

"My dad had a beat-up TV in his sitting room, a really sh*tty thing - the remote control was held together with tape. I went to Power City and I got him a TV and I gave him a hug and I said, 'Enjoy watching the sports on that'. The first thing I wanted to do was kind of say 'thanks' to people."

Things have changed. Two years on, and the Portrane-based four-piece including bassist Nial Conlan and drummer Ross McCormick have now signed to Universal Music Ireland.

Their fourth album, Night Becomes Light, is about to be released. They've toured in America, Russia and Spain, cementing their reputation as one of Ireland's most consistent and exciting young rock bands. But this new deal could be the start of something big.

"I guess there's never been one that really turned our heads," says Kieran, "and this one came along and it suits what we want. We've had a really eye-opening couple of years with the success of Little Sparks and touring abroad".

"We'd never claimed to be amazing at [the business] end of things, so now we get to let someone else look after that and we can concentrate on the music. The other day, I didn't have to send out any emails to tell people about our new album. I didn't have to ring anyone and go, 'How are we gonna do this?' I was sitting at home and I played guitar for the night".

"Having the label involved gives us an opportunity to get to more places -branch out even further," says Ronan.

In 2015, Night Becomes Light will begin to roll out in various international territories. A nationwide tour kicks off later this month, culminating with a gig at Vicar Street on December 12.

Incidentally, 32-year-old music maker Ronan almost walked away from the band. It was early 2009, and after one too many industry knocks, Delorentos decided to call it a day after Ro announced he'd be leaving following the completion of their second album, You Can Make Sound. Within two months, all four members had changed their minds. Clever move. But Ronan doesn't dwell on the past.

different

"No, I don't think we think like that," he explains. "The only thing is we just don't take it for granted as much as we did when we had all the time in the world, sort of living out of each other's pockets. Now, we're a little bit older and people have different things going on in their lives in different parts of the world at various times, things like Nial living over in London. We just really appreciate the time when we are together."

"The bond is stronger than ever. Last weekend, we were doing a bit of rehearsing and we took the opportunity to have a sleepover. We had some beers, lots of pizza, some Match of the Day, and it was great. We hadn't done anything like that in a while. And that's important. You have to have fun."

At one point, Delorentos produced their own magazine and arranged pop-up gigs around the city to promote the release of their third album. But now, the focus is on the music. Unlike, say, another Irish band whose new album was recently released worldwide…

"Everything about the new U2 album has been about how it's been released," explains Kieran. "I think we're very happy to just have the music be the focus - the release just as simple as it's ever been."

opportunity

Would Delorentos ever release an album for free? "We wouldn't say no to anything," answers Kieran, "I mean, we thought about that with the second album. We feel like we've won the lottery, to have this opportunity. I don't mean necessarily the deal, I mean, just [being in] a band that can release a fourth album. That's an amazing thing for us."

We can only hope, too, that Delorentos will begin to follow in the footsteps of Hozier, The Script, or even Kodaline - just some of the Irish acts currently making waves abroad. Surely, it's high time that Delorentos claimed the spotlight.

"It feels like the most exciting period of our careers," says Ronan. "I suppose these things are cyclical but after the time that the country has been through, it's great to see all these creative people are so instrumental, if you pardon the pun, in getting us out of the rut and connecting us with the things that are really important to us.

"The likes of Hozier and Kodaline being recognised and going out into the world and connecting people with great Irish music again - that can only be good for all of us…"

Night Becomes Light is released October 10

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