Ian Maleney

Kil­dare band Fresh Ré are barely out of school but they’ve al­ready played sta­di­ums – and are de­ter­mined to push on to even big­ger things, they tell

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC -

The funny thing about vi­ral videos and be­ing a smash on the in­ter­net is that, de­spite all those who try to make it hap­pen and all those who claim to have it all fig­ured out, you just don’t know what’s go­ing to catch on. There’s no for­mula.

So when a grainy hand-held video of two young lads from Cel­bridge, Co Kil­dare do­ing their ver­sion of Ri­hanna and Calvin Har­ris’s We Found Love crept on­line – first on to Face­book, then You Tube – no one was ex­pect­ing it to rack up a cou­ple of mil­lion views. Least of all the lads them­selves.

The boys in ques­tion were 16-year-old Har­ri­son Dodo, who played guitar and rapped. Ac­com­pa­ny­ing him on vo­cals was Robert Scan­lon, aged just 11 when the video was made. To­gether they are two-fifths of a band called Fresh Ré, along­side Scan­lon’s older sis­ter Ash­lee and fel­low Cel­bridge na­tives Cian Fran­cois and Daryl Bengo. The lat­ter trio couldn’t make band prac­tice one par­tic­u­lar Satur­day af­ter­noon, so the other two started mess­ing about and made the video on Har­ri­son’s iPod. The two-minute clip took on a life of its own, born of its off-the-cuff charm and, in an era of pristinely pol­ished pop stars, that rare sense of raw tal­ent on show.

On the strength of the video, the two boys soon found them­selves per­form­ing on The Late Late Show. Also guest­ing on the show was Rob­bie Wil­liams, in town be­fore a show at the Aviva Sta­dium, and he was im­pressed enough by what he heard to make the pair an of­fer.

“Rob­bie saw us do­ing our sound­check and he was like, ‘I might get you to play on my tour’,” says Robert Scan­lon. “We thought he was just say­ing it to be nice, but then my dad told us, and the next day we were ac­tu­ally go­ing to the Aviva. I used to be so shy at sing­ing, like in the video where I have my head down and all. Then to per­form in front of 60,000 peo­ple was crazy.”

While Scan­lon and Dodo were on stage, Daryl Bengo, Ash­lee Scan­lon and Cian Fran­cois were in the au­di­ence. See­ing their band-mates per­form to such a huge au­di­ence made them all the more ea­ger to push them­selves and the band to big­ger and bet­ter things.

“Even though I wasn’t on that stage, I still got that feel­ing like, ‘Je­sus, we’ve got the chance to do this’,” says Bengo. “We didn’t see it like, ‘Oh my god, this is hap­pen­ing’. It was kind of like, ‘Oh my god, make it hap­pen’.”

They con­tin­ued to post more cov­ers to You Tube, but now as a full band. With no la­bel be­hind them, they re­lied on their so­cial-me­dia pres­ence to spread the word. They bagged the open­ing slot on a tour with the Orig­i­nal Rude Boys, played half-time at Croke Park dur­ing last week­end’s hurl­ing semi-fi­nal be­tween Kilkenny and Lim­er­ick, and have a sold-out show at the Academy 2 (orig­i­nally lined up for later this month, but now resched­uled to Oc­to­ber 4th). Their hard work is pay­ing off.

As of this summer, all mem­bers of the group are fin­ished with school for the mo­ment, with the ex­cep­tion of Scan­lon, who is 13. With no stud­ies to worry about, they are keen to work more on their own song­writ­ing, some­thing they are ob­vi­ously pas­sion­ate about. But, with only one orig­i­nal sin­gle, Young, re­leased so far, this has per­haps been over­shad­owed by their cover ver­sions.

“Be­cause we put so much ef­fort into our orig­i­nals, we don’t want to let them just go to waste,” says Bengo. “If you come and see us live, you’ll see that ac­tu­ally most of our set is orig­i­nals now,” adds Fran­cois.

The Academy show is per­haps more im­por­tant than those sta­dium slots. While tour sup­ports are all well and good, noth­ing com­pares to head­lin­ing their own show, know­ing every­one is there to see them.

“The Academy isn’t the big­gest show we’ve done in terms of peo­ple, but it’s not al­ways the quan­tity that makes the show good,” says Fran­cois.

Ash­lee jumps in. “I think it’s just that those peo­ple are pay­ing to see you – that’s mad.”

“And to see every­one cue up for your show is just in­cred­i­ble,” adds Fran­cois. “I re­mem­ber look­ing out at the crowd and every­one hav­ing a good time. It’s amaz­ing. It re­ally is.”

It’d be ridicu­lous to judge a band such as Fresh Ré at this stage in their ca­reers. They’re barely out of school, they’ve re­leased one song of their own, they’re still “un­signed” – though they are show­ing how lit­tle that phrase can mean in 2014. For a group of teenagers, they are re­mark­ably fo­cused, pro­fes­sional and am­bi­tious. For now, their plan is sim­ply to keep on keep­ing on; play the shows as they come up, keep work­ing on their ma­te­rial, and take ev­ery chance they get to spread the word.

“All these things are like step­ping stones. The thing about us is, even be­fore the band started, we’ve al­ways had that vi­sion of liv­ing that kind of a life­style and I guess we never lim­ited our­selves,” says Fran­cois.

“Con­sis­tency is very im­por­tant, that’s one thing,” adds Bengo. “You just have to keep do­ing what you’re do­ing. I don’t like look­ing at stuff like, ‘we’ve got the Academy, that’s all we’re fo­cused on right now’. I don’t re­ally look at it like that. Ev­ery day we try to make it sound bet­ter than yes­ter­day.”

Due to un­avoid­able build­ing work at The Academy, Dublin, Fresh Ré’s sold-out show is resched­uled to Oc­to­ber 4th. All tick­ets are valid for the new date

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