With a mixture of honesty and grit, SPRINTS are a beautiful snapshot of punk music in Ireland right now; raw, rambunctious, and going to be big.
Punk is at its best when it’s hectic, spontaneous and off-the-cuff—but that doesn’t mean you can’t also have a plan. Dublin-based SPRINTS are the epitome of the latter approach, with their first single “Pathetic” marking the end of a year of hiding and the beginning of stage two: world domination—or at least a prominent spot on your latest playlist.
It’s a roaring introduction either way.
The snarling vocals of Karla Chubb are matched by the chugging, anthemic guitars and driven drums of her cohorts and best friends Colm O’Reilly, Sam McCann and Jack Callan. With a mixture of honesty and grit, it’s a beautiful snapshot of punk music in Ireland right now; raw, rambunctious, and going to be big.
That’s the plan, anyway.
Listen: “Pathetic” – SPRINTS
The process started following the split of their previous band, leading Chubb and the others to ask that all-important question: Why do we want to play? “I think we always got caught up in playing music we thought people wanted to hear from a rock band…and we were like ‘ok, let’s take a step back and really look at the music we want to make and decide what we want to say and what we want to make.’”
The resulting year was spent in a shed, changing their approach to songwriting and, in the process, perfecting their sound.
Four long-time friends who are most comfortable on stage, they made the conscious decision that punk can make you feel and make you move at the same time: “I always just said I want to write really loud songs that you can also dance to. I just want to have real meaning but also real energy behind the songs.”
The result is a band who are playing simple rock music, and having a damn good time doing so: “‘Pathetic’ is one of our most straightforward songs, and I think that’s probably an approach we’re taking with our songwriting now—particularly stripping back the lyricism—not to be simple or boring, but to be straightforward and more understandable.” She continues: “We’d all love to think that we could write motifs and metaphors and I could go write a James Joyce novel-esque song if I spent six months trying to, but at the guts of it, I want to write songs that are super relatable, really straightforward, honest and raw and kind of just our take on life.”
Opting to play the kind of music they wanted to hear—influenced by modern Irish punks like Fontaines DC and THUMPER as well as old school rockers like The Talking Heads—’Pathetic’ is an ode to stumbling relationships. Inspired by our generation’s infatuation with being infatuated, it’s a tale of two people who were never really in love, but rather settling for not being alone: “It’s like when you’re at the bitter end and you realize you’ve been with someone who you never really got along with, you were just together because you liked the same things—or you hated the same things—or you were annoyed by the same stuff or you had similar passions but you’re forcing something to work.”
The result of an ad-induced rage, the song was written quickly but still packs enough punch to make you swear off settling ever again: “I wanted to get to the guts of the idea that everyone wants to feel like they are loved or they have a connection to something or someone that makes life and being here worthwhile. I always get bombarded by ads from Bumble and Tinder and dating shows and this stuff is everywhere and I was just so fascinated by the concept of why are people so nuts for it, why is it such a massive industry?” Chubb explains.
How quickly? “That’s where the line ‘why don’t you love me back, I know it sounds pathetic’, comes from; it was the first thing I wrote. I literally just shouted it out one day in my room. After I wrote that one line I thought need to finish this immediately. I wrote it out in about half an hour.”
But don’t mistake the speedy writing process for a lack of meaning—quite the opposite in fact: With little nuggets sprinkled throughout the song, there’s the creation of new understandings with each listen. “It’s completely supposed to be a no-bullshit approach, particularly the line in the bridge ‘And if you want one more, then ask your mother’, it’s completely built on a classic Irish phrase, ‘a face only a mother could love.’”
And if you love yourself
At least you’ve got a lover,
And if you want one more,
Baby, ask your mother
Cos I hate it
You hate it
We hated everybody
Cos I hate it
You hate it
We hated everybody
So put your finger on the pulse of the issue,
Try to relate, to relate
For a change
Even the vocal arrangements carry weight, with the inclusion of male vocals simulating the relationship last gasps. “That’s where Sam’s vocals really come in on the second verse, because it’s supposed to be him almost shouting back at me, but I’m also trying to shout just as loud because we both know it’s not working, we’re both just trying to be the one to have the last word.”
These small breadcrumbs make “Pathetic” relatable and rewarding, as well as an exciting first taster of yet another band poised to pop out of Dublin. That blossoming scene—started by Girl Band and exploded internationally by Fontaines—is home to bands such as Just Mustard and Murder Capital, who are not only having a moment themselves but serving as a huge influence to the bands coming up behind them like SPRINTS.
Perhaps most important to Chubb however, are Bitch Falcon, a fearsome, scorching three-piece who’s songs leave your face charred and your ears desperate for more: “Lizzie Fitzpatrick is just an incredible guitarist. I remember we went to see [Bitch Falcon] at Other Voices and she was playing and her hair was going everywhere and she playing such solid guitar, so to see someone like that up close—and for her to even be Irish—I was like ‘god, she’s really amazing’.” Pausing for a second as if she reliving the moment, she finishes the thought: “I just turned to Jack and I was like ‘That’s exactly what I wanna do’.”
And she’s well on her way.
SPRINTS are a band who, if things go to the carefully constructed plan, should have an album and a UK tour under their belt by next summer. But, more than that, they’ll have hollowed out a space in your brain, filled with measured, methodical punk that still shreds.
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📸© Dan Silva