Great music acts can transform simple pieces of vinyl into some of the greatest records ever made. The Beatles did it. So did Queen. They wrote popular songs that resonated with their fans. Television chart shows such as the BBC’s “Top of the Pops” was a great marketing platform. Any music act that was invited to appear gained international exposure. Unfortunately, there isn’t an equivalent show anymore to launch a band to the world. Instead, there are a plethora of shows such as the “X-factor” that create 15 minutes of heavily marketed and packaged fame. Only a few winners have achieved career longevity or global superstardom. The vast majority disappear off the public radar before the auditions start for the show’s next season.
So, in today’s modern music business, a credible music act needs to generate publicity to be noticed to make money. Possessing raw talent and exceptional songwriting ability is not enough. Record companies no longer spend millions of Euros to promote a new signing and prefer music acts that bring an established fan base. Music no longer provides the levels of profits it once did. Physical records and CDs are more of a gimmick because the modern way to discover and listen to music is over an internet connection using one of the many streaming companies. One of the biggest and well known is Spotify which currently pays a music act €37.40 if their song is played 10,000 times. Therefore, unsigned music acts need to think outside the box and build a fanbase of people willing to listen/purchase their songs if they stand any chance of making a living from the music itself.
Thinking outside the box is exactly what the Moate based band ‘First Days Lions’ (www.firstdaylions.com) has been doing since the Covid-19 enforced lockdown hit Ireland in March of last year. Adrian Rabbitte, together with former school pal-turned-bandmate, Adam Cunningham, has used the past year to write, record and then release songs regularly, as well as, developing ways to market themselves to new audiences.
“When Covid-19 hit, First Day Lions had to cancel its whole calendar of live gigs. It was very painful because Adam and I had been working flat out writing and recording original tracks that we were planning to perform live. Every gig is an opportunity for a young band like us to connect with people in the audience, who hopefully will like what they hear and keep us on their radar. We are 100 per cent committed to our music, and it’s never been about the money or fame for us. We used technology while we were both stuck at home and continued to produce and release music on our YouTube channel. You can never beat jamming together in person, but we managed to use Zoom quite well and are now experts at it!”
A gamer is someone who enjoys playing interactive games. Adrian and Adam consider themselves avid gamers and used their love of playing video games to generate awareness for their music. They picked a very well-known and much-loved video game called ‘Skyrim’ and used a mod[ification] called ‘Skyrim Together’ that allowed them to create a channel for other gamers to join in. Their channel was an instant hit with gamers from around the world. “Nobody knew that we were Irish, let alone an indie rock band inspired by the ‘Beatles, Queen and Pink Floyd’! So, every time we mentioned it, those gamers went away and listened to our music. More importantly, they subscribed to our YouTube channel to get alerted every time we release a new song. Our music is now being played by people in North America who would never have set foot inside an Irish venue to hear us perform live. We have had lots of invitations to come over and play gigs in their hometowns, once the Covid crisis is over.”
Making Music the Moate Way
Adrian grew up in Moate and is from strong musical stock. His Grandad (on his father’s side) played the saxophone for the ‘Jimmy Rabbitte Big Band’ and used to perform in concert halls across Ireland. “My Granny used to sing in the band and that was where the two of them met! His father too was in a band called ‘Mercury’ and then formed a band called ‘Project 37’. “On my mum’s side, her first cousins are the ‘Sheerin Family Band’ who are very popular across Ireland. So, there was no hiding away from music in my family.”
Adrian started learning to play the piano and got to a respectable grade 5, but his heart was set on the guitar instead. “I was big into rock music as a young lad and liked ‘ACDC’, ‘Guns N’Roses’ and ‘Queen’ because they used the guitar so well in their songs. That type of rock sound can’t be done on the piano. Thankfully, I was taught by Willy Kiernan from Athlone, who was a superb guitar teacher.”
School to First Day Lions
Adrian went to Moate Community School, and it was here that he recalls meeting his bandmate, Adam. “One day, when I was aged 14, a guy just walked up to me after school, and he asked,”Hey, do you want to be in a band? I’ve got a drummer and I play bass. That was Adam, and we started a three-piece band called ‘The Thrives’”
We used to do TY nights and were invited to play at the school’s end of the year awards ceremony. At the time Kevin Duffy was the Principal of the school, and he was always very supportive as was my music teacher, Lorna Dignan, who was kind enough to award me ‘Senior Music Student of The Year’ in my 6th year.”
After leaving school, Adrian studied Performing Arts at Moate Business College while Adam went to college in Galway. “I guess I was keeping my options open as an entertainer. Music and acting click together extremely well.” Adrian then joined his father’s band ‘Project 37’ while Adam went to America for a while.
In 2018, Adam returned and joined ‘Project 37’ to replace Adrian’s father on the drums. Soon afterwards, the pair started formulating plans to form their band.
First Day Lions Roars
‘First Day Lions’ came from the saying ‘I’d rather live one day as a lion than 1000 days a lamb’. “Adam and I thought there was something cool about a lion in general anyway, so we settled on that as our band name. In October 2019, we did our first gig in Tuar Ard Arts Centre, Moate. We filled 174 seats in the theatre and launched our self-penned album in Whelans Dublin a few days afterwards.
The songs that we write reflect our personalities. We don’t go too commercial with our music and like to think that there’s a story in every song.” First Day Lions landed a residency at the popular club Dublin Generator before Covid-19 and have great support from Midlands 103’s Aidan Barry and Roy Jennings and many other radio stations.
The Future And Discord
The band is eager to get back onto the road and is looking forward to a series of live events that they will be doing throughout August and September this year. Also, they have started a Discord channel, which will allow them to communicate directly with their fans. The First Day Lions are roaring for sure.
This article was published in the Westmeath Independent 21/07/21.