Little Matador: 'It's a different headspace being the frontman not the guitarist'
Consisting of Snow Patrol guitarist Nathan Connolly, drummer Paul 'Binzer' Brennan, bassist Gavin Fox and guitarists Troy Stewart and Dave Magee, Little Matador was a band created after the year-long hiatus of the aforementioned Bangor rockers.
But instead of Connolly's usual sound, which you would associate with Snow Patrol, with this new venture he has opted to create a more raw and rough record.
Their upcoming self-titled debut album is set to be released on April 21 and is filled with hard-hitting stripped-back modern rock songs. "I've been talking about doing the record for a while and at this point in time, it just felt right," says Connolly of the inspiration to put together the band. "The people that I wanted to work with were more than keen to do it. We were all friends for a very long time. I knew everyone and what they would bring to the band; we came together in the studio, started writing and it all just came together very fast."
The cohesion between the members is evident even at this early stage in the group's development, as despite only having been together for around a year now, they have the chemistry of any well-established band.
"All of the guys in the band are close, so even though we have played for different bands in the past, we all liked the sound Matador had and didn't want to change it."
Of that new sound, Connolly says it sprang from his own influences. "I grew up with and loved rock music, so I enjoy making it, but we didn't exactly plan out what we wanted the record to sound like," he says.
Little Matador have already supported the likes of Queens of the Stone Age and Nine Inch Nails, with an upcoming warm-up slot for Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro on the cards for this year's Belsonic Festival in Belfast. Evidently, the latter band has also been influential to an extent, as Connolly says: "We wanted to make a dirty, gritty, modern rock record that had swagger for sure."
While Connolly may have changed his sound from the more familiar riffs of Snow Patrol, he doesn't appear to have lost many fans in the process.
"It has been great, all the Snow Patrol fans have been extremely supportive," he says. "The guys in Patrol were also hugely supportive. People might have perceptions of who I am, based on what they know about Patrol, but this is the first time that people will hear exactly where I'm coming from."
Of course, going from guitarist to frontman is quite a leap, but Connolly seems to be coping fine: "It's a different headspace definitely but it's also very comfortable and I'm having a lot of fun with it ... it just feels right."
While choosing a line-up from among his friends and musical peers for Little Matador was one thing, what would Connolly make of having a proper carte blanche over selecting his all-time fantasy band?
"I would probably pick The Clash," he says. "I've seen some amazing acts over the years, like Led Zeppelin and Tom Petty, but I never got to see The Clash — although I'd probably be happier just to go to the gig!"
Little Matador will play Belsonic Festival, Belfast, in support of Biffy Clyro on August 17. See belsonic.com for details