Fred were a five-piece band from Cork, too cheerfully eclectic to be pigeon-holed as an indie band, too quirky to be labelled a mainstream act.
One of Cork’s best-loved bands formed in 1998 with an original line up of Joe O’Leary (Vocals, Guitar), Eibhlin O’Gorman (Keyboards), Jamie Hanrohan (Guitar), Jamie O Donovan (Bass) and Justin O’Mahony (Drums). Fred plied their trade and released four studio albums before calling it a day in 2013. Fred, led by O’Leary an exuberant singer, guitarist and entertainer, announced themselves with their debut self-titled and self-released EP in 2000. Followed two years later by their full-length debut ‘Can't Stop, I'm Being Timed’. Fred released their second album, ‘Making Music So You Don't Have To’ in 2005. It reached No. 70 in the Irish Albums Chart with Hot Press describing it as “a gratifyingly mature, ambitious and reflective work”.
However, it was arguably with the release of ‘Good One’ in 2007, a single taken from their at that time yet to released 3rd album that really announced the Cork quintet to the Irish music scene. The single gained a swell of support from radio stations and was a regular on the national airwaves. It paved the way perfectly for the now eagerly awaited ‘Go God Go’, in 2008, the bands third studio album. Recorded in Ireland, mixed in London and although released independently on the bands own R.C.M Music, the album did receive an international release through distribution deals with ‘Faction Records’ and ‘United For Opportunity’. ‘Go God Go’ spent two weeks in the Irish album charts peaking at number 30.
By now Fred were a recognised name, regulars on national radio and filling venues the length and breadth of the country. The band now decided to pull out all the stops for their fourth record in their efforts to establish themselves as a major force both here and abroad.
Over the course of their career the band made a deep impression, earned a reputation of being one the country's most hardworking independent acts and won many fans both here and further afield. Played at a multitude of festivals both here and abroad and were known for their energetic and infectious live performances.
Their songs appeared on a multiple of TV platforms including theme shows for the BBC, on the US TV series Gossip Girl, commercials for Canadian national TV and with the band making many TV appearances.
However, all good things must come to an end and in 2013 the band decided to call it a day after 15 years and four albums.
Q. Any talk of a reunion?
A. No. Not even talk.
Q. Are you working on any musical projects currently?
A. A sandcastle bucket full of started songs and at least every five years I do a song with Freezer room.
Q. What do you feel is Fred’s best song?
A. Love a load of them but I’ll have to say the next one.
Q. Who were your major musical influences growing up?
A. Atlantic 252, my older brothers cassettes, anything Irish even U2, parents record collection including anything from The Beach Boys and The Beatles to Abba!
Q. What has been your favourite highlight playing with Fred?
A. So many highlights like playing Oxegen festival in the biggest tent in Europe (took something like 8000 people) on a Sunday morning graveyard slot and about 500 people waiting for us to play at the start but by two songs in people streaming in from all doors and filling it and singing along with loads of songs …. always a great feeling. Or the time we bought a van in Clonakilty the day before we left for a musical jaunt of Europe and we found ourselves doing laps of the Arc de Triomphe later that night wondering and screaming how to get off the thing.
Q. How do you feel about the music industry today?
A. I love people who love music, write music and work in music and are passionate about it and culture and work hard to promote it. I don’t have a lot of time for people that their primary purpose is to latch on to that magical energy and make money out of it. There are a lot of great people working in the music industry and hopefully over time they’ll crowd out the greedy grabbers.
Q. Vinyl or digital?
A. In order of preference.. Live, Vinyl, CD…. Don’t want to or even know how to download a song …I’d have to ask for help.
Q. Where did the name Fred come from?
A. From the imagination of a 15 year old Kerry man.
Q. What advice would you give to young bands today?
A. Enjoy it, dont let it ruin your life, don’t hang around with eejits or you’ll eventually turn into one. Don’t take advice from any washed up musician!
Fred live at the Cork Opera House. Picture: Evin O’Keeffe