Stefan Murphy started up a solo project in the early 2000s and called himself The Mighty Stef. Mighty - because if you have ever seen him live this man is nothing but mighty.
"Over the space of a decade or so it grew into a shape-shifting group." Their last record Year Of The Horse in 2015 went top 10 in Ireland. "But we burnt out within a year of that," he says. "We sacrificed too much."
Like most groups in the 'almost made it' category, they got little in return. "We were - and very much still are - serious individuals with a goal of sustaining the group and making a life for ourselves and our families... which got too hard after a while so we split."
Stef then moved to Atlanta with family and a started an experimental project called Count Vaseline - a punk/DIY outlet for his considerable energy. But in 2018 he retired the project because he was having mental health difficulties that he "needed to take some time out to work on".
"Since 2019 until now I have been working on the bones of the 'Stefan Murphy' solo project and am thankful for how it's been going so far.
"From very early on, much of my music was inspired by a hedonistic life in Dublin and beyond," he continues. "Alcohol, drugs, deathly hangovers, depression, failing and failed relationships always seemed to inspire lyric writing for me. I'd celebrate the lifestyle in songs but I'd always question it at the same time."
Stefan hasn't had alcohol since 2016. "I was diagnosed around that time with bipolar disorder, and I was also struggling with spiralling drug abuse/addiction. I'm thankful to say that I'm managing the mental health side of things and the addiction side of things quite well at the moment, but it's hard to know whether or not the arse will fall out of your world again."
The journey that Stefan took "in dealing with all that mess" is, he says, "the biggest inspiration for the new songs.
"I have one called Jails, Institutions and Death which is a 12-step line. It's actually a bit happier than it sounds."
"I started working on songs over Christmas back in Dublin," he says, "I'd been talking to Trevor Dietz" (Fontaines DC manager and long-time Dublin music promoter) "about the direction I was going. He was really supportive and insightful to the point that I asked if he'd come into the studio with me. He did, and we got stuck into a track called North Circular Road - a Dublin-inspired hymn that sounds a bit like Spiritualized if Jason Pierce had austerity imposed on him financially and musically.
"It was fantastic having Trev on board as it changed my attitude to how the songs should sound."
Stefan hopes to have a new album later this year and he plays Independent.ie's Rock Against Homelessness in aid of Focus at the Olympia in Dublin on March 3 with Fontaines DC, The Murder Capital, Kneecap, Just Mustard, The Altered Hours, Melts, and Mary Wallopers. It is proudly sponsored by Cadbury and Hard Rock Cafe. It is sold out.
Sunday Indo Living