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Long may they rule

this is going to be a thrilling year for O Emperor. And also for audiences who've yet to discover the Waterford band. Those who've already picked up on the quintet through some of their gigs, their intriguing debut single Po, or their appearance on When Under Ether (you can catch it on YouTube), will understand why there's going to be quite a fuss about these guys in the coming months.

They're neither brash, boastful nor bumptious. But O Emperor's calm assurance and mastery of melody, subtlety and musical self-awareness elevates them to world-beating heights.

So few young Irish bands arrive with such an authoritative voice that you'd be forgiven for thinking the band was a vintage American indie outfit with an ear for all the good stuff that's come out of Europe in the past 20 years.

"We've been together for about four years," explains Paul Savage, one of the band's two main singers. "But with these songs it's been just over two years. The more we've played together, the more our musical tastes have blended together."

"Four of us went to music college in Cork," adds Paul. "We recorded the album ourselves. Because everything is contained within the five of us, that gives us more of a focus."

When the band sent promo copies of their album to various people in the business, things began to happen.

As a result, the album's release was put on hold. Enthusiastic management became involved and an announcement of a major label signing is expected shortly.

"We recorded a batch of songs which took about six months," says Paul. "But we've been sitting on the album for almost a year. It's packaged and ready to go."

Visitors to Paul's gaff are startled to discover that the smartly draped coffee table is in fact a consignment of O Emperor albums now unlikely ever to be released. Events have overtaken the band, who will probably be back in the studio shortly recording a more up-to-date representative selection of their songs for what will become their official debut album.

Following a bunch of Irish gigs, the band begin their first tour of Britain next week. "It'll be an experience," says Paul. "We haven't played a string of gigs this long before, so we'll learn some of the hard facts of being in a band. Some romantic views we may have had of touring may go out the window. But it's exciting. Even if you're only playing to five or six people, it's still great to be playing your own stuff to people who haven't heard you," he adds. - EC

O Emperor play Whelan's Upstairs on Saturday