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Rocky's on a roll

It's no surprise that Rocky Whittaker and his friends had trouble finding a place to call home in London. Five Irish lads looking for a sizeable apartment or house in which to rest their heads and, of course, their instruments? It wasn't going to be easy. But the searching continued and, eventually, a deal was struck: The Chakras were on their way to Wimbledon. A year and a half later, and everyone's limbs are still firmly attached. Which is always a good thing.

"It's grand," laughs Rocky, the band's affable frontman, "there have been very few scraps!"

Indeed, things have been going very well for the Dublin rock band recently. Debut album Build Me a Swan -- a dreamy collection of swirling, often anthemic guitar numbers -- was well received by the UK press, and with renowned A&R man David Boyd (the guy who signed The Verve, The Smashing Pumpkins, and Placebo) on their side, it seems the band made the right decisionl in taking their manager's advice and making the big move.


"We were trying to get a record deal in Ireland for a good while," says Rocky, "and then we had one over here within months, so yeah, in retrospect, it was the right call.

But that isn't to say that the guys don't miss their hometown.

"I think at first it wasn't hard," he continues, "because you're excited, but it's kind of harder now, for me anyway, because my girlfriend is at home. But if you have something that you really want to do with your life, you've got to make sacrifices."

They're an ambitious bunch, to say the least. A few years back, The Chakras (which also features Rocky's brother, Gordo, on guitar) were invited to support Ian Brown in Dublin -- a surreal moment for Rocky, who grew up "absolutely idolising" the Stone Roses frontman.

They also recently shot an advertisement for Tourism Ireland. "It was a good experience," he enthuses. "If you're going to be involved in promoting something, it might as well be Ireland!"

Talk turns to London again. For all five members, music is a full-time job. Not every Irish act is lucky enough to say the same. Would Rocky recommend moving away to other Irish bands?

"It depends," he answers. "Sometimes it works, but sometimes it doesn't. I don't think there's enough people in Dublin that listen to unsigned music to support the amount of bands there are, and I think some really good bands suffer because of that.

"Personally, I think the standard in Dublin is a lot better than the standard in London."

For the time being, The Chakras are fully focused on playing to as many people as possible. So what is it about the group that makes them stand out from the current crop of Irish guitar bands?

"Well, I just think it's a combination of personalities that works," he replies.

"I heard a thing that Morrissey said about Johnny Marr. When Johnny started playing guitar, it really made sense to Morrissey -- he heard a lot of melodies in his head. And when Richie, our guitar player, or Pepper, our keyboard player, do that, I feel the same.

"Arctic Monkeys brought things back down to, you know, the chip shops and the bank machines -- which is completely valid and I love them -- but when I hear bands like that now, I kind of feel like that's a few years ago," he says. "We just wanted to do something a bit grander -- a bit more cinematic, with bigger scope and bigger themes, and I think that sets us apart at the moment."

Build Me a Swan is out now. The Chakras play live at Whelan's on Tuesday, December 6