New Pope Interview: “You can’t move on until you forgive your own mistakes”

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new pope interview

New Album Love Should Be Out Before Year’s End.

When you have released an album called YOUTH, have one in the can called LOVE, and are planning to release one called HOME next year, it is safe to say that you are not one to shy away from tackling the big issues in your music. Such is the case with New Pope, the alter ego of folk/dream pop singer songwriter David Boland. His music is gentle and melancholic, like a cosy blanket on a cold day. However, it simultaneously explores themes of belonging, growing up, and purpose.

Fresh from a resoundingly successful performance at Hard Working Class Heroes, David Boland took some time to talk to Overblown about the appeal of travelling, the autobiographical nature of his writing, and playing his heart out on stage.

Overblown: On your debut album YOUTH, places and directions are mentioned a number of times e.g. ‘Onwards, Westwards’, ‘Amsterdam’, and ‘North Donegal’. Is travelling something that appeals to you?

New Pope: Getting away from where you are lends perspective to a situation, so just getting out of Galway for a day or two usually sorts my head out. I’d say I’m torn between the idea of travelling and the idea of home. I’ve never done either particularly well, but I’m trying to find a balance.

‘Amsterdam’ and ‘North Donegal’ are reflections on two specific places that had a big effect on how I think and the story I tell myself, while ‘Onwards, Westwards’ is about escaping from the tangled social web of a place and being on your own for a bit.

O: Are those songs autobiographical or fictional? They seem rather intimate.

NP: YOUTH is a collection of reminiscences, mostly from my late teenage years, so it’s very much autobiographical. Some of the songs are from that time, or at least were started back then, while with others, like ‘We Were Young’, I tried to capture the sweetness and heartache of young love from a less involved place. I mean, I think I could only really attempt that once I was over it and could see the loveliness of it all.

I would say the album is nostalgic and subjective but also abstract, in the way that memories often are. They say that when you remember something you’re only really remembering the last time you remembered it so things get pretty hazy as you get older. People go mad agonising over memories and things they could have done better, I know I have, and it really gets you nowhere. It all depends on how you look at your past. I don’t think you can move on until you forgive your own mistakes.

O: What is your songwriting process?

NP: I record a lot of ideas, I read a lot, I write down things I think of or hear or steal from poems and books and then sometimes, I’m not really sure how, a song comes out.

O: ‘Love’, the first track to be released from your upcoming EP of the same name seems a bit more stripped down than YOUTH. Why did you choose to take this more restrained route?

NP: The plan initially was to do a stripped back EP and then a fuller album. I like the way that sounds though so it might make the album cut… I guess stripped back suited that particular song. Also, we recorded that one the day before we launched the EP so I didn’t have the time to overthink it.

O: You recently supported Overhead, The Albatross who are considerably different in style to New Pope. How did your set go down?

NP: That was a strange one. It didn’t help that I was massively hungover. The room was full of silent attentive music fans who, I’m guessing, appreciate the more technical side of music. I can barely tune a guitar and I think that was evident but I sang my little soul out and left my heart on the stage. That translates across genres and taste. I’ll go out on a limb here and say they fucking loved it.

O: You also just played Electric Picnic. How were you received?

NP: We had a great show. We were on early on Friday but the sun broke through the clouds and hit us full in the face so it felt beautiful. It’s the little things.

O: What other gigs do you have on the horizon?

NP: We just played Hard Working Class Heroes, which was sweet, and next up were taking part in the TULCA festival of visual arts here in Galway. I’ve been asked to collaborate with the excellent British novelist Tony White. We’ll be sound-tracking a live reading by him and doing a show afterwards (Nov 11th, the Mechanics Institute). I’m very excited about this.

O: What are your goals for the next year New Pope wise?

I need to finish this LOVE album which, to keep pace with the horribly ambitious timeline I’ve set myself, needs to be out by the end of the year. Next year we’re planning a tour of the Netherlands and will be hitting up the UK for a few shows.

Another album, called HOME, is planned for 2017.

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