ALFIE Hudson-Taylor speaks with such youthful enthusiasm, littering his sentences with wide eyed pronouncements - ‘amazing’ and ‘unbelievable’ feature most - that you can’t help but be almost swept away by his energy.
The Dublin sibling duo - Alfie is just 21, his brother Harry a year older - have perfected a line in breezy, beguiling folk-pop that saw their debut, Singing for Strangers, picked up for release by Polydor, slotting immediately into the top three in the Irish charts.
Hudson-Taylor - the name was a no brainer - have already made an impact in the UK also in their fledging career, playing Glastonbury, T In The Park, supporting Jake Bugg on an arena tour and the Rolling Stones at Hyde Park, yes you read that right. Not bad for a pair of young Irish lads!
You’ll have heard Chasing Rubies on the radio - This is not deja vu, I’ve never met somebody like you - while singles Battles, Weapons and Care have also had significant airplay. Meanwhile World Without You is a genuine acoustic treat, and shows the duo as having some longevity in a crowded marketplace.
Having amassed a huge underground following and released a number of EPs in 2012 and 2013, the 18 track monster of an album was much anticipated on its release this year. Alfie explains the duo didn’t want to release it until they were “really happy with it, we didn’t want to take any shortcuts”.
“We have done a lot of gigging since then, playing live in front of people, and that is what we wanted to capture,” he says. “We really buzz off an audience. So we basically just tried to capture that sort of energy that we feel when we are playing live. We just wanted to make sure that we were happy with it, that is why it took so long - you want to be able to listen to it in ten years’ time.”
The title is a subtle nod to their beginnings in music.
“When we picked up guitars for the first time and started playing, it was singing for strangers - a couple of people on a beach when we were on holiday who asked us to play a few tunes,” he explains. “They asked us to put our songs up on You Tube and we started going busking and we just got a real buzz off it. I suppose singing into a camera, putting it up online, that is singing for strangers, as is busking, so it is all inspired by that.”
He says the duo are constantly asked about the dynamic between them but being brothers in a band is “extremely beneficial”, helped by the fact that Alfie was schooled in Dublin and Harry in Mullingar.
“We get asked the question a lot ‘do ye fight’ and that kind of stuff, and it is really quite the opposite, we get along really well and I suppose we play to our strengths,” he says.
“We weren’t in each other’s hair growing up, we both needed each other to get a bit of pocket money, so from very early on, we were sort of used to working with each other,” he smiles.
“When it comes to songwriting, because we know each other so well, we are both able to share stories or share painful stuff or be able to write about it and do all of that together. We sort of like act as one voice and something special happens in the room when we are both jamming - it doesn’t happen all the time, but some songs.”
One wonders briefly what “painful stuff” such a youthful duo could have experienced, but Alfie quickly adds of the first song they wrote together, Place I Call Home: “Our parents divorced in 2004 and we had to move family home, and we were teenagers and hurt by it I suppose, so we wrote a song and it was a nice way to get it off our chests, a nice way to talk about it, without it being awkward.
“Harry and I really bonded over writing the song, and getting that message out and we are so happy it got on the album.”
Clearly the duo are not afraid of pouring sentiment into their lyrics, as evidenced by the album, which runs a gamut of emotions, with Simon and Garfunkel a clear touchstone for them.
“We have to get up and sing the songs every night. So, I think if it is not personal to us, it is not as fun, we don’t really enjoy it as much. If you don’t write from the heart or write about things that mean something to you, I think you have less of a chance of someone else taking something from it.”
Hudson Taylor return to Limerick for a gig in the Big Top having sold out Dolan’s Warehouse earlier this year. Alfie says he “can’t wait to play there - the Big Top is crazy, absolutely crazy, I can’t really believe it is all happening, I just can’t wait for it”.
“The reception has been absolutely amazing, has totally surpassed our expectations - it is just crazy,” he adds with a laugh. There’s that youthful enthusiasm. Expect more of it on Sunday!
Hudson Taylor play the Big Top on Sunday, with support from Little Hours. Doors at 7pm.