Tucked away in the cramper corner of a restaurant toilet, Julie Dawson candidly talks about her band’s journey so far, while ever so often, confused people walk in. They look around. See if a stall is open and disappear. Dawson stops for a bit whenever this happens. Sometimes, she loses her train of thought. Other times, she doesn’t budge and gets lost in the story of her first love, music.
A love that resulted in NewDad. The band was formed in 2017 during a music class. This way, they didn’t have to perform alone, instead, they’d be able to do it as a group. “It was good to have the moral support, I think for everyone, you know?” she quickly says about their first endeavour.
After their initial inception, they still had a few things to settle. Major decisions had to be made. Yet not all of them were done instantly. Some had to wait and were eventually done in a rather unconventional way. “So it was a random band name generator,” she bluntly says about how the name NewDad came about. The Irish group wanted to release music and figured they needed a signifier. Dawson smiles when explaining their rhetoric “Every band name is basically crap until you’re a successful band.”
However, it wasn’t until 2019 that they started to take it seriously and established their presence. Ever since then, they have been honing their craft and finding out what works for them.
NewDad started off in a nostalgic ’90s phase but quickly strayed away from that. Now Dawson defines it as “reminiscent of that old kind of music, but it’s definitely like a new retake.” With their debut album, ‘Madra’, they have gone down that exact route. It has a classic feel with innovative tendencies.
Although January 2024 is a long time since their initial inception, ‘Madra’ started being contextualised two years ago, when they first started writing for it. Many of the songs didn’t end up on the album. Half of the tracks were written in their native Galway, the rest in their new home of London. When they finally went to the legendary Rockfields, they recorded fifteen songs in about fifteen days, and only eleven of them made the cut.
Most of them have a dark undertone, but that’s just how Julie Dawson likes them. They are raw, convey what’s bothering her, and never shy away from uncomfortable topics. “It’s a really nice way to be able to process emotions or talks,” the 23-year-old singer explains, before delving into the comforting feeling that comes afterward, “You know, I’m feeling that, and it’s just, it’s very therapeutic. To get them out there.”
After mainly being a support act in the previous years, Dawson exclaims, “Yeah, I’m just really excited to get back and like, do our own shows.” Soon, they’ll be taking their vulnerable, authentic, and introspective music on the road. First, they hit up their beloved Galway, on December 1st, before embarking on the rest of their tour in February 2024.
‘Madra’ will be released on January 26th.
Words: Lauren deHollogne
Photography: Alice Backham