Wexford-native, pop rock band 5 Dollar Shakes chat to Adam Lawler about the search for musical identity and the hard work needed to succeed in the Irish industry.

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WHEN OTwo finally gets to sit down with 5 Dollar Shakes, the lads are fresh off the stage after performing during UCD’s Orientation Week festivities. Bottles of mojito lemonade in hand, they’re still buzzing after being so well received by the mob of enthusiastic freshers who have once again descended on campus this year. Since forming in 2012, the Wexford quintet have built a reputation for catchy tunes and raucous gigs brimming with presence, bolstered by front man Jack McEvoy’s Iggy Pop-esque flailing. “He’s like the cherry on top,” the others wryly agree.

With camaraderie and constant slagging, it’s obvious the lads have known each other a while. Having met in school and describing themselves as “now acquaintances, not friends anymore”, it’s clear that this chemistry helps them deal with an oftentimes challenging and unforgiving Irish music scene. “You can pour your heart out to a group of people — play until your fingers bleed, be unbelievable, and they’ll still be like ‘eh’.” explains McEvoy. “You can get easily frustrated by that.” Their advice to new bands? Keep grafting:

“The key is whether you play for a thousand people or five, the energy should still be there.”

As with all promising acts, changes and developments have started to take place within the band. While their last EP, Come And See Enough To Stay, contained a kaleidoscope of influences from indie-pop to 80s rock, their sound is beginning to find a new consistency. “We find that as we’re writing, more and more the songs are starting to suit us,” says Deering. “I guess we’re finding more of an identity,” adds Caleb Dowdall, rhythm guitar. McEvoy pipes in, jokingly:

“If the music gods were like ‘Sorry, could we see some ID?’ we’d be like, ‘there you go,’ and we’d get in.”

The band may refer to themselves as “vets”, but they’re refreshingly positive. “We’ve been at this for years and we still have to fight for a lot of our gigs. I remember we played the Gorey Markethouse Festival and U2 actually played there when they were starting out, and they were booed off stage!” As 5 Dollar Shakes well know, it’s the one ecstatic cheer, much like what they’ve received today, that makes the occasional boos worthwhile.