INTERVIEW: Greywind On Going Independent And New EP ‘Antidote’

When you think about the emo scene and Ireland, not a lot of bands spring to mind. Greywind, however, are a nostalgic emo band from Killarney – a small town located on the beautiful southwest shores of the country. “We’re the only emos that exist there…” vocalist Steph O’Sullivan tells us in a tone that’s equally sarcastic and oddly convincing.

Photo: Josiah Van Dien

Together with guitarist Paul O’Sullivan, the brother-sister duo originally formed the band in 2014. Releasing their debut album, ‘Afterthoughts’, in 2016 with little to no live experience under their belt, the band nevertheless took off with great success. Quickly signing to a major label, the duo later made a name for themselves with memorable performances at Reading and Leeds, Isle of Wight and Download Festival. 

However, if this is the first time you’re reading about them, it’s because for the last six years, they’ve been recovering from a stream of troublesome events. From buying back the rights to their debut album to picking themselves up after arbitrarily being dropped by a major label and regaining the confidence to face the industry after years of legal battles. It’s fair to say the last few years haven’t been the smoothest of rides for the band. Despite this, they’re back and ready to face it all – this time laughing in the face of those who doubted them.

Opening the wounds they were once afraid to face, Greywind are set to return with their highly-anticipated EP ‘Antidote’ on Friday 15 March. Mastered by Mike Kalajian (All Time Low, New Found Glory), and co-produced by Sam Guaiana (Neck Deep, Like Pacific), the EP tells the story of how the band transformed their pain and suffering into a liberating project. 

ROCK SOUND: Greywind has a unique, nostalgic emo-infused pop-punk sound. How do you pay ode to the original scene, whilst authentically being yourselves in 2024?

STEPH: “I think because of [the music] we grew up on, (My Chemical Romance, Taking Back Sunday, Jimmy Eat World). Those bands inspired us. We don’t look at what’s current or what’s going on. We just love that kind of music and take from our own experiences.”

PAUL: “Also, I think what makes us different is that we’re from the south of Ireland. There’s no emo scene there whatsoever. Dublin is four hours away from us on the train. We love bands like MCR, Thrice, and Explosions in the Sky, so we combine all our favourite elements of those and create something we feel is unique and different.”

RS: You have just released your brand new EP, ‘Antidote’. It’s your first project in six years and follows a long journey of healing. What message do you hope your fans take away from this new project?

STEPH: “I hope that they can hear that they helped us during that period. Our single ‘You’re My Medicine’ – that’s a love letter to our fans. I remember playing this venue years ago [The Grace, Islington] and having a panic attack before going on stage. [The audience] didn’t know what was going on, but they helped me through it by singing back to us.”

PAUL: “The main theme is surviving the darkest moments. Like Steph says, (and I’m sure every band says this), but you’re literally nothing without your fans. We’ve poured our hearts into this album as we’ve been through so many bad times with personal stuff with family members, suicide and industry-related things.”

RS: How did you find the process of transcending these feelings and emotions into songs?

PAUL: I’m a very positive person, but when it comes to songwriting, I just completely pour my heart out. I put myself in a really dark space of mind when I’m writing.”

RS: The EP was co-produced by Sam Guaiana (Neck Deep, Like Pacific) – what was it like to blend your creativity? Were you able to learn from one another?

STEPH: “He pushed us as songwriters. There were times when we would bring him demos and he would challenge us to write extra. Even if it was just one extra line, he wanted us to build the story more. That changed my outlook on things. He challenged us more vocally, he’s so good with ad-libs and backing vocals. He helped me live my Fall Out Boy fantasies. Before, I felt less like I could express that side of my voice. I’ve felt a lot more comfortable and free in the studio with him since.”

PAUL: “I think Steph said it perfectly, he made us tell the story of the songs even more lyrically. He pushed us to complete new lyrics. We loved the pressure he gave us, and within two minutes Steph and I came up with new ideas for ‘Swing and Sway’ and ‘Glimmer’. He pushed us to be better songwriters and we loved working with him.”

RS: You’ve mentioned that you’ve not had the easiest journey in the music industry and that your new EP touches on this gently. Can you tell us a bit about what happened?

PAUL: “Yeah. So, the day before our debut album was done; before it was released, or even mixed, we were told we were being dropped because we hadn’t made our major label enough money that year. We hadn’t even released any songs by that point…

Then our management at the time told us that they’d release it through their own label. Months passed by and we could see that they had switched off, they didn’t care about us anymore. We played our first couple of big shows including Reading and Leeds, but we never had an actual tour, even though we were so ready to go. Shortly after, we ended up being dropped by our management and agent.”

RS: That must’ve been hard. Fast forward to now – you’re are an independent act with full rights to your debut album, an incredible new EP on its way and a loyal fan base. How does all of this feel? 

STEPH: It’s amazing. It’s almost a weight off my shoulders. I still obviously have my days. At the start of this tour, I had a panic attack. I know I’m not perfect and that I’m always going to struggle. The difference is I know how to get out of that now. I’ve gone to therapy, I have medication – I know how to cope. Before it felt like being thrown into the wolves. It sounds bad, but I’m happy that happened. It was a good learning experience.”

PAUL: “Yeah, I wouldn’t change a thing.”

STEPH: “I feel our live shows are better now, I’m a better performer and I feel more confident in myself.”

PAUL: “With everything we went through, it doesn’t matter what an agent, a manager or a label thinks, it was our fans that saved us.”

RS: As a brother-sister project would you say that doing this band together has made you closer? Do you feel more connected with one another?

STEPH: “Yeah, even with the songwriting process. It’s so nice to be able to open up about mental health. There were times when I didn’t speak up about it, but I knew Paul knew what was wrong with me. Our song ‘Swing and Sway’ is about that. I was unable to get out of bed because I was so depressed. Paul was like, ‘I’m here for you when you’re ready to talk.’ I remember when he showed me that song for the first time, I was like: ‘Oh my god, this is about me’.”

PAUL: “We grew up loving the same movies and the same bands. We’ve always had that connection. Usually, songs are from the point of view of the person that’s hurting, I wanted that song to be from the other side. You’re watching someone you love struggle so much.

RS: You’ve just finished your UK tour and it’s been a total success, with three sold-out dates. What’s been the most memorable part of this tour?

STEPH: “Seeing people screaming the lyrics to our songs with their eyes closed. I love seeing people have their little moments.”

PAUL: “My favourite thing is meeting fans that have been with us since day one. That’s the crazy thing about being in a band. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, your music can reach millions of people. We haven’t even played 50 shows yet, but we’ve had fans fly out from the US, Ireland, Glasgow and more. Seeing our music and lyrics connect with so many people means so much to us. We used to do it ourselves. We used to get to two-cent flights to see bands like Jimmy Eat World and Taking Back Sunday years ago.”

RS: How would you compare the process of releasing your debut album to releasing ‘Antidote’?

STEPH: Worlds apart. I don’t even recognise myself on our debut album. When I look back at that person, I feel like I’m looking down at myself. Trying to get through those three weeks in Texas was such a difficult time. I’d ring my mum every day; she was so close to flying out. I remember saying to Paul and our producer at the time that I couldn’t front a band. I didn’t feel good enough. I also felt embarrassed because I didn’t want people to think I was ungrateful. This was all I wanted. That, compared to now and going over to LA with Sam and Casey [has been] so exciting and fun.”

PAUL: “I was so relaxed. All of these new songs were written before ‘Afterthoughts’ came out. ‘Swing and Say’, ‘Medicine’, ‘Glimmer’, ‘Deathwish’ and ‘Antidote’ were written in 2016. I knew we were sitting on insanely special songs, and even when all of those people dropped us, I stayed relaxed. I knew that when the time was right and we had the right team around us, we’d be fine, and the reaction has been insane so far. The teams we worked with previously didn’t get us.”

RS: Lastly, taking a backseat from all of the above, what are you excited about the most this year?

BOTH: “Touring.”

PAUL: “All we’ve ever wanted to do is play shows. As I said before, we haven’t even played 50 shows as a band yet, which is insane. So, getting to tour and play across places in the UK that we’ve never been to before is amazing. There’s so much we want to do. The US has always been our biggest dream and goal too. Getting to tour the world has always been our biggest dream and I think we’ll be doing some crazy things this year!”

‘Antidote’ is out now via Version III.

More like this