By Nicholas Jason Lopez
On June 19, 2020, London-based alternative rock act Liam Naughton & The Educators released their most recent EP ‘Cut On A Cut,’ carried on the strength of singles “Promise Cross Your Heart” and “Party Words.”
The three-piece band’s melodic grungy side serves as a callback to Naughton’s influences of The Beatles, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana and Radiohead.
After he heard Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” in the background at work, he decided to finally learn the guitar and become a songwriter at age 30 and moved from Ireland to Perth, Western Australia to focus on his new life in isolation.
The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with Naughton about what they’ve been up to lately and more.
Music Bugle – How would you describe Kilmallock, Ireland to someone who has never been there before?
Liam Naughton – I’ve lived in Perth, Australia for 17 years now, but where I grew up is a town called Kilmallock in South County Limerick in Ireland and it’s the town I love so well. There’s a real disarming when I go home for a trip, ’cause people there have seen me running around in my nappies. It’s a small town. Google lists it as having 1806 people. They last updated that from 1807, when I left for Oz! (Laughs) Kilmallock is sistered with a town in The Lebanon called The Balbec. Why? ‘Cause The Balbec has all these amazing old ruins – The Abbey Monastery, 12th century, The old church from round about from the same time, the old town walls – it was a garrison town from old – and two old town castle gates. It’s like stepping back in time, really picturesque and full of characters, so get your tourist money out and give it a visit.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about alternative rock?
Liam Naughton – It’s kind of a hard genre to define. Hey, I mean if you look up great alternative bands, you’ll find Nirvana and Coldplay on the same list. WTF? I’m a bit confused by what the alternative genre really means, to be honest. I get excited by anything that’s good. I’ve got two categories for most things, not just music and it boils down to this – if it’s good, then it’s good and if its shit, it’s shit. I like to keep things simple, mate.
Music Bugle – What was it like making “Promise Cross Your Heart”?
Liam Naughton – I remember writing “Promise Cross Your Heart” and I had the idea of remembering myself in my youth when I was just a little kid and the dreams I had about what I was going to be in this life. When we’re young, we have these really pure and innocent ideas about what we want to be and you have no shame about saying it either. Ya know, if you want to be a great sportsperson, a scientist, an astronaut, whatever – and it’s about keeping those promises, not losing sight of them and turning them into a reality. That’s what all the most successful people have done, I reckon. They stayed the course, worked hard and got what they wanted out of life, so, “Say you’re going to be them, man you say you want to be, promise cross your heart,” so be a man, kick all the bullshit out of the way and follow through on it!
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Liam Naughton – Oh, I had great plans for 2020. 2020 was going to be my year. I could feel it. What could possibly go wrong? I’d taken a year off my day job to go to London and do all these awesome things, meet all these great musicians and live the life I always wanted, even if it was just for a year. Who knows? Something could come out of it. I’m on the board! I’d get a record out and I had all these shows lined up in Ireland and the U.K.. “It’s happening, it’s really happening,” I thought. “No, it’s not, Liam, sucka…” Boom! COVID-19 hit the shelves before we did. Once-in-a-hundred-years event and it just so happened that’s the year I chose. In there lies a cruel irony, but fuck it, my plans aren’t the only plans that got binned in 2020. Still got my health. George, who drummed on ‘Cut On A Cut,’ was struck down by it, had to go to the hospital and everything, but he got through it and he’s a young dude. Serious stuff, mate, so with the music scene grinding to a halt and I held out hope for as long as I could, but the writing was on the wall. As much as I didn’t care to read it at first, after a while, there was no denying it. Five weeks sitting in my room, drinking myself to death, I had no choice. I had to bail on that idea, grab my parachute and head back to Australia. What a strange time, eh? We finished off the record with an international collaboration between Australia and London, so the trip wasn’t a dead loss.
Music Bugle – What has been the most productive thing you’ve done while in quarantine?
Liam Naughton – When I got back to Australia, I had to go into two weeks hotel quarantine, which was good, ’cause it gave me a bit of time to reorganize myself. I walked out into the Perth lockdown. That was May, so I had a bit of time on my hands and the ‘Cut On A Cut’ release date was June 19. I didn’t have any videos done for the release at that stage and it was impossible to organize groups of people to put anything together, so I bought a new laptop, ’cause the one I had was shit. I downloaded some video editing software, went to IKEA and bought 20 finger puppets and put them to work, making the video for “Party Words.” Puppets, mate, they’re great to work with. They do exactly as they’re told. It took a bit of time, but I think it worked really well. It’s B-grade, but that’s part of its charm. I also cut a pretty simple lyric video for “Promise Cross Your Heart.”
Music Bugle – If you had the chance to go back to this past New Year’s Eve, what would you tell yourself about 2020?
Liam Naughton – 2020… hindsight is 20/20 vision. Hey, I was on Koh Jum island in Thailand on New Year’s Eve – fucking should have stayed there, mate! (Laughs)
Music Bugle – What do you miss the most about performing in front of a live audience?
Liam Naughton – Well, it’s a real buzz, ya know. Playing live and showing your wears to the world, putting yourself on the spot and bringing your goods to the market. With all the crap that goes on, all the bad news from around the world, when people go to a gig, it’s like going to the movies, eh. Just a few hours of getting away from reality and forgetting about all the hoops life makes you jump through. There’s always a lot of love and positive vibes at gigs and music festivals. People are actually nice to each other, so that vibe is what I miss the most, mate.
Music Bugle – What has been your biggest memory involving music?
Liam Naughton – We toured Western Australia one time and were pinned in to play at The Nannup Music Festival. We had a last minute fill-in bass player for that gig and nobody really knew too much about him. Bit of a risk, but we were desperate. It was the last day of the festival and we were all celebrating and very fucking pissed. My tuner had also crapped out on me that morning, so I bought a new one and wasn’t really paying too much attention when I bought it. Should have read the label. The show started and we sounded like shit. What the fuck, it was my guitar. Turned out the tuner I bought was for a trumpet and that’s why it wasn’t sitting properly on the guitar neck, so my tuning was all over the place. Anyway, I borrowed this bass dude’s tuner, got sorted and we started again. The crowd were getting a bit agro at this stage. What else could go wrong? Next minute, the cops turned up and stopped the show, ’cause this fill-in bass dude hadn’t paid a whole heap of fines and turned out he was on an arrest warrant. Yeah, that was a bit of a disaster.
Music Bugle – What was the hardest song to write or compose for the ‘Cut On A Cut’ EP?
Liam Naughton – “Bipolar” is about how a sufferer of mental health reflects on their situation. It took a lot of maneuvering to make sure the words didn’t get bogged down and drown the ideas behind them. It was sculpted like that in a way. I took great care with it. A lot of patience was needed, but with all the songs released so far, I’ve really focused on the lyrics and how they’re phrased to make sure the songs have enough air to breathe. That’s how I write. The new, unreleased songs have the same approach.
Music Bugle – What do you feel is the biggest obstacle that you have overcome?
Liam Naughton – The mind is a battlefield, mate. It really is. Yeah, the only obstacle to me in this life is myself. It’s easier to sit on the couch, stagnate and let your life go by you, but knowing when I look back down the line, I’d never be happy with myself if I thought I didn’t make a good go of things and be the man I said I was going to be in “Promise Cross Your Heart”! (Laughs)