Nimble fingers, fast fingers, clicking fingers, Johnnie Fingers and even Sticky Fingers all have their place in rock‘n’roll folklore, but good old green fingers are under-represented. Kim Wilde’s gold-winning exploits at the Chelsea Flower Show followed her pop career, but gardening ability has never helped an act on the up, until now. Despite meeting in their Limerick hometown, Whenyoung – singing bassist Aoife Power, guitarist Niall Burns and drummer Andrew Flood – only formed when they moved to London where Power worked as a professional gardener.
“There were a lot of lovely gardens I worked in and a lot of interesting clients,” she explains, revealing that their now co-manager Mairead Nash (the former Queens Of Noize DJ, who previously managed Florence + The Machine) was the owner of one such botanical haven. “Through friends, Mairead was one of the freelance clients I took on. I started working for her, then she invited us to play a gig in her shop in Clapton [Lion Coffee + Records], and soon after she asked if she could manage us, so that was a good side of the gardening.”
It’s typical of Whenyoung’s whirlwind progress: the band played their first gig within two weeks of forming. “Those gigs were loud and fuzzy,” notes Power. “We were just figuring it all out like so many other bands, just they do it in private – we did it onstage!” Since releasing their debut single Actor last year on Nash’s Hate Hate Hate Records, the three-piece have signed to Virgin EMI and shared a stage in January with the likes of Nick Cave and Sinéad O’Connor at Shane MacGowan’s 60th birthday gig at the Irish National Concert Hall.
“It was a completely crazy night,” says Power. “I was talking to Bono – which sounds ridiculous when I say it out loud. I was saying it was overwhelming and I was nervous, and he was saying the nerves never go away, ‘focus on the music.’ He gave me some punk bands to listen to, which was interesting.”
However, with plans to release their Given Up EP on November 9, plus their own shows and support slots with The Vaccines and Blossoms this autumn, Whenyoung aren’t getting ahead of themselves. They are currently focusing on refining their buoyant, jangle-driven indie for their debut LP. “We’re working on an album right now, we started it in the last few weeks,” confirms the effervescent Power, adding that her green fingers are coming in handy yet again.
“Nature is really inspiring,” she explains. “You won’t hear a direct link, but gardening is like meditation for me. It’s very peaceful and it gives me a lot of inspiration for lyrics. Unfortunately, I’m not doing much gardening at the moment, I just have some herb pots at home.” Hopefully, when Whenyoung’s career – er – blooms, that will be the first thing to change. “That’s what I’m working towards,” Power laughs, “My own garden!”
By Paul Stokes