Size2Shoes on a mission to create inspirational pop

Size2Shoes play Kelly’s Bar, Bridge Street this Saturday as part of the Spirit Of Voice Festival. The Limerick band is made up of brothers Eoin and Moley Ó Súilleabháin, sons of esteemed musicians Dr Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin and Dr Nóirín Ní Riain.

Eoin and Moley’s impressive vocal harmonies have been charming audiences nationwide, but they’re not the product of a musical hothouse.

“You think we would’ve been singing together, like thrown together, from an early age but it was kind of the opposite,” says Moley. “Both our parents are musicians but they never really put much pressure on us. We sailed through our early teens because we were too cool for each other, and we didn’t play together.”

Around eight years ago Moley and Eoin began playing together regularly and they have worked on their sound since, as well as changing their name.

“We were called Súilí and The Mole Man, which is kind of like Hooty and The Blowfish but we changed it because that was too long,” Moley explains.

“We changed to Size2Shoes because I met this bird in college. She was my own age 21, 22 and she had size two shoes.“Basically, I wrote a song about it. It’s a love song I suppose. We like to write love songs without mentioning he or she, to try and keep it open.”

Moley and Eoin have invented a specific term to describe their type of music.“We try to write ‘inspirational pop’,” says Moley. “When you listen to a lot of acoustic music it’s quite slow and it’s not very happy. With the Irish singer/songwriter scene, I’d find anyway, there’s a kind of downtrodden-ness.”

Moley has a very clear mission when it comes to writing and performing, and he’s determined to shake up his chosen genre.

“I wanted to get into acoustic music just to be upbeat and happy,” he states.

“I suppose I must be a happy person because I don’t want to write songs that aren’t there to make you feel good, to make you feel an emotion other than stillness or sadness. Something that’ll make you smile, basically.”

A Size2Shoes live show is an entertaining trip through many different styles, held together by the Ó Súilleabháin brothers’ precise harmonies.

“We genre hop a lot,” says Moley. “We kind of do a rock tune and we kind of do a jazz tune and I do some beat box and rap. The inspirational thing would spill over in that we’re there to entertain, we’ll play anything really.

“We try to make it as funny as possible,” he continues. “We did one or two stand-up gigs which did make us better. We do some kids’ gigs as well, we find them very good; comedy and kids, gigs – if you don’t keep people entertained they’ll get up and walk out.”

In concert Moley frequently shows his skill at ‘beatboxing’ – where a performer recreates the sound of a turntable with his voice.

“We’ve got a song called Temper, Temper; in the middle of that, when we do it live we drop in R. Kelly’s Remix to Ignition,” he says. “The first song on our current album, Take it Easy, that really drops in well with Sadé’s Smooth Operator. Our approach to writing would be tongue-in-cheek, trying to keep it fairly happy.”

Moley is also a huge fan of rap music and will also use his own MC skills at a gig.“I got into gangster rap at boarding school,” he recalls. “Which is kind of unusual, because I never thought I’d get into electronic music; I was into acoustic music. But no, now I’m just a big hip-hop and techno head.”

Acoustic music spliced with R&B and hip-hop by two guys from Limerick is as unusual as it sounds, but Moley is happy with the reception Size2Shoes are getting.

“The reaction we’ve had has been pretty ridiculous!” he laughs.“People aren’t expecting what they hear when they see us get up there with two guitars. What people have seen [before] is just a different style. A lot of singer/songwriters or groups, they seem to not know what they want to achieve. All we want to do is put a smile on people’s faces and keep a smile on ours. A lot of other groups, smiling wouldn’t even come into it. Ours is good old fashioned entertainment.”Size2Shoes have found a celebrity admirer in the shape of Russell Crowe who has called the Eoin and Moley ‘unaffected and awesome’. How did the lads get the attention of the A-list actor?

“That story’s got legs man, it’s crazy!” says Moley. “[Limerick actor] Richard Harris was in Gladiator with Russell. Apparently, Richard Harris was pretty fond of the booze and Russell would be pretty much the same. They used to get on like a house on fire.

“There was a statue being unveiled in Kilkee in 2006. I don’t know who made the hook up to get Russell over but he arrived with his personal assistant and a friend who played guitar. Someone had it set up that Russell would sing a song he had called Mr Harris. It’s on his album. We got the call from the Kilkee Town Council to come down and be the band with Russell, to sing the song on the back of a truck.”

Rather than playing the song and leaving, Crowe hung on and ended up hitting the town with Eoin and Moley. The unlikely hook-up has presented the lads with a unique recording opportunity.“I think he took a shine to us,” says Moley. “He’s filming Robin Hood in London and we’ve been over to visit him. He’s a really cool guy; he invited us to record our second album in Australia, on his ranch.

“We’re really excited about that. It’s pretty epic; it’s just as random as it sounds!”Hollywood hobnobbing aside, Size2Shoes are focused on putting on the best show possible for punters.

“We both talk about this quite a bit,” Moley says. “We want people to leave feeling happy, uplifted – uplifted by the music, and also by the virtuosity of it. But it’s not a gimmicks show. A Size2Shoes show is pretty wacky; it does stretch a lot of things.”

Size2Shoes support Linton Kwesi Johnson in Kelly’s Bar this Saturday, November 7. Tickets €15/10 in advance.

They also headline the Róisín Dubh on Friday, November 20.