The Drogheda Pop-Punk Trio Rowdy Outsider Discuss The Resurrgance of Pop-Punk, Their Upcoming EP, and Wanting to Support Sum 41 at Their Final Irish Show

In recent years, the once divisive genre of late-‘90s-to-mid-2000s pop-punk has been gaining a revaluation of the music, a revitalisation of past acts, and a birth of new acts influenced by that era.

One of these is Rowdy Outsider, a three-piece band from Drogheda, Co. Louth comprised of Matthew Doyle on guitar and vocals, Conor Whearty on bass, and Sean Murtagh on drums.

In a few weeks, the band will release their debut EP, Different Heart to Break, and tomorrow night they will perform at Dublin’s Sound House, supporting local fourpiece, Sick Love.

Last week, Matthew took some time out of his day to talk with Post-Burnout about the resurgence of pop-punk, the formation of Rowdy Outsider, the Drogheda music scene, their dream of opening for Sum 41’s final Irish show, and much more.


Matthew, it’s very nice to meet you, man. The first thing I was going to ask you, quite simply, was how did Rowdy Outsider begin? What was the impetus of the project?

We were all friends in school. So, it’s a common one; all friends in secondary school. I met Sean, and he was a drummer. I was a guitar player and I like to think of myself as a singer, and, yeah, we started playing together, I think, in 2012. And then our now-bassist, Conor, he caught wind of what we were doing and, overnight it seemed, he was like, “I’m going to fuckin’ do this!”

[Laughs] That makes it sound like you were doing something you weren’t meant to be doing! “He caught wind…”!

[Laughs] Yeah, exactly!

“I heard through the grapevine what you guys were doing!”

Yeah, exactly! And he came to rehearsal and he did something wild – I don’t know how he did it on guitar – but he started a tapping solo, and we were like, “Ah, yeah. You’re in the band.” And that was it! So, yeah, we were a kid band from, like, 2012 to late 2014. And 20-, I think, -18, we started getting a bit more serious as Rowdy Outsider.

How has the music changed in that time, because that’s, obviously, such a big jump? I think it’s interesting that the music is very evocative of pop-punk music, which was huge in the 2000s. Was the stuff you were doing in the early 2010s the style of music you were doing now, or has it changed, has it differed?

It’s funny. When we were kids, we were doing lots of pop-punk covers; that’s all we would do. But, I mean, back in the early 2010s, no one was really listening to that type of music anymore; it had kind of died out. And then, somehow in the last couple of years, we found ourselves like, “Oh, everybody’s listening to pop-punk now!”, and it was great for us. Like, we kind of took a few years to figure out that, “Oh, people are actually listening to pop-punk;” we were still kind of doing, like, weird kind of…Like, every kid band does rock music – quote-unquote, “rock music” – and then, like, in the last couple of years we figured out, “Oh, pop-punk is actually what we listen to and want to play.” So, yeah, it took us a little while to figure that out.

What would it have been? I guess, like, “Everlong” and “Master of Puppets” and that kind of stuff, like? [Laughs]

Yeah, man! [Laughs] It’s just like, “When I Come Around,” over and over again! [Both laugh]Those kind of songs!

Well, that’s a rite of passage, man. I mean, everyone has to go through that stage.

Man, we got booked as a Green Day cover band, only a couple of weeks ago, and we did it for fun, just for Paddy’s Day, and we did, like, an hour set of just Green Day covers. It was like being kids again. It was great.

You should have just done their 2010 releases only. [Laughs]

[Laughs] Oh, man!

[Laughs] Everyone would’ve loved that!

We opened the gig with “American Idiot,” and the guy running the gig was like, “Are you going to do any older stuff? Make sure you do some older stuff.” We were like, “Ah, yeah! Don’t worry!”

Yeah, man! That’s an interesting trajectory, just in terms of putting stuff on hiatus. Were you playing in other bands during that hiatus, or were you…? Like, what were you doing in the intermedium between the band’s initial formation and what it is now?

Eh, I didn’t play with anybody else; I’ve only ever really played with these two guys.


Loyalty, exactly! Our drummer, Sean, he was much more into jamming with people and just seeing what would happen, but myself and Conor never did. And we finished, maybe, 2015, playing as kids, and then, as I said, 2018 we got back together and it became this, so…

Yeah, and in Drogheda, what was it like, in terms of getting gigs when you were underage? I mean, could you play shows or was everything just over 18s?

No; most of what we played was kind of summer festival/arts festival-type things. There was a youth café here…or there is a youth café still here, and it was those kinds of gigs – small gigs, no bars or pubs or anything like that.

I think that’s kind of cool, though, in a way, because it kind of forces you to be resourceful and punk rock, D.I.Y.         It reminds me of the original punk ethos of trying to set up gigs in skate parks or community centres and stuff like that, and just trying to find any place that would put on a show that could host gigs. It’s kind of a weird necessity that’s still around, you know?

Yeah, that’s exactly it. Like, drumkits…I mean, the room that we used to do it in, there was just a terrible drumkit there, no PA system or anything. It was just, like, a microphone into a guitar amp, and it was cool, looking back.

Yeah, and, in general, how do you find what you’re doing is different from the Drogheda music scene? Do you find there is a place for the sort of [pop-]punk kind of music that you guys are doing, or do you have to find gigs out of town? How does that work?

Right now, there’s a real underground punk scene going on in Drogheda. There’s a venue, here – in McHugh’s, it’s a venue – and they’re doing, like…It’s a really D.I.Y…it’s almost too D.I.Y. for, like…We still think of ourselves as a punk band, but the bands there are a couple of years younger than us, and they’re coming up and it’s just straight punk. Like, really D.I.Y., California-type that you see in the documentaries, and it’s cool. So, we’re kind of floating between that and the more contemporary…or more traditional pop music in Dublin, so…It’s kind of pop-punk. [Laughs] That’s exactly what it is!

Do you find now… – because you were talking about the resurgence of pop-punk – I was noticing, too, that there’s bands like Speakers and Anie Valentine, and these kind of acts are revitalising it. Do you think, eh…Because I remember when I was a punker in my teenage years, “pop-punk” was just synonymous with “bad.” It was kind of a derogatory term, almost, if you got called pop-punk.

Yeah, yeah.

Where, now, I think a lot of re-evaluation has been had and people are finding an appreciation of it. In fact, you even see artists – even, like, mainstream pop artists – utilising pop-punk, now. Like, Olivia Rodrigo, for example…

Yeah, yeah, yeah!

…was playing the 3Arena yesterday, and she massively incorporates it and stuff like that. What do you think of the revaluation of pop-punk, and do you see this as an expansion beyond the traditional punk scene that we have here, in Ireland? Do you find it can be its own thing, is what I’m trying to say?

Yeah, I think the whole labelling of genres is kind of out the window now, anyway. So, I think that kind of takes precedence over it all. Yeah, it’s hard to kind of label music. And I think live music, anyway, is kind of…We always say in the band that all live music is rock music. You know, everybody has a drummer, everybody has a guitar somewhere. So, yeah, I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be pop-punk, anymore, and it is in the mainstream now.

I notice you guys do a lot of shows up here, in Dublin. I was wondering, how do you find the Dublin music scene? Is it accommodating or is it kind of exclusionary? How do you find playing up here and doing shows up here?

Eh, it’s a bit of both, I think, for us, out of Drogheda. It’s hard to find people that will kind of get back to you, and get on gigs, and even knowing where to go to get gigs. But, recently, we’ve been working with Outkastz – they’re like a pop-punk night – and they’re the best promoter we’ve ever dealt with, and it’s good that it’s a pop-punk/emo night. So, they’ve been great. But, I mean, I think it’s a great thing for…I think everyone from around Ireland needs to get to Dublin to play gigs, anyway. You see a lot of bands coming up from Cork and Galway, and they make their way over, and, yeah, I don’t think it’s too hard.

One thing I think is really cool, actually, is that I do think music scenes domestically are kind of exploding. You mentioned McHugh’s there, in Drogheda. Drogheda is really big now. I’m trying to think, what was that other venue…? There’s that other famous venue in Drogheda. I can’t think of the name of it, do you know what I’m talking about?

Drogheda? There’s a few. There’s Odd Mollies, I think you might be thinking of, no?

Maybe. I’m trying to think. I don’t know. [Editor’s Note: It was The TLT that I was thinking of] But, I have seen Drogheda on a lot of tour posters lately, and, obviously, the bigger cities, like Limerick and Cork, are exploding, too. But just everywhere seems…like, everywhere is being explored more, and I think that’s really cool. Would you be interested in doing a national tour? Or even just knowing that you have the venues and the audience to be able to do a national tour.

Yeah, that’s the dream. That’s, like, the next kind of…We’re trying to think in baby steps, but that’s the next thing. We were getting worried, like, after COVID, if there was going to be still venues that could, but it definitely seems to be kicking off now, properly, and it’s growing. But that is the next goal, is to be able to have people in each corner that we could go and even do a weekend thing – like, every weekend – and go around. So, yeah, I think we’re getting there! But still another few months to go, I think. A few song releases!

Speaking of which, you have an EP coming up, Different Heart to Break. At the moment, I just saw it scheduled for springtime, which we’re in now. I was wondering, is spring still the deadline or have you extended it to summer, or how is the release of that looking, at the moment?

It’s going to be on the…I think, on the 29th of May. I think that’s the date it’s going to be. We got the art…we were waiting for the artwork to come back; we were being a little bit particular with it. That was the only thing holding it up. So, we have all the songs there, and they’re ready to go, and we’ve got a really cool cover for it now, so that’s the main thing. But, yeah, I think by the end of May or maybe the first week in June, depending on how it goes. We’re going to get everything ready now, this weekend, and get it going.

I think of the songs you’ve released so far, there’s already such a display of versatility within the genre that you guys are doing. How does the EP differ from what we’ve heard so far, how many of the songs that have been released as singles are going to be on it, and how many tracks are on the EP in general?

Yeah, the singles that have come out are a little bit more…a little bit faster, a little bit punkier. Like, a song like “2 DEAD CATS or “When You’re Gone,” they’re, like, fast, pop-punk songs…

“2 DEAD CATS,”  in particular. [Both laugh]

I don’t know if I’d call that a pop-punk song! But, yeah, they’re like the fast pop-punk songs. And the other songs that are going to be on EP… – it’s going to be a six-song EP -and the other songs that are on it are a little bit more…what’s the word? The more anthems, the more kind of ballad-y songs, a bit more 30 Seconds to Mars/Angels & Airwaves-type songs.

Perfect, man. I guess one other thing I wanted to ask, I think a huge component of the sort of music that you’re doing is based on the production and the mixing of the songs, to try and really get that kind of Warped Tour kind of style of music that you guys are going for. I was wondering, who do you work with as a producer and mixer to create that sound?

I actually…we do all the recording and mixing, myself. So, it’s been a long process to get where I am now, but it’s all done [Points to the headphones he’s wearing] right here, on these headphones, so…[Laughs]

Who were you inspired by, in terms of production, to emulate? And how did you find actually hitting that sound? Did you find it difficult or was it easy enough?

No, it’s been years of just trying to figure it out, and figuring out how to record drums, and how to mix drums properly, and how to have excitement in it. Like, I’m a huge Green Day fan, so all the Chris Lord-Alge mixes are great. The new Sum 41 album that was mixed by Deryck Whibley, who’s in the band, he’s the singer, and that’s just a great reference of what I like to hear. So, I try to emulate those kinds of albums, like American Idiot. Andrew Scheps, he was Red Hot Chili Peppers[‘ mixer]. He did a few Foo Fighters [albums], I think, as well. And, yeah, those kind of big, stadium rock things are what I try and go for. But, yeah, I’m pretty happy with how the EP came out, and all the songs go out and are mastered by Peter Montgomery – he’s down in Athlone, I think – and he just puts the finishing polish on it all, and he just takes it to a new level when I get them back.

Actually, it’s interesting that you mentioned Deryck, because I remember watching him break down the track for I think it was “Still Waiting.”


He was kind of showing the production track – it’s on YouTube – and I remember thinking “Oh, my God!” Like, how layered everything was. Because, obviously, a band like Sum 41 were taking a lot of metal inspiration, too, and adding it to the sound.


I was wondering, do you find the versions of that… – like, Sum 41, for example, adding the metal inspirations into their music – do you find inspiration in that, in terms of being like, “OK, we could add, for example, an electro element,” or “We could add, I don’t know, a jazz element” or whatever? There’s a lot of versatility that can be done within the genre, you know?

Yeah. I mean, that kind of Sum 41 thing of bringing metal into pop-punk music is really interesting, because if you start mixing… – I think that’s the key – if you start mixing pop-punk like you mix metal, you get this poppy, really impactful rock song, you know? Like, some of the more traditional mixers…Like, the new Green Day album [Saviors], it’s not super modern sounding; it’s quite dynamic. But then, if you go to the new Sum 41 album [Heaven :x: Hell], it’s like everything is pumping, everything is a little bit more bright, everything is a bit more in-your-face, and that’s kind of what I like. So, I think that finding a good balance there is the key.

Yeah. I guess one final thing I’ll ask is, obviously Sum 41 have their final [Irish] date coming up. Are you going to throw a demo on stage or [Laughs] anything like that?

Oh, man! We were trying! We’ve sent a few emails to MCD! We’ve tried to get some contacts in there. We were like, “We’d be the perfect local act! Like, three o’clock in the day! Like, put us on!” But, yeah, two of us have Golden Circle [tickets] for Green Day, so we’re going to get some USBs and throw them up there and see if they’ll get us up, you know?

Perfect, man. I guess the final thing – final, final thing – I’ll ask is, is there anything… – obviously, you have the EP coming up –  is there anything you’d like to plug, in terms of gigs or anything else?

Eh, next week, actually…I don’t know when this is coming out…

I can get it out for then, yeah.

Yeah, next Thursday [Editor’s Note: This interview was recorded last week. The show is on tomorrow] we’re opening for Sick Love in The Sound House, so it’s a great gig. It’s our first gig with MCD promoting it, so we’re really excited for that. And, yeah, I think that’s the main thing. The EP is going to be coming out, we have this idea for a nu-metal song for the WWE that we’re going to try and do [Both laugh], so we have the hook there, so, yeah, interesting summer coming up, I think!

Man, that’s your in! So, MCD is promoting that show? You just go, “[Clears throat, then through gritted teeth]  Where’s the, eh…Where’s the promoter?” [Laughs]

Exactly, exactly! “Who’s the Sum 41 guy?”

“Are you doing Sum 41?” [Both laugh] Or just keep saying that thing, “Oh, man. Wouldn’t we be great for Sum 41?” after every song?

Yeah! “I was so sure that we’d get in that I didn’t buy a ticket for it, yet!” So…

Thanks very much for your time, man. Is there anything you’d like to add before we wrap up, or…?

No. I’m all good, I’m all good.

Rowdy Outsider’s debut EP, Different Heart to Break, will be released soon. The band will perform at The Sound House in Dublin, supporting Sick Love, tomorrow night. Tickets for that show can be purchased from The Sound House’s website.  Keep up to date with Rowdy Outsider’s music, social media accounts and live dates here.

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