Ashley Stewart Herald Writer
Aquafest has long served as a stage for emerging local musicians.
But this year, it’s importing its headlining band.
They’ve played at some of America’s best venues — the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., The Fillmore in San Francisco and various Houses of Blues — and now The Voodoos, just coming off a summer tour with Queensryche, will perform a free three-hour set on a waterfront stage at the Lake Stevens festival.
Since the five Irish boys first came together three years ago, they’ve had a speedy ascent.
“It’s all been nonstop, but we don’t mind,” frontman Mark Daly said. “We move fast.”
The band’s three original members, Daly, guitarist Nick Greatrex and bassist Mick Bogan, were later joined by two brothers, drummer Fionn and guitarist Oisin Hennessy-Hayes. The started performing mostly for tourists in Spain, where they moved with their families as teenagers.
Within six months, they were being carted off to London to record a demo with Radiohead producer Ian Davenport.
Within a year, they were booking flights for their first U.S. tour after Queensryche manager Susan Tate spotted their performance at a small Irish bar and, over a pint of Guinness, asked The Voodoos to open for the multi-platinum band’s upcoming tour.
It was a little of the “luck of the Irish,” as Daly said, that has brought The Voodoos this far, but a little more commitment.
The people they knew were musicians only on the weekends; The Voodoos were full time. They didn’t work outside the band and were ready to go wherever, whenever, Daly said.
That’s why when Radiohead manager Brian Message spotted The Voodoos at a gig in Spain, band members could pick up and leave for London.
Fionn Hennessy-Hayes was a senior in high school when they got that break. He had to rally his band members to persuade his mother to let him leave school.
And it paid off.
The band has since toured twice with Queensryche, emerged from 450 competing bands to become one of three openers for Snow Patrol at the 2011 MTV European Music Awards and shared stages with Buckcherry, Hinder, Hellyeah and others.
They’ve met with a few labels and had some help along the way, but for now, The Voodoos are on their own. They like the creative control.
“We really want to build something for ourselves before we take on a label,” Bogan said.
“Yeah, we’re stubborn guys and it’s a good feeling doing it on your own,” Daly said.
“An expensive, good feeling,” Bogan said.
And with that control, they forged their debut album their way — 12 tracks written throughout a year of touring and recorded in just four days.
“We wanted that raw, real kind of sound,” Daly said.
For Aquafest, they’ll play songs from the album, which Daly calls “a bit of old and new; a mix of old school rock and something modern,” and some cover songs from Irish bands like U2.
“So hopefully everybody rocks out in Lake Stevens,” Daly said.
The Voodoos will perform at 7 p.m. Saturday on the festival stage until the fireworks show begins at 10 p.m.
Ashley Stewart: 425-339-3037; firstname.lastname@example.org.