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"Despite Irish roots, Seneca nurtures its Denver ties"

When Rob Hope isn't on the road, he hangs his hat in Limerick, Ireland. But whether the Irish singer-guitarist is cutting an album in his hometown or touring Scandinavia with his band, Seneca, you might say that Hope leaves his heart in Denver.

"There are so many great people in Denver, and there are so many incredible venues in Denver," Hope said from a Midwestern filling station earlier this week. "And we still haven't come across a city with as many great venues.

"In Cleveland a bit ago, we came across the Photo Atlas guys, and we went down to see them specifically because they were from Denver. And, of course, they were great people, really nice guys."

Denver hardly has a shortage of venues — and friendly musicians. And Hope should know. He lived in Denver for six months in 2004 as part of a college exchange program.

Then a University of Limerick student, Hope attended Regis University for a semester and fell in love with Colorado, its people, its nearby mountains and, of course, its music.

After forming Seneca with Limerick pals Yvonne Conaty, Brendan O'Gorman and Daragh O'Loughlain, they decided to push their music in the U.S. As a result, the group has logged more time on stateside interstates than many American bands.

Seneca's first American tour was a month and a half. Its second, 6 K months. The band wraps up its third American tour, this one 3 K months, in its adopted home of Denver at Herman's Hideaway on Saturday.

"We've put 65,000 miles on our van," Hope said, "and we've only driven it for 11 months total."

Seneca's debut, "Sweeter Than Bourbon," is a warmly produced disc that is as emotive as it is melodic. Hope's vocals guide the band along a trail of sadness, betrayal and melancholy — a land few know better than the Irish.

The group played The Denver Post Underground Music Showcase last summer, winning more local fans with its pop-infused bar band jams.

The record's single, "Clarity," is a natural for AAA radio, an infectious treat that benefits from Hope's dexterous vocals and a hook that stays in your head for hours. The group has already seen airplay on more than 300 American radio stations in 2010, but they also have a lot to look forward to when they fly home next week.

"It's nice to go home and see all our friends and girlfriends and family," Hope said. "It's nice to relax for a while, but this November we're going into the studio with Noel from the Cranberries, and we hope to have that record out soon."

Cranberries guitarist Noel Hogan co-wrote "Linger," "Dreams" and other hit singles with his group's singer, Delores O'Riordan. Hogan kept himself busy as the Cranberries were on hiatus with multiple other bands and his own label, Gohan Records. Gohan collaborated with a Limerick radio station a few years ago on the "Tonelist" compilation of hot Irish acts, one of which was Seneca.

And now everything is coming full circle with Hogan producing Seneca's follow-up to "Sweeter Than Bourbon."

"We'll be recording in his studio in Limerick, which is where the Cranberries are doing their new stuff as well," Hope said. "It's pretty exciting. And right now we're touring most of the new album's material, so if you come out on Saturday, you'll hear a bunch of the new stuff." - THE DENVER POST

"Jackie Hayden 'Pick of the fortnight'"

"AJ: If you put Damien Rice and Snow Patrol in the same studio the end result would prabably come out sounding like Seneca. A band with a knack for taking big and bold jabs at the heartstrings, they blend sweeping arrangements with naked emotional lyrics to create a very anthemic and mainstream sound. This Limerick four-piece could have a very bright future ahead of tem if their forthcoming debut album Sweeter Than Bourbon is anything to go by.
JH: 'Clarity' is sonorous AOR, with hints of Rufus Wainwright in the vocal. 'Playing Fair' opens like mid-era U2, and then settles down to a pleasant soft-rocker." - Hotpress, oct. 31st issue


It's 15 years since The Cranberries went supernova and the feeling in Limerick is that it could be the time for another local act to make the big step up.

One of the names being mentioned in dispatches is Seneca, a melodious four-piece who've already managed to infiltrate the Irish top 30 with 'Smile' - curiously absent from tonight's set - and had Jackie Hayden pf this parish whispering sweet nothings about them.

My bearded colleague is bang on the money, with the band chucking Jeff Buckley, Snow Patrol and Damien Rice into the blender and ending up with something guaranteed to get American radio all hot and sticky

Which isn't to say that they're all studio sheen and no bollocks. Realising that there's a sold-out Dolan's to be entertained - can we just say again how fucking ace the venue is? - singer and guitarist Rob Hope wrestles every ounce of emotion possible out of songs like 'Good For What Ails You', 'Playing Fair' and ''Clarity' while barefoor drummer (think of the chiropodist bills!) Daragh O Loughlain knocks his kit into the middle of next month
- Stuart Clark - HOTPRESS

"Coming to America - Seneca"

Ireland might be a country with a population of but three and a half million. But it has exported more than its fair share of notable independent rock bands, from U2 to The Coronas to The Cranberries. The latest Irish rock band to hit the scene is Seneca from Limerick, Ireland, who will be launching their first American tour at The Malibu Inn this week.

"Well, we're called an Irish band," front man Rob Hope said in a telephone interview from his home in County Mayo on the Emerald Isle. "But, actually, the violin player on our album is Dutch."

Rob Hope (guitar, vocals), Yvonne Conaty (bass, vocals), Brendan O'Gorman (lead guitar) and Daragh O'Loughlain (drums) make up the core group of Seneca, whose title takes nothing from the native American tribe of northern New York State and everything from Lucius Annaeus Seneca, the Roman orator and playwright, whose oratorical skills so enraged the jealous, mad emperor Caligula that he contemplated executing the writer.

The band's highly anticipated first album, "Sweeter Than Bourbon" (on the West Pole Music label) combines not just rocking great melodies, but contemplative lyrics, diverse grooves and the pure, soaring falsetto of Hope's lead vocals.

"We came together as a band pretty organically," Hope said. "We were all playing in different bands around Ireland and gradually met up at parties and decided to play together."

This led to a great deal of song writing, which led to a great deal of gigging around the country before their debut single "Smile," released in 2007, climbed the Irish Radio Chart to a Top 30 position and convinced them to release a full CD.

"The music scene in Ireland is just brilliant right now," Hope said. "We've been compared to bands like Snow Patrol; but there are so many great bands like Fight Like Apes or Vesta Varro. It's a good time to be a musician in Ireland."

Talent might be abundant, but Seneca debuts in the U.S. at a turbulent time in the music industry. Hope acknowledged that CD sales have plummeted worldwide and record labels are scrambling to define the next step.

"In the U.S. last year, something like only six percent of music sales were in CDs," Hope said. "The rest were digital downloads or people are just stealing off the Internet. It's the same in Europe. So the real money in music nowadays is in touring gigs."

Accordingly, Seneca's debut U.S. tour will take in 18 cities between now and Nov. 15, from Malibu to Des Moines, Iowa to New York City and back to Monterey, Calif.

"We've got a motor home and a van," Hope said. "And we're all good friends. We hope to stay that way."

Hope began playing music at an early age, when his parents forced him to take piano lessons, which he quit as soon as he was able to convince them it was a waste of money, a decision he regrets today.

But he started playing guitar at age 16 and began to write immediately.

"Well, I write most of the lyrics, but we all collaborate on arrangements," Hope said. "The idea is that we don't want to just regurgitate the same song and the same feeling each time around. We want a different sound each time, so there is a wide breadth to our music."

This eclectic approach to song writing and their decision to avoid the easy labeling music promoters often like creates jamming songs of breakup like "Down to Today" and painful reflections of relationships that go awry.

In the title "Clarity," Hope asks plaintively, "Why should I take this terrible abuse, I'll tell you one thing, I'm a mess but so are you ... I shouldn't listen when you say you will stop, it means nothing but for some reason, nothing means a lot."

This indictment of domestic abuse ends with a somewhat hopeful coda: "I got my reasons that you might call insanity. I don't want my children to grow up with this kind of clarity..."

Though just released in June, "Sweeter Than Bourbon" is already getting airplay here and, while they've had some success in Europe, Hope said they are "dying" to start their U.S. tour.

"In Ireland, we get some amazing support from the venues around here, which is what you need to nurture a creative music scene," Hope said. "We're very interested to see how we will be received in America."

Seneca will play at The Malibu Inn Friday, Sept. 26. More information may be obtained by visiting the web site

By Melonie Magruder - MALIBU TIMES

"No leprechauns, but plenty of tunes for Limerick-based band"

Ireland is about more than what viewers are used to seeing in Lucky Charms commercials. The country has a rich history of religious strife, economic suffering (followed by recent prosperity), and cultural excellence.

Seneca, a band from Limerick, follows in the traditions of such Irish acts as the Cranberries, U2, and Sinéad O'Connor by touring America in hopes of widening its fan base. The band will test its cross-cultural appeal tonight at the Picador, 330 E. Washington St., one of the earliest stops on its first U.S. tour.

Vocalist and guitarist Rob Hope said that each member of the band has spent time in the United States, including Hope's own study-abroad stint in Denver, but until this tour - which began earlier this month - the band hadn't ever played live in America. Those might seem like some tough odds, but in a phone call from Ireland, Hope said the band is anything but timid about the task.

"We're delighted; we can't wait," he said. "It'll be very interesting to see how the crowds react to us differently over there than here. Hopefully, our music will go down nicely."

Ever since the Beatles landed at JFK Airport in 1964, coming to America has been a huge turning point in the careers of international musicians. Hope knows the effect a successful run in the United States can have on Seneca's career. After all, until this tour, Seneca's recorded output was not available for purchase in the United States.

"We're going to concentrate very much and try to make America work for us if it possibly can," Hope said. "It's going to be a lot of hard work, but we really feel that we could possibly make an impact over there if we work hard."

Hope's faith and positive outlook are part of the reason Seneca came together as a band and is now touring America. He said the group's current management team is largely based in the United States, and the band members found their manager through discussions on the Internet. Having a management team based in America helped pull the band from Ireland to U.S. shores.

Seneca formed in early 2005 from the ashes of another band in which Hope and bassist Yvonne Conaty were both members. Hope said they both knew drummer Daragh O'Loughlain and asked him to join the new group. The final piece was a lead guitarist, and Brendan O'Gorman was recruited after Hope met him at a house party.

Internet connections and house-party chance meetings - maybe these aren't the most effective ways to launch fruitful romantic relationships, but when it comes to bands, the formula has proved successful for Seneca.

Hope cited American bluegrass as among the band's influences, alongside Smashing Pumpkins, Jeff Buckley, and fellow Irish band the Cranberries. He said that he learned a lot about American and Irish perceptions of each other while he lived in Denver, where he celebrated his first St. Patrick's Day overseas.

"I don't know if you actually know this but the St. Patrick's Day parade was actually invented in America. It wasn't done in Ireland at all. Irish people in America actually pretty much started up the whole St. Patrick's Day celebration, carnival, that kind of thing," he said. "Ireland is a very modern country a lot of the time, and I remember one person in Denver asking me if we had credit cards in Ireland, different things like that. Another girl was asking me if leprechauns actually existed. I thought it was kind of funny."

Meryn Fluker - THE DAILY IOWAN - 10/8/08

"'Sweeter Than Bourbon' Album review"

"Seneca, from Limerick (Ireland), specialise in an inscrutable and extremely pleasing noise on their album Sweeter Than Bourbon which touches many bases but commendably refuses to settle on any of them: the REM of Murmur, Nada Surf in the wistful, falsetto melodiousness of Smile, the poppier end of The Pixies – the songs where Kim Deal sang harmonies and Frank Black didn't rupture his larynx –and even Curved Air on Clarity. Marks in particular is gorgeous– a circular fingerpicking pattern adorns the kind of warmly insular melody Elliott Smith made his name with. Thinking about it, if there is any earthly reason why Seneca should not be massively successful and revered by simply everyone everywhere, I'm yet to discover it. Their ideas are boundless and there is no deadweight on the album; every track is the equal of its predecessor." - DORSET ECHO

"'Sweeter Than Bourbon' Album Review"

It has been a long time, probably since the Cranberries broke through, that a band from Ireland has made the kind of impact that Seneca is about to make on the US alternative/indie rock scene. The lead single from the album is the absolutely stunning, "Clarity". The song lyric focuses on the violence against women and is very well written. It is one of those songs that will hit your heart and more importantly bring a very real problem to the forefront. As you begin to dive into the album you find yourself smack in the middle of one of the best albums you have heard in recent times. The blending of Rob Hope and Yvonne Conaty's voices are what truly carries this record as the music kind of just accompanies the voices and lyrics throughout the album and serves more as a background than a driving force. Hope's hush styled delivery can easily be compared to Damien Rice in that it is just honest and passionate, while Conaty's backing vocals add a more haunting element at times ala Evanescence. If you are a looking for something a little bit more quieter than a lot of what is out there right now, carried mostly by great vocals and lyrics, with a lot more substance than your average alternative band, then Seneca is certainly one you will want to check out. - GUESTLIST MAGAZINE

"'Sweeter Than Bourbon' Album Review"

"Research now shows that the lack of natural talent is irrelevant to great success. The secret? Painful, demanding practice and hard work. ". My good friend Geoffrey Colvin, senior editor at Fortune Magazine on what it takes to successful. He could have been talking about Seneca but for one immutable fact, they have talent in spades. If hard work alone gets you places then they're going all the way and their debut album 'Sweeter Than Bourbon' is a testament to that hard work. It's an album way ahead of its years. June 13, 2008 saw the band release its second single 'Clarity', the first single 'Smile' released late last year made it to number 27 in the Irish charts. Insiders expect 'Clarity' to make an immediate impact on Irish radio and work it's way swiftly into the Top Ten on the charts. Capitalizing on the momentum generated in Ireland, Seneca is formalizing plans to release Sweeter Than Bourbon in the U.S. Tentative tour plans include a September 2008 start date for a tour to include Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. As debut albums go, this one is as good as it gets. Seneca deserve top marks for giving us just that, top quality. I worry sometimes when an album has such an immediate feel-good effect that maybe it's to be short lived, wearing off all too quickly but 'Sweeter Than Bourbon' shows no signs of being a one trick pony and I expect this very tasty album will taste just as good next year and beyond. 5/5 - LIMERICK EVENT GUIDE - July 2008

"'Sweeter Than Bourbon' Album review"

Seneca fait partie de ces groupes plutôt discrets, dont on découvre les richesses, comme un trésor, et avec une certaine fierté. En Irlande, son pays d’origine, le groupe avance doucement mais sûrement. En France, son nom ne nous dit, à l’heure où j’écris cette chronique, rien d’autre qu’un mot qui sonne bien, mais qu’on apparente encore à rien de musical. Et c’est mal, très mal, de passer à côté d’un groupe si mur et à l’ambiance aussi agréable que celle de Seneca.

Seneca aurait pu être un simple groupe d’indie rock, s’il n’avait pas décidé d’affirmer ostensiblement ses racines natales. Et notament avec un violon. Et ce violon, chez Seneca, transforme une chanson pop/rock très réussie en une merveille aux accents irlandais très prononcés. "Clarity", le deuxième single de l’album en témoigne. La voix très particulière et envoutante de Rob Hope est portée par le violon et par une guitare discrète mais efficace. Un bijou qui aurait été gaché par plus d’artifices.

Le meilleur de l’album en est probablement le milieu. De "Sentimental Freak" à "No Angel", tout est excellent, et s’enchaine avec fluidité. "Sentimental Freak", sur laquelle le violon et les chœurs d’Yvonne viennent renforcer la voix de Rob, possède une telle profondeur qu’on pourait lui trouver quelque chose de mystique. Il en va de même pour "The Outside", dont le rythme, monté en "montagnes russes", nous porte sans s’essoufler (une chanson qui doit vraiment bien rendre en live).

En réalité, du début à la fin, Sweeter than Bourbon est un album régulier et tissé avec des voix agréables, des mélodies pas trop lourdes, et un petit quelque chose irlandais qui donne cette délicieuse saveur au groupe. L’émotion qu’on en retire est authentique. En attendant, on ne peut qu’espèrer que Seneca approche la France un peu plus officiellement, car le groupe a le potentiel de séduire un large panel d’amateurs de musique.



LIMERICK band Seneca will have good reason to be grinning like Cheshire cats when they take to the stage at Underground in Baker Place this Saturday, September 15 to promote their stunning new single 'Smile'. Comprised of Rob Hope on guitars and vocals, Yvonne Conaty on bass and vocals, Brendan O'Gorman on guitar and Daragh O'Loughlin on drums, the local four-piece is without question one of the most promising and talented Irish bands to have emerged in recent years. By mixing Snow Patrol's anthemic and grandiose melodies with Damien Rice's heart-warming and endearing lyrics, Seneca have an indie yet commercial sound that screams for the same kind of international success as the aforementioned acts. This is the band that really could be the next Cranberries! After forming two years ago, Seneca won the Limerick heat of the Jack Daniels 'Hardest Working Band' Competition on their first ever live performance. Since then they have opened shows for Republic of Loose and Director as well as having one of their songs - 'So Beautiful' - placed on the 'Ceol 2007' album, which put them in good company with established Irish acts such as Bell X1 and The Corrs. The band have just completed their sensational debut album 'Sweeter Tahn Bourbon' which is due for release early next year and are now about to unleash their first single 'Smile' to give us a taste of the treats in store. Influenced by song-smiths such as Jeff Buckley, Nick Drake, Tom Waits, Paul Simon, Tim Buckley and Nick Cave, the bands talented songwriter Rob Hope is so prolific that he has already finished the songs for album number two - before their debut even sees the light of day. "You have to try and keep ahead of yourself," Rob tells me at the band's rehearsal space in Mary Immaculate College. "The first album was recorded over a year at Monolith Studios and a lot of the songs were written while we were recording. It pretty much all came together while we were recording with the songs and the arrangements falling into place; it just seemed to happen that way," says the Seneca frontman. The Limerick outfit that have been compared to alternative rock acts such as Doves and Arcade Fire have a definite Irish radio-friendly lilt to their music which could see them go down a storm across the pond. It is this beguiling mix of indie guitars with an air of romantic Ireland looming underneath that makes Seneca a dead cert for greater things than just headlining slots at Whelan's in Dublin. "If people hear that Irish sound in our music I would see that as a positive thing, but to be honest I don't hear it myself. I suppose it could just simply be the fact that we are an Irish band. The violinist that plays on some of the tracks on the album is a Dutch jazz violinist that wouldn't know the first thing about Irish traditional music so we definitely didn't set out to give that impression," Rob claims. "The one band that have really helped us out the most over the last year or so are Kila, The guy who engineered our album, Mark Gavin, a lifelong friend of mine, has worked with members of Kila on solo projects over the years, so we got to know them through him. Their music is a million miles away from ours but they are my favourite live band and they have been hugely supportive and given us some great advice. They have been really helpful and we have got to know them really well. They are a great bunch of people. Seneca's debut single 'Smile' will be launched at Radio City in Dublin this Thursday and the band are preparing to head out on the road for a whirlwind tour of the country to promote this well-crafted and totally be-witching pop tune. The local quartet will also be touring Ireland as part of the'Limerick Breaks Out' Tour alongside some of the cities other more promising acts - The Fewer The Better, Walter Mitty and the Realists, and We Should Be Dead - in the coming weeks. "I suppose our plans for the immediate future are to get as much publicity as we can and to try and get as many people as possible to hear our music. We are just hoping that the first record will help us move on to bigger and better things in the future; rock stardom would be nice too," Rob admits with a playful grin. Yes, Seneca are definitely a band who have lots to be smiling about at the moment and rock stardom could be on the menu sooner than they think. These guys are not to be missed when they perform at the Underground in Baker Place this Saturday, September 15. Trust me, you will leave beaming from ear to ear.
- Limerick Independent article, 12th Sep, 2007


The Limerick group release the first single from their forthcoming debut SWEETER THAN BOURBON. The description could easily apply to this song, which is propelled by a weeping bass and intricate, silvery guitar scales. Lead singer Rob Hope is possessed of an agile voice that moves steadily up the octave before flinging itself headlong into a chalky falsetto in the chorus. This single and their victory in the 2006 UL Battle of the Bands bode well for the future. - ’SMILE’ HOTPRESS REVIEW (Vol. 31, no. 18, 19th Sept 2007)





Senakah (formerly Seneca) first appearing on the Irish music scene in late 2005 and since then their ascent has been steady and consistent. The four-piece seamlessly hop off one ladder rung and on to the next, garnering accolades and an ever expanding legion of fans along the way. The band's collective energy is as powerful from the studio as it is the stage; Rob's remarkable range, Brendan's distinctive hooks and sweeping guitar lines, Yvonne's magnetic bass playing and Daragh's explosive drumming, gel together to electrifying effect.

Seneca’s debut single, ‘Smile’, went straight in at no. 33 in the Irish charts when it was released in 2007, and a very respectable finishing position of 27 gave the band even more reason to smile. ‘Sweeter Than Bourbon’ was released in June 2008, garnering acclaim from press at home and abroad leading to the record being nominated for best Album of the Year by The Clare People Interactive-Irish Music Awards, and for best new comers in the Irish Mid-West Media Awards. The record was also listed by L.E.G. magazine as one of the top 20 albums of 2008. Album track ‘So Beautiful’ was selected for the ‘Ceol’ Seachtain Na Gaeilge album which featured the cream of Irish talent including Bell X1, The Corrs, Kila and Paddy Casey to name a few. ‘Clarity’, the second single released from the album reached no. 19 in the Irish single charts and ‘The Outside’ and ‘Empty Seat’ were featured on a Setanta Sports documentary about Irish International Ladies Soccer entitled ‘Winning Women’. Their songs were also included on RTE’s Capital D programme, while ‘Down To Today’ was chosen by Today FM DJ Tony Fenton as his Recommended Daily Download.

In 2009 Seneca’s tour of the US took in 6 Months and over 90 shows right across the country including shows at the legendary Whisky A Go Go in Hollywood, and The Boulder Theater in Colorado where they became the first ever international act to perform at the Bob Dylan Festival, endorsed by the man himself. They also teamed up and performed with two time Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame keyboard legend Bernie Worrell of Talking Heads and Parliament.

In December 2009 and early 2010 they completed two tours of Scandinavia, and on their most recent tour of the US they managed to get regular airplay on over 400 radio stations breaking into the RIYL US Top 100 College radio charts. They reached No. 23 in the FMQB Radio Sub-Modern Singles Chart. And 16 in the K.K.B.B. Tracker Specialty Radio Chart, as well as becoming pick of the week on numerous notable, national stations like KPNT and KBAC, also becoming a hit after an in studio session on the Uncle Nasty Show on Clear Channel’s KBPI in Colorado. The tour also saw them sign numerous television and movie deals, most notably MTV’s smash hit ‘The Hills’, ‘The City’, ‘Taking The Stage’ and VH1’s ‘Tough Love’, along with having numerous tracks from ‘Sweeter Than Bourbon’ placed in Hollywood production ‘Truth About Kerry’ with Stana Katic (James Bond ‘Quantum Of Solice’, ABC’s ‘Castle’, ‘The Spirit’) set for release in 2011.

Last year they returned home for the chance to record with producer and Cranberries guitarist Noel Hogan, and ‘Human Relations’ is the first track to appear from the band’s forthcoming second album of the same name.

The band have just launched a video to accompany the single starring and written by comedian Ben Morrison from MTV’s Punk’d and directed by Northern Irish director Darren Lee.

Promotional copies of the single have also been well received and getting regular airplay on several radio stations around the country. The official release date for the single is Feb. 17th with a gig in Dolans Warehouse, Limerick, to kick start an Irish tour.


“Seneca's debut, "Sweeter Than Bourbon," is a warmly produced disc that is as emotive as it is melodic. Hope's vocals guide the band along a trail of sadness, betrayal and melancholy — a land few know better than the Irish....The record's single, "Clarity," is a natural for AAA radio, an infectious treat that benefits from Hope's dexterous vocals and a hook that stays in your head for hours.”

"It has been a long time, probably since the Cranberries broke through, that a band from Ireland has made the kind of impact that Seneca is about to make on the US alternative/indie rock scene."

"SENECA Combine the heartfelt sincerity of Damien Rice's lyrics with the lush and anthemic sounds of Snow Patrol to startling effect."

"SWEET indeed, with a jangly Smithsesque guitar and the emotive voice of Rob Hope, Seneca make melodious music that reminds of Snow Patrol, Coldplay, Crowded House,and The Broken Family Band. Plaintive and anthemic, visceral and cerebral, this music is broad in scope and pleasing in countenance, with an Ir