Ten years ago, four Irish singers, performers and songwriters decided to take a calculated risk. The constituent parts of The High Kings each had a wealth of history in the music business behind them, but knew that in order to maintain any level of creative interest they would have to boldly go where no other Irish ballad group had gone before. In truth, back in the mid-late noughties, Ireland needed a group like The High Kings. The heyday of ballad groups such as The Clancy Brothers and The Dubliners was a distant memory for generations of music fans, and to have another bunch of Irish lads taking up the baton and continuing the tradition was great news to thousands of fans worldwide. “We could sing well, play our instruments well and harmonise well,” says Darren Holden, humbly underselling somewhat the numerous skill sets of the individual members. “People were looking for guys with character, presence – not just cardboard cut-outs – so the respective experience we all had wasn’t just helpful but essential. The four members immediately knew that something special was taking place (“we knew within the space of a few songs that there was magic”), and within months had clicked as a creative unit as well as friends.