After driving almost every US highway, and playing over 2,000 shows worldwide, Kiernan has unusual stories to tell. Over the past 11 years, he has shared the stage with Ed Sheeran, Mat Kearney, Dave Mason, John Butler Trio, and many more. The songwriter averages 200 shows per year, and performs at sold out shows across the country, but not without notice. He's captured a worldwide grassroots following, 3 critically acclaimed SXSW appearances, and was most recently named one of Alternative Press Magazine's “12 Bands You Need To Know” for 2016. He is still writing, releasing, and touring his strongest material yet. So why haven’t you heard of him?
Kiernan wanted to infuse raw honesty into popular music, but didn't see where he fit in. “Do I seem like an underdog? I’ve always considered myself an outsider in the music industry,” he says. “I avoided chasing the industry for years. Instead, I chased late nights in venues & studios. For years, I thought you could change the music industry without participiating in it. But the irony is, the most influential writers are the ones who take part.”
Kiernan was born in Hong Kong, to an Irish father and Australian mother. Their travel habits caused him to live on three continents before the age of 18. “We moved around a lot,” said Kiernan. “My parents met on a plane, which became anecdotal evidence that travel would fuel each chapter of my life.” Traveling became home to Kiernan. He played every corner of Ireland, appearing at festivals, theaters, bars, and coffee shops. Upon graduating, he moved to Dublin to get a degree in live sound and lighting. When he wasn't touring Ireland, those skills enabled him to still work in live music. Kiernan signed with 111 Records (Warner), prompting him to make the move to the US. The label scheduled US tours, following his 2008 debut release, but Kiernan refused to wait in Ireland. He booked a tour via MySpace and packed for America. Upon landing, he hitchhiked and took buses for months, all to build his American fanbase.
“It was one of the scariest and most incredible experiences of my life,” Kiernan said. After touring solo, he joined the tour his label had intended for him. One of his tours allowed him to play guitar and open for chart-topping pop group, LFO. For Kiernan, America presented itself as sold-out shows and an adventure.. One where he would play venues he could only dream about in Ireland.
From 2009 to 2011, McMullan lived on the road. Living out of a suitcase, he wrote about his travel and touring experiences. Between 2010 and 2012, he released both The Best Part EP and Two Years. Fans began to recognize his traveler ethos, and critics started taking notice. “Touring became a strange dichotomy for me. One day we were playing for 8 people at a dive bar, and the next we’d be playing for 5,000 people,” said Kiernan. “There was no guarantee how well the show would go, even when I opened for established artists." Every night was different, and Kiernan embraced that. While small shows let him meet each individual fan, playing for thousands of people showed him how far the music could go.
Kiernan wrote and recorded his 2013 acoustic EP faster than anything he ever completed. In one day, he collaborated with friend and label co-founder, Logan Buerlein, to record the entire EP.
He immediately moved to finish his next full-length album. Common Sense started in Ireland during the sessions for Two Years, but it took traveling to solidify the record's direction. “We started working on this album three years before its release,” said Kiernan. This was the fourth record he and his long-time friend and producer, Owen Lewis, would finish together. Released in 2014, the record put Kiernan back on the road until 2016. His next full-length album will release this year.
He's growing up, and it’s showing in the new material. This next record will be full of stories that map the transitions we go through as we grow. They show a sincere wisdom, fortified by ten years of relentless touring and recording. Kiernan's new music is proof - he's developed, and his music has also.