A musician’s life certainly isn’t all beer and skittles. Yeah, of course, at times it looks uber glamorous and many’s an audience member will pedestalise the profession but the job is not without its’ challenges. The old adage goes, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”, this I know to be true, especially when I see these two in action. I’ve had the privilege of ‘growing up’ with them (I use the term ‘growing up’ very loosely because we’re just as childish now as we were all those years ago). Their passion is second to none, and believe it or not, these two are actually somewhat interesting, who’d have thought? I jest… but the following is a short interview I did with them recently. It was a rainy night in (not Soho) Templebar and we stepped in, out of the downpour, into one of their usual haunts, The Merchant’s Arch, for one pint… That’s how it begins, you might say!
- What’s it like being in the studio as a two-piece rather than a full band?
It’s definitely quieter but we both like that. A larger percentage of studio time is dedicated to the music and less time chatting compared to being in a full band, and we can easily sit through a week playing music without chatting at all. We’re kinda weird like that, but it’s great. (H)
- Who writes the music?
We both write the music, but Ciarán has an amazing talent for arranging songs. However, if one of us wrote a song, there would be already a solid ground for the song to sit in to, and then it would be presented to the other and the song can take many different directions or maybe just a slight adjustment or addition. (H)
- Who writes the lyrics?
We both write the lyrics but this album has more of Hugh’s songs on it. Some songs can have an influence from both of us and that’s what we will try to do more of in the future. (C)
4. Where do you get your inspiration for new songs?
It could seriously be anything. Often I find a song can be written faster if I was writing about a particular experience but not necessarily. I wrote a song before called Earth Song about a dream I never had and it was written in an hour. (H)
- Is there a particular track on the new album that you favour most, and why?
‘Lambay’ for sure is sounding great right now and is a lot of fun to record so for me at this point it’s my favourite..it will be the first single too so I guess that speaks for itself! (C)
- If you could have a pint with any 3 people, living or dead, who would they be and why?
I’d have a pint with Woody Guthrie, Luke Kelly, and Brandon Boyd. I could only imagine the sing song. Three very special singers, and me. (H)
Dave Grohl & Kurt Cobain, that would be an interesting conversation about Nirvana and what Grohl has done since. Cobain would be like, good job, man’. The third person would have to be Avril Lavigne. I’m loving the conspiracy theory surrounding her, so I’d ask her what the deal was, and sure who knows then…wink wink. (C)
7. What was your most memorable gig?
It’s a hard one for sure but we both agree that there was a small gig supporting Wally Page earlier this year and that was pretty memorable. Everyone had more or less written us off as another folk cover band singing all the Irish favourites but instead, we played our own songs and garnered serious praise and respect. It was a real music venue full of old school music people. Very satisfying night. (H&C)
- Are there any gigs you’d rather forget about?
My first night gigging in Dublin during an Irish Nights show was so very awful. The manager actually walked out after twenty minutes to go for drinks until it was over. We were simply making nervous noise on that stage, we sounded awful. (H)
Yes, for sure! Not every gig is gonna be a good one. You might do 100 gigs and 99 are good. I take the good with the bad and put it down to the nature of the biz. But there was a time we played in a four piece on a stage that didn’t suit, in a venue that didn’t suit, at an early stage of the group, in front of the many judging eyes of our peers. That was a shit gig for sure, we were abandoning arrangements, the sound was awful, but I wouldn’t want to wipe it from memory, as it was a lesson learned and made me a better musician. (C)
9. What do you do to try set your selves apart from similar acts?
Arranging songs is vital, and as we are not awesome singers, we use the power of harmonies for a good collective sound. We also try to write about interesting stuff, (not always a love song) lyrics are strong and if you believe in the words you write, the song will find its audience. (C)
- What are your top 3 musical acts outside of your genre?
I’d be totally down with Incubus and SOAD, but Chris Thile is amazing, and even though they broke up ‘The Civil Wars’, that ground really did it for me. (C)
For me, it’s Incubus, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and System of a Down. (H)
- What advice would you give to any young musicians that are coming up through the ranks?
Practice like mad on the instruments you love, and try writing songs even if you don’t think you’re a “writer”. (H)
- What is your practice routine like?
For rehearsals, we go to a room with no WIFI with inspirational surroundings. There’s not really a routine, we just start somewhere and go from there. (H)
- Who, out of both of you is the biggest diva?
I may be a bit of a diva at times with my songs. Sometimes I think the Earth, moon, and stars revolve around them! They probably do! (H)
Yeah Hugh, 100% (C)
- Did you find it difficult starting out as full-time musicians?
Not really. It was fun, energetic, carefree, and good pay. (H)
- If you could play live on stage with any musician/group, living or dead, who would it be, and why?
I’d love to play on stage with Dick Gaughan, back in the 70s. He was a true rebel singer with massive amounts of passion, not to mention his great singing and guitar playing. (H)
I’d have to say, Mumford and Sons. Such a cool sound. Imagine being a guest guitarist with them and be the one to kick off on the guitar riff from ‘The Cave’, or joining in with the epic harmonies in ‘Lovers Eyes’. Sweet. (C)
16. When creating music, do you put lyrics to tunes or vice versa?
I’ve tried all patterns, but it usually starts with a simple hook or chord progression, and then add the lyrics. (H)
I’m all over the place. Lots of half written music pieces and lyrics, then I try to mash them together. Sometimes, it’s a simple case of a few chords and you hear a nice melody and a lyrical idea. (C)
17. What do you do when you’re not playing music?
I spend a lot of time by the sea dreaming of owning a boat one day. And the rest of the time is with my family. (H)
Thinking about music. Buying music stuff online from Thomann or Amazon. I have a problem. (C)
18. What’s the best thing about being a professional musician?
The high life, playing in the cold rain on the back of a lorry in the middle of a carpark full of puddles and two spectators. (H)
- What’s the worst thing about being a professional musician?
Probably the constant waiting for the mother to say that we’ve picked the right profession.(H)
- Can you ever see yourself working a professional that does not involve music?
No, we’re in it now and we can’t go back. To us, the music industry is the prime fillet steak and the rest is pork chops and chicken legs.