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The Irish rocker releases his new single High on 24 February as a taster of his forthcoming debut album Upon This Rock before playing live UK dates. He tells us how his mum comes to all his live shows and why he’s a fan of Big Issue North. 

What informs your music and songwriting? 
Great question! Two things. 1. An interesting subject. I mean let’s be honest, most great ideas have been done and done well. So for me, the challenge is finding something that I am interested in. With High, for example, it was the intoxicated feeling I got when I met my now wife, Jessica. Cheese fest, I know! 2. A good melody – sometimes I will be hit by a melody or an idea for a riff and just pick up the guitar and strum! It’s the joy of it.

How have you evolved as an artist over the years?
I think in the broad sense, music has been hijacked by big business for far too long. The internet, while killing record sales, has levelled the playing field. Good bands and artists can be heard, if they work hard enough. It’s all out there for you if you can switch on a laptop! In the past, major labels lied to you and tried to force-feed bullshit average music down our throats – YouTube has proved to be somewhat of a remedy to that, and mediums similar to it like Soundcloud.

What are you up to at the moment artistically?
Writing a new album to follow up my debut Upon This Rock. I’m addicted to the work. At the minute I am doing an album with Lax ‘n’ Busto, who are legends of Catalan rock. They have never released any work in English, so I am writing with them it will be a concept album together. It’s exciting as I am a fan. My own band and I have completed our record and I am so excited that too will be showcased.

What’s it like to operate in the music industry today? 
You have to be prepared to do a lot of the work yourself. Bob Morgen, my manager, is also the MD at my independent label. He is a mentor and a father to me. His first cousin was Cliff Burton, the founder member and former bass player of Metallica, and as an American he has a strong work ethic. He needs to have as we are involved in everything. On my side I write and produce the songs with my band and Bob pretty much drives everything, from video production to working with pluggers and PR people.

What’s on your rider? 
It was and will always be fruit and a seat or two in the audience for my wife and mother. Boring, yes, but important! I prefer to be respectful to organisers. I was never a believer in being rude – it’s a cliché!

Tell us your most embarrassing or surreal experience. 
Great question! You have done this before! Hahah. It has to be when I lived in London. I had a lovely flat in Chiswick in the western part of the city. My neighbour was James Dean Bradfield from the Manic Street Preachers – a band I love. I was walking down the high street and we caught eyes and chatted about the garden we shared. I asked him: “So when is the record out?” He knows I’m a musician and a fan of his so when he scolded me for not knowing it was out the week before our chat, I was embarrassed. He did put me on the list of his Brixton show later that year. Me plus 12 guests! Absolute diamond of a guy and what a talent!

What’s your worst lyric? 
Hahaha… I’m a huge Morrissey fan and sometimes I write tongue in cheek stuff. I wrote a song called The Importance of Being Ginger as an ode to a fan about four years ago, maybe more, and there was a line: “She would be so pretty, if she wasn’t oh so ginger.” That was pretty naff!

Thank you so much for your time. I love Big Issue North and what it does for people who need help and most importantly want to help themselves. Dignity is something that we are losing sight of in this day and age and for me Big Issue North is a terrific advocate of it.

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