NEW SINGLE FOR AISHLING AS TV DEBUT BECKONS ON GLÓR TÍRE
With 2022 shaping up to be the biggest year yet in her young career, rising country music star AISHLING RAFFERTYis set to get the year underway with a brand new single. With a first television appearance to look forward to when she takes to the GLÓR TÍRE stage under the mentorship of country superstar MIKE DENVER in the coming weeks, the Tipp lady is about to treat her ever-growing legion of fans to her take on SUDS IN THE BUCKET.
The song was a hit for American artist Sara Evans back in the early 2000s, a period now regarded by many as coming at the end of the country genre’s most recent golden-age in the States. Evans was one of the biggest names on the scene at the time, and Suds In The Bucket gave her a #1 back in 2004. Close on two decades later, and as her career continues to bloom here in Ireland, there’s every chance that Aishling – who is certainly putting her Tipperary homeplace of Knockshegowna on the Irish country music map – will take that song back to the top of the charts.
“We’ll see what happens”, laughs Aishling, “that would be lovely, of course! But the chart side of things is only a small part of what’s important when you release something new. And the charts can change so quickly too. It’s a lovely feeling when your single does well when it comes out, and that support from fans always means a lot to me. So yeah, hopefully it will get a good response to it. Fingers crossed, as always!”
2021 was a busy year for the Irish World Academy music student, with five very successful singles no doubt playing their part in bringing Aishling to the attention of Mike Denver who will be her mentor on TG4‘s long-running hit show Glór Tíre in the coming weeks. Darling, Say You’ll Love Me When I’m Old,Truck Driving Woman, Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout The Good Ol’ Days), Thanks To You, and Mama He’s Crazy all topped the Irish iTunes country chart. But not only that, all five singles quickly became fan favourites and made their presence felt at radio throughout the year, and indeed, are still being requested regularly. And it’s that same level of airplay that Aishling is hoping to achieve again with Suds In The Bucket.
“I still get excited whenever I hear one of my songs on the radio! I don’t think that feeling will ever get old for me, to be honest. And what’s really so satisfying as a recording artist is when you hear a song still being played months and months after you released it. To know that presenters and DJs still enjoy giving it a spin, and that fans still want to hear it, that’s the best feeling. With this new single, because of the time of year it is and everything, I wanted to give people something that was fun to listen to, something nice and upbeat. ‘Suds In The Bucket’ is always that kind of song for me when I hear it, and singing it always puts a smile on my face too. So hopefully with this song I can spread a few more smiles around the place!”
And as for Aishling’s soon to begin Glór Tíre journey, how is she feeling about that?
“I’m delighted to be taking part in the show this year. I was gobsmacked when Mike asked me to be involved. He’s obviously one of the biggest stars in Irish country, and has been for years. And Glór Tíre is a show that I’ve always watched on television growing up. I’ve even been down to a few of the ‘live’ shows in years gone by and I’ve loved everything about it. Now, to actually be a contestant this year, that’s an amazing honour for me. Everyone will have the same dream of possibly winning, of course, but that dream will only come true for one of us. That’s just the way it is, and I think once you’re ok with that, then you can really make the most of the experience. No matter what happens, I know it’s going to be a brilliant learning curve for me and that’s something that can only stand me in good stead in the future.”
With her voice of gold and a personality that glitters, not to mention a head fitted perfectly in place upon her young shoulders, the future is gleaming for Aishling. And already, 2022 promises to be an exciting next chapter.
~ SUDS IN THE BUCKET, the brand NEW SINGLE from 2022 GLÓR TÍRE contestant AISHLING RAFFERTY, will be available on all platforms from January 10th.
Not a man to ever spend too long away from the studio these past few years, Donegal’s NORMAN BORLANDis already on his way back to the airwaves with his first record of 2022 before the month’s end. And Norman‘s cheeky take on Jon Philibert‘s light-hearted tale of heartache is exactly what we need to guide us through the early days of a brand new year and set us on a perfect course for brighter days ahead.
“I have a list of songs in the back of my mind that I want to record someday, and it’s something I’m always adding to”, reveals Norman, before laughing as he adds, “That’s probably one of the reasons why I spend so much time in the studio! And SHE DON’T LOOK THAT LONELY TO ME has been on that list since the moment I first heard it.”
“And I’m not talking about the moment I first heard the whole song”, he points out, “I mean from the moment I heard the first few lines. It’s just one of those perfectly written country songs that has a way of putting a smile on your face even though it’s about a heartache! That’s the genius of great songwriting. And there’s no doubt about it, Jon Philibert is that kind of genius. I’m a huge fan of his work, and it’s an honour for me to be able to put my stamp on any song of his, but especially this one.”
Working once again with his long-time producer Brian Kerrigan,SHE DON’T LOOK THAT LONELY TO ME sees Norman follow on from what was a very busy year of releases in 2021, with the man who modestly describes himself as simply being “a country singer singing country songs” sending four tracks to radio in the last twelve months. The first of those was his take on the Don Williams hit Healing Hands this time last year, with Gerry Guthrie joining him for their version of John Bunzow‘s up-tempo feel-good tune Ain’t No LittleThing in April. In June, Norman was once again joined by a special guest as the wonderful Patricia Maguire shared vocal duties on the Randy Travis, Steve Dorff, and John Bettis penned Friends Like Us. Norman’s biggest hit of 2021 was his final release of the year, the Jerry House number Working Woman.
With the ‘live’ music scene still shrouded in uncertainty, Norman admits that it’s tough to plan too far ahead in that regard, but he can’t wait to get back in front of as many people as possible as soon as he can. And in the meantime, there are no prizes for guessing where he’ll be found…that’s right…in the studio!
“I’m talking to people about ‘live’ dates for the year ahead, and we’re putting some plans in place where we can. I’m certainly open to talking to anyone in that regard, all they have to do is get in touch and we’ll chat, no problem. But what I am 100% sure of is that there’ll be more new music coming throughout the rest of 2022, that’s for certain. And what a song to kick things off with in Jon Philibert’s SHE DON’T LOOK THAT LONELY TO ME. We’re setting the bar high for ourselves again, but that’s the only way to do it. Country fans deserve no less.”
Regarded as one of British country music’s leading lights when it comes to the art of crafting a song, Londoner Philibert holds the distinction of having written the song that is a special part of the Tom Jones story, with I’ve Been Rained On Too being his longest ever country charting record. The song became a top-ten hit for the Welsh legend in 1984, going on to hold a place on the Billboard Country chart for a staggering twenty-two weeks. I’ve Been Rained On Too has also been recorded by Charlie Landsborough and featured on his 1989 collection, Still Can’t Say Goodbye. Other Irish artists to have recorded titles from the Philibert songbook include Larissa Tormey, Mick Flavin, and Trevor Loughrey.
~ SHE DON’T LOOK THAT LONELY TO ME, the NEW SINGLE from NORMAN BORLAND, will be released on all digital platforms on FRIDAY, JANUARY 21st, and will be available to request from radio from Tuesday, January 11th.
“This is my ‘Willie McBride’ and I really hope fans will like it. I wrote it when I was eighteen, and finally recorded it in Belfast at Halfbap studios three years ago, so it’s been a long road.”
Dundalk’s NIALL McNAMEEis a singer/songwriter and actor, known for his passionate, thoughtful and full-blooded songs. And the one he was talking about in the quote above – and a perfect example of just why his work is so highly thought of – is his latest release, the very beautiful ALL I NEED.
A self-taught musician, Niall has been immersed in music his whole life. Throughout years as a struggling young actor, he supported himself by performing Irish folk songs, resulting in his knowledge of traditional music growing rich and deep. But all the while, he was writing his own material, drawing not only on his Irish heritage but also pushing into contemporary rock and pop territory, finding inspiration from artists as diverse and celebrated as Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, The Pogues, Christy Moore, and more recently, The Undertones as well.
Niall has starred opposite Pierce Brosnan, fought with Jackie Chan, played comic foil to Bono, and even romantically duetted with Imelda May. He also landed a starring role in the feature film Love Without Walls– due for general release this year – which saw him performing his own songs.
OTRT had the pleasure of sitting down for a chat with Niall ahead of the release of his superb debut EP, Step By Step, last year. And we recently had the pleasure of catching up with him again, this time to talk about his latest single, the aforementioned, All I Need. The song narrates the story of a man in his last moments before death, with the listener catching glimpses of that man’s life flashing before his eyes. As Niall remarks, “He sits in the pub of his mind and looks around at his friends – all going off to war soon – with the knowledge they’ll not return the same. But ultimately it’s about an impossible promise. To get home safe and make his way back to Edinburgh from London where his sweetheart waits for him.”
Niall told us more about how All I Need came to be…
“I wrote this song when I was eighteen. The song is a love song mixed with what I wanted to be an anti-war song. It was definitely inspired at the time by a song that was definitely my favourite, which is ‘Willie McBride.’ I remember wanting to write something along those lines about the injustice of war. There’s obviously the mention at the end of France, that it’s ‘not so far’, which my mate – who’s called Francis – thought it was his mam shouting, ‘Francis, not so far!’ [Laughs]. He was like, ‘Why is that in there?!’ [laughs]. But anyway, it’s an anti-war song.”
Niall continued, “For the music video, I tried to get loads of different pieces of military or conflict gear, to represent loads of different conflicts. This is about working-men dying against other working-men, under millionaires giving the orders. The chorus are British towns now that think about it, but that was more because I was having a romance at the time with a girl who lived in Edinburgh and I lived in London, so that’s just the train ride between the two [laughs]. One of the things that scared me the most about this song is that it could be interpreted as some sort of poppy or pro-British Army song, which is interesting because it’s meant to be the opposite of that. It’s about men who don’t want to go, and shouldn’t be going. It’s about the love they have in their families, ya know. Any working-men across Britain, Ireland, anyone who fought in the Great War who was conscripted, you wouldn’t need to go into politics to show that they shouldn’t be going and don’t need to go. I think loads of people have touched on that over the years. While there’s injustice in Irish soldiers going to World War One, or any war, there’s injustice in any working-man being made to fight. [So] this isn’t an anti-British Army thing either. I don’t want to disrespect anyone at all.”
As he mentioned, All I Need is a song Niall wrote when he was just eighteen. So it is a track that could have been in contention for a place on his debut EP, Step By Step, which was released early last summer. I wondered if one of the reasons why it didn’t make the cut for that selection was perhaps because Niall always saw this song as belonging to this particular time of the year?
“It’s the first song that I can remember writing. I don’t have any songs in my repertoire that I play that are older than it. It’s been with me for so long. To be honest, it was really hard putting songs together for the EP because I had so many, because that was my first EP. I didn’t know which ones to put [out] first. And when you’re starting out, there’s a feeling that you have to put some of your best ones forward to get ya out there. But equally, you know that you’re sacrificing them a little bit. It wouldn’t be too different, I suppose, if you were in a fighting situation, or a war, you have to put strong people forward first. But also, you lose them first. So with ‘All I Need’, I was too precious about it, to be honest. That’s why it hasn’t been released until now. That’s why I waited. I tried to record the song loads of times. And as you can see, I’ve released two different versions of it as well, because I just couldn’t decide. I’d played it for too long, just me and a guitar. I played it for too long with different bands, with different versions of it. I was always thinking if I release this the music video is gonna cost me millions! [Laughs]. And I haven’t got millions [laughs]. I was thinking I need this to be absolutely perfect. But then I just realised, do ya know what? This is a song that I love and I just need to get it out there. I need to move forward. It was like getting a monkey off my shoulder, because it was so precious to me. It was like my first child and you want to give it a good opportunity in life. I felt, maybe, that I couldn’t give it the push that I wanted to. But then I thought I’m a songwriter! I need to release the songs that I’m writing. And that’s kind of why it all started a bit late for me. Not late, but I had enough songs to release an album probably six or seven years ago and I still haven’t done that. So I’m trying to be less precious, but still be protective and not be too naive, ya know.”
Staying with Niall’s Step By Step EP, these last twenty or so months have surely been a strange time (to say the least!) for anybody releasing new music, let alone for someone sending their debut EP out into such a crazy world. Looking back on it all now, from the perspective of six or seven months on, what was that whole experience like for Niall?
“It was strange…well, I say it was strange, but I didn’t know any different at the time. It was a new experience. It was like starting a new job in a new industry you’ve never worked in before, and during the pandemic. It would be more unusual knowing what it was like in real-life, when Covid wasn’t around. All I can say is that I found it far more difficult to get one single out when things have been a bit more opened up than I did to get that whole EP out during the pandemic. During the pandemic, I had time. I had people who were around and who wanted to do things. It could be that I’ve only just finished releasing ‘All I Need’ so it feels like I’m wrecked now. Maybe the EP was harder. Not to downplay anything about ‘All I Need’, because I love it and I’m delighted with it – and it’s actually doing far better than anything on the EP which is good, I suppose, because you want to see progress – but, I was very aware when I was releasing the EP that the industry always says you can only release your first stuff once. You can only release your first album once. You can only release your first EP once. There’s an industry side to that, but also there’s a spiritual side to that. The hope [laughs], when you’ve never released something before is that you can go, ‘Well, when I release this, this is it! This is gonna be brilliant. It’s gonna solve all my problems.’ It’s like when you start acting, you go brilliant, I’m starting out now, I’ve got my first audition, I don’t see why I wouldn’t get this part. I’ll get that, and then it will all work out!’ [Laughs]. You only get a couple of times like that before you get a couple of no’s, and you start going aaw f*$k, this isn’t actually as easy as I had hoped it would be! [Laughs].””If I’m being honest about it”, confessed the Dundalk man, “without being too glib about it, it was more scary doing this single, ‘All I Need’, because I knew the work that I had put in before. I felt like with the EP I really didn’t give myself a second to rest for months and months and months. And then here I am releasing a single at Christmas and thinking now I’ll have to work ten times harder than that [for the EP]. And it’ll be the same again next time when something else comes out next year. It gets harder, and harder, and harder. And you keep having to get better, and stronger, and try not to go mad! I suppose one thing that helped with the single this Christmas was I recorded it three years ago in Belfast. So I’ve had it there for a long time. It could well have gone on the EP. The difference with ‘All I Need’ and the songs on the EP is that some of them on the EP I had to record and get ready for release. Whereas ‘All I Need’, I could have just put it out at any point in the last three years. But I held onto it.”
On the day we spoke, Niall had been supposed to play a show at the Water Rats venue in King’s Cross. Unfortunately, like so many shows in 2021, this fell by the wayside. I asked Niall if he would mind sharing what it’s like for an artist when this happens, both from a practical and an emotional point of view…
“Yeah, it’s strange. I remember the lockdown at the start, the last day I lived in London – with my pals and stuff – it was the day before St. Patrick’s Day. And we had a big sold-out gig ready to go and we had to call it quits. And that was very hard. It was almost harder cancelling that first gig because we didn’t know about pandemics, about what it was going to be like. It was disappointing because we were like, ah God, St. Patrick’s Day, sure it’s only once a year! What a shame [laughs]. We wrote a big message about it, and felt loads of guilt having to explain to people that we were cancelling it. I find it a lot harder when there’s not an official lockdown. Because there are gigs happening tonight. It is really hard, but I felt lucky that I’ve been on tour for the whole month of December. I’d overworked myself, to be honest. Imelda was saying to me that you’ve got to give yourself time to rest because people will put work in front of you anyway. I booked a tour; Glasgow, Dublin, Dundalk, and Belfast. But I was thinking about it, and I think most people were assuming it’s cancelled, when the restrictions started to come in and as Christmas started coming, I was getting messages from people saying, ‘Aw, I’m sorry about your gig’ before I’d even cancelled it [laughs]. So I decided to have a real think about it, and I spoke to my agent, and he said he thought I should cancel. Then we spoke to the venue and they were like ok, so then I was like well hang on, do THEY want to cancel it? And my agent said they’d do it if I wanted to, but it was up to me. Niall went on, “So I said ok, we’ll do it. But then I just thought to myself actually, how would I feel – really – if I found out someone got Covid at a gig? Or, if I did my gig, and took a test, and realised the next morning that I had Covid? How would I feel knowing it’s probable that someone would either not be able to go home for Christmas because of the gig, or, be going home for Christmas not knowing that they’d been made ill by someone at the gig? And I thought that would kill me. I wouldn’t deal with that well at all. I felt like people wanted to feel safe. It’s really hard. And especially when you’re building up to that last moment. I’m flying back to Ireland tomorrow – hopefully, I’ve got my test this afternoon – but that gig was going to be that final moment after a long time of non-stop work, so yeah, that was hard. But it just felt like the right thing to do. And that’s all you can go by really. I’ve got my vaccination and all that kind of stuff, and my family are kind of the same, we’re strong people, so if it came to it and I had to spend Christmas on my own, it wouldn’t kill me actually. I’d happily sit around on the sofa and do nothing! That’s my instinct anyway, I might be totally wrong [laughs]. But for everyone else, I don’t think I have it in me to risk someone else getting ill from the gig. So that was that.”
“And in terms of how it feels cancelling gigs now”, continued Niall, “it didn’t need much of an explanation, just had to put ‘cancelled.’ It was like, you know what it is [laughs]. Having played a load of gigs in December, and looking at the industry, one thing that’s been really interesting is that a lot of people aren’t asking for refunds. They understand that the money still needs to go into the industry, and actually the twenty quid or fifteen quid or whatever it is they’ve spent, will go to helping whoever is on stage. About fifty-per-cent of people who had bought tickets were actually coming, so I thought, ya know, we can do this another time, in these circumstances.”
~ ALL I NEED, the brand new single from NIALL McNAMEE, is OUT NOW, available on all platforms and to request from radio.
I was working away at my desk last Friday when I decided to turn off the news for a change and add some music to my day instead. Tapping into my Apple Music account and scrolling through my options, the playlist Today’s Hits caught my eye for some reason so I made it my selection. And a quick glance at what was on offer soon brought a smile as wide as the Shannon to my face.
Right there in the middle of it all, keeping company with international superstars like Ed Sheeran and his recent gems Bad Habits and Shivers, Adele with I Drink Wine, boyband giants Westlife and Starlight, and Driving Home From Christmas by Dermot Kennedy…were three dudes from Tullamore and their newest banger, Close To You. What these guys have already achieved is immense. And the mind-blowing thing is that in terms of both their creative and commercial potential, they’ve barely even begun to jog yet. When they start running at full-speed…world watch out!
A few weeks back, before Close To You officially became CHASING ABBEY’s new single, I had the pleasure of catching up with the band.
It was the afternoon after their first real-life gig in a long, long time when I sat down in the Brewery Tap for a catch-up with Bee (Jonathan Byrne) and Ro (Ronan Bell). Unfortunately, the previous night’s triumph had taken its toll on the vocals of lead-singer Ted, who wasn’t able to join us. The funny thing was, having viewed the band’s stories on Insta the night before, Ro was the one I didn’t expect to see! To say he enjoyed the band’s first night back doing what they love would be an understatement! And that was the note on which we began.
What was it actually like for Bee and Ro to be back in the game again?
Bee:“It was…an adjustment. When Covid started, we were so used to gigs and being in front of people. Then when we had to start doing all the Zoom things, that was so strange. We had no clue what we were getting into and we weren’t able to feed off anyone. But then we got used to that. And now that’s been flipped on its head last night, trying to dust off the cobwebs. That was the feeling beforehand, but once we got into it, it was like we’d never left the stage…”
Ro:“It was carnage! [Laughs]. Even being back doing sound-check, being back on-stage, first time with a PA, just going through all those things, there’s a certain feeling that comes with all of that. And I hadn’t felt that in a long time. It felt special. And it was weird, because going into the gig, I thought it was going to be like a normal gig was before Covid. But once it started, with the crowd and everything, it felt like we were back to years ago. It was savage!”
Were there any nerves in the build-up?
Bee:“Yeah, but not nervous about being in front of people, more so remembering all the little things that you used to do, that would have been second nature to ya when you were gigging a lot. But now we had to start thinking about those all over again!”
Ro:“I think that was just before the gig, though, because halfway through the first song you kinda started shouting all the same stuff you would have done before, and jumping the same way [laughs], and we kinda slid back into what we always used to do. And I think we did that pretty early in the gig, which was fun.”
Bee:“A big thing for us as well, is that in the last eighteen months we’ve obviously been making a lot of music. Usually we’d make maybe five or six songs, pick our favourite one, and maybe try that one out at our next gig. But we had no gigs to try out any songs for eighteen months. And we had literally nearly a hundred songs to pick from. We played four or five of them last night, and just to feel the new songs ‘live’ was just…, THAT was something we were really missing. Because you get to feel the way it went down with the crowd. And that’s a way you’d nearly pick what your next single could be.”
There’s always a certain performance high that comes with taking to the stage, but had the high of the previous night been a little bit higher than ever before?
Ro: “Yeah. It was the best we’ve felt since Covid began. We got off stage and we just said we feel alive again, ya know! It was just nuts.”
So does that mean the comedown is that little bit lower too?
Ro:“I think we’re still a little bit high! [Laughs]. Spirits were still high this morning!”
Bee:“You get a hangover from drinking, but there’s this thing called a ‘gig hangover ‘as well, where you’re just so drained. I’d say last night will go down as one of our favourite gigs for a while.”
Like everybody else, back in March of 2020, the world came to a very sudden halt for Chasing Abbey. I asked Bee and Ro to take me back to where they were as a band when that happened…
Bee:“We had just finished ‘Lately’…”
Ro:“’Lately’, along with three other songs, we had four songs ready to go.”
Bee:“And we had picked a release date for ‘Lately’, at the end of March, beginning of April, and we were going for it. Then all of this started to come up in the media and it was happening elsewhere…”
Ro:“Yeah, happening elsewhere, so we were like, won’t affect us…”
Bee:“Then it got a little bit closer to home and we were like, well maybe we’ll push out the release by two weeks, that should do it! Just until this dies down. But then it looked like we were gonna be in this for a month, so we pushed it out for another month. And we had been soooo busy up to that, for nearly two years, so in the beginning we were kinda like, well, this is kind of a nice rest [laughs].”
Ro:“Especially in the few months before that, because we’d been working on those songs, and writing all the time, and we had shows as well. So when that first hit, we were like, this is kinda…grand, like! [Laughs].”
Bee: ”Yeah, we couldn’t leave our homes, but that was what we needed”
Ro:“But then it set in with us – with everyone – that this was gonna be here for a while.”
So that time of suddenly being apart, having been together so much and so intensely for so long, what was that like?
Ro:“At the beginning, it was ok. We went home to our own families, and that was lovely because we wouldn’t always be at home with our families all that much. So, that was nice for a little bit, but then it definitely got weird [laughs], not seeing the other lads.”
Bee: “We have a group-chat and stuff, so we all kinda kept in touch a good bit that way. But sometimes then, there might have been a day or two without any message going in, and THAT was strange because…”
Ro: “…if we’re not all together in person then the phone is always just hoppin’!”
Bee: “I think we all found it difficult at different times. At the beginning, I think we were all fine. But then it hit us about how real it all was. Like, one of us might have been down for a month, but then you’d pick yourself back up again. And then someone else might feel that way for a while. But I think that was normal, I think everyone was like that.”
Ro:“I think everyone was going through that. Even with dad in here [Paul Bell, proprietor of The Brewery Tap in Tullamore], there was just so much uncertainty. As a band, we didn’t know what to do in terms of releasing, we didn’t know when we’d have another gig, or IF we’d have another gig. You didn’t even know if you were going to get Covid and die. There was that, never mind music! We all went through different periods where different emotions were the main ones.”
Bee:“And there were a few lockdowns as well. The first lockdown was fine. But then the second one came, and we had started to make plans before that one. Then those plans all had to be pulled again.”
Ro: “It was that little bit of hope…gone, ya know.”
Having seen everything that they’ve worked so hard for, and everything that they love so much, taken away in the blink of an eye by something completely out of their control, has that changed everyone as individuals in terms of what they’ll bring back to the band now? Has it, indeed, even changed the band? Whereas previously, 110% was given to every show, from now on will that be 210%?
Ro: “There was a bit of that last night! When we were walking to the stage, we were just like, let’s just go nuuuuts out here [laughs]!”
Bee:“Just before we went on-stage, we said let’s see who can go the craziest!”
Ro: “I think there’ll definitely be a bit of that, but once we got back working we slipped back into a normal studio routine again fairly quickly.”
Bee:“But it has made us – and it will make us – appreciate the moments. So we will be a little bit more present, I think. Say with gigs, you’ll take out your in-ears maybe, and just listen to the crowd, really take it in. Rather than just going, that’s unreal, you might just take a minute to go…wow, this is incredible! But ya know, we did also realise a song during Covid and it’s one of our most popular songs, ‘Lately.’It wasn’t all bad either.”
Ro:“That was like a test release, because we had to really think outside the box, and it was actually exciting to do that, to do a release completely different to how we normally would. Like, we couldn’t go to a radio station. We couldn’t sit down with people. We couldn’t do anything!
Bee:“We did it all from a room!”
Ro:“Yeah, and it went so well that it’s become a very proud thing for us, that release. And I think it impressed a lot of people, too. We hear that a lot.”
Bee: “Even the music video, we had a period where the first lockdown lifted…”
Ro:“It was in between them.”
Bee:“Yeah, and inter-county travel was allowed. So we had one week to get the whole thing done. And we did. But, oh my God [laughs].”
Ro:“I think we were up in Dublin with one of the videographers, and that was just a day or two days before we couldn’t travel again. We JUST got it all done in time!”
Considering how much the band were able to write during lockdown, I wondered if the different conditions for writing – not being around each other, not being around people, not being able to gig – if all of that had affected them creatively, and changed how they write?
Bee:“All the music kind of stayed within the normal [way that we’d write]…”
Ro:“Yeah, it did. The only thing that would have changed was the inspiration aspect, because you’re just going through the same kind of mundane thing every day. That definitely made a difference, compared to coming off the high of a gig, when you could write ten songs! In lockdowns at home, well, myself definitely, we upskilled a lot, in terms of production. In that way, we’ve come on an awful lot in the last two years or eighteen months. That’s changed the way we go about things in the studio. Some things are done quicker, easier, and end up sounding better.”
Bee:“We can literally do everything just from a room now.”
Ro:“Yeah. Whereas before, it was at ‘a level’, ya know, but it wasn’t at THAT level. But having the time, and when there was no pressure of writing songs to release them, we were able to get lost in learning different skills.”
So if upskilling might have been one of the ways that Ro got through things by becoming something he could focus his attention on, what filled that role for Bee or even Ted?
Bee:“Initially, I suppose, because I don’t live with my family, so just coming back home to them. That took up a couple of months because we got to spend a lot of time together. I also got into cooking! I did a lot of that, and explored a lot of different diets, all that kind of stuff.”
Ro:“I started running as well. We all went through a bit of a running phase. Our house is down by a canal, so I used to do quite a bit of running around there, which I never did before. We’d meet up outdoors and go running.”
Bee:“But mainly, I think, what we did was just chilled out through it all. Just took a breather.”
At this stage of their careers, Chasing Abbey is a brand, a machine in a way. How do the lads plan on bringing that machine back to life after a lay-off like this?
Bee: “Well we have loads of music there. And we didn’t put any pressure on ourselves to release the next song, because we really want to find the one that can bring us to the next stage. That’s why we wrote so much. We have a few contenders now, so when the right one hits we’re just gonna put everything into it.”
Ro: “New music will really help with that, and then the introduction of more gigs as well. One thing we’ve all loved from the start of Chasing Abbey is the ‘live’ shows. So that mix of new music, and playing those songs at ‘live’ shows will ramp it back up pretty quickly.
Bee: “And once the music is out, we’ll go back on tour.”
Aside from what the band had done online, was there anything else they’d done to stay connected to their fans over the last eighteen months?
Bee: “We started making Tik-Toks, not music related ones, more kind of sketch based.”
Ro: “At the very, very beginning of Covid, Tik-tok was really taking off because everyone was at home, it was the new app. We jumped on that with ‘Lately’.”
Bee:“And it’s funny, we have our most social media followers on Tik-Tok.”
Ro:“And that’s mad, because that’s a lot of new people. Obviously it’s a mix, a lot of people did know of us, but we’ve definitely made new fans as well. It’s a different way of interacting.”
Bee:“We went through a stage with it where it was all music, then it was all promoting ‘Lately’, then a stage where it was all sketches where there was really no music involved.”
Ro:“For our next release, we’ll definitely have a Tik-Tok campaign, because it’s huge. Huge!”
So what is next for the band?
Ro:“I think right now, we’re just looking at singles. So a single, and then the next single. We’re not even thinking too far ahead. Just the next one that feels right.”
Bee: “And feels right in every aspect, the timing, the story, the sound of it. Is it gonna take us a step forward to what music sounds like now? Will it be fresh? There are so many different things to consider. But we think we’re nearly there…!”
~ CLOSE TO YOU, the brand NEW single from CHASING ABBEY, is OUT NOW, available to stream and download from all platforms, and to request from radio.
DEIRDRE’S LATEST SINGLE GIVES THANKS FOR AWARD NOD, TV, & MORE
Rising country music star DEIRDRE KEANE has revealed that the follow-up to her summer single – her version of the Tom Paxton classic Last Thing On My Mind – is a re-release of her hit from this time last year, I JUST WANT TO THANK YOU, LORD. But she has a very good reason for that being the case, because it’s Deirdre’s way of giving thanks for all the good things that have come her way in the past year.
As the Banagher based singer continues to win new fans on the country scene, she already had plenty of reasons to be grateful for all of the support that she’s received over the last year or so, even before the invitation to take part in next year’s series of the hitTG4 show GLÓR TÍRE came her way too, courtesy of singer/songwriter CIARAN ROSNEY who will be her mentor. But as of last week, the Galway native has yet another reason to look back fondly on what 2021 – even in a year as tough as there’s ever been for entertainers – has brought her way…an international award nomination!
“It’s funny”, observes Deirdre, “because it had actually been on my mind that I’d like to do something with this particular song again. I originally released ‘I Just Want To Thank You, Lord’ last year, and it received such a wonderful reaction, with people really taking it into their hearts. And I think as well, the sentiment of the song – just being thankful for everything we do have, even when times are hard – that really resonated with people. In the year since then, even though it’s obviously been extremely difficult for all of us in the music world, for me personally, the support that has continued to come my way from people is what has kept me going through it all.”
Deirdre continued, “So I wanted to find some way to say thank-you to everyone for that. It felt like the right thing to do, and an important thing to do. And that was before Ciaran got in touch and sprang Glór Tíre on me [laughs]. When that happened, I said right, I need to acknowledge my good fortune here, definitely, and do something to let people know there’s so much that I appreciate. But I suppose the fact that I had just released ‘I Just Want To Thank You, Lord’ last year made me think I probably couldn’t release it again so soon.”
That decision was pretty much taken out of Deirdre’s own hands last week, however, with the news that I Just Want To Thank You, Lord has been nominated in the Gospel/Christian category of the Holland based FAIR PLAY COUNTRY MUSIC AWARDS. And, taking it as a sign to follow what had been her natural instinct anyway, Deirdre has sent the song back to radio for a second time.
“That news came out of the blue! I was stunned, actually, because I’m still at that stage of my career where I’m not even thinking about anything like awards. I just want to make sure I keep recording great songs, and releasing the kind of music that I love, and that I hope people will enjoy. To suddenly be nominated for an award, anywhere, nevermind in Europe, that left me speechless. But coming on top of everything with Ciaran and Glór Tíre, it just made me realise again how lucky I am to be doing something I love so much. So I wanted to say thank you for that, to everyone who makes it in any way possible. And luckily, I had the very song to do exactly that!”
Written by Judy Marshall of the Marshall Family, I Just Want To Thank You, Lord became Keane’s third single when it was first released a year ago asthe follow up to that September’s radio-friendly take on the Sara Evans 2004 country-chartopper Suds In The Bucket. That single reinforced Keane’s undeniable emergence as a vocal powerhouse, something which first became clear on her 2019 debut single, 57 Chevrolet, taken from the Billie Jo Spears songbook.
With 2022 just around the corner, Glór Tíre shortly to hit our screens, and work continuing on her highly anticipated debut album, all the signs are on it that this could be a break-out year for Deirdre.
~ I JUST WANT TO THANK YOU, LORD is now available to request from radio stations nationwide. To stay up to date with Deirdre’s Glór Tíre journey, and all the latest news on her music career – including that Fair Play Country Music Award nomination – you can follow her on both Facebook and Instagram by searching ‘Deirdre Keane Music.’