What are you
currently up to?
Right now I'm packing my bag for another trip to England and Scotland for a run
of gigs. I've been on an acoustic tour since the end of May playing shows and
doing lots of promo for the new album. My diary is filled with gigs for the rest
of the summer so my suitcase is my best friend for the next couple of months.
Could you take us through the new album ‘The Week the Clocks Changed’
Well firstly the title of the album comes from my song "The Ballad of Carla
Boone." This is a narrative about a stranger moving into a small town on the
week that the clocks changed. It deals with some of the themes of small town
As this is my
debut album I had the luxury of being able to draw on all the material from my
full back catalogue. One song, "Mercury Is Falling" had been around for about
eight years while the newest song, "Trousdale Drive" was written just a couple
of weeks before the recording in August '07.
The songs deal
with themes of love lost and love found. I'm also drawn to writing about
characters who are lost souls and who find themselves on the outside of things.
There are two co-written tracks on the album. I just discovered the process of
co-writing in Nashville a few months before the recording of the album and it's
something I definitely want to explore in the future.
You have a lot of top name guests involved on your album including Vince Gill
and Al Perkins. How did you meet up with them and what was it like meeting some
of your musical heroes?
I was introduced to Vince at the Grand Ole Opry by a mutual friend of ours. That
meeting led to Vince coming into the studio and laying down some vocals and
mandolin on the record. He just picked up his 23rd Grammy this year and so
needless to say that it was a massive honour that he wanted to be involved with
I'm a big Gram
Parsons fan and Al Perkins played pedal-steel on some of my favourite Parson's
albums. So to meet Al let alone have him play on my album was a huge thrill. I
have to admit that there was never any sense of it being unreal or overwhelming
having the guys in the studio. This was due to the fact that they're very down
to earth characters with no egos. They all just acted like they were part of the
How hard/easy has it been to get yourself and your music known? How do you
view downloads – do they help or hinder new artists?
It's no secret that this is a difficult industry. You need total commitment and
belief in your music because it's journey in which you take some hard punches.
The upside of the turmoil that major labels and the music industry in general is
going through is that it's possible for independent artists to record and
distribute their music universally to people who want to hear it.
Downloads are a
great way of discovering new artists and it's through portals like Myspace that
I'm reaching new audiences. I'm interested in the argument that is ongoing over
the free transferability of music.
As an artist I'm
prepared to give away free downloads if that is what it takes to get me and my
music known. I do feel though that it's only fair to the artists though if
there's some regulation in file to file sharing. Music is being distributed in
new ways now so I think we've no choice but to embrace new models.
How did you get your first break into the music business? What piece of
advice would you pass onto budding musicians?
It's been more of a series of breaks rather than one break. Making my first trip
to Nashville last year was important as it introduced me to a whole new network
of people and musicians. Getting to work with my producer, JD Foster, was very
important as he steered me along in recording my album.
and events have been kind to me over the years and all the small breaks I got
over the years is helping build momentum. I know this is a cliche, but as for
advice I would say the most important thing you can do is to follow your heart.
I studied Law at university but my instincts told me that music was what I had
to do. Stay honest to your instinct.
What have been the live highlights so far? Who would you like to tour with in
an ideal world?
The highlight has definitely been the recording of the album in Nashville back
in August '07. I was working with one of my favourite producers, JD Foster, I
was recording in one of the best studios in the world, Blackbird Studios, and
every day there seemed to be another one of my musical heroes dropping by the
studio to say hello or perform on the record!
I'd love to tour with Willie Nelson. I've been in his camp a couple of times
recently and it would be quite an entourage to be part of.
Any good rock 'n' roll tales to tell?
Last August, around the 30th anniversary of Elvis' death I was in Memphis
onboard Willie Nelson's tour bus with the man himself (Willie that is, not
Elvis), Merle Haggard and Mickey Raphael. Spending time with a couple of true
American musical legends on the banks of the Mississippi on a smoke filled bus
was quite a rock'n'roll tale in itself! For me it's going to take quite a night
to beat that experience. For me it's going to take quite a night to beat that
Who are your musical heroes and why?
I have two pictures on the wall in the room where I do most of my writing - Bob
Dylan and Hank Williams. I'm a singer-songwriter who plays acoustic guitar so I
don't think I have to expand on why Bob is a hero.
I'm also a sucker
for the all the romance that goes along with the legend of Hank and he wasn't
called the "Hillbilly Shakespeare" for nothing. Willie Nelson is another hero. I
guess the common thread between these three guys is that they've all written
great songs and they have such strong identities.
What do you like doing with your spare time outside of music?
I play golf whenever I get the chance. I have a hide-away in a remote part of
Donegal in the north of Ireland and there's nothing better to rejuvenate the
spirit and senses than spending a few hours on the golf courses up there!!
Willie's motto is "Golf, sex and rock'n'roll." That sounds pretty good to me.
Message for your fans..
It's been great meeting new faces out on the road over the past few weeks and
months and I'm looking forward to having a few more pints with new fans after
the upcoming shows.
Interview © 2008 Jason Ritchie.
All rights reserved.