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One of the GRTR! Heroes, John McManus was the talented frontman of acclaimed Celtic fusion band Celtus. Before that he performed in the successful eighties hard rock outfit Mama's Boys, with his brothers Tommy and Pat.

By way of an update, we caught up with John at the and of 2006 and asked about his current activities and plans for the New Year.

John McManus

1. What are you currently up to (gigs, plans etc)

I am still writing music for film & TV, and also developing a new, young Pop/R'n'B artist called Abi Ryan. It's a huge departure from what I am used to, but it's been a big challenge and alot of fun. Watch out for her!

You can hear two of the tracks I've done with her titled 'Nasty Boy' and 'Make A Change' if you check out her website: The live version of 'Nasty Boy' will be available soon, which was recorded at Bristol City FC - Abi opened for Ronan Keating in June this year.

2. What has been the reaction to Rivers of Time?

Very, very good. It's done very well for me. This album was written for a production company, and not a solo album. It was never intended to sell to fans, but due to demand, it has been made available.

3. Are you still recording library music and with what success?

Yes, I am, and it's working well. If you watch shows like What Not To Wear, and Faking It, you might hear some of it.

I've also finished the entire music for a 60 minute documentary on the battle to free 17 people imprisoned in Grenada. It will be sold globally in the coming months. You wouldn't believe the amount of music that goes into an hour long programme! I've also finished music for 4 short films.

4. Do you miss the Celtus days?

Yes, of course I do miss the Celtus days, touring, and getting the feedback from our live performances. The audiences were so appreciative and loyal. It was a shame it had to end.

5. How do you view that period of your musical career, with the benefit of hindsight?

It was a great experience, but also very stressful. When you have the pressure of a record company looking for that elusive hit single, you find yourself writing material for the wrong reasons.

I just wish we could have managed to have toured Celtus a lot more outside the UK, and I regret not having had the chance to take the band to America, as I feel it would have been a huge market for what we were doing. But that's life...

John McManus

6. Can you ever see a time when there will be a Celtus reunion, perhaps a one-off gig?

I never, ever say never.

7. What's on your iPod (assuming you have one) What music are you currently listening to?

Yes, I have an iPod, and I've just discovered a band called The Jayhawks which I like a lot. They are American, and I love them because of their melodies and harmonies, particularly on the album called Smile.

I'm also listening to alot of R'n'B, due to my involvement with Abi Ryan and that's everything from Destiny's Child, Christine Aguilera and Rihanna.

I'm also a big fan of Eminem. I had the pleasure of travelling with the Eminem entourage to Ireland for two shows, which were fantastic.

8. What is your all-time favourite album and why?

This is a very difficult question to answer. The album that had the most impact on my life was The Book Of Invasions by Irish band Horslips when I was a teenager.

But I am fanatical about Pink Floyd. Momentary Lapse Of Reason, would be one of them, because on tracks like 'On The Turning Away' I feel a sense of Irishness in the melody.

I adore Dave Gilmour's guitar playing. I would just LOVE to play flute on a Pink Floyd track. I was very lucky to have seen them in the original line-up at G8, Hyde Park in 2005 - and got to meet them after the show.

Oh, and U2 of course - awesome. I love everything they have done from The Joshua Tree onwards

9. What are your plans for the coming year?

Well, I was supposed to tour with Jon Lord from Deep Purple, but that seems to be put on hold for the time being.

I will be working with Abi Ryan quite a bit as we are compiling songs for her debut album, which is due for release later in the year.

10. A message for your fans?

I hope you all have a great New Year in 2007 and thank you for your continued support. Stay healthy, wishing you all peace and happiness - and miss you all lots.

Interview © 2006 David Randall

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