Interview with Eamonn Campbell, Patsy Watchorn, Jan. 2006

Interview with:

Eamonn Campbell (producer)
Patsy Watchorn (first Dubs release)

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The latest release of The Dubliners is a seven-track album with the soberingly plain title Dubliners Tour Sampler. We add the year 2005 to this as you never know what will come up next! It was limited to 1,000 copies, produced for the German tour in November/December 2005 and stunningly affordable given the huge following of the Dubs. We had the chance to sneak in a few minutes and talk to two of the guys about the release: Eamonn Campbell, who produced the album, and Patsy Watchorn, for whom this is his first release with the Dubliners. 

What was the idea behind the album?
Eamonn Campbell: That actually was very simple: We have a new singer on board and wanted to have something fresh and up-to-date in stock for the German tour. By that time, Patsy was with us for two previous tours, we are working really well together so it was about time to visit the studio.

It was a rather quick decision?
Patsy Watchorn: Yes. We had been talking about it in October, we made the final decision shortly after the Holland tour and went into the studio in early November so you can imagine from going in there to the final product it was a tight schedule, and we just made it to have these ready in Germany.

Where was the album recorded respectively mixed?
Eamonn Campbell: It was done at Virtustudios in the Jervis Lane MultiMedia Complex, just off the upper end of Capel Street. Dave Slevin was engineering. 

How did you decide which songs to select?
Eamonn Campbell: We tried to balance it out between doing songs we never or rarely did and tunes that reflect the current program. I know we have recorded countless Irish songs, but there are still some we didn't do, some we did but never released, some we did release ages ago.

Obviously, not all of the songs were recorded especially for the album?
Eamonn Campbell: No, we picked some out of the archives after listening to stuff for hours, which fit nicely into what I said before.

The Dubliners: 40 YearsWhere does "When The Boys Come Rolling Home" (Sťan Cannon) come from?
Eamonn Campbell: That is the only one that was released earlier. It's from the 40 Years album of 2002 and was used here because the songs did very well in Austria and Holland in 2005.

Are "Night Visiting Song" (Sťan Cannon) and "I Wish I Had Someone To Love Me" (Barney McKenna) from the same source?
Eamonn Campbell: Yes, they are and these have never been available before. We did eight glorious nights at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin in October 2004 and these two songs are from back then. We never have used anything from those nights, so these two are completely new versions. I remixed them for the album release and there you go. That choir on Barney's actually is the audience singing along.

"All For Me Grog" is not even an Irish song - why was it picked for a mini album?
Patsy Watchorn: It is hugely popular in Germany; we did not even have it in our program in Austria but we thought to include it in Germany and, consequently, on the album. 

"Waltzing With Angels" introduces another waltz - seems there is a 'market' for the John Sheahan waltzes?
Eamonn Campbell: Oh yes, that is true. Everybody is craving for John's waltzes so we are giving everybody what they want. 

"The Ferryman" on the other hand has been recorded millions of times by many people; why was this one chosen?
Patsy Watchorn: Well, it was a huge hit for myself in 1984 and it was covered by too many people to think of. We had the chance to add a nice chapter to The Dubliners list of releases, to mine, but whichever way you want to look at it: The greatest Irish folk band ever is recording one of the greatest Irish ballads ever - with the original singer! I'd say that this was an opportunity not to be missed.

"The Dublin Minstrel" is about Luke Kelly, so we're going full circle here?
Patsy Watchorn: Absolutely. Everybody who has seen me, whether it may be with the Dubliners or with my own band, knows that I never forget to remind everybody about my old buddy and the legacy he left us. So I was extremly pleased to have the opportunity to record this tribute song with the very band that played with Luke.

What was important to you from the producers' point of view?
Eamonn Campbell: There was limited time at my hands and Sťan not with us in Dublin, so I had to compromise, but I still stick to the old tradition of getting as many folks into the studio to play together as possible. As experienced as everybody is, there still is that extra reward in liveliness if you have the band playing together and not everybody going into the studio without ever seeing the other fellows. So that's what we tried, and eventually did.

How was the recording going along?
Patsy Watchorn: Nicely. The first day I put down the vocals for my songs with John and Eamonn. Next day Barney went in and the following day I was called back to put down my banjo on the tracks. We went in at 11 AM the first day; that was rather early, I have to admit [laughs].

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