THE FANS INTERVIEW
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weeks ago, before The Dubliners came to play Vienna, we invited the fans
at the Dubliners forum
to send in their questions - a free for all to bring up whatever you
always wanted to know but were afraid to ask.
Out came a mixed bag of questions of
all sorts, group-related, individual, about the music, about sports,
about touring. We brought these forward to the band and with the big
hearts they have for their fans, they answered quite a few.
We emphasize that we did not seek out
for your typical interview situation - we just slipped in the odd
question now and then, trying to keep it as easy-going as these evenings
Will there be more Irish dates in
John Sheahan: Probably weekend gigs similar to this year;
we wouldn't do a full tour.
Speaking of tours, will there be more
gigs in England in 2008?
John Sheahan: We have sort of neglected France and Spain
recently so we need to put something else a bit on hold. There may be
the occasional gig like Liverpool (Note: 19th Oct. 2007), but there are
no plans for a full tour at the moment.
of the current program, what are your favorites a) you enjoy hearing the
most and b) enjoy performing the most?
Eamonn Campbell: For enjoyment, the sailor song Patsy does,
All For Me Grog, musically Cill Chais, strictly from a guitar's player
point of view.
Patsy Watchorn: St.
Patrick's Cathedral by John Sheahan, fiddle and tin whistle, that's a
beautiful piece, would be my favourite, wonderful piece of music. After
that.... that would be very hard to pick. One of my favourite songs,
Seán sings it, as the songs goes, The Night Visiting Song would be my
choice. Out of those I sing, it would be The Dublin Minstrel and my hit
The Rare Old Times.
Seán Cannon: I think all of
these songs I do, because I wouldn't have learned them if I didn't like
them, I liked them when I heard them first. Out of mine, I'd say The
Night Visiting Song I really like singing. Which actually is very easy
to do, a small range (laughs). It's amazing how simple it is.
John Sheahan: So that couldn't be the same one? (laughs) No no,
that would be what Barney calls incest. Which one I enjoy playing the
Seán Cannon: The last one!
John Sheahan: The last one (laughs again), yeah, I love Molly
Malone, means we're closer to the bar! Now for a serious answer, last
night I probably enjoyed St. Patrick's Cathedral the most. Haven't
played it in a while and it felt fresh with a new kind of energy in it.
And which one do I like to hear the others playing? The Dublin Minstrel
and Cill Chais.
you consider an album "Ciaran Bourke With The Dubliners"?
Eamonn Campbell: I
honestly don't think there's enough material. Some of it is so old and
the recordings are awful. If you try to digitally remaster it it's gonna
sound worse because if you clean it up you're gonna be left with nothing
- that's the problem with the very very old recordings. You can remaster
up to a point and then you ruin them.
John Sheahan: I'm not
sure if there is enough individual tracks of Ciaran, but it would be a
nice thing to do.
Did you know Ciaran Bourke, Patsy?
Patsy Watchorn: I did of course, yes. I followed the Dubs
when Bob Lynch was with them. Then I started my own band, The Jolly
Tinkers and on to The Quare Fellas and on to the Dublin City Ramblers,
then on to me own, Patsy Watchorn Agus A Chairde and then on to The
Dubliners - so, what's next? (laughs). But Ciaran Bourke, I knew him
very very well, God be good to Ciaran, he played the guitar and the
whistle and sang some great songs. As you know, I still do All For Me
Grog. He sang a couple of Irish songs, and The Dublin Fusiliers, a
couple of good rebel songs. Given how it was back then, I too doubt
there is enough material suitable to today's quality standards.
Eamonn, considering that you were one of
Ireland's most sought producers before becoming a Dubliner,working
with simply everybody, have you ever regretted joining The Dubliners?
No, I'm enjoying what I'm doing. It's great to play for people. It was
all studio work before, it's different, it pays the rent and you get a
great satisfaction to know that you have done these arrangements: You
heard these arrangements in your head, you write 'em down on paper and
then you hear them played, it's a great feeling. But as soon as that's
done, it's gone, as soon as the concert is over, the music is gone. You
get something from the audience.
You've been among other things with
Dermot O'Brien And The Clubmen, who also wrote Dublin Town In 1962.
Eamonn Campbell: Yes. I
started with him in 1964. Sadly he passed away three months ago. I got
to see him four days before he died, took a taxi up from Dublin, spent
hours and we had a great chat. Then I went on to play with other bands,
but in fact, that's how I met them - I met The Dubliners when I was with
Dermot O'Brien. He had a huge hit in 1966 with a song called The Merry
Ploughboy and we were doing a concert tour of England, which for an
Irish showband was amazing. The Dubliners started to get a break at that
time and then Seven Drunken Nights was released. So that was how we met,
I played with orchestras, lots of TV and radio, and we kept in touch all
over the years.
many years now your name is inseparably connected with producing all the
albums and arrangements of The Dubliners. That leads to the question
that the last 'real' studio album is over a decade old...?
Eamonn Campbell: Yes, I
did all that. And yes, it was when Paddy joined, 'Further Along'. Then a
lot of the 40 years recordings was newly recorded, old songs, yes, but
new recordings like Jim McCann singing Carrickfergus. And then we
brought out a sampler when Patsy joined us, with seven new tracks. If I
had my way, we'd be doing one a year, but then there are other things to
consider as well, you know.
Which English football team are you
a fan of?
Patsy Watchorn: Chelsea!
Eamonn Campbell: Man United! Since 1957! Fifty years!
Seán Cannon: I'm not really
a fan of any football team. I watch big matches like the world cup
sometimes. I live in Coventry since 1955 and I only have been to the
stadium twice. But the new stadium is quite impressive, I might go there
John Sheahan: I don't have one, I'm not a football fan and have
absolutely no interest in it.
Do you still practice?
John Sheahan: Taking
out the fiddle and play? I do, yeah, quite often! I find it a help to
leave the fiddle case open, in the kitchen, to leave the fiddle
accessible, and then I might pick it up and play a tune while the kettle
is boiling. While if you leave it locked and away, it's too much of a
hassle to take it out.
Eamonn Campbell: I do actually. I'm self-taught, taught
myself totally. I'm originally from a place called Drogedha, 30 miles
north of Dublin, I taught myself the guitar and then I realized I need
to learn to read music. So there was a brass band in Drogedha and I went
to that band and I learned the theory of music. The theory is the same
if you play the guitar or the fiddle or the trumpet. Then I bought me
some books on the guitar, there are some excellent ones, like Sal Salvador's Single String Studies,
it's an amazing book. Then there is a great course that you can get from
the Berkeley School Of Music in America, three books. I got my own music
at home and I have my guitars; I have a lot of guitars, also electric
guitars as I'm originally a rock and country-rock player, and I simply
take out a book and open up a page.
Patsy Watchorn: I do, yeah. I'd sit at home and I'd take out my
banjo for half an hour and then put it away and then I'd take it out
again. Singing some little songs, could be Country & Western,
ballads, folk songs, republican songs, all depends on the mood I'm in,
but I do rehearse, yes. Very seldom on the Bodhran, because it's not
necessary. Also, I've always had a Spanish guitar and if I was learning
a song I sort of picked the chords on the guitar first and then
transferred it to the voice and the banjo. But I wouldn't introduce it
Seán Cannon: Practice? Do you mean if I'm a practicing Catholic?
(Laughs). Ok, the answer is Yes, you have to.
Why do the Dubliners play the same
stuff every year?
Eamonn Campbell: Plain
simple: Because the people want to hear it.
Patsy Watchorn: Listen to the requests coming up during the gigs
- there are songs we don't do or haven't done in a while, but most of
the requests is for the standards. We also got the Seven Drunken Nights
as a request one of those days.
Heard the people shouting songs
from the back last night? The Town I Loved So Well? Boys Of The Old
Brigade? Sean South?
Patsy Watchorn: Really?
No, I didn't hear them. I've recorded the three of them. And I'd
love to do Sean South. I gladly would love to sing that song, it's a
very good one.
Eamonn Campbell: Having said that, there is also not much
new material that suits us. Songwriters have dried up, or, put it that
way, the stuff they're writing doesn't suit The Dubliners.
What key does Barney play The Old
Eamonn Campbell: D.
What's the funniest incident with
The Dubliners you can recall?
Eamonn Campbell: Oh God,
Patsy Watchorn: There are so many with Barney, he comes out with
some great statements - he comes up with classics every night. I
remember them telling me about a time when they were doing London, and
at 2 o'clock in the morning Barney decides he wants to go to bed, so he
says "Good night lads, see you all in the morning!". The lads
say, "G'night Barney, we finish another beer and off we go!".
Then when they went over to the lift, pressed the button and the door
opens - and there is Barney standing there in the elevator, firmly
snuggled into a corner and soundly asleep. So they wake him up: "Barney!"
And Barney's reaction was, "Ha! What is all you doin' in my room?"
John Sheahan: One funny incident? That's maybe something
that's been told already, but one very funny incident was the day that I
joined the group they broke up! The day I left my job and we got
together to discuss, to have a chat about the future and where we might
go from here. During the course of the meeting, there was a row between
Ronnie and Barney and the group broke up! (laughs) That was the first
funny thing that happened to me, but it didn't seem so funny at the time
because I just had given up my good daytime job. But a day later, Ronnie
phoned me and said, "Are you ok for next Friday?", and I said,
"I thought the group broke up last night, Ronnie?", and he
said, "Don't take any notice of that, that happens every week!"
Seán Cannon: I wondered why
nobody asked the most obvious question - who's the world's greatest philosopher?
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