Interview

Archive Interview: 2004 – EMusic Interview – Andy Irvine – Mozaik – Event Guide

When East Meets West

As if reuniting with Planxty wasn’t enough, Andy Irvine continues with Mozaik, another musical project combining Eastern European sounds with Irish and American vibes. Úna Mullally spoke to him about the music.

‘Live From The Powerhouse’ is the new record. How do you feel about it?

I love it! I think it’s great. We were in Australia, coming towards the end of a tour and we had the foresight to rent recording equipment and record it.

The Eastern European influence – does that stem from your time in those parts in the 60s?

The Eastern European side definitely does but as well, that old-time American sound has always been a huge influence for me, and I think that comes across strongly too.

People have been predicting the death of trad for years, but it hasn’t exactly come about yet, has it?

No, not at all. There are an awful lot of bands out there keeping it going, and more. The state of Irish traditional music has never been healthier. People like Kíla spring to mind.

Of course, the big news was Planxty reforming. How did it happen?

We’d been meeting for about five years, just having dinner together and discussing old times. I think somebody just posed the question of reforming and everybody was into it. We all lept at it really. We went on meeting and recording and sometimes it seemed it would happen and sometimes it didn’t. I think the catalyst was Leagues O’Toole’s No Disco programme on us. We realised that if we didn’t get back to Planxty now, we’d all be dead in a while and never able to make that choice.

Were you disappointed when No Disco ended?

It was terrible. And RTE never explained it. I don’t know why they did it. Mr. RTE obviously has a mind of his own. They’re not doing what the people want. I just didn’t understand that decision at all.

Were you nervous about playing together after all those years?

It did occur to me that we’d get up and play it and it wouldn’t work. I thought people could’ve raised us in their memories and then be disappointed with what we actually played. But that absolutely didn’t happen. The music seemed so fresh again. 100% of the people I’ve talked to about the shows in Vicar Street were blown away by it. But, y’know, there’s no full-time about Planxty. We continue one step at a time. I suppose the CD and DVD were a last step but then we are doing 12 concerts next December and January.

What happens then?

There are no plans to record. We are going to get together for a meeting on the 1st of February and we’ll see what happens.

What’s the tour like with Mozaik?

It starts on July 18th and goes on to August 3rd. We start at the Erragail Arts festival, then Galway and so on, and it finishes at a show in West Belfast.

How do you feel about being labelled way up there as a ‘legend’ when it comes to trad?

It doesn’t bother me. If people want to call me that…well, I don’t know if I’m flattered by it. It doesn’t sway me. It’s kind of silly, really. Surely you can’t be a legend in your own lifetime?


Mozaik, with support from Dirty 3, play The Village, on Dublin’s Wexford Street, as part of the Bud Rising Festival on Tuesday 27th July. Doors 8pm, tickets €20.

http://www.andyirvine.com / http://www.budrising.ie / http://www.thevillagevenue.com / www.ticketmaster.ie
EMusic Interview - Andy Irvine / Mozaik. Event guide.

source: china2galway.com  [dead link]

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Interview: Cork Folk Festival headliner Andy Irvine on the road again

Monday, September 25, 2017

At 75, Cork Folk Festival headliner Andy Irvine still gets a buzz out of touring and playing his music, writes Joe Dermody.

Andy Irvine plays Triskel in Cork on Thursday night.

FOREVER the musician’s musician, Andy Irvine also has the somewhat unusual good fortune to be almost universally loved by audiences.

Expect a warm reception this Thursday when he headlines a night in Triskel Christchurch as part of this year’s Cork Folk Festival. His show follows the impressive opening act of Maighread and Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill, the famed sisters of the Bothy Band and Skara Brae.

“Hardly an opening act, more like a double bill,” Andy jokingly corrects me. Fair point.

Given his unique vocal style, you might expect the mention of Andy Irvine’s name to polarise opinion. Not at all.

In fact, if he were on Facebook, he’d break the ‘Like’ counter. When I tell people I’ve interviewed the London-born singer, literally everyone I speak to says they love Andy. Quickly followed by ‘What’s he like?’

As it turns out, he’s very chilled. I was running late for the interview, stuck in traffic, so I texted to seek a 15-minute delay. He texts back: “No problem, Joe!”

When I land, I begin with an apology. He stops me: “You weren’t interrupting anything. I was only out doing a bit of gardening.”

At 75, the gardening helps keep him fit, he says. And he is very fit. Mind you, he has been on his feet a long time. He began touring with Sweeney’s Men in 1965.

He still does shows all over the world, and he regularly gigs with Mozaik, Patrick Street and Paul Brady. Does he still love it as much as ever?

“I have always enjoyed it,” he says. “When I started out, I had no idea that I’d make a living out of music. I can’t think of a single time when I said to myself ‘I hate this’.

“I have said yes to so many gigs over the years. At this time of the year, I’d usually be going to Germany, usually in November, but I’m not this year. I am doing a show in Argentina in December; there’s a great folk club there that I really like. I’m also a big hit in Patagonia.”

It’s not just for his name that Irvine is big in the Andes. He brings a lot of travel and cultural depth to the way he plays mandolin; mandola; bouzouki; hurdy-gurdy; guitar-bodied bouzouki. His sound connects with people in so many cultures.

Irvine formed the legendary Planxty with Christy Moore, Donal Lunny and Liam O’Flynn in 1982. The band’s epic all-too-brief reunion was captured on a great DVD of their 2004 Vicar Street performances. Any chance of further reunions?

“No one has mentioned it. It’s too bad that it hasn’t happened again. I really enjoyed that. We were better than we had ever been, as energetic as we were as young men, and

musically we were more mature.

“Vicar Street is a lovely place to play, like a big folk club. I also really like the Triskel. I played there a good few times, including a Sweeney’s Men reunion. It feels like a concert venue.”

Last year’s 40th reunion shows with Paul Brady were also a big

success, featuring appearances by Donal Lunny and Kevin Burke. Any more of those on the horizon?

“We are thinking of doing something again next year, but we’re not sure. You can hardly celebrate your 41st or 42nd anniversary. Paul is such a great writer, and it’s good to mix styles. Paul’s main line is a different line to mine. He’s a bit rockier than I am.”

While on the subject of revivals, any chance of Andy reviving his acting career? He appeared in several Abbey productions, had a small role in the film Room At The Top (1959). Then, from about the ages of 8-14, he was a child star in RTÉ’s soap opera Tolka Row.

“I was a great child actor, but then I lost the desire. I did a lot of TV. I was in Tolka Row until 1963, and it was around this time that I started my music career. We were all playing in clubs before we played together. Sweeney’s Men was our first band.

“Then I had a desire to travel. In 1968, I headed to Eastern Europe. I learned a lot of new instruments and new rhythms.

“When I came back to Ireland, other people also started playing those rhythms. I suppose that’s what I brought to folk music.”

That’s a fairly modest account of Andy’s role in the way that Irish folk music broadened and evolved in the 1970s and into the 1980s.

The reality is that he is among the henchmen of choice for all the big names of the folk circuit, not just in Ireland but all over the globe.

I try to confirm one old tale of how the ballad of ‘Little Musgrave’ came into being. One version of the tale goes that Christy Moore found some old lyrics in a library, but no tune; Andy put a tune to it, and it became an all-time favourite for many.

“Whatever Christy said is fine by me. Let the legend stand; I wouldn’t want to be the one to knock it down,” says Andy politely, but firmly.

No guff, no showbiz blarney, nothing but the music. There’s a good reason Andy Irvine remains one of the most celebrated and loved of Ireland’s folk stars, both with the musicians and the fans.

Andy Irvine plays Triskel Christchurch in Cork on Thursday as part of Cork Folk Festival. Also on the bill for the gig are Also Maighread and Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill.

 

From <http://www.corkfolkfestival.com/cork-folk-festival-headliner-andy-irvine-on-the-road-again/>

Archive: 2005 – Interview with Thistle Radio

As a multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter, Andy Irvine has been a part of some of the most influential Irish music recordings and a member of Sweeney’s Men, Planxty, Moving Hearts and Patrick Street.

(This interview was recorded in Perthshire in 2005)

Fiona:
I’ve met with Andy Irvine and we’re sitting, on a lovely, sunny morning, overlooking the banks of the River Tay. And it’s just a great opportunity to stop for a moment with you on your travels and talk a little bit about what you’ve been doing all these years. So thanks for taking the time to meet up with me.

Andy:
A great pleasure, great pleasure Fiona.

Fiona:
When I think back on your journey and I think of Sweeney’s Men and up through the years with Planxty, and on with Patrick Street and all through that your solo work, it’s been a long road, and a long journey. What leads you on?

Andy:
Oh, well that’s a difficult one really. I’m trying not to be lead on quite as much in future. I haven’t started my new regime yet, but, I don’t know, I kind of complain all the time and say ‘Oh, I’m not going to do this. I’m going to cut down on my touring etc.’ and I never do. Maybe I can’t say no. ‘I’m just a boy who can’t say no,’ or maybe it’s just that I love it, you know. Also it’s my life, it’s the way it is, so what else would you be doing?

Fiona:
Yes, I suppose it does become a lifestyle, doesn’t it, being on the road. And maybe the more you do it, the longer you’ve been doing it, in some ways the easier it gets. You know what it takes to get up and go, you know what’s needed, you know how long it takes to get you from A to B to C to Y to Z. And you become an old hand and that’s an asset for someone who travels as much as you do.

Andy:
I think that’s true. I learned the ropes many, many years ago but there are still new things happen to you but it’s a bit like asking a bank manager why he continues to be a bank manager. It’s my life and my job and I can’t imagine any other. You know, sometimes at the end of a long tour, I think ‘Thank God I’m going home’ and if I have any length of time at home I get really kind of itchy and bad tempered and kind of look forward to the next moment when I’m hitting the road again.

Fiona:
Even people who are not deeply familiar with Irish music or Celtic music in general, will have heard of Planxty and anyone will be able to tell you of the tremendous influence the band has had on the course of this music. And when you think of the original members of Planxty — yourself Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny, Christy Moore, Liam O’Flynn — as well as the legacy of the band, the individuals have gone on to make quite an impression upon the music. When you listen to Irish music today, or as you’ve been listening to it evolving through this time, are you able to measure the impression that all these individuals have had on the shape and form and direction of the music?

Andy:
I’m not really able to. When I listen to modern young bands I’m always quite interested if they say in an interview ‘We were much influenced by Planxty,’ because I do sometimes hear it. But not really, maybe I just don’t listen to it. There are things, like for instance the style of bouzouki playing that Donal introduced, I think is very much copied today. And you can usually hear one of the big instrumentalists in the fiddle playing or the uilleann pipe playing, but you’d expect that. It’s the more subtle influences, if they are there, they elude me. But it was a great time and you never know, we might do something again. Certainly that era, which Planxty was a part of, re-awakened an interest in Irish music and it could be said I suppose… before that there was the ballad boom in Ireland and there were various kind of little jostlings with the tradition, and the tradition being popular. But it wasn’t quite the tradition, like Sweeney’s Men for instance, didn’t play that many traditional dance tunes. So I think Planxty and its era could be said to be the kind of part of the beginning of the re-awakening of Ireland and by extension Scotland to traditional music.

Fiona:
Now you took an early detour, on your long journey, to Eastern Europe and in particular into the musical traditions of the Balkans. And that’s something that has had a lasting impact upon your music through the years and also upon Irish music in a broader sense. What draws you to those musical traditions? It’s been a lifelong love of yours.

Andy:
Hmm… I think the rhythms were the main things. Playing music in odd time signatures is something which I still don’t get tired of, you know. My latest piece is a song put in to 5:8 and I just love those rhythms. Somebody once said of me that my natural time signature was 7:8 or 7 beats to the bar, and in order to play in 4:4, I just had to add one more, so there’s a deal of truth in that. I’m not all that happy with 4:4 or 3:4. I mean all the songs that I wrote that were essentially in 3:4, none of them maintains the 3:4 rhythm throughout. They have extra beats and drop a beat somewhere. I don’t know why, I just, maybe I have an odd sense of rhythm.

Fiona:
Yes, you could sprain your ankle dancing to some of those dance tunes. But when you brought some of these tunes into Planxty and other of the bands that you’ve worked in, it gave the music a kind of an exotic flavour and moved peoples’ expectations beyond the usual reels and jigs. And that’s been good for the music too.

Andy:
Well I think there’s an excitement to playing in these rhythms and I think people realise that. I mean, back towards the end of Planxty in, whenever it was 1981, ’82, we played this tune called Smeceno Horo which is in 9:16 basically but it has bars in 15, 16 and it was the biggest number we played. And it became logical to finish with it which we never did actually because it seemed to be kind of selling ourselves a little bit to finish with a Bulgarian tune when we were playing Irish music. But if you listen carefully to the piece of music Bill Whelan wrote which is called Riverdance, (I think it’s called Riverdance, it was the initial piece he wrote), it has bars of 11:16 in it. And people didn’t realise this, but it still excited their blood. So, I mean, I think that was very clever of him to write a piece in a normal time signature but go in to these bars of Bulgarian rhythm which were just not too much to take peoples’ eye off the ball, but enough to make them go ‘Oh yeah, wow, what’s going on here!’ When we made that album “East Wind,” Bill Whelan, Davy Spillane and myself, with other people, and it did not find its niche. It was music that people would look at. They’d pick it up and say ‘Oh, here’s one, I haven’t seen this’ and then it would say ‘Balkan Music’ and they’d go ‘Oh, Balkan Music, no, I don’t think so.’ So it didn’t sell, it was really a musicians’ album, musicians loved it and everybody else didn’t buy it. And I’m sure they didn’t buy it either! Anyway, and of course the next thing was ‘Riverdance’ which sold out everything. I mean, God that sounds awful, which sold all its stock. And it’s certain to me that ‘East Wind’ had an influence on Bill when he wrote that, which is great. I was sitting at home watching TV when Riverdance first came on the Eurovision Song Contest and I was as gob smacked as everybody else was. It was tremendous. But just the lack of sales of ‘East Wind’ and the multi-mega sales of Riverdance has always been a slightly sore point. But now I have a new band called Mozaik. Not the m-o-s-a-i-c version of 1985 but the M-o-z-a-i-k version, and it’s kind of exciting. I put the band together for a tour of Australia about a year ago and it was a huge success. We recorded a couple of gigs and we have a live album which is musically ready to go. It’s mixed and mastered and we look now for a record company which is something we all dread because we don’t have a clue, any of us, about record companies. I mean this is me, Donal Lunny, Bruce Molsky, Nikola Parov and Rens van der Zalm and between us we have a fair amount of experience of the world in general and the music world too, but record companies: not an idea. All I know about record companies is they rip you off. So I hope that we’ll be able to find a decent outfit and the album should be out in a couple of months I hope. (Mozaik’s Live from the Powerhouse since released on Compass Records.)

Fiona:
Although you’ve enjoyed and been a very important part of these collaborative efforts you are essentially a solo artist. Am I right?

Andy:
You are right in a way. Even as a solo musician in a band I learned quite early on never to go in to a band rehearsal without knowing how to play, how to accompany the song yourself so that once the band wasn’t there you could still do it. And I love playing with bands; I love the interaction with other musicians. I even play as a duo with my old mate Rens van der Zalm, which I’m going to do in America next week. But essentially you’re right. Being solo, driving through the world, that’s how I see my heavenly state.

source: www.thistleradio.com