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This article was first published on CLUAS in May 2002

A Conversation with Paul O'Reilly

Cormac links up with the singer-songwriter to hear about his latest plans...

Paul O'ReillyOver Cokes in Eddie Rocket's the King of Quiet discusses his plans for new recordings, why he may stop playing live and the wide-ranging influence of Iron Maiden.

Your debut album, 'First Thing In The Morning', was released last year to rave reviews. A year later, how's the material treating you?

It's funny, the album came out last September, but for 18 months before that I was just gigging constantly. When the songs arrived on record I just seemed to stop playing them - since then I've been playing songs live that will feature on the next album.

A lot of your exposure seems to be as a support act.

That's something I'm trying not to do anymore. To be honest, at the moment I'm not really enjoying playing live. I want to do my own gigs, which I haven't been doing up to this point, with the exception of one we did before the album launch - that got a good crowd, so at the end of this month I'm doing a solo headline at Whelan's. I'm never sure what sort of fanbase I can claim, so this should show me. The point is that I want to stop doing supports and concentrate on Paul O'Reilly as 'Paul O'Reilly', not as the bloke who does all the openers!

Is there a date for recording this new material?

I'm going into studio the week prior to the Whelan's show - fingers crosses, with David Kitt and Steve Fanagan. The last recording was all with Steve Fanagan, we just used his PC, his ProTools and his room to make the record. He also played keyboards, guitar and bass on the album. He did the video for 'Beautiful' also - he's a clever man, good to have on board!

The last record was very quiet - is there gonna be more of a band feel on this recording?

Hopefully. It'll still be me and Steve playing but there will be more layers to it, bits and pieces here and there. It will be similar to the first thing in the 'drifty' sense but hopefully this time round it'll be more together. I'd love to have a big noisy, electric song on there, maybe a big fat Black Sabbath riff, everything tuned down to 'C', a big noise.

'First Thing In The Morning' had such a Nick Drake feel to it - what's the new feel for Paul O'Reilly?

Paul does the Rolling Stones maybe? I'd like that! To be honest, it'll feel more 'poppy' I suppose. There are different influences on my music nowadays - from Low to Papa M, Tim Buckley to Nick Drake. I'm hoping it's gonna be different, but not drastically different.

Speaking of backgrounds, what's your own?

I'm based in Swords but from Cork originally. The family moved here when I was young. I've been playing guitar since early teens, I started playing Dublin through the Blue Room Caf and just took it from there. As a musical background I used to, and still do, listen to loads of metal. I'm still influenced by that, even clothes-wise, my dark baggies! I still love Slayer and Iron Maiden.

The genius of Iron Maiden?

It's in the solos, the singing, the time changes, the melodies - everything about them. I listen to it on certain days, in certain moods - like first thing in the morning you might wanna hear Slayer, to wake you up, y'know! And even Slayer sits well with the quieter stuff in my head.

Back to your own music, is there going to be a single release off the new album?

I think for a single release you need to establish a big fanbase for yourself - I'm not sure where I lie with that at the moment so I'll have to wait and see. If I get back to enjoying playing live I might do some country dates to promote the album.

So the live experience has faded.

I feel kind of awkward at this stage, just playing on my own. I don't know?maybe an Iron Maiden covers band playing my songs - I'd pay to see that!

And the record will be out by the end of the year?

I'm hoping that it's out in August, but stuff can stop that - definitely by the end of the year, please God. And then a launch night, but not in Whelan's! I spend too much time there already, often day after day, there comes a point when you just want to go home! But I'm off away to London soon and Rotterdam to do a festival on May 31st so that'll be a new thing for me.

Cormac Looney

(bullet) Check out the review of Paul O'Reilly's debut album 'First thing in the morning'