Who are your favourite artists from your hometown?
Cork has so many great bands and songwriters. I love Mick Flannery’s writing. His edgier new stuff is great, but for me if you sit down anyone at a piano and a guitar and they can break your heart with a ballad, that’s real talent – without any adornment – getting to the heart of the matter and he has it in abundance. I love O Emperor’s arrangements. Marlene Enright writes really interesting songs and I love her broken china voice. Jimmy McCarthy is an incredible writer. Rory Gallagher obviously. Seán O Riada doesn’t get the credit he deserves as a composer and innovator. I love ‘Charlton Heston’ by Stump – incredibly unique songs. Fergus O’Farrell’s songs will live on. Fred were a wonderfully melodic band and I miss them. The Frank and Walters create some of the greatest pop music I’ve heard since ABBA or The Bee Gees and they have edge. I had the honour of singing on their latest record. I think my own stuff is pretty good too! Karen Underwood is a powerhouse. Brian Deady is finally getting the credit he deserves.
What’s it really like touring?
I don’t drive. I have this romantic idea of buying a van and travelling all around with my piano. At the moment, I rely on my incredible parents, mates and band. I like playing new cities and to new audiences. I like travelling in company.
What’s your favourite city/town/venue to play?
I love playing intimate venues like Coughlan’s in Cork City and Dolan’s in Limerick upstairs. Whelan’s is always a buzz to play.
What’s your ideal festival line-up?
PJ Harvey and Nick Cave on one stage – could be interesting. Followed by The Shins. Then The Cure for a dance. Followed by Randy Newman at a piano. Then a drink with James Blake..
Tell us a tour story…
I lost my iPhone at Electric Picnic, when I was playing there during the Summer, dancing to LCD Soundsystem. That’s about as rock’n’roll as I get now. I often get mistaken for Calvin Harris or Paul Galvin at festivals. It’s the glint in my eye apparently. I met Kenny Rodgers once at a festival – he’s had a lot of work done.
What has been your biggest achievement of 2016 so far?
Getting my debut album, Dreamcatcher to print. Filling the Everyman to capacity for my launch. Winning The International Songwriter Competition. Kissing this Canadian whom I’ve liked for years.
What was the worst piece of advice you were given?
To try popcorn with Malteasers.
What do you do to relax?
I swim. It clears my head.
What are you reading?
At the moment, Janis Joplin’s biography, Scars of Sweet Paradise – she had it hard. We all tend to romanticise the 60s but it wasn’t so pretty from what I’m reading.
How about TV, anything good on the box?
I’ve only started watching Game of Thrones. I also love Sonic Highways by Dave Grohl. Love when they went to Nashville and interviewed Tony Joe White – he’s badass.
Do you have a favourite YouTube video?
Yes – I love Liz Taylor drunk at The Golden Globes. She’s very endearing. It’s quite tragic yet amusing.
What is your favourite:
Record of the moment?
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree
Song of the moment?
‘Blackstar’ by Bowie – stunning beginning to the album and I love the version by Anna Calvi at his tribute concert.
Lost classic song?
‘This Woman’s Work’, Kate Bush – just stunning and so moving.
Nonesuch – I love the eclectic lineup they have. I’d like to be included, if anyone’s reading from Nonesuch!
A new artist that you are most excited about?
Milk Carton Kids (they’re this Americana duo and the guy with floppy hair is pretty. They sound like a young Simon and Garfunkel and they write exquisite songs).
What was the last great gig you went to?
Lucinda Williams in Dublin – she was wonderful – her voice – Emmylou Harris calls it “smeared lipstick” and her band rocked.
Worst show ever?
A gig I did in Waterford recently – I’m still wondering did I imagine it – a bouncer’s Christmas party came into this intimate lovely crowd and were having the craic while I preciously sang a ballad and I completely lost the plot.
The exceptionally talented Jack O’Rourke plays Whelan’s, Dublin, on November 3rd.