Who are you and where are you from?
I am Adrian Crowley. I make music, among other things and I never really know what to say when someone asks me where I’m from. I could tell you where I was born and where I grew up and where I live now. If I did, the answers would be Malta, Galway & North Strand, Dublin in that order.
Who are your favorite artists from home?
I love Seti The First. They’re based in Dublin, make epic instrumental music and are working on their second album. Some friends of mine are in the band so I have had a sneak listen to the recordings and they sound astonishing. Recently I saw Slow Moving Clouds play.They have connections with Seti. Really beautiful music too. A three piece – violin, cello and a beautiful and unusual instrument called a nycklelharpa and some singing too. Very haunting stuff. And speaking of haunting – Katie Kim, I think is outstanding.She really is something special and I imagine that soon her voice and music will reach further out into the world and keep reaching.
Oh and I heartily recommend Mary & The Pigeons. They are superb, – ‘String-led, bookish, English teacher chamber folk’ is how I’d describe them. Very touching songs. And they do a cover of Robert Wyatt’s ‘Sea Song’ not to mention ‘What Difference Does It Make’ by The Smiths.
What’s it really like touring?
I love touring. When my last album came out in the Autumn of 2012 I set off around Europe by myself. Every month I’d go away for something like two weeks at a time.This continued for about a year and a half. I’d travel with two guitars and a big wheelie suitcase with clothes, merchandise, effects pedals… I soon cut that down to one guitar. I gave myself tendonitis in both arms from carting my gear around like that… across cobble stones (so much of Europe is cobbled) and carrying my things up long flights of stairs in hotels with no elevators. I went through 4 wheelie cases, they just gave up the ghost. One came apart on an escalator in Amsterdam Centraal… or was it Eindhoven. As long as I don’t come apart on the escalators myself, that’s the main thing.
Long, long journeys between gigs are a real test and the dry air in the train carriage can turn your throat to sand after a few days. I think my voice must have dropped a few notches on the pitch scale for a while there. When touring and playing every night, I find a kind of rhythm and feel a kind of fitness. But I run on adrenaline and it’s very hard to unwind after a gig.Very hard to fall asleep especially with something playing on your mind like having to travel hundreds of miles the next day to make it in time for soundcheck. So for a while I was falling asleep watching zombie movies in my hotel room…I must have felt a certain kinship to zombies.Anyway I am lucky to have a brilliant booking agency working with me. They’re based in Amsterdam. They always make sure the promoters are just right for me as well as the venues and I never have to haul myself too far to my hotel bed. I don’t drive and I usually travel by train and do my own tour managing and merch stall after the show. I love talking to people. Sometimes people tell me I have real courage doing all that by myself. Maybe I do.
What’s your favourite city/town/venue to play?
Ah, that’s a tough one. I’ve loved Utrecht, Barcelona, Cologne, Paris, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Copenhagen…I can’t say there is one that I love the most ..And going back to a city is always great, each time I get to know it a bit more and have my favourite cafés and suchlike.
What has been your biggest achievement of the year?
Finishing another record. I really don’t understand how I managed that. I won’t question it, though.
What was the worst piece of advice you were given?
To write more upbeat songs.
What do you do to relax?
Swim. Watch films. Lie on the couch. Move to the other couch. Read. Play my clarinet. Walk the city streets. Go to my favourite pub under the railway bridge, drink a slow pint listening to the great music the barman plays as the city outside sluggishly slips by the window that’s lit with a flickering neon sign.
What was the last great gig you have seen?
My Brightest Diamond in the Workmans Club. Shara Worden has an incredible voice and presence.
One of the worst shows I’ve been to was at festival in France. There was a guy playing panpipes for an hour. Solo. Unaccompanied. No filter. No effects. He was doing his own versions of Charlie Parker tunes. The feeling of mounting unease from the audience was quite something.
The worst show I ever played turned into an utter train wreck.I was being ‘accompanied’ by a friend who, shall we say was going through a dark time in his life. The gig was in a brick vaulted basement in an old theatre in France. At the sound check he hid some alarm clocks under a few of the seats in the theatre and set them to go off sometime during the show. Also he set some booby traps on stage and around the theatre. The PA broke down and everything started going wrong. He was freaking out and then the alarm clocks went off. There was a troubled punk in the audience who went mental and started screaming that he hated alarm clocks. He found the clocks and smashed them against the wall and pieces flew everywhere. Then my friend lit a series of fuses that lead to huge bangers that he had covered with overturned terracotta plant pots. All the pots exploded and shards were flying everywhere and the ceiling started crumbling. People were diving for cover and trying to get out. Everyone was screaming. It was, quite literally carnage. Weirdly enough we still got paid 100% of the door takings. I think we were barred though.Maybe it was actually my best show.
What should we expect from your Irish shows?
None of the above.I am working with Mary and Kevin of Seti The First (twin cellos!), Katie Kim and Matthew Nolan from 3epkano for my next Dublin show. I can’t wait!
Adrian Crowley plays at Dublin’s Workman’s Club on December 12th. Tickets are available here.