Thursday, August 20, 2020

Eamonn McCormack interview by David Kiss,

One day I get the promo for Eamonn, his album "Storyteller", listening to his first song "The Great Famine", a medium tempo song, with a heartbreaking message but it sank emotionally ... Shit! It was the first expression that came out, this bastard has touched me something that has not left me indifferent, I am going to listen to his next topic, next, next, so while I was reading his brief promotional sheet.
Each song, you can feel the influences of musical styles such as wester, blues, southern or musicians of the stature Rory gallagher, Dylan, Thin Lizzy, ZZtop, being a lover of these influences this Irish singer-songwriter cannot leave you inifferent unless you are a fan of U2! (Laughs).
 In recent years it seems that the Blues Rock revival that is being reflected in the media throughout Europe, that we return to the authentic, natural and transmitting emotionality to music, in addition to celebrating the 25th anniversary of the death of Rory Gallagher.
Precisely of the latter, a tribute concert was held for the 25th anniversary on June 14, it was a streaming concert where our protagonist Eamonn and his band were invited to play two songs live. I take advantage of the occasion of his seventh album "storyteller" to learn more about the concerns of this Irish musician.

-Eamonn is a great pleasure to meet you, your music is very similar to my personal tastes, my idea is to talk to you about your life as a musician, do you think?
 Pleasure to meet you David. Yes I believe we are close in age maybe I am a few years older then you, but we must have enjoyed a lot of the same music growing up. I look forward to answering questions about my life as a musician and more.
-Music wakes up very quickly in your life as a child, tell me what do you remember from your childhood? What music did your parents listen to in your house?
In deed I remember music was always there forever. I come from quite a large Irish family and my parents loved music and sing-songs at home at parties etc My Father was from the west coast of Ireland and he would often sing old Irish songs acapella type songs. We had a piano at home but my parents never played an musicial instrument but they loved music and I heard a lot on an old record player we had or on the radio. My Mother loved Mario Lanza. Later my older sisters would buy pop singles and some LP’s of more modern bands which I started to notice at a very young age maybe only 5 years old. One time my sister returned from a holiday in America and brought back albums of Hendrix, Cream and Taste. It changed my life!! (laughs)
-Did you sing in the church also at that time?
Yes for many years I sang and played acoustic guitar at Folk Masses in Church. Haha you could say I had a kind of  like a Gospel up bringing! In fact I leant a lot doing that because I was around 11/12 years old and it kind of gave me my first stage experience to Sunday audiences in full Churches.
-What does the name Gerry Leonard tell you?
Ahh Gerry was the first person I saw play the guitar ever,  in person. Not just on TV. We were in school together and he played a piece of music on an acoustic guitar that was bigger then him!  Hahaha. We were only about 6 years of age. Watching him influenced me to take up the guitar. He’s a wonderful player still and we reconnected again on Facebook after all these years. Gerry is based in New York and has worked with many great artists like Cindy Lauper, David Bowie and now currently tours with Susanne Vega.

-When do you decide that you are going to be a professional musician? Is it in your puberty? What kind of music did you listen to at that age?
I decided at a very young age maybe 13. Nothing else interested me I just wanted to get better and better and play forever! at the time I was starting to play acoustic songs by Cat Stevens and Neil Young but  I also loved Pop Rock bands like Slade, The Sweet, Mud, and was becoming aware of electric guitars being played on Top of the Pops but it was another 2 years before I got an electric guitar. First I got a pickup for my acoustic guitar and played it plugged into a record the world player! hahaha
-You decide to travel to Usa for a few years and form a band, there I imagine that it is not difficult to earn a living as a musician ...

Yes around 20 years old I left Dublin and went to live in America for about 4 years. I loved it and got great experience playing. I did take a few jobs here and there and played in bands at night at first and more playing later and quit the jobs. I travelled across 19 States.

-That band I think had Canned Heat influences .... I used to go down to a club in California called The Keelargo Club and I would play with a band called The Heat brothers which had 2 original members of Canned Heat and Don Preston also on guitar. Prior to that they had another formation of that band which was like Canned heat part 2 , the guitar player left to go play with John Mayall and years later I found out it was my friend Walter Trout that left that band to play with Mayall.

-...and one day the great JJ Cale appears, explains how it was ...

We were just playing and it was a kind of a jam band , one day JJ Cale and the drmmer Jim Keltner ( who played with my greats George Harrison, Clapton)walked into the club and they both got up and jammed with us! that was amazing! yeaah!

-I imagine that filming on the road gives you thousands of experiences and curte as a musician

.. Definitely, I think the road is really the only and best way to learn Rock n Roll and playing many many concerts and festivals. You can only learn so much in Rock Music colleges and now youtube etc but its not enough. At the end I guess it like learning to fly in a flight simulator which is almost like the real thing but nothing beats actually flying for real. I would imagine! I wish we had more footage of my early tourng but this was all pre-smartphone!hahaha

- You form your project as Samuel Eddy, why? Is it easier to work the ego of oneself? (laughs) ...

Well when I came back from America I wanted to have a more Blues musicians type name because I felt my name was too Irish and could be someone in the Dubliners ! hahaha so my full name is Eamonn Samuel McCormack so I took the Eamonn (Eddy in English ) and the Samuel and reversed it so Samuel Eddy I figured it sounded better! hahaha

-Did you record records with multinationals like Virgin and Universal ... burn accounts of that experience?
My first albums as Samuel Eddy were with a Dutch label called Universal Productions which was part of Virgin Records, thats how that came about. But no bad experiences with labels like the horror stories I have heard of many musicians.hahaha

-What can a musician feel when he shares a poster with Robert Plant at a festival in Holland in front of half a million people? Do your legs tremble? (laughs)
That was one of the greatest experience I ever had in Music. It was my Birthday the sun was shining I walked out on stage with my band… 500,000 in the audience. My special guest was my friend the Great Jan Akkerman and Robert Plant walking around back stage. What a memory, Amazing!

-You also got to share a poster with Lynyrd Skynyrd, the band ... I imagine that one must hallucinate playing on stage with bands that have been part of your emotional and youthful development

…Same thing and that venue was the famous Rockpalast Loreley in Germany. David Bowie was playing the night before on the same stage. I’ll never forget that concert and Lynyrd Skynyrd dedicated the song ‘Freebird’ to Rory Gallagher who had just died a little bit before the festival.

-Why do you close the Samuel Eddy project and change Eamonn McCormack?

I had taken a good break from the road and recording and wanted a fresh restart and my Father who was alive at the time said are you going to be yourself or Samuel Eddy and around the same time I met my future wife in Dublin and I told her and she said McCormack is a great name!! use it!! and now she has the same name haha


-Many people with knowledge of your connection to Rory Gallagher, you get to establish a personal friendship with him ... how does that relationship arise?

Rory was my Idol and hero and I was blessed to meet him backstage at a festival when I was 18 years old and a few years later we met in Hollywood California, but after that we became friends and stayed in touch for years and met and wrote to each other for years up to his early death.

-Getting to record a song with him called "Falsely Accused", on which album this collaboration appears We recorded that just outside London on New Years day 1995. It originally appeared on Samuel Eddy “Strangers on the Run” album on SPV records Germany. It was sadly Rory’s last studio recording. Its now remixed and on “Kindred Spirits” album under my real name Eamonn McCormack.

-You release a new album "Storyteller", from what I have been hearing from your discography, it gives me that it is YOUR DISC, more intimate, more personal, ensuring that your best song ever written is on this album and it is "the Great Famine" .

This is what I hear a lot about Storyteller and I’m honoured to hear this. I am very proud of this album. I wrote it this time with a different approach then the last 6 albums. This time I sat down with an acoustic guitar and a blank page and first wrote down all the topics I wanted to write about and starting with The Great Famine which was very personal to me. All the songs are personal to me. Funny thing, I wrote the whole album in about 5 weeks. Before that I had just a few ideas. It was a very organic way to write and maybe thats why it sounds close to my heart. I will work on continuing writing and recording this way. I think many believe Storyteller also displays my own Style, sure many small elements of my many influences are nicely entwined into it, even if its very subtle, but it’s uniquely my own style. I also made a vow to play all my guitar solo as I do live and that is to suit the song from the heart telling also the stories in my playing. Today I hear many great guitar players just show off playing fast solos which have nothing to say or add to the song or story and thats a pity.

-I say it because this song as I listened to it saddened me, it touched me very emotionally, because of my career involved in so many years in music, many songs make me happy, motivate me, they adrenaline rush me and some excite me and this moved me internally , in such a way that the times I listen to it, I notice the drama you narrate in the song ...

Thank you. This really is the greatest achievement an artist can reach. It’s not about being no. 1 in the charts or selling a million cd’s but really moving people and pulling on their heart strings. That is the true goal of an artist and its wonderful for the listener and very satisfying for the artist. That is the life blood that also keeps an artist doing the art forever! Commercial Pop Stars retire but Old Blues Men go on forever!

-How do you feel until the album has already come out? Talk to me in general about some topics, composition, production, the songs that accompany you …..

I felt great, I had a super band. My bass player Edgar Karg and drummer Max Jung-Poppe are fantastic together and to play with. We had finished a wonderful performance on Rockpalast in Germany in Nov 2019 just weeks before we recorded the album. It was a pleasure to work with Arne Wiegand who is a wonderful producer and keyboard player. (He plays keyboards with Uli Jon Roth) The album just came together quickly and we were also lucky it went out to press and DJ’s 3 weeks before lockdown so many took it home with them.
-To say goodbye, what would you say to the readers of Bathoryzine ..... Stay Safe. I believe things will eventually get back to normal but it will take time. Music is a great !!.
My interviews always end with some more relaxed questions about the musician
-What was your first album bought with your own money?
BB King Live at the Regal
-Your first concert you attended? how old were you ?
 Maybe 10 it was a local band playing in a Tennis club. I also saw U2 play at their school,when they were still in high school.

-You are a fan of some group …
Blackberry Smoke !
-The concert you attended as an audience and you will never forget in your life?
Many, But seeing Rory play for my first time live. Also seeing Neil Young and seeing Eric Clapton playing in Dublin. I saw Marvin Gaye live in USA 5 weeks before he died. These concerts I will never forget.
-Song and album that you would never stop listening to?
Rory Gallagher “Live in Europe”.
-Which group are you ashamed to admit that you like? and you don't know why (laughs)
German Pop singer LENA hahaha Meyer-Landrut! hahaha...
 -Eamonn I have really enjoyed your music and doing this interview, you have a career full of anecdotes and personal experiences, I hope that this interview helped you a little more in your career.
Thank you David it was my pleasure doing the interview. Look forward to meeting you sometime in the future.

           The Great Famine (Official Video)

                                                        Tribute Rory Gallagher

                                                     Eammon with Rory Gallagher
Interview by David Kiss

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