Ego-free Flannery aiming abroad
Blarney man Mick Flannery released his excellent third album ‘Red to Blue’ last March. It will be released in Germany in October. The musician is doing his level best to improve Ireland’s balance of payments! He explains how he is trying to build success abroad and why he isn’t a diva to Brian Hayes Curtin
What you see is what you get. There is no artifice and no invention. He is a man who keeps his feet rooted in the ground. Perhaps working as a stonemason helps with that.
The Cork Independent was due to speak to Mick a couple of weeks ago at a launch event for the re-started Liss Ard Festival. The laconic troubadour failed to show up however.
Was Mick playing the rock star and not bothering to show up in lovely Skibbereen? Not quite, it seems. Instead he was hard at work building a step in North Cork!
“It wasn’t a diva moment,” he says. “I was actually just stupid. I got the day wrong! I was supposed to meet a guy on Sherkin Island too!” We didn’t take Mick’s no-show to heart in any case. By the time he realised his mistake, it would have been 4pm by the time he could get down to Liss Ard.
“In general, people are very nice and people just like to say that they like the misery I peddle,” he says laughing when asked about how people in Cork treat him. Certainly no big ego developing yet for this expert songwriter.
The reviews for ‘Red to Blue’ have been almost uniformly excellent. On his initial tour for the album he also managed to sell out the Olympia Theatre in Dublin, no mean feat and two nights in the Roisín Dubh in Galway.
He finds the reaction to the album has been “much better than expected”. “It’s been very flattering and very humbling,” he says. “I’m able to listen to it anyway!” He jokes that that might not be the case for too long though.
The album doesn’t have any extreme departures from the sound palette and style of ‘Evening Train’ and ‘White Lies’. “I’ve got my feet in the concrete of folk. I’m not interested in electronic beats and new-fangled sounds. If a song doesn’t stand up in a sing song, that’s the thing.”
Mick and his band have done plenty of gigging in Ireland in the last few years. Or as Mick puts it, after ‘White Lies’ was released they were “milking every toilet in the country for all it was worth”, his way of saying that they gigged too much and played a lot for a year and a half after the album was released.
Now he has a serious focus on playing abroad. When The Cork Independent spoke to the musician he had just returned from playing English festival Latitude, which boasted a very strong lineup. Mick described it as good craic.
Now he is preparing to conquer Germany, hopefully. His label EMI is preparing to release ‘Red to Blue’ in Germany in October. If the album goes down well in a country that loves Irish music, he could have a great base for touring abroad.
He will be embarking on a short German tour in September and if the album goes well, he could be pencilled in for a much longer tour in January and February.
Success abroad is something that Mick is very interested in achieving. “I can’t make a living in Ireland alone,” he acknowledges. He also spends time playing gigs in England, trying to go over every month. “I hop back and forth.”
“The crowds have been decent but there’s never any radio play. For bigger countries you need a record push."
Besides, he finds that playing abroad engenders a sense of freedom. “You’re less worried about what people think. I tend to feel more free abroad, you can be a bit flippant.”
“You put more effort in. It’s new to everyone there and new to you too. When you know early in a show that people like the songs, you kind of know that it’s not going too badly.
“You could be thinking about a biscuit you might want later on or trying not to laugh during a serious song about love,” he laughs. The Blarney man is definitely keeping his feet on the ground alright!
Mick Flannery plays the Liss Ard Festival on Sunday 5 August. See www.lissardfestival.com for details. Day tickets are €39.50 and weekend camping tickets are €89.50. Weekend non-camping tickets are €70.50.