I really can’t imagine life without music. Even as I sit here writing this, there’s some ambient seeping out of the Mac speakers. From the moment I get up, it’s on, then when I settle down to work, cook or even just to have a cup of coffee out on the verandah, the music is there. In fact, the only time when I’m not listening to music is when I’m sleeping, and believe me there are plenty of times when I’ve done that too.
As you might have guessed by the theme of the books so far, I’m a Celtic music junkie, and have been for years. Older stuff like Seamus Ennis or the Bothy Band, more contemporary bands such as Lúnasa or Solas, crossovers like Mike McGoldrick, Kila and the Afro Celt Sound System, I love it all. I don’t know quite where this all comes from; though I think I got the recessive Irish gene from my mother. Growing up, there was never much music in the house, though my father played piano and encouraged myself and my brother to learn (though we both packed it in when we realised beating each other up was much more fun than learning scales and chords). Even when I started to teach myself to play the guitar, it was blues that I learnt, not Celtic. Saying that though, I did always have an interest in Celtic music during school, and would often perplex my friends by playing it in the car while they would all be playing Pearl Jam or the Dead Kennedys in theirs.
I guess it just grew on me. By the time I came to Australia, I was beginning to dig a little deeper and find the roots and sources of the more modern Celtic music I was listening to. At this stage I was just playing guitar for myself, trying to work out how the hell Jeff Beck got that sound or Mark Knopfler that tone. I still don’t know, but there are always ideas.
Several years into my life in Australia, I fell in with a group of degenerate Irish musicians, and that’s when my downfall really began. I would go to see these guys play at a pub out in the suburbs (the only Irish pub in Brisbane at that point, except for the Irish Club itself) and during their breaks, myself and Mannie, the mandolin player, would disappear out the back to noodle around with tunes. This carried on for a little while, then I decided that I needed to get my own kind of band together. After several failed attempts, I settled in with a few good friends (including Mannie) and Romany Tales was born.
This would have been about ’97. That year, we played at the Woodford Folk Festival and decided to change our name because people were turning up expecting to see a bunch of gypsies playing Romanian folk music. So we became Súnas, which is a Gaelic work meaning ‘Orgasm’. Rude but true. Since then, we’ve flown all around the country playing at events and festivals, and even finished our first UK tour late in 2009, where we were the first Australian band to play at Dougie MacLean’s Perthshire Amber Festival in Scotland.
We can be caught on most weekends playing in some venue or another around the Brisbane area, and have released one cd. Work on the second is just beginning, though with all the touring it’s proving tricky! There’s not much point me going into details about the makeup of the band as we have our very own rather large site over at: www.sunasband.com
This, of course, is why I’m a bit late with the next novel!
Musically, my other love is ambient, and this stretches back into my teenage years of playing computer games. The interest started with people like Vangelis and Jarre (more electronica really) but now encompasses most of the sub-groups. Work-wise, it’s fantastic, as it just slides into you without possessing lyrics that requite mental attention. I’m not sure where I’d be without musician like Steve Roach, Thom Brennan, Altus, Deepspace, Brian Eno and Starts of the Lid. Of course there are dozens more -it’s a genre that encourages free music and word of mouth, but that should be enough to get anyone interested started.