Interview With Ian Whitty, first published in The Evening Echo/Down Town 2014-2-20

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Ian Whitty, who first appeared as a solo performer on the Cork music scene in the late 1990s, formed a full time band called The Exchange in 2009 and then released the ‘Lucky Caller No.9’ album. However in recent times they have dipped out of the gigging scene, though they wowed a new generation of fans when they played as guests at Fred’s farewell concerts in The Pavilion, he spoke with Ronan Leonard ahead of the upcoming release of a new single ‘Birds Carry Souls’ and the band’s return to headline concerts.

Firstly he explained their absence from the gig listings around Ireland for the last few years, “it might have looked like a hiatus looking at it from the outside in but that said I’ve never stopped writing songs which I guess was one of the reasons for us taking a break from the live scene in the first place. We felt we had done all we could with ‘The Lucky Caller No. 9’ and wanted to start working up a new cycle of songs. It also felt like a very natural time to take a break as band members were having families and were in general experiencing fairly major life changes.”

Ian explained the flexibility of the band’s line up, “the core band is Anto Noonan on drums, and the brothers Flor Rahilly and Paddy Rahilly on guitar and bass respectively; but there is also a raft of string players who play with us as well, most frequently Luke Cosgrave on Violin. As a band we turned 5 years old in October and had an enjoyable rolling e-mail about our memories to date which I think Flor topped by saying his best memory was when we did a gig for 2 Old Age Pensioners in a hotel room in Memphis. I had forgotten about that one, I wonder why?”

The return to the stage with twice as much material as when they were touring the debut album has led to a bit of trouble picking a set list, “we are struggling with this a bit as the new songs are all elbows and just want in on the set with no regard for their older siblings! I think though that we will try to settle on a healthy mix of old and new stuff.”

One of his songs took second lease of life when Lenny Abrahamson used it as one of the few bits of music to be used on the soundtrack of one of Ireland’ most successful films, “I was really happy for ‘City Friend’ to be used on ‘What Richard Did’ as I think its a really good film and an important story. Mostly it was great to think of the song being played in cinemas all over the world. It made all of our other songs jealous. It might make it easier for other people to use our stuff in films in the future as it has some sort of rubber stamp now.”

Ian Whitty & The Exchange play Coughlans on Thursday 20 February and De Barras in Clonakilty on Friday 28 February.

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