Interview With Niall McCabe, first published in The Evening Echo/Down Town 2014-2-13

While juggling the attentions of a 5 month old and 2 year old during an interview from his home in Kinsale, Niall McCabe spoke with Ronan Leonard ahead of the release of ‘Part of The Light’ his latest single, and also the title track of his forthcoming album.
The lucky ears that have already heard the record are all in agreement that it’s already a contender for 2014’s album of the year. Niall describes his sound as ‘Transatlantic Soul’ but Niall’s introduction to music came from a much more local source, “I grew up on Clare Island, we had a bar in our house growing up, going to bed I could hear every session and singsong. My entire family was a musical influence; my mother was the teacher in the school so being musical was a necessity and my father used to sing Marty Robbins to the cows but hides his beautiful voice until the rare late night session can coax it out of him. But it was definitely my granny that sparked it all for me; she was always playing her concertina and was forever recording songs off the radio for me and my brothers and sisters to learn. She was of course, brutally honest, and was my first proper critic!”
While many consider Niall to be one of the most naturally talented vocalists and guitarists in Cork (he has played or plays in a variety of bands and ensembles across many types of music), he is far more humble about his abilities, “what is most important for me when performing, regardless of the genre or style, is being honest musically. I’ve always tried to be myself in any musical situation and hopefully that comes across in the performance. That said, I’ve always learned a huge amount by listening different styles and singers, but with an eye to incorporating skills and ideas rather than just copying them.”
Niall explained how he put together the rest of the The Niall McCabe Band, “I met Dave Ryan (drums, who also plays with The Hard Ground) and David Duffy (bass, who is also a composer with Eat My Noise) in UCC. They were the go-to rhythm section in the music department; I remember them having to play about 100 songs for the end of year recitals for different students. They both played at the jazz nights in the College bar, I got up and sang one night and the rest is a contestable collection of hazy facts that we call history. When I asked the guys to recommended a guitarist, the answer in stereo was “Hugh Dillon. So I set him my definitive test for a musician test… I asked him up to Clare Island and he was quite obviously the man for the job.”
Niall went onto describe his ‘Transatlantic Soul’ style, “it is something that hit me up on Clare Island. It’s something that I’m still working towards in my writing, but I suppose the best way to describe it is a sound caught somewhere in the Atlantic between the American soul of Motown/Staxx and the folk influences of Ireland and England. Growing up on an island effects everything, you never really lose your sense of being an islander and that comes through in the music for sure. You’re forever looking out from an island and that’s also part of what music has been about for me. Whether writing or playing, it’s about reaching out from the insularity and connecting with something outside myself. I wouldn’t be what you’d call a charismatic frontman so I try to connect in other ways.”
The Niall McCabe Band keep the sound developing with a free session every Sunday in Coughlan on Douglas Street, a venue which just won the IMRO live music venue of the year, an accolade that Niall agrees with, “it’s thoroughly deserved. They’ve developed that place from nothing in such a short amount of time and all through hard work and building relationships with actual musicians. It’s also nice to be able to say we’re resident band in Irelands best venue!”
‘Part Of The Light’ is available for free download from Friday 7 March and its accompanying album will go on sale on Friday 21 March. Full details can be found at


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