Interview With Emmet Scanlan

tweety stuff @ronanfromcork

first published in @The Evening Echo 2014-10-16


Limerick-born Emmet Scanlan, now a fulltime resident of London via a long stint living in Galway, returns to Ireland this week for a national tour with the latest incarnation of his band, ‘What The Good Thought’ in support of his new EP ‘From The Inside Out’.

One hallmark of his music and writing is how broad the sound of the band is, “there is literally a world music influence in the band. We have a Scottish cello player, a Swedish guitarist and an Italian percussionist. So they wouldn’t have the reference points I have like say The Frames; what we do have in common is stuff like Gypsy Jazz and old Rhythm & Blues, it means I don’t really write in one particular way I just follow what takes me at the time – it could be funky or folky. I think it’s hard to pin down exactly what it is I do, sometimes I feel a little like a piebald pony! You can’t say we’re specifically rock or folk or singer-songwriter, but it’s nicer on a bigger scale because you slot in so many places; we play everywhere like blues festivals, folk festivals or jazz festivals.”

That broadness of sound has proved to be both a blessing and a curse as Emmet continued, “I’ve been given out to people who’ve done different bits of management work with me that listening to a four track EP of mine is almost like listening to four different bands, but my attitude is that if I keep releasing music and enough of it gets out there people will find a thread in my music soon enough.”

While there has been no immediate mainstream breakthrough Emmer has reaped the benefits of playing many different types of gigs in his career so far, “on paper, we’d have a lot in common with Femi Kuti, so we were offered that support slot because of the comparisons people makes with our music, somewhat pairing up like for like. Whereas getting some gigs with the Saw Doctors was a Galway connection; it was the Irving Plaza in New York which was amazing, there were 1500 people – that was actually one of my first ever solo gigs! I ended up selling out all the CDs I’d brought with me.”

Emmet playing solo was originally somewhat of a necessity but he has found that it led to him being able to offer more on a musical level to ‘What The Good Thought’, “I haven’t been playing a lot in the last five years, I moved over to London to train as a physio as I’d already studied anatomy, I’d return to Ireland occasionally so I ended up with a sort of band over here and then work with other musicians when I came back to Ireland, it was getting a little bit hard to keep that all together so I’ve spent the last while focussing on writing songs and doing some solo gigs which I’d never actually done before, I’ve always been in bands and had a wall of sound behind me. Playing on my own has made me work harder on doing what I do on the guitar and made me more confident in what I do. In the meantime I’ve also worked on getting the band up and running again. So we’re back now with something really solid. So now the core of the group are based in London and we’ve two musicians who come over from Ireland to play the bigger gigs, so we can function on a four piece as well as a six piece.”

Like many Irish people of his generation Emmet has been thinking about moving back to Ireland, and like many others family connections is a major part of the decision, “my mother asked me recently if I think I’ll ever come home, part of me would love to, I wouldn’t call it homesick but I’ve learned and seen what London is like and how things like a two minute delay on train can drive people insane. The dream situation for me is to develop a name that has recognition in the both the UK and Ireland, and move back to Galway, where I’d spend my time writing and gigging consistently. It’s so difficult here, like honestly you could play 14 gigs a week and no venue would say you’ve played locally elsewhere so we won’t book you, the place is so huge. Whereas in Ireland they’ll wait a month or two before they book you to play a second gig, it’s got to a point where I enjoy playing Ireland more than here, but I’m loving living here… but if I can I’ll buy a mansion in Salthill!”

Emmet Scanlan play Sin É on Coburg Street on Monday 20 October, to hear his music go to


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s