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After playing his first sold-out headliner in Whelan’s this past month, DAVID KEENAN is still riding high from the thrill. “It was amazing to see a room full of people there,” he enthuses. “We had to turn people away from the door. There was this total acceptance, a total camaraderie there, it was beautiful.”
As Keenan explains, the music he creates is centred around his identity, especially his identity as an Irish musician. “We live in strange times,” he muses, “so I think a sense of identity is really important. I don’t think there has to be any element of paddywackery involved in Irish music anymore, for upcoming Irish artists. We have to stop apologising for being Irish, find the right balance, and just be ourselves. There are like-minded souls out there, we just have to seek them out, you know?”
Garnering the attention of like-minded souls hasn’t been a problem for Keenan, as he’s caught the eye of some of Ireland’s finest musicians in recent years. “I’m surrounded by all these amazing individuals,” he notes. “Damien Dempsey, Glen Hansard, Mick Flannery – all incredible musicians, whom I got the chance to be around in the past few months. It’s an incredible opportunity and I’m not taking it for granted.”
It seems as though everything’s going to be on the rise for Keenan this year, as he will be setting out on tour with The Strypes this spring. “We get on so well,” he says. “It’s funny, to be among them, they’re amazing musicians. Josh, the guitar player, he’s such a machine, and he’s only 21. I’m 23 myself, and I just really admire him. I can’t wait to go on the road with them, I’m a massive fan.”
JONNY REP have only officially been on the scene as a band for the past couple of years, but their relationship as friends and as musicians goes back much further. “We’ve all known each other for a good number of years, and the three of us were in bands together, many many moons ago, and we all got married, had children, got proper jobs and all that, takes up a lot of time. But the last couple years, we just kind of said, it’s stupid to waste such good times: we’ll go back to the music. So we got together and we started dusting off a few tunes, and it worked out. We’re all really good friends, like a big family, we have ten children between the five of us. They don’t come on tour with us, though they would love to go.”
With their reputation in the Cork music scene, they’re touring with some of the greats, but that doesn’t mean their ambitions don’t reach even higher. “We’re playing with The Frank and Walters, they’re good fun, and we’re playing with them on March 11 at this place in Cork called the Yard Bar. You could put in a good word about how we’d love to play the Electric Picnic, but I understand if that’s a tall order.”
As Pat explains, Jonny Rep is hoping to keep in touch with their old school roots. “When we were growing up, the big thing was everyone wanting to be in a band. Now I see at my own shows, all the kids just sit in front of screens. It’s hard, we’re old school, we’re not great at social media. So we’re just trying to get our music to people the traditional way. We’ve been lucky enough to have airtime on the radio, and we love to play gigs as much as possible.”
See: Jonny Rep plays the Yard Bar March 11. Hear: Their album, Cold Sunbeam, is available now.
Listen: David’s single, 'The Friary', is available now. See: David supports The Strypes on their spring tour this year.