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Hot Press - - Music World 4104 -

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.

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