“I think peo­ple can smell in­sin­cer­ity a mile away, but I think peo­ple re­alise that with me, it’s my whole life”

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Music -

work­ing class. It’s very rare that you get work­ing-class peo­ple in­volved in mu­sic these days, ac­tu­ally, so I’m happy to fly that flag and rep­re­sent them, if it en­cour­ages oth­ers. I was brought up to be­lieve that if you work hard enough at any­thing, you can do well. And you don’t have to go to a big mu­sic col­lege, or stage schools to do what I’m do­ing, any­way.” Re­gard­less of the lo­ca­tion of her up­bring­ing, one con­stant in the Clabby house­hold was mu­sic. Gene Vin­cent and Ed­die Cochran fea­tured along­side usual 1980s pop sus­pects such as Wet Wet Wet, Rick Ast­ley and The Com­mu­nards, un­til the teenage May be­gan rock‘n’roll croon­ing in clubs such as Brux­elles in Dublin’s city cen­tre at the week­ends.

Af­ter school, an as­sort­ment of jobs fol­lowed – one in a nurs­ing home for the el­derly where she “ended up singing to them any­way”. A ca­reer in mu­sic was in­evitable. “I was


think­ing about go­ing into mu­si­cal ther­apy af­ter that if the gigs didn’t work out, but I’m glad it did.”

But May can’t quite pin­point the cat­a­lyst for Love Tat­too’s suc­cess. How does a per­former of what is still a niche mu­si­cal genre end up bring­ing rock­a­billy songs into the pop charts?

“You’re right, it’s niche mu­sic, and I never ex­pected it to take off like it did,” she nods. “I hon­estly thought I’d be sell­ing CDS from a suit­case at the back of the gig, which is what we were do­ing for a while, be­cause I hadn’t got a record com­pany. I think some­thing hap­pened when I started this band. I no­ticed the au­di­ence was get­ting big­ger very quickly. We’d do a gig, and there’d be 20 peo­ple at it. The next one would have 50, and the next would have 100, and so on. To me, that seemed to be down to word of mouth. Other than that, I don’t know.

“I sup­pose I had a lot of be­lief in it my­self. I was en­joy­ing my­self, I knew the au­di­ence were en­joy­ing them­selves – or, I hoped that they were – and I think it was time for a bit of rock’n’roll. It seems re­ces­sions work that way, too. Peo­ple want value for their money; they wanna go to a gig and see the mu­sic per­formed well. There was no big cam­paign with mil­lions of pounds be­hind it. We were just gig­ging, gig­ging, gig­ging – and we still are, be­cause that’s what we love to do.”

With so much gig­ging afoot, it’s dif­fi­cult to write on the road, when “day­dream­ing” is a lux­ury, although she plans to take a cou­ple of months off early next year. Her new ma­te­rial won’t bow to the com­mer­cialised charts or make al­lowances for her suc­cess, ei­ther.

“The next al­bum will still be me and my band – the same in­flu­ences – but I’ll be touch­ing more on the raw­ness of the rock­a­billy edge. With bands like The Cramps, and The Pre­tenders and The Clash, you could hear the rock­a­billy in­flu­ences. I wanted to pick up on that post-punk on May­hem, and I’d like to ex­plore more of that with the next al­bum. I just want it to be out-and-out rock’n’roll.”

And where will the next few years take her? Projects for the near fu­ture in­clude a pi­lot rock­a­billy show for BBC Ra­dio 2 with hus­band and gui­tarist Dar­rel Higham (to be broad­cast next Thurs­day at 11pm), and although she says her ul­ti­mate am­bi­tion is to record a Bond theme (“ever since I was a lit­tle girl and saw Gla­dys Knight singing Li­cense to Kill”), she’d be happy to delve fur­ther into film scor­ing work – prefer­ably with Quentin Tarantino, “if he ever needs any­thing”.

“Other than that, I’m happy to traipse around the world gig­ging. I’m very, very happy with how it’s all go­ing, and we’ll just con­tinue to do the same, re­ally. Peo­ple can see through you very quickly, and I don’t think you should ever un­der­es­ti­mate an au­di­ence. I think peo­ple can smell in­sin­cer­ity a mile away, but I think peo­ple re­alise that with me, it’s my whole life. It’s what I’m into, I’ve been into it my whole life, and I do it with as much pas­sion as I can. It’s not a gim­mick.”

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