The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - LISTINGS -

What’s on your rider? I al­ways ask for the finest sin­gle malt whiskey as be­fits my sta­tus. But cook­ing sherry will do at a push. How do you get to the gig – limo, taxi, walk­ing? If the he­li­copter can’t land close, I’ll walk. What’s the best gig you’ve

been to? The best gig is prob­a­bly more to do with my age and en­thu­si­asm than any­thing else. When I was a teenager, The Water­boys at Nor­wich UEA made me want to be in a band. Ra­dio­head at Brix­ton Academy made we want to give up, they were so good. Rickie Lee Jones in Copen­hagen taught me grace and hu­mour. The Bruce Spring­steen solo on The Devils and Dust tour re­minded me that live per­for­mance is worth­less un­less you’re pre­pared to take risks and ride the si­lence. And the worst? There’s al­ways some­thing to take from a gig, even if it’s an­other band’s rider. Who is the most fa­mous per­son to show up at one of your gigs? Tech­ni­cally, David Bowie and John Cale, but I’m pretty sure they were there to see The Water­boys (I was open­ing for them in New York.) How­ever, Scott Walker did choose me for his Melt­down Fes­ti­val, and ap­par­ently watched from the shad­ows. For a mo­ment I felt cool. The mo­ment passed. Most em­bar­rass­ing on-stage mo­ment? I once sin­gled out a girl by say­ing “you, the pretty one”, and the girl next to her raised her hand and I said “no, not you, her”. I still have night­mares about it. What’s your crowd-pleas­ing num­ber? I like to think that in the ab­sence of a gen­uine hit, each song is a least one per­son’s favourite. Even if that per­son is me. But prob­a­bly The Boy with the Bub­ble­gun. Groupies. Would you? I had some groupies bang­ing and yelling on my ho­tel door just the other day. Even­tu­ally I let them out. How many road­ies does it take to change your light­bulbs (ie, how big is your en­tourage)? In the glory days, we had a lighting di­rec­tor, tour man­ager, three tech­ni­cians, front-of­house and mon­i­tor en­gi­neers, a merch per­son and two bus driv­ers. No won­der I still owe Sony a mil­lion pounds. Now, it’s me and my wife. She’s as strong as an ox with good teeth, so there’s noth­ing we can’t wran­gle into po­si­tion. If you could be in any other band, which one? Any band that Frank Black is in, or Bob Mould or Neil Finn. But I’m still wait­ing for the call from AC/DC. That’s the job my whole ca­reer has been a warm-up for. Who’s in­vited to your af­ter­show party? My idea of an af­ter­show party is to get back on the bus, put a West Wing on the TV, pour a whiskey and let the road un­furl. If you prom­ise to be quiet, you can all come.

In con­ver­sa­tion with Tony Clay­ton-Lea. Tom McRae plays the Academy 2, Dublin, tonight

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