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RTÉ Guide Christmas Edition 2018 - - Interview -

An Ed Sheeran en­dorse­ment can’t hurt your mu­si­cal ca­reer and that’s ex­actly what hap­pened to Ir­ish singer-song­writer Gavin James four years ago when the global star tweeted to his mil­lions of fol­low­ers that “if you ig­nore Gavin James, you are miss­ing out on a lot.” Since then, the singer from Stoney­bat­ter in Dublin, has carved out a bur­geon­ing ca­reer, which in­cluded Sheeran invit­ing James to play at his Croke Park con­cert in 2015. He also joined Niall Ho­ran on the Amer­i­can leg of his world tour, per­formed at this year’s Elec­tric Pic­nic and has now re­leased his sec­ond al­bum, Only Ticket Home. “It’s been amaz­ing,” says Gavin of his rise to fame, “and it’s the lit­tle things that blow you away, like when you get on your own tour bus for the first time. That’s in­sane, but most of the time, you’re just go­ing and go­ing and you don’t have time to take it all in un­til you come home. It’s a lot to take in re­ally.”

He comes from a mu­si­cal fam­ily: his sis­ter, mum and dad can all hold a tune. His uncle, a taxi driver, also does his bit as a free PR agent, playing Gavin’s al­bum when he picks tourists up at the air­port.

Fame didn’t come overnight for Gavin James. Since he was 17, he did “loads of res­i­den­cies” in pubs around Dublin – “it was a hard slog,” he says. “I def­i­nitely had moments where I’d wake up in the morn­ing and won­der if this is go­ing to work at all. But even­tu­ally, peo­ple started singing along to my songs and my name spread, so I gave a week’s no­tice in work and de­cided to go tour­ing around the coun­try for a year do­ing open mic nights.” The hard work be­gan to pay off and both the pub­lic and the mu­sic in­dus­try started pay­ing at­ten­tion to what Gavin was do­ing, lead­ing to a record deal and the launch of his first al­bum, Bit­ter Pill, in 2015. “There was a lot of risk with that too – I wasn’t get­ting a proper in­come for a year. You’re or­der­ing the pints of wa­ter; there’s a lot of that,” he laughs. “But then it all clicked and thank­fully it seems to be hap­pen­ing for me at the mo­ment, but it’s con­stantly a risk.”

The now 27-year-old de­scribes his sec­ond al­bum as a mix of happy and sad.

Only Ticket Home’s up­beat melodies and catchy, pop hooks are com­bined with melan­choly lyrics. The al­bum is laced with sto­ries of re­gret and heart­break, yet it will still lift your spir­its high. ‘The Mid­dle’ is partly a love song to his par­ents, who he cred­its as be­ing “the best couple in the world,” adding; “I’m doomed for­ever be­cause I’ll al­ways com­pare ev­ery re­la­tion­ship to them. They’re mar­ried 30 years now, it’s amaz­ing.” Try­ing to get away from bal­lads, Gavin was in­spired by a re­cent Bruce Spring­steen gig to in­clude some­thing “that I could leg it around to on the stage at a fes­ti­val.

“The one song I def­i­nitely had in my head as up­beat was ‘Heart’s on Fire’. I saw Bruce Spring­steen in con­cert and I thought I’m miss­ing a song that I can prop­erly rock out to.”

Many artists strug­gle with their fol­low-up al­bum, but not so for Gavin. “Usu­ally it’s much harder to do a sec­ond al­bum, but for some rea­son I didn’t find that the case. I took time off last Christmas and got the whole thing on pa­per. ‘Al­ways’ was one of the first songs I wrote and it just flowed af­ter that.”

He will em­bark on a world tour in Jan­uary and he’s itch­ing to get back on the road – “I ab­so­lutely love go­ing on tour and the group that tour with me are my mates so it’s hard for me to get too lonely.” Be­fore that, he’ll play the big New Year’s Eve con­cert in Dublin city cen­tre and spend time with the fam­ily over Christmas, where his only con­tri­bu­tion to the fam­ily din­ner is jelly. “My Mam won’t let me near any­thing else,” he laughs, “I’m OK wit h that, I can start a sing song too.”

It’s been a good year for Dubliner Gavin James. With al­bum num­ber two just re­leased, he will be head­lin­ing the New Year’s Eve Con­cert at Dublin’s Cus­tom House Quay. He talks to Jan­ice But­ler about never giv­ing up on his dreams and why he com­pares all re­la­tion­ships to his par­ents’ I def­i­nitely had moments when I’d wake up in the morn­ing and won­der if this is go­ing to work at all

Only Ticket Home is avail­able on­line and in stores now

Gavin James is the head­line act at this year’s New Year’s Eve Con­cert on Dublin’s Cus­tom House Quay. See nyf­ for de­tails

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