Paul Page (Between The Bars blog, ex-Whipping Boy)
Tell me about some of the music you enjoyed most in 2015, can be new or old.
So many great new records in 2015, but for me, album of the year had to be Sufjan Stevens ‘Carrie and Lowell’. One of the most moving records I have heard in a long time. His show in Dublin during the summer was incredible too. The Slow Meadow album was absolutely beautiful while Father John Misty, Yucatan and Ezra Furman all released excellent albums. There were some fantastic Irish releases – great to see Stephen Ryan back writing songs with the Dray’s. Girls Names ‘Arms Around a Vision’ keeps getting better with every listen but the craft and sense of wonder that was at the heart of ‘At the End of a Winding Day’ by Hedge Schools sets it apart – it’s the best Irish album of 2015 in my opinion.
Anything that particularly disappointed?
I don’t go to as many gigs as I would like but I was really looking forward to Swans playing at the Button Factory earlier in the year. Loved their last album ‘To Be Kind’ – I rated that one of the best records of the last 5 years. I was incredibly disappointed with the show in Dublin – so many people had waxed lyrical about just how stunning they were in a live context. I just thought after the first 15 minutes it became one long, pretentious and very dull affair. And I went along fully expecting to have my mind blown. I know there are a lot of factors that can affect your enjoyment of a gig, and I am sure others loved it, but it really didn’t do it for me.
What sort of year have you had yourself?
It’s been pretty good – a year of trying to get a better balance between doing things I am passionate about and everything else. As you get older, it gets a little easier to identify the stuff that is ultimately meaningless. I spent a lot of the year focusing on that. The betweenthebars.net blog is going well – I have no real ambition for it other than as an outlet for me to express my ongoing love for music, so it’s been a success on those terms.
How important is music in your life these days?
Even though I don’t play music anymore, there isn’t a day that goes by when I am not listening to it. There is so much new music out there just waiting to be discovered and that still excites me. I am not sure if it still retains the same power for kids growing up today as it did when I was a teenager. The age of the music obsessive seems to be gone – there are exceptions obviously, but there are so many other things vying for the attention of the youth of today. But there is still great music being made for anyone who wants to hear it.
Non-musical highlight of 2015?
I was a lapsed Bohemians football fan but this year I started going to the games again with my youngest son. It has provided us both with some of the most memorable moments of the year and we haven’t missed a home game since the start of the season. It really is a special club with a very proud tradition – I used to go see Bohs play at Dalymount as a 12 year old on Sunday afternoons, so it was nice to bring my son along for the first time. He absolutely loves it – just a shame that so few Irish people support the league here – people moan about the standard, and compare it to the Premiership but you are not comparing like with like. We have been to some incredible matches this season, and even though the crowds are relatively small, they are incredibly passionate fans with an absolute love of the game.
What’s in store for you for 2016?
In terms of the blog, I would like to see it develop to a point where I can get others to contribute, to write about the music that inspires or influences them. Pat Barrett of Hedge Schools wrote a lovely piece about his life-long love affair with the Blue Nile and it’s one of my favourite pieces on the blog – would love to see more of that. Other than that, I would like to get out to more gigs but it isn’t always easy. I would also like to attempt to write a novel, but always use the excuse that I haven’t got the time. But it is just that, an excuse – it you are passionate about something you will find the time. Maybe 2016 is the year where I finally bite the bullet and go for it.