How are you? How have you been?
I am pretty good – when I did this last year, there is no way I envisaged we would be still in the situation we find ourselves in right now. But here we are.
Do you think we’re over the worst at this stage?
Honestly? I really don’t know. Every time it looks like there is a light at the end of the tunnel, there is another setback. And we are now facing the very real possibility coming up to Christmas that further restrictions will be imposed. It is pretty grim.
On a personal level, Covid touched my family in a very real way during 2021. So it’s a year I will be glad to see the back of.
What music/albums did you particularly enjoy in 2021?
My favourite album of 2021 was the Karen Peris solo album ‘A Song is Way Above the Lawn’. It is just the most magical record, really beautiful.
I was blown away by David Balfe on that Other Voices TV appearance. It was one of the most powerful live performances I have seen in a long time. And that ‘For Those I Love’ album is a landmark record – he is an incredible writer.
‘A Lantern and a Bell’ by Loney Dear was another personal favourite. He is a songwriter that has made consistently great records but flies under the radar somewhat. Arrivalists, Jon Hopkins, Dark Tropics, Mogwai, Hammock, Low and James Yorkston all released albums that made a big impression on me during 2021.
The reissue of Heartworm got a great response, were you surprised with the reception it got?
It was pretty overwhelming. We were just totally taken aback by the response. Doing the Tim’s Listening Party (on twitter) on the night of the release, really brought home to me and the rest of the band just how much love there is for that record. I can’t really explain it. But I am very grateful for the support of those fans of the band who have kept that record alive for so long. And Needle Mythology did a great job in putting together a really special reissue – they take a lot of pride in making sure the reissues are done to a very high standard.
Any further reissue plans?
We hope to reissue the other two albums on vinyl in 2022. But it’s a lot of work! A lot more than I expected. And there is the very real problem with getting vinyl pressed; it’s a big issue. ‘Heartworm’ sold out of the initial pressing very quickly -within a couple of hours. You then have to get back on the queue – and there are backlogs stretching into months at the vinyl pressing plants. So that is why the next pressing of Heartworm wasn’t ready until mid-December.
But I would be hopeful we can do something with the other two albums in 2022– we will probably be releasing them ourselves, so it will be more low-key than the Heartworm reissue.
How do you feel about going to gigs?
I haven’t been to any indoor gigs during 2021. I know promoters and venues are doing everything they can to make the experience as safe as possible. I just don’t feel comfortable doing it yet -maybe it’s because of my own personal experiences with Covid during the year. Or maybe I am just getting old! I got to see A Lazarus Soul at the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham during the summer and that was wonderful. It was a really well organised outdoor event but that’s the only show I have been to in 2021.
The arts have had a particularly tough time right through the pandemic, in comparison to other sectors. Is it difficult to keep going?
I don’t make a living from the arts but I really feel for those that do. There is no question that the sector has borne the brunt of the impact of the restrictions, in a way that seems disproportionate to other sectors. I love sport and was delighted to get along to football matches late in the year, but there is an inconsistency in terms of the way sport and the arts have been impacted by the restrictions. It’s puzzling and unfair. I think we all thought vaccines would be a way out of this – the realisation that this may not be the case has grave implications for the arts sector.
The arts are so important to us as a society – in many ways, the early days of the pandemic illustrated that. When there wasn’t much else to do, we turned to music, books, films to keep us going. So everything possible has to be done to protect the arts and the livelihoods of those who work in this sector.
Anything else going on with you outside of music?
Not much to be honest. I spent a lot of the year really invested in the Heartworm reissue – managing the social media side of things, interviews, etc., It proved a useful distraction during a difficult year, but I didn’t really appreciate how much of my free time it would consume. So that kept me going throughout the year. I have tried to keep the running going, but I am finding motivation particularly challenging. I was down to do my 5th Dublin Marathon but of course, that got cancelled. And the idea of virtual races doesn’t appeal to me at all. I need to knuckle down and get back into a regular routine of running – I lost that a bit during the last year.
What are you looking forward to next year, musically?
I am hoping there will be some good outdoor gigs lined up for the summer. I am not big on the whole 3-day festival thing, but the one-day events I can do! You would hope we will be in a better place by the summer with Covid, but then again, who knows with the way things are going.
Have you any plans for yourself next year?
There are plans to reissue the other two Whipping Boy albums on vinyl. The third album is like this lost record, so I would really love to see that made available again. We were very proud of that record, but it literally sank without a trace -it got no real proper release. And our debut album ‘Submarine’ is still regarded as a favourite by WB fans who got into the band around the time that was originally released, so it would be good to make that available again.