Interview: Bobby MC
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What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
My school and my parents. I played Scrooge at the age of 10 which started me off performing. Then my parents enrolled me in stage school. By 16 I was out doing 15 minute sets at my parents gigs in pubs as they were professional musicians. I have a first class honours degree in Actuarial Maths so I’d probably be doing that reluctantly.
What do you like to do when your not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I go and see a lot of theatre and I play/coach a lot of football. Well the theatre helps me creatively with technical and staging tips. I watch how productions use their lighting and set. Football teaches me how to communicate effectively with others and also highlights the work rate necessary for sustained success.
How long has your band been around?
We’ve been together since 2017, playing at numerous events and festivals over the last 3 years. Unfortunately due to COVID, some of the members have had to drop out of the band but it’ll be a nice opportunity to play with some of the other top musicians in Ireland and the UK.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I’m based out of Meath/Dublin, Ireland. It didn’t influence my music too much. My main musical influences came from listening to swing and jazz when I was younger.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you.
The band is called Bobby Mc and The Dukes. I spent a lot of time thinking of my artist name, Bobby Mc, which is a just a play on my actual name, Bob Mc Quaid. I decided I wanted my band to have a name and for it to not just be Bobby Mc and his band so I came up with The Dukes. It was influenced by one of my favourite soul artists, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
The best show I ever played was probably my first theatre show, Bobby Mc’s Speakeasy. To see a show that I had created, with my own name on it come to life was a special feeling. I played to a full house with my 7 piece band and was joined by guest singers on the night. My worst gig was one of the first gigs I did with my former drummer Jamie Reynolds. We were playing in a rough pub in Dublin as a two piece. My dad had gotten us the gig through a contact he had. After 15 minutes, we had people shouting at us telling us to stop playing and that we were crap to which I replied we can’t stop unfortunately, we’re being paid to play.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you haven't already?
My favourite venue that I played in is probably The Sugar Club Dublin. I played in some incredible venues in Germany on my first professional tour when I was 18 but The Sugar Club in 2019 was special. The acoustics are great, there is rows of of small cocktail tables with lamps and couches to sit on. The stage is a perfect size for a 5 piece band also. I just had a magical experience performing there. I have 3 actually that I dream of playing in. One is The Olympia Theatre Dublin, it’s a small intimate venue but an iconic one in Ireland and I’d love to play in it. The other two are The Royal Albert Hall in London and Carnegie Hall in New York.
If you could play any show with any lineup who would be on the ticket?
Frank Sinatra, Gregory Porter, Carole King and Fleetwood Mac. The first three as they’re all idols of mine and Fleetwood Mac cause they’re one of the greatest bands of all time in my opinion, for their ‘Rumours’ album alone.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band?
Play as much as you can. There is no better way to learn your craft than by playing, particularly to audiences. Too many young musicians just play in their rooms and don’t know what it means to communicate with an audience so that would be my advice.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Start playing together earlier. I’ve been gigging since I’m 18 but I only started with the lads when I was about 23. So I would say, start earlier and get even more experiences in cause you can never be too tight, the more you play, the better you’ll get playing together. It’s one of those things that you can’t explain but you can hear the difference.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Well this is my first release so right now this means the most to me but I think naturally as an artist, the next release is the one you treasure most.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
In our set, I love playing our version of James Taylor’s ‘Fire and Rain’, we do a little Bossa Nova on it. My other favourite is Puttin On The Ritz as I love the vibe of it, it’s also the oldest song we do in our set.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
The creative process is generally I pick a song that I like and think could be interpreted and then I work with the many musicians and producers that I know. We then start to create the sound that lends itself to my voice and style. Ultimately I’ll make the final call but I like to get ideas and opinions from people that I trust and respect around me. I am working on some original stuff but that is for down the road, right now I’m just working on finding my sound to go with my voice.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Generally I like to sing love songs. I feel that I can attach to them emotionally. They’re not necessarily boy meets girl or just girl leaves boy per say but definitely songs that make me feel something. Whether that feeling be happiness or sadness, it doesn’t matter, it’s about the honesty and sincerity of it.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Yeah sometimes we do. As I said before, I’m the boss, so I’ll make the final call. Usually if some of the lads are disagreeing, I’ll take a listen and I’ll know who’s right pretty quickly as I’ve got a good ear for how we play the songs and I know the ins and outs of them.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that's coming up?
My plan is to release 3 more singles this year with possibly some original material next year. Obviously no one knows when gigs will be back but I’m aiming to be playing some big gigs and festivals again in 2022.