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What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
It’s hard to be sure what got me into music. Probably the urge to create; the urge to make sense of the songs that came into my head. I tried one thing out, and that led to another and another. Before I knew it, I was writing with other people and singing with bands. It’s a good job I didn’t get into it for money! I have day job, because music pays only a lucky few.
What do you like to do when your not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Stuff like reading and photography keeps the creative synapses snapping, I think. I sometimes dabble in creative writing too. It gives me the odd, unexpected phrase or line for a lyric. Right now, in the moments between recording sessions, I enjoy spending a bit of time creating the visuals for the music. I never really gave it much thought, but I guess that being creative in any area keeps the general creative impulse healthy. But I have to admit that becoming a parent has limited the time I can spend on those things.
How long has your band been around?
Hometime is essentially a solo project and it’s been active for about two or three years now? But I’ve been writing, singing and performing for a lot longer than that. Other bands, solo stints, choirs – you name it.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I’m in Dublin, Ireland. Music seems to be a huge part of the Irish DNA. I’m not sure that my Irishness is a particularly strong aspect of my music – other than my accent when I sing, maybe? Or some of the local idioms that might make their way into my lyrics? Guitar-driven, singer/songwriter styles are big business at the moment in Ireland and my more electronic pop leanings don’t fit as neatly into that trend. So, to answer your question, being based here probably hasn’t influenced my music that much.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you.
Even though I’m a solo act, I opted for a band-style name. I wanted something with a stronger identity than my own name – here in Ireland, the name Tony Kavanagh is ten-a-penny. I also like that the name gives some scope to expand the operation to more than just me: if a musician or two were to hang around and stay part of the picture, a band name is already there.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
The best show I ever played was a set at a band competition in an arts festival many years ago. We were last on the bill and, for whatever reason, our more pop-oriented set was different to some of the more earnest acts before us. We were greeted by a wall of screams, as if we were some hugely famous act! People were dancing to our songs, which they had never heard before. The atmosphere was just fantastic. It was one of those moments you could neither predict nor engineer. The worst show was with the same band a few months later. We played at a small Dublin venue. There were six of us on stage and two people looking back at us: the bar tender and our drummer’s wife. We treated it as a glorified rehearsal. Afterwards, we hit the beer and agreed that it was the end of the road.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you haven't already?
I haven’t played live in a long time, but I know for sure that the audience is far more important than the venue. You can have the best acoustics and the best stage set-up in the world, but if the audience isn’t with you, forget about it.
If you could play any show with any lineup who would be on the ticket?
I once gave a very detailed answer to a similar question and realised that, if I could somehow be such of a line-up, I’d be completely outclassed! It feels like hubris to put myself among those greats!
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band?
Do it because you love it, and because the urge drives you. Stop doing it when you stop loving it. Also, if you’re in a band, you have to be able to compromise. If your ego is too fragile to make way for someone else’s talent, why should anyone else make way for yours?
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
You’ll think that this is just a typical PR stunt but – honestly – my new single “It Beats Living Alone” is probably the one. It’s a song I’ve had for a long time. It’s autobiographical and documented the end of an important relationship. It winces at the cowardice and self-delusion it takes to stay in a failing relationship. No matter how often I sing it, I’m somehow right back in that situation.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
“It Beats Living Alone” has always been my favourite to play because I can get right inside it. But my song “Gratitude” is the one that gets requested the most.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
The process has evolved a lot over the years. When I write alone, I find that a hook or melody will just pop in my head. I’ll usually try to expand that into a verse-chorus structure and then find a lyric. Sometimes I’ll send it to one of my songwriting partners to tease a little more out of it. Other times, my songwriting partners will send me something and ask for a vocal melody and lyrics.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I’ve learned that I’m not sufficiently articulate to successfully tackle politics in my music, so I lean more towards the personal side of things. In the early days, my lyrics were more general and they imagined life experiences that I hadn’t had. Now nearly everything is based on my own experiences. But I try to write in a way that allows the listener to possibly recognise their own experiences in the songs. I like to have something that feels true come out of my mouth when I sing and I avoid words that I wouldn’t use in normal conversation.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Now that I’m solo, the disagreements are mostly a thing of the past. I’m pretty easygoing anyway so arguments were never a big feature. Sometimes – not very often, in fairness – I might disagree with a songwriting partner over a particular hook or lyric or arrangement, but it’s all very civilized. There’s no hair-pulling or diva tantrums!
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that's coming up?
Right now, my focus is on getting my album across the finish line. We were doing so well and then the pandemic threw a spanner in the works. But I used the time as best I could. I finished the artwork, and settled on a title (“Past Imperfect”). I also co-wrote some new material for a friend’s album. But the shutdown meant that I suddenly had the luxury of being able to spend time alone with my own tracks and identify a few things that needed improvement or rewriting. I even have a couple of new songs that might end up in the set. We’re finally back to a regular recording schedule and I have my fingers crossed that we’ll have everything in the can before Christmas.