I'm very good. I'm just on the road from from Shrewsbury to Yeovil. Driving down through storm Cairan.
I'm sure you've you've experienced worse over there on Clare Island!
You're currently on tour in the U.K.
Yeah, I'm in Yeovile tonight, then there's London, Birmingham. Leicester, Liverpool, and onward.
So it's a long run for you?
It is a long old run, yeah. I didn't realise just quite how long it was. You know, you don't you don't think about these things until you're standing right in front of them, and then you go; "oh!".
You started off on Clare Island, Co. Mayo, and it's so close, but also so far from mainland life, isn't it?
It's not to say it's physically that far, but especially here in November, when the storm is going, it feels like a million miles away from the mainland. And yeah, definitely, the community is certainly small and self regulating, in certain ways. We don't we don't have any, gards [police officers] or anything like that. It's not needed as nothing really ever happens.
What is life like on Clare Island?
It's an amazing place. The pace of life is very different. I'm not going to say it's slower, because in the summertime, it's very hectic, especially for a social life. We are always absolutely wrecked by the end of the summer because everyone that's coming to visit, they want you to come out and meet them for a few drinks and, you know, you've just met the last people that were visiting, and they only left the night before. You're like; "oh, again!?", and it's; "oh, I'm only here for the night", and you're like; "oh, it's fine". Summertime is hectic, and then the winter is just, you know, amazing.
Did Clare Island provide a good backdrop for your own music? Your song 'Borders' is so evocative, and it conjures that ruggedness.
One hundred per cent, I mean, on this last album, more than anything really done before. I think that's because it's the whole thing of being from the island; it's from my experience, you know? I'm not trying to do anything poppy or soul or anything like that; I'm literally just digging my heels back into where I'm from, and that gives you a very strong position. I mean, I like that. I feel very grounded, and very much pulling on those threads of, you know, islandness, and the sea, and even the stuff that goes on in the land there; the farms and the desolate landscape and the hills. It's all in there, and I would agree that it informed the entire album.
Yeah. I mean, I listen to a lot of different music, but in that kind of genre, Paul Brady would definitely be one of them. He's one of the guys that I love, big time. I've been getting that a lot with this album. A lot of people are saying; "oh, it's like Paul Brady!", and I'm like; "oh really?! Good!" Something that has been talked about is this guy called Nick Jones, especially at gigs, people go; "oh, you must love Nick Jones!", and I'd never heard of him. Enough people said that last weekend that I found the guy online, and I loved it, instantly.
You said you listened to all sorts of music, but what so what about your other influences? You're not going to tell me you're influenced by say Steve Vai or someone like that, are you?
I wouldn't listen to him, but I actually listened to a lot of Joe Satriani when I was young. 'The Extremist', I had that album and loved it.
Oh, that's one of his best albums.
Oh, I love it! And 'Crying', I'm trying to learn it. I remember I once sat down and learned the solo from Michael Jackson's 'Beat It'; you know, the Eddie Van Halen solo. I have a lot of influences. There's a lot of jazz, a lot of Stevie Wonder, and disco stuff which I absolutely adore. I was actually listening to Rod Temperton, and he was the guy who wrote things like 'Thriller' and 'Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough'. I was just thinking about him recently and apparently, he wrote loads of songs that I love; he wrote a lot of George Benson songs, and Heatwave, 'Always and Forever'. I mean, I love everything, absolutely everything he did.
It all informs you as a musician, irrespective of genre, doesn't it?
Music is music; if it's classical, if it's Irish, it doesn't matter. If you were to sit and take a snapshot of me at any stage, you won't get any sort of real impression of what I like; it could be anything.
Going back to your guitar playing, and I love the picking style in 'The Ritual', which is also evident in 'Borders'.
I kind of just fell into that. The stuff I'm playing probably sounds complicated, or maybe that's just the way music is anyway, but if you're writing it, it's easy to do, and it's just where you naturally kind of want to go. But if somebody else hears it, they go, What the hell are you doing?!
Where did that style come from, for you?
It was actually that guy who wrote the Acoustic Guitar Player's Bible, Eric Roche. He was an English acoustic guitar player, and I loved that book that he wrote. I never learned to read music or anything, but I figured out how to play the things he was playing. Paul Brady is an amazing, amazing, complicated guitar player as well. You know, he plays a lot in open G, especially in the more trad and folk kind of stuff. It's very, very, very intricate and intense.
It's exciting times for you with the album and current tour, but what's next?
I'm just about to announce I'm playing Celtic Connections in January. I'm doing a few gigs in December, but all kind of support things, But yeah, then I'm going to go back to the U.K. in January around Celtic Connections kind of time, and back in the studio. I've got a lot of new songs and I'm going to try and get an album out as soon as my handlers let me!
Niall McCabe is currently touring the U.K. For all things Niall, visit his official website.