Hey guys so the good people of ACCORDO>NET in Italy asked me to do an interview for them, you can go on their page and have a read but its all in Italian... here is the interview in ENGLISH. I also done a small video for them that you can see on their site...
- In your bio you mention Don Henley, Glen Campbell, Tom Waits, Neil Young & Van Morrison as your main influences. How did you get in touch with the music of these classic masters?
Growing up in Ireland one is constantly surrounded by music. It is deep in our heritage, its in our genetics. Every type of music is everywhere in Ireland. My Dad was a guitar player and played the music scene up until he had a family. I’d give all the credit to
my parents and their tastes. What can I say? They had good taste in music. If Dad wasn’t playing the guitar, the record player was on in the corner playing a classic. Like right now as I type I’m listening to an old Glen Campbell record. The old stuff is hard to beat. Sadly, I feel a lot of the newer material these days just doesn’t do it for me.
- An Irish character is clearly recognizable in your playing and in your voice, but often mixed with a significant dose of American feel. Tell us something about your evolution as a musician: as a kid did you begin with Celtic music than added the American flavor or vice versa?
As I was saying previously we are surrounded with all forms of music in Ireland, the traditional Irish music is in every Irish musician weather they like it or not. I grew up from the age of 11 playing in the traditional sessions at home in local pubs, in Ireland they are known as “Trad Sessions.” I feel that American Music at the time of Don Henley, Glen Campbell, The Band or Joni Michell to name but a few was at its peak. That era of music was so honest and real. Its hard as a lover of music not to see, hear or feel this when you listen to it. I was engrossed in all these flavors all the time. Also a lot of the Americana music was heavily influenced by Irish settlers back in the day.
- You posted on You Tube some really great covers. It's clear that you like playing them. Gentle On My Mind is at the same time modern while respectful of the original flavor song and The Sound Of Silence gives the same feeling. How do you approach and arrange the covers to be played onstage? Do you try to be as faithful to the original as possible, or you intentionally add something that's yours?
When I do a cover song, I don’t try and copy the song. Though in saying that I don’t try and make the song sound different either. I like to loosely know the songs structure and melody. Then go off and fool around with it a bit on the guitar. If it feels like a natural song style that I would write myself then I go with it. If it comes out different it's not because I’m trying to do so. Its just how my ears hear it.
- How did you feel while performing the American National Anthem in Boston? And in front of President Obama?
The National Anthem in Boston was a blast. It was on St. Paddies day infront of 17,000 people… no pressure. I remember that weekend I had soo many shows in such a small space of time amongst a million and one other press and promo gigs. Sleep hours were low. But wow, it was such a buzz when everyone in the stadium started singing along at the end.
The White House was crazy. Never in a million years did I think I would end up there. Its funny where life leads you. We met Obama and his whole family and got to hang in the White House and have a few beers. The whole time I was there I kept saying to the guys… "What are we doing here and laughing to myself?"
- It's clear that the tragic and unexpected loss of George Donaldson has been an extreme pain for you all. But it is also an enormous artistic loss. Do you think that Celtic Thunder can survive this loss?
Celtic thunder undoubtedly will never fill Georges shoes. He was such a character both on and off the stage. I miss him loads when on the road. Celtic Thunder have to keep on rolling though. As the saying goes the show must go on. A song on my new album "On Mercy Street" is all about that. It's titled "KEEP ON ROLLING."
- Let's talk guitars. You are mainly an acoustic guitar player, both flatpicker and fingerpicker, on 6 and 12 strings instruments. You association with McPherson guitars looks really solid and genuine. How and when did he get in touch with Matt McPherson?
Matt conatacted me way back at the start when I 1st started touring the states. I remember getting a guitar sent to my hotel room in Chicago on a promo trip and been completely taken back by it's beauty. I collect guitars. I adore guitars. But I’ve yet to find anything as reliable and that sounds as solid as a McPherson guitar. They are all so different. Just a classy piece of gear. Anyone who plays one will know exactly what I mean.
- What do you look for in an acoustic guitar? You can afford any guitar you like, what are the quality of the McPherson guitars that keep you faithful to the brand?
The reasons why I am faithful to McPherson is that not only are the guitars genuinely the best there are but also the company believe in me and have backed every idea I have given them since the start. Either it be a competition I wanna run or play a show at their factory they have always been cool. Loyalty is sadly hard to find these days in the music buisness.
- Tell us something about your guitar setup. Action, strings, tunings, amplification, etcetera.
Im a sucker for old stuff.. I like different amps for different axes. I have a few old Vox’s and a few old Fender amps. They are my go-to. My favorite electric is my gibson 1975 ES125. Love that little thing.
On acoustics I like to use 13 gauge. I am constantly changing tuning on every song. Some of my favorites are DADGAD, GADF#AD.
- Do you use different models, maybe with different woods for different tones and volume, or you stick with one model that suits best your requirements?
On acoustic I like to stick to red Spruce. With smaller parlor sized guitars I like the sound of mahogany. I don’t know why, but it just seems to suit smaller guitars more. Every guitar is completely different. There is no perfect science to it. If there was then there would be no competition amongst guitar builders. Normally I listen to the builders in McPherson.
- Do you take care of your guitar yourself or you rely on guitar techs?
I like to do what I can to my guitars. I set up all my own gear and I’m very hands on when I am at home. When I am on the road I have the tech do it all. Its too busy when you are one the road, sadly just don’t have the time.
- Last but not least, tell us something about your upcoming album.
On Mercy Street, a twelve track collection of original compositions. The album’s 1st single “On Mercy Street,” is a modern day musicians plea to the music industry. It is also the title track and album name.
I’ve been lucky enough to grow up in a family that drowned me in great music since I was born. Glen Campbell, Neil Young or Tom Waits have always been part of my daily diet. They say you are what you eat so here’s hoping. On Mercy Street is the piece of work I am most proud of in my life to date.
The tracks on the album bring you on a lyrical journey of the hardships and the love in my life. Although I'm just 29, I've an old soul and I’ve traveled the world, this comes across in my songs. “Take Me Down” is one’s pursuit for happiness in life and “My Love Goes On” is a heart yearning ballad which brings out every ounce of oxygen in my lungs and love in my heart when I sings it. There is no greater feeling. The Band is a London group of musicians called The Lindas. My bassist is from Rome himself.. So there is plenty of Italian influence in there. ;)
We recorded the album, completely live in the studio. No click all in one room. Just the way it was done years ago. It comes across in the record it feels so real & is real.
Have a look at my online travel store www.harkinheadquarters.com and my site www.keithharkin.com for the release of the Album and all my other excursions in life.
That's all. Thank you for your time. I hope that this interview will bring many Italian musicians to appreciate your music.
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