'I wanted to go back to that raw, acoustic, element'

Singer-songwriter Ryan Sheridan plays Sugarbeat Festival and releases new album

Ryan Sheridan.

Ryan Sheridan.

RYAN SHERIDAN releases his new album, Here and Now, on Friday August 28. Recorded in Ireland and Germany, it is the follow-up to his Irish platinum selling debut The Day You Live Forever, and as part of his upcoming tour he plays Tuam’s Sugarbeat Festival next weekend and the Róisín Dubh in September.

The new single 'Hearsay' is being released to coincide with the arrival of the album, which also features uplifting, high-energy, numbers such as the title track and the whistle-while-you-work ‘Burn Down’. With a teenage apprenticeship as a dancer, it is no surprise that rhythm underpins the music of Ryan Sheridan. His songs are torn from the pages of a passport seeking out the wonders of life, from joy to sorrow; and all stations in between.

A gifted and inventive guitarist, he has combined his dazzling six-string skills with a jet-propelled percussive attack to create a unique sound that has thrilled packed houses from Dublin to Düsseldorf. A born entertainer, this passionate singer with a gift for storytelling is a commanding stage presence; and his acoustic-driven, anthemic, 21st century rock'n'roll, with its roots deep in rhythm and blues, connects with audiences wherever he is seen and heard.

Originally from Monaghan, Ryan hails from a musical family and was a teenage performer with Riverdance but music was always what he wanted to pursue as he tells me over an afternoon chat; “My dad played banjo and my mum played accordion so I grew up in music from a very young age, I was five when I started playing the fiddle. I played in Ceoltas for a long time and then we were all Irish dancers as well. However, I didn’t think the dancing was something I would pursue because I wanted to be a performer and singer in my own right. At that stage I was still just learning how to play guitar, like every teenager of the time I was learning by playing songs by the likes of Oasis and Blur, that is how I started off.”

Going to New York with Riverdance was a key influence in Ryan’s artistic development; “Riverdance went to Broadway when I was 18. It is a time when it is a turning point for many people. I was living on my own in an apartment and, unlike the touring we had been doing previously, we were settled there. It was such a big melting pot it really opened my eyes and was a big inspiration for me, and the only way I could express that was to start writing songs. I’d be writing songs in the showers and toilets of The Gershwin Theatre between Riverdance performances! I really got into it then, and listening to people like Jeff Buckley and Tom Waits. I then started playing my songs in the Lower East Village clubs like Arlene’s Grocery and it really took off for me there.

'I walked into a little jazz club to get a pizza once. I was a massive Sting fan at the time and of his drummer Vinnie Colauita, and there he was playing on stage.'

“New York was phenomenal for me. When Riverdance finished I stayed on for an extra couple of years and worked as a barman in Paddy Reilly’s Irish Music Bar. I then had weekdays off to go and see music and play it and meet up with loads of musicians, you never knew who you would see. I walked into a little jazz club to get a pizza once. I was a massive Sting fan at the time and of his drummer Vinnie Colauita, and there he was playing on stage.”

It took Sheridan a few years to make his own breakthrough as a performer in which time he worked as both a busker and in bar work. Did he always have the belief he would make that breakthrough?

“I had confidence when I was in New York and when I later moved to Glasgow then back to Dublin,” he replies. “Then life got in the way, and you have to start paying the bills. I got into bar work and started managing bars. Wanting to do music was my number one ambition but running a little venue was number two, so I opened a venue in my home town in Monaghan and had bands in and I thought the music was starting to fade out for myself. But one day someone was up singing and I suddenly thought I am going to give music another go, I quit everything, moved to Dublin and started busking with my own drummer.

"I really went at it and it was a complete freedom for me playing in Temple Bar with a crowd around, I was working for my livelihood then and I relaxed a bit more into it. That is when it happened for me career wise, my manager Brian Whitehead threw his business card into my guitar case one day and scribbled a note on back of it saying to ring him. I did ring him and he started getting me bookings for festivals and got a record deal.”

2012 saw international deals done with Universal Music in Europe and Australia, and The Day You Live Forever climbed to the top of the German charts. Extensive touring followed, and much of 2013 was spent thrilling European audiences with his high-octane live shows, together with high-profile TV and radio spots. He contributed the heartfelt longing of the ballad ‘Home’ specially commissioned by Brendan O’Carroll for the movie Mrs Brown’s Boys.

“That was great fun,” he recalls. “Mrs Brown asked me herself in her caravan on Moore Street, Brendan was in full costume which was weird in a way. He is a phenomenal man and we had a great chat and he explained how there was a part in the movie where he wanted a song. It was the only nostalgic, serious, part of this family scene. I looked at it and went home and had an idea about being away from home and family and friends and I had a riff for it, I had been away myself and knew how that felt so it came naturally to write.”

Ryan concludes with his description of the rollicking new album Here and Now: “I recorded the album twice. The first time I felt I had gone too much into having a rockier sound but when I listened back I saw it was missing the acoustic element so I ended up writing new songs and did the album again with seven new songs. I wanted to go back to that raw, acoustic, element. In the studio things can get over-produced and I didn’t want that, I wanted to get across how I play live.”

Here And Now will be released on Rubyworks on CD, download, and streaming services on August 28.Ryan Sheridan plays Sugarbeat in Tuam Stadium on Saturday August 22 at 7.30pm. Tickets are available via tickets.ie See also www.sugarbeat.ie Ryan also plays the Róisín Dubh on Saturday September 26 at 8pm. Tickets are via www.roisindubh.net

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