Villagers - Stripping down and spreading wings

There’s an endearing group of musicians doing the circuit at the moment. All wonderfully talented, creative, and in love with what they do watching them perform is always a pleasure.

A perfect example of such musicianship is Conor O’Brien. From the ashes of 2007’s next big thing, The Immediate, comes Villagers. A quirky energetic group of musicians Conor created the group on the back of some heavy songwriting upon the demise of his former band.

This resulted in the release of Hollowed Kind, a four track EP which was written and performed by Conor, recorded by guitarist Tommy McLaughlin, and released by drummer James Byrne on his Any Other City label.

On the success of that, Conor and co have been supporting Bell X1 on their nationwide tour. He’s also writing new material for an album he hopes to record soon, and preparing for some upcoming solo gigs, oh and he’s also playing guitar for Cathy Davey. Now that’s dedication!

Taking time out from recording Cathy’s new album, and ahead of a string of headline gigs across the country, including The Stables on May 8, Conor let’s me know that things are going good and he’s looking forward to playing Mullingar.

“The gig will include the five piece band. We will be playing a lot of new songs, well, all the songs are new, but some will be very new. It could be a complete disaster!”

Conor describes his sound as a bit rock’n’roll and a little bit folk. “The acoustic guitar gives our songs a folk feel,” explains Conor. “It feels good to be hitting something wood!”

Villagers played support for Bell X1 recently, and have just confirmed that they will be supporting them again this summer at the Maquee in Cork. “They’re gentlemen,” says Conor. “We had a blast on tour with them. They seem to have a pretty consistent show, no flagging, they’re mindset is right. We’d stand at the side of the stage and take it all in. It’s a big production, and fascinating to watch.”

Conor admits that they’re stage production isn’t as polished, but feels that a stripped down stage suits the Villagers best. “It suits us to strip down. We were told before to get back drops and fancy lights, but we like the idea of just rolling in and playing songs, letting the lyrics bring the atmosphere.”

Conor seems almost proud of the band, who he claims have taken his songs and made them their own. “The band is pretty amazing. They’ve learned all the stuff and made it they’re own and I’m really happy with that.” And he’s confident they will do the same with his album.

“The album will be recorded like the EP. I write and choose the songs. Tommy has a studio, I’ll record all the instruments myself, it gives the album a bit more of a solo feel. Afterwards I’ll bring the album to the band and changes might be made for the live shows.

“I see recording as a blue print. The players are so good they get bored if they just played the same way every time.”

Although the album will be recorded independently Conor isn’t saying he’ll never sign to a big record label. In fact his looming solo ventures in the UK are as much a meet and greet with industry folk as they are a chance to spread his wings.

“When is comes to signing to a record label it all depends on who’s working for you. It could work out really well,” Conor adds optimistically.

One thing is for sure Conor is keen to spread his music as far afield as possible.

“I really want to get my music out there, I want to travel the world!”

And with a CV like his, and friends in the right places it’s a very possible reality.


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