Conor Buckley / About
MUSICIAN,WRITER AND ENGLISH TEACHER
I think it was the head nurse who had visited Prague the previous year looked after me made sure i saw the people dealing in post operative surgery nutrition and kept me long enough that i would get up from the ashes again i think the last night i spent in this town i was sitting on a bench in town and this lady approached me “Do you remember meeting me a few months ago she asked.” I responded i hadn't and she took a set of rosary beads out and said you need these i can see it in your face put them around your neck I knew then that there was evil ahead but it would turn out okay
It would be September 2014 before i would trying recording again i couldn't bring myself to do any work in Ireland so i teamed up with Rene Starhon and Chris Dunkley Clarke in Renes new studio close to Flora and we recorded Starting To Be Walking On All Good Part One and Two
The landscape of trying to record with chronic pain contained many hills but i saw i could still climb close to the top for a short time
I got out of the habit of playing guitar and when i decided to start formally study music in 2016 i got back in the habit of playing again There were soundproofed practice rooms i could go in and play for an hour or two and a lot of the new music i wrote in these rooms
One of my Czech female friends was concerned with the lack of female companionship i was having so signed me up for some social media site i used to talk to this girl every evening for about two months online when she announced she was married to a long distance lorry driver and i think the following day i wrote the song Cyber Girl and had completely forgotten about the episode until doing the final mixing
I had plenty of studio time and i recorded and played drums on a lot of the new songs and decided to record the bass lines myself as well Initially i was thinking you won't be able to play the drums but after about two days i thought i was a better drummer than guitar player probably these days i recognise the childhood low self esteem and struggle against it
I am not sure i would advise any of my kids to study music but for me it was more to advance me as a producer Money still matters at this level in music if i had thousands of dollars to spend on more expensive software plugins it would probably increase production and mastering by about 10percent
I do watch some videos of producers online and i think Steve Lillywhite said great art is timeless and i suppose with songs like Blue day or Life In The Wrong Lane i wanted to do something that would endure the test of time The young musicians i encountered who weren't full of their own self importance and were practicing as hard as i was i invited into play People like Dearbhaile Mc Clean, Pax O'Faolaoin ,Meadbh Campbell and Sarah Beth O Mullane are all good souls and bring a nice atmosphere to the new music I have only ever given one media interview so i know many are listening to the music across the world and don't know a great deal about me so i wrote a bit over the last weeks Wherever you are in the world keep listening and i wish you and your family all the best
4.5 THE DEVILS WORLD
There was the option to move to the flat downstairs but i knew that the unpardonable crime of playing guitar late at night would be followed If you play your guitar late at night they will probably leave you alone but if Conor Buckley does something then it is fuel for the jealous soul.
The entire country was locked down so options were limited one of the locals told me there was a house free up the road and when i saw the house i thought it was the nicest i had ever seen I was there 20 minutes when i heard the speaker being pushed against the wall and the music came on and i started to get physical pain I called in and tried to introduce myself to my new Lithuanian neighbours and the man said no speak English
They would be waiting for you to go to bed like my Irish friend at the otherside of the wall and the only few hours sleep i got was when i put a radio at full volume against their child's bedroom wall and i said to myself this is sort of sick you should feel sorry for the child
There was one free place in town so i said i would give it a shot and went to introduce myself to my new Hungarian neighbours and explained i had surgery a few months before and was pretty run down
I hoped i was being paranoid initially that i was still getting the pins and needles pain in my legs sitting down and sometimes it takes a few days for the body to recover.
When i went up the wooden stairs to take a piss i could hear the footsteps of the neighbours following me i would start to get blinding headaches shaving and when i called in after a few days to ask about the rubbish to get a look at the female occupant she said no speak English i knew my Irish friend was responsible by looking at her face
i doubt she even knew where she was
The main torturer was the female Hungarian and she would be waiting at the otherside of the wall every evening after about three nights i put on the extractor fan in the kitchen the radio against the wall and a white noise machine machine against the other wall
The Hungarians didn't stand up well to torture and put a phone against my wall at 4 in the morning repeating you cunt over and over again I went completely calm and got dressed put on my shoes one of the locals i used to have a coffee with in the morning had pointed out the part of the mountains where his father had hid during the civil war and i decided i would bury the Hungarians there i went downstairs and God intervened and bellowed “smoke a cigarette and think about it”
The doctor in the hospital A&E said you have some of the symptoms of brain damage and i was sweating wildly we will have to keep you in I didn't dwell too much on my story as most of the medical people have never visited the world i saw in eastern Europe or Ireland
I was fairly weak and was unsure myself whether i had suffered any serious neurological damage but i doubted i had Covid but i was placed in isolation as a precaution and everyone had to wear PPE to come and see me until the results of my Covid test came back(negative of course) I got to know the nurses a bit over the next few days and they were all music lovers
The nurse in charge of the ward was a very nice lady and i noticed she strangely had a tattoo on her arm and when i asked she mentioned that she had got done in Prague the previous year I took that as a sign she was one of the good ones
but when i eventually bought her some chocolate
I didn't repeat my mistake and ask for any like i did in Cork One should never stand between Irish nurses and chocolate
4.4 PEACE AT LAST
This isn't at all a pleasant procedure so i thought if i went about every three years i would be able to get the growths before they turned into cancer
i went back in 2016 again before i started my MA and they managed to extract two more and i never bothered to get the test to see if i have the hereditary cancerous gene i just presume i have it a lot
It was the Summer 2019 before i went again and unfortunately one of these growths was 3 centimetres
again i had a strong feeling i needed to get the test done the same feeling i had at the time of the financial crisis or at the beginning of the covid pandemic.
I had the option of major surgery or leaving it i knew leaving it would be a dead man option
i think i was doing the final mix of cyber girl awaiting going for the surgery and when i woke up after surgery
i thought i was dead and i suppose the morphine has an effect and i was completely helpless and i got a dose of fenatyl as well so time moved quite slowly
and i was quite sick they had to stick a drain thru my nose to try and drain out the toxins from my body and i was
forbidden to eat or drink although i got a taste for coca cola and a friend brought me a few cans i got it into my head i was going to have a can before i died
i hear such sentiments are quite common after such surgery my main complaint about those three weeks
was after two weeks when i got out of bed to the hospital shop i bought a bag of chocolate toffees for a young nurse named Siobhan and when i asked her for one she said “no i have eaten them all and your not getting any”
tough as nails these young Irish girls!
For a month afterwards i had to take an anti-nausea tablet and anti cramping tablet if i tried to eat anything and i mainly survived on those energy drinks and i could limp about
a lot of the strength in my lower back and abdominal muscles had disappeared i was the same age as my father when he died so i was was doing slightly better although complications left me with a hole in the center of my abdomen which was a new experience the bag as they call it
i think the growth they removed was the very early stages of cancer so i did okay compared to some i met, there was one lad in the bed across from me and he was completely incontinent in a wheelchair and was told the cancer had spread into his spine i mentioned i was going for a walk to the end of the ward one day he exclaimed i would love to be able do that your young you still have a chance
I suppose i was glad of a peaceful environment to go back to I had the final examination in early march to tell me i was healed enough to have the hole in my abdomen filled in with a final operation Covid broke out in Ireland the following day so all operations were put on hold
The one thing i didn't need was to go thinking deeply about any topic and the next two months were a blur i logged on one day and wrote so what do we know and i went and bought a British newspaper the following day and there was a column with What do we know now it can be a bit surreal one of my relatives had the news on the other day and the news said the summit would focus on European values.
I was fairly run down by the end of April and one evening i went to the shop and bought 20 cigarettes
so there went 7 years 13.50 the lady in the shop said how much i asked 13.50 it was 3 in Prague for a box
it is expensive to kill yourself in Ireland
I didn't think about cancer i thought about my camogie playing dentist and thought she will ate me alive
A lot of these places i lived i tried not to play guitar as it brought attention i didn't want “it got me into trouble” and possibly provoking the neighbours but after two months of thinking of such a problem the guitar came out late at night and i played a few songs for 20 minutes
When i went up to bed loud music came blasting through the wall and i ignored it The following evening i started to get physical pain in bed and i decided to try and sleep elsewhere and i could hear the people at the otherside of the wall move into the next room as i moved so i nailed a few blankets to the wall and tried to ignore it.
The American military developed technology over the last 20 years which could cause headaches, pain in your internal organs and cause your skin to turn bright red and unfortunately you can buy one of these devices online for 200 dollars on one site they have a range of about 20metres so if you are sharing a wall with someone there is little you can do except try and cover your body as i learned in anti-social housing
I saw the man one night thru the window on the other side of the wall holding one of these up to the wall
I did call to the family to apologise for playing guitar and i was told they didn't even know i lived there and there was no problem and it was quite strange all these people saying hello to you and this lad waiting to torture you on the other side of the wall every evening
It is quite dangerous if you have a post operative hole in your abdomen to be getting blasted thru the wall and my bag began to bleed i began to get violent headaches and nausea The devil would be with me on those nights in May “A few taps of a hammer will break the wall kill him and God would bellow “Just one more operation and you will be okay”
4.3 GOOD V EVIL
There are devils and Gods throughout life God speaks through people as does the Devil
it could be your manipulative boss who wants to destroy you or it could be a kindhearted colleague who will do something extraordinary for you when you need help most.
As my life has gone on i always know when the Devil is in the room it can often be people who are smiling at me and i instinctively know there is something wrong i involuntary shiver in the presence of some human beings often completely plausible shrewd manipulators
that will line people up against you to destroy you and i am often diagnosing as i am listening
There is karma often such people get hit by a bus a mile up the road and i found the people who set out to do me most harm never endured good fortune
life could be strange for me people could spend years running you down and spitting in your face then you pick up a guitar and play and the same people are rushing up to shake your hand others want to destroy you because you have a talent that they believe they deserve.
The idea of dualism persists in most religious faiths God versus the Devil
the Covid outbreak some say fulfilled an ancient prophecy that there would be a period of chastisement for the human race
others believe the virus originated in a Chinese or American military laboratory truth is relative when the truth is not immediately discernible it was thought heretical at one time to believe the world was round it was thought cast iron that the world was flat.
I was tired of the world i saw in Ireland and i happened upon a town a few years ago and said maybe something could come of living here There is a song by Tracy Chapman i think where the line “the police come three hours late if they come at all” is succinct even if you called the Irish police there was nothing they could do because it was considered a civil matter if you lived in a country of strong leadership the police would have power to make arrests an evict anti-social people from properties and the Irish police have been made impotent by the Irish justice system as a result many ordinary Irish people who the state was founded for live in hell
Hell can be created by people “get behind me Satan”
The evil of cancer had hung over most of my life i had watched as a young child my father waste away from the disease and as a six year old i didn't really understand concepts such as life and death at that time and as a 33 year old i had a strong feeling i needed to go for the screening i was advised it was unnecessary as my father had being before me and the day i went into the hospital as soon as they looked inside me there was a large growth
I was sedated it was a warm sunny day and the electronic voice of the hospitals pr system generated a message
“please do not smoke in the hospital grounds your cigarette smoke is upsetting the cancer patients overhead”
Is it cancer i asked the doctor i am not sure he replied after much struggle they managed to extract the growth and i had to wait two months for the full examination to ensure i had no further growths and i decided to stop smoking during that time.
Returning to Ireland i paid a visit to a church and went and asked for the strength for the hassle i would get there
Often it easiest to surrender in an unpleasant situation and accept your fate
Beneath evil there is always concealed some good
i got to know my dentist quite well and i think she likes my music and i would often listen to her opinions with an open mouth
I did suggest we have a coffee one time but she indicated her social life consists of bringing her children to camogie matches the female version of Hurling a sport i also enjoy.
I was aware of evil in the anti-social housing and in myself
one night one of the customers to the brothel had got away without paying and there was struggle between the working girl and her boss and the sound of violence the sound of punches hitting flesh, the devil was upon me suddenly that thug from Eastern Europe the mad Gaelic footballer which still lives beneath the well spoken mannerly exterior and when it appears i am afraid of him
“go up and put him to sleep go on” and i would find myself at the door and Gods voice would bellow “you will spend the rest of your life in prison” this would be a frequent struggle for me over the last nine years
One of my friends gave me blessed salts at one point to ward off evil spirits which are used by priests spirits in exorcisms to sprinkle around the flat
I had my first experience of physical torture in 2015 i would get pain in bed at night like someone sticking an icepick thru my head and i could hear these Algerians laughing overhead like wasps
i would get unbearable ear pain as a result of low frequency sound and if you moved to the opposite side of the flat you would hear footsteps following you over head and the torture would continue
Two friends offered to come around but i knew that meant three of us going to prison for life so i tried to focus on returning to education and doing an MA in music
I was baffled to hear an employee of Cork City Council tell me “foreigners are our best tenants”
I am sure Collins,Jack Lynch would charge such people with treason and racism against the Irish people and state and look after the man in Cork City council with his neighbour threatening to stick a knife in him
I didn't understand the Ireland i found myself in it was alien to all the republican values i had been raised upon.
The devil and God were very much part of day to day life and they disappeared about twenty years ago and they are on Interpol's most wanted list. God is Dead thats what some of the books i read as a teenager said, God wouldn't allow great evil to happen God wouldn't allow you to suffer from years with terminal cancer bedridden, you spend years accumulating wealth chasing a bottle of smoke and then some doctor says
“soory Mr Smith you have two months we will try to make it pain free as possible” all your self importance the pomp and ceremony the birthdays the Christmas the fame you didn't acquire which you thought would fill in the hole in your soul the God hole means nothing
A graveyard is filled with indispensable people who thought the world revolved around them
Objection the Professor would shout God is by definition an omnipotent being meaning he is all powerful and the human mind is imperfect and can never understand Gods mind A finite(limited) mind cannot understand an infinite mind
I knocked on the Professors door one day and said are you busy?
Yes he replied “i am thinking.”
In the following years when i had nothing eat did this do me much good, i was thinking and thinking and thinking some mornings i would wake up and the first thing i would do was check the guitar was there often sleeping beside me and the devil was my mind racing at 100 miles a year
The devil was always there in later years when i returned to the city i would see the once beautiful girls of 7 years before hooked on home cooked speed stick thin with hollowed cheeks and sunken eyes,
i saw him in the eyes of the compulsive gamblers waiting for the big win for their luck to change.
The last years in Eastern Europe i would throw on my coat and take off again riding the 56 or 51 tram across the city searching for the city
that brought this music
I edited some of the lyrics i had written in early years took out the fucks and shits and allusions to the darkness of the early period and the longer i pondered there were never really any good old days
I did try to assemble some musicians from the early days for recording songs like Night town, i suppose production is a gift of knowing when
everything should come into sequence or often you find musicians have a certain quality and production is trying to utilise that talent
I remembered Chris Dunkley Clarke from this Zone place i can't remember was it old town or new town
,i think i had gone searching for a concert and agreed one with the manager and demanded more money and then said i wouldn't play ,i sort of cringe now and say that was more low self esteem and insanity as i believe i was starving poor at the time
I remembered the harmonica player 7 years later who i played with in the Zone that night
I had lost touch with him over the years
it was Jewel Hajek and Jade from Yorkshire who i used to chat in the office and still send me birthday wishes most years so i did something right who supplied his contact number
I think i met him at IP Pavlova and brought him to Rene Starhons Abbey Road in Zizkov
and i tried the song i was working on Lonesome travelling Blues
i remembered his main talent was improvisation
so he had no idea what i was going to play
The intro to the song we were joking about Thierry Henrys handball in the play off for the 2010 world cup
They used to refer to him as mad Chris to distinguish from American Chris Carter in Prague but he is not mad at all just special
Similarly the myth that i am mad is never borne out in reality.
Apologies for lack of punctuation Full stops and th seem to bring up a link word.
No doubt President Trump is watching
Please Mister President can Conor have all his features on numberonemusic back I think he has done America a few good turns in the last while
4.00 The temptation
In school they used to say the devil is behind every great ambition, what if Elvis dropped out of the race to the White House.
I know a lad who does good fake passports it would be quite easy to do up a genuine American passport Conor Buckley born Hawaii 1978, noone would surely question and say i wasn't born in America.
Some of my cousins were born in America i am 40years younger than the main contenders in the race,i could get the hair enhanced with a plastic surgeon in Zurich, go to the gym and lose my man tits, shave my chest and go and get a solarium tan the first American Irish President since JFK.
The inauguration ceremony would feature New Day and i would represent all the American people and i would get to meet famous people and i would be in charge of a nuclear arsenal.
The Saint Patrick's day ceremony in the white house would ban the bowl of shamrock even sheep don't eat shamrock, the Irish Taoiseach(teeshuck) dude would have to bring a Big Mac Meal or an interesting book or album for the President and a six pack of beer for the secret service lads and it would save the white house staff flushing the shamrock down the toilet every year.
That wouldn't be Conor Buckley that would be abusing your influence.
3.9 ON BEING HUMAN
A return to Cork City Ireland and a chronic pain condition were never planned as i turned my thoughts to a future outside of Ireland and the Peoples Republic of Czechistan or Czechia or the Czech Republic in 2010
There was one guarantee on a return to Ireland one would get a lot of hassle there
Initially i had pain in the right side of my jaw then the left side then my neck then my back and then my feet and singing itself hurt and my arms hurt after a few minutes playing guitar
I had spent twenty years developing a talent and suddenly it was gone like a passing car like Icarus who flew too close to the sun “its unlikely you will recover” i paid this man 150 yo yos and he tells me this.
I tried to forget about music and after the previous years obsessively playing music it was a release,there was no longer an escape route back to Eastern Europe or into music as before
I did basic work most of these years and i tried to educate my self further and i can't say i paid much attention to politics or austerity, the world i saw was the world i saw a few miles in each direction
The financial crisis had got me interested in finance so i studied Dow Theory the stock market theory invented by Charles Dow,i tried to understand the world of bonds but never could grasp that all of these traders didn't understand themselves what they were selling at the time of the crisis
Politics i tried a great deal not to think about it so i would read an international newspaper at the weekend and keep in touch with what was happening that way for years
About 6 months ago i was reading about the death of the young motorcyclist Harry Dunn in a tragic accident and i thought if Harry was Barrack Obama's son or Donald Trumps son or Boris Johnson's would he had received better treatment so on a human level was it wrong to post Justice For Harry Dunn on my profile?
Obviously i can no longer post news bulletins to my profile or post videos on my profile did i upset someone in the Vatican?
Is it different if you post something on your profile or i do,has Conor Buckley a greater responsibility?
Say if i open a twitter account i take a load of drugs and i log on and i say there should be a war between America and China and Elvis should be the next President of America should i be censored?
Bono lobbied for the Clintons why doesn't Conor Buckley say Joe Biden or Donald Trump to be the next President of America?
What does it mean to be Conor Buckley?
Part 3.8 ABBEY ROAD
The basement in Zizkov was a busy place the other room in the basement were the sleeping quarters of an American percussion player Juan who played with a group called Marimba Maly and if you listen closely to the Travelling Blues Demo Juan is screaming in the background as i am playing the slide solo
Johnny Tennant the
traditional musician also took up residence in the other room when Juan wasn't about.
Somedays i would arrive to the studio and Rene Starhon would be giving some young girl guitar lessons or would haul out some piece of vintage music gear he had got somewhere
Young bands would come in and rehearse in the other room which was an old wine cellar where recordings like Drifting 2010 There Is Your Answer or Letna Girl were recorded
I used to meet Ephraim Goldin a bit there in the later years i didn't realise until later years that Hypnotix were a legendary band i used to refer to them early on as the lads with the computers
I think my first job in security was working the door for Night of the Drum in 04 that Ephraim puts on most years to celebrate African percussion
His partner at the time was in The Yellow Sisters and i went to see them one night in the Lucerna and i enjoyed their acapella singing
I think Bara was my favourite I listen to them sometimes online.
Psi Vojaci used to store some of their gear in the studio as well as i think Rene went to school with Filip Topol so all sorts would show up
He was determined not to get caught by me so when the working hour started he would take out his mobile phone and start a stopwatch and i always paid him the exact amount and often i knew what i recorded that day was another brick in the house i was building
The acoustic guitar in the pictures is my main tool and i can play nearly all mysongs on that acoustic guitar as my recordings are live,
i have one or two electric guitars but i think the one i used to do some recordings in those years was a heap of shit but if you can play you can play a heap of shit to be honest i was a far better singer than guitar player and really as a songwriter the guitar was just something to accompany my voice
I used to practice a few hours a day in that epoch and when i recorded something there i would go listen back to it and try and figure out how i could make it better.
Part 3.7 THE MANSION
One of the things i used to say early on was playing my music got me in the trouble, some people were shocked when they heard me perform live others hated you instantly and often when i finished playing it brought out the worst in people, some musicians wanted to destroy you with manipulation and often the Robert Johnson's become loathed during their lifetime and plagued by the jealousy that accompanies having such a talent. Certainly in my early twenties i was quite naive and didn't recognise the pitfalls of such a talent.
The city where i come from in Ireland has only a few original live music venues and if you were any good it was better to decamp to eastern Europe as i wisely did. I remember early on some lady was so taken with my singing that she gave me her official Czech identity papers and i fished them out of my guitar case and showed them to my cousin on the way to the airport and i think we returned them to a police station.
My first cousin is in Prague since 1990 so he got more than he bargained for with my arrival in 2001 and his kids speak Czech to their mother and English to their father and they got used to their Irish cousin arriving suddenly for a year to Prague and then departing, i used to play football with the lads and get the guitar out and bang out music on the guitar
I sometimes wonder was i a bad influence on people at that time but my girlfriend at the time had two children and they always seem delighted to see me so maybe i wasn't all that bad, maybe i was a little damaged from my early life and not able to fix myself yet.
The major turning point for me in the Czech Republic was June 2010 when i had a bad toothache one day i went to see a dentist and was told i needed a root canal so i said fine and then i was told i needed a second one and a third one and i was still in agony
I knew there was something badly wrong at that point and i think the last two months in eastern Europe at that time were a nightmare
I was running a fever and shaking recording There is Your Answer and i am screaming during the song in pain and i knew i was only five days from returning to Ireland and when i eventually returned my dentist told me the roots had been incorrectly filled in my teeth and fractured dental instruments had been left inside my teeth and i had a periodontal infection in my jaw eventually i had to extract a few teeth and after my final concert in March 2011 in Nusle
i woke in agony a few days later with the beginnings of a chronic pain condition its unlikely i would have stayed in Ireland other wise to be honest, i knew the mentality i was returning to they hated you because you had such a talent and you were from there but in practical terms it meant i was close to a doctor and a hospital.
Within two years i got official clarification that i would never perform for any length of time again and one day i got up to go to work and the pain in my legs was so bad i was unable to walk
I knew in those years if i fell into self pity i wouldn't survive so i had accept everything and deal in reality.
Possibly the biggest challenge in Ireland was housing and i could probably write a book on that alone, i found myself eventually living in what the Irish term social housing or anti-social housing or the American term projects where i found myself living beneath a busy brothel and even if someone was evicted the next tenant was usually worse and you were often trapped in this system and i think one tenant used to wake me at 6 in the morning with loud music and leave rubbish outside my door and when i complained i was told i was being racist so i sort of held onto my values in a world without values and chased it down with tenants rights saying i was an Irish citizen that the men of the 1916 Rising had given their lives and the Irish legal system gave me the right to live in peace and i shouldn't suffer discrimination for being Irish.
Often some of the foreigners i encountered were absolute racists and some were very nice people; possibly the biggest mistake you can make is to caterogrise anyone by the colour of their skin or religion
I went into the city council one day and was listening to an Irish chap saying the neighbour over head was shouting he was going to stick a knife into him and when i went outside there were election posters up with Enda Kenny proclaiming “lets keep the recovery going” they would house Isis supporters before helping this man i thought. Although i must say the biggest bastards i met in my life during that time were all Irish.
Certainly a major handicap was my linguistic laziness in Bohemia that i would be sitting with a group of people who didn't speak English and i would be wondering what they were saying to each other and from 2008 i made a concerted effort to learn the language,and in 2009 when i got official papers i could stay in Czech forever and i liked the people and the culture so much i thought Buckley should be able to speak the lingo.
I knew people for years and i was never able to have a conversation with them so certainly by the time my days in eastern europe were coming to an end in 2011, i could talk at some level to the natives
The Slavic languages are quite difficult to learn the easiest way to learn the sounds is to close your eyes put a tin of tuna chunks in your mouth and have someone run up and kick you in the nuts and you start making funny sounds; in seriousness, i bought a teach your self Czech book and i would listen to the Czech radio stations for hours and Petr Rosicky would often meet me in a cafe Decada somewhere on the yellow line metro when his office got too busy and correct my pronunciation, i would delightedly regale the natives reciting in Czech language “good day i am a foreigner i don't have a map could you show me the way to the railway station.”
I was with many of Vaclav Klaus supporters when EU accession was announced in May 2004 and i don't remember anyone being particularly pleased in reality, i was an illegal alien at the time so strangely Czech joining the EU gave me some sort of legality
I left Ireland with just ten Euro and my guitar at one point early on and i rarely paid for public transport, the ticked inspectors used to see me coming on the Metro and turn a blind eye and at my most severe poverty i slept on a fold out bed with a packet of noodle soup every evening or maybe some bread. The beatnik books i read before leaving Ireland didn't seem that romantic. I never particularity enjoyed cold and hunger
I went hungry for two days at one point and people often ask why i keep popping into the supermarket to make sure the fridge is full so much, as i suppose i don't really want to go back there
I suppose it toughened me up and in later years when i returned to the city i had plenty of time to ponder on my earlier years.
It was that certain poverty that led me to becoming a teacher in 2003, there was a three month period where i would go out on Tynska Street just off Old Town Square and play for an hour and make enough to eat
I remember one group of American tourists coming along and stopping in amazement and one of them exclaimed “what are you doing here you should be on the radio or something.”
I always enjoyed playing on the street you would meet interesting people but eventually the police came one evening and confiscated my guitar because i didn't have a permit so i was guitar-less and i think that was the clincher in deciding to start teaching English.
During the Austro-Hungarian empire Prague was one of the richest cities in the world and the present saying that “you should look up when in the city”
meaning everywhere you look there is an architectural gem is an apt one and even the ordinary apartment buildings built a 100 years ago have solid concrete walls which means you will rarely hear the neighbours if you live in a half decent neighbourhood
One of the advantages of this building tradition was that many of these buildings have spacious basements which became home studios for a whole generation of musicians,my first album was recorded in the basement of Noel Le Bons apartment in Prague 7 in Feb 2002, songs like Loaded Gun Hanging Out and Nosedive which i had written in the late nineties in Ireland finally came into bloom in two weeks in Noel Le Bons studio in 2002 ,
Colin Stuart had a good deal of production experience but songs like Hanging Out were the first time i could communicate my ideas as a producer or Temple Bar Annie where i had Noel Le Bon bang the snare drum on the chorus; really a song like Temple Bar Annie seems a touch immature now a nineteen years old disdain for the chic Ireland that was emerging “the lights are on but there is no one home temple bar annie has a plastic soul,” similarly something like Hanging Out was probably inspired by girlfriend who began hanging out with a cooler crowd “see your hanging out with your new found friends i know they all lie smiling with a dagger blade.”
Music i wrote in my teens was a diary more than anything else and often when i see the sentiments behind the songs i feel a little uncomfortable and i rarely listen to my early music as it brings many emotions back which i don't really want to revisit.
There were a few years where i didn't play music at all and when i picked up a guitar again in 07 i wanted to play music with an acoustic guitar,playing live in Eastern Europe the acoustic guitar became my mainstay and i often played without any amplification at all and it was quiet common that we would be sitting somewhere early on i would take out a guitar play for a few minutes everyone would stop and then continue on after i had finished; alternatively some places you would have some guy screaming in Czech no singing in English allowed here and often some chap would borrow the guitar and start playing a Czech folk song and then all these guys would be shouting at you in a foreign language and they would want to buy you something to celebrate your music that tasted like anti-freeze and you would throw it down your neck and your neck would start burning like a forest fire and you would somehow manage to smile wondering what had just gone down and it would be a major insult if you refused the hospitality so in Rome do as the Romans.
Early on this late night city was filled with gamblers,thieves,characters,psychopaths,criminals,sex workers and a lot of people who were just good people and possibly after awhile the Irishman in the brown suede coat with the scarf and the shoulder bag and the guitar became part of that landscape,i suppose performing in these sort of places meant i had to do something special with my own music to survive,one of the new songs The Final Confession Blues was standard fare at the end of my concerts for a non English speaking audience passages of improvised guitar with improvised humour thrown in and for someone who was basically crippled with stage fright and didn't like public speaking, teaching English and performing in the city had me feel the fear and do it anyway as the cliche goes.
I suppose the decision to work with Rene Starhon in my later years in the Czech Republic was out of a desire to be my own boss in relation to the music i was creating, there were a few other studio options available, it just seemed easier to me to pay by the hour and i knew Rene fairly well and the realisation at that point was i could go into a basement studio in Prague Czech Republic in four hours and record something and people would be listening to it for quite awhile afterwards
Anytime i used to ask him about something
he would reply “you are the producer” thats your job.
I worked in the studio(Konenovka Ulice Zizkov) from March 08-2011 i think Caillte dates from the first session and Dreaming Home dates from the last session in March 2011
Rene played drums on early recordings like Hanging Out, i think the truth behind that era(first album) was i told Rene to tap the brass parts of the drumkit and smash the main drum set at the chorus and Noel Le Bon had a guitar distortion effect on his four track and i added that in at the chorus to the guitar sound. Hanging Out probably evolved from just learning to damp the guitar strings to mimic a bass and Rising Up is probably how
Hanging Out should sound had i done more work on it
I added guitar distortion to (Rising Up) Tomas O'briens bass sound and Luke dalys drums gradually get louder and louder and a lot of the new songs the sound keeps building until you fall off the edge of a cliff at the end of the song.
As a teenager the only
PJ i knew was the lad on the sideline shouting as your were playing Gaelic football “take him out Buckley that's it hit him a dig in the head if he gives you any cheek”, “uptheboya hit him a shoulder” and the classic one was “keep your eye on the ball.” Often Gaelic football games would become mass brawls with the trainers and managers becoming involved and aggressive as i was i liked to play sport sometimes.
Like many who played the game i have a collection of wounds, i remember jumping up for a ball and i got two knees in the head and when i came to they were pouring water on me possibly a late baptism
The trainers always carried a bottle of water which they filled in the dressing room and this magical holy water cured everything from concussion to ankle sprays and to drink tasted
like goats piss or milk left in the fridge for a month
The major regret i have is i didn't play more of the Irish sport of Hurling which i enjoy immensely and it is the national Irish game.
One day as a fourteen year old i went into the bedroom of one of my siblings and there was a cassette tape with a lady called
PJ Harvey on the cover and she didn't look like a Gaelic football manager,
she was very attractive and she was wearing a bikini with a camera around her neck, so when i put her four track demos on later
it changed things she had a bit of fire and i still go back and listen to Hook occasionally when i am online.
Most of the music from my life that i remember has a certain genuine quality a bit of heart
I heard Lana Del Ray on the car radio of one of my friends a while back and bought the album as it seemed to have a bit of fire
i spoke to someone in the music business about two years ago and he said he was looking for songs for Lana Del Ray and i sent him Song From An Office Chair so Lana if you are watching you missed out.
Someone wrote a few months ago looking for songs for some compilation the sum of money involved if the song was accepted and used was quite large so i gave it a shot(Song From An Office Chair) and he said no
but a lot of this type of thing is like playing the lottery your numbers might come up but periods when i slide into poverty there is always the possibility your numbers may come up.
Similarly there is a lady in the states who likes my music and i send her an email about three times a year, there is always the chance that Lisa might write saying she is sending me a
100thousand dollars and a plane ticket and will be waiting at the airport with a Big Mac Meal and a caramel sundae but i don't live in a dream world about such things,
i certainly don't take this sort of rejection personally, i have about 16 thousand unread emails and most of those are in relation to music.
When Petr Rosicky sent me the pictures of my early years in 2007 he said “those were the good old days hope they don't come again”and it eventually made its way into the lyrics for the Frankfield Terrace Talking Blues;
i realised in later years there was nothing romantic about the early years in Eastern Europe possibly the most positive thing were songs like Nighttown and Teaching Blues
I call the group of songs composed in Prague between 2002-04 Daybreak. Similarly queuing up in the supermarket in recent years, i would sometimes hear Irish women complaining about their partners and they would say “I have no peace from the man girl,” so the saying entered a song in Going To The Sun, i think a teenage friend lent me a book on the Irish American boxer Jack Dempsey entitled A Flame of Pure Fire and
20years later it would resurface in one of the new songs Flame
I think i often file away words and sentences which suggest music to me in some compartment of my mind.
A friend introduced me to someone working for Sony America towards the end of my prague years and if there was 1million big ones on the table i wouldn't have said no and he is a nice fella
,Ivo Heger had a friend working for Universal in the Czech Republic(After The Flood was recorded in Barrandov in 2008) and he came back and said she wasn't interested and to be honest i didn't really care, i thanked him for being honest with me and i don't think the whole myspace thing helped either
I was pretty down around the time of the financial crisis and it seemed better to return teaching than attempt any huge promotion campaign for After The Flood
In fairness Ivo Heger wasn't hoping i would make him rich and just said its your music do whatever is best for you.
I think the deal and the big shot advance belonged to the dreams of the low self esteem that something would bestow importance on your achievements in reality even performing anywhere for 30minutes brought me fame, so in many ways everytime i played i fell down at some point as soon as i stopped playing
I didn't realise that when i was 23 but by 30,31
i realised unless there was someone paying me a great deal of money to play, performing complicated life and of course many people hate you because you have such a talent and will set out to make life as difficult as possible for you because you have such a talent.
I suppose i realised during that epoch with the advent of the internet there was a medium where one could no longer be censored by the radio and mainstream music business because you were good; like many of the underground bands my Czech friends looked up, a lot of my music had gone out in London or the States,Canada and there would be an audience once i had an internet connection,(my biggest audiences are in places like London, Brisbane and Chicago so ninety nine percent of my listeners are outside of the Czech Republic and Ireland.
A lot of the music written during that period(07-2011) had a good spirit as it spoke about coming back from impossible odds, an unconquerable spirit not giving up in the face of defeat whereas the early music tended to wallow in self pity and defeat, Morning tune was recorded around the time of the financial crisis, i was crying during the recording and the line “where the trams meet the cold November air” was based on my life at that time where i was still getting up every day to teach at Siemens in Dejvicka and Nove Butovice at 5 to work at 7 riding the tram from Pod Karlem to IP Pavlova to connect to the yellow metro line.
MUSIC PART 1
My thoughts at the end of my time in eastern Europe were turned towards a future outside of Czech Republic and Ireland, i had an international English language teaching qualification and it seemed a green passport away from the jealousy and hatred i would face returning to Ireland and the uncomfortable existence that Prague had become for me after ten years of playing and recording in the city.
The city raised me to the sky at times and at others hurled me into the gutter and broke the rough edges off my psyche and wore my thick Irish accent into a soft tone more out of the difficulty of people understanding me than anything
When i began working as an English teacher in 2003, i would be called into the office after a few hours and told “link
you will have to speak clearly the students can't understand
you” and someone succinctly said to me in recent years “you don't have a north side accent,” but i am secure enough in myself these days that i just am who i am.
Strangely enough in 2010 i was offered a good job with a school called the Hibernia language school which is the Latin name for Ireland (teaching English could be quite turgid work, the Czechs started work at 7 in the morning, so one had to rise at 5 and work 7 to 10 and then the afternoon lessons might be 4-6 and it involved travel all across the city; i had played all across the city so i was probably the most recognisable foreigner in the city which made the journey to work uncomfortable, the homeless lads wanted money and cigarettes and half the street would turn around to gawk at you and the most taxing part of work in those years was the journey to work and by the end of 2010 i had enough.
Early on it wasn't uncommon for me to bring the guitar into school and play for the students,i think i was playing a concert somewhere one night in the early years and a lady invited me back to some hotel for a game of monopoly and the following morning i dashed to Prague 10 to teach and when i arrived i realised i didn't have any textbooks, so i got the guitar out and played for 60minutes
fairness the school paid me for the hour although in later years i just did the job.
Petr Rosicky attended nearly all my concerts in my early years in Praha and his pictures here capture the down at the heel atmosphere of these places and the volatile tortured damaged humour
i acquired by that time which was the price for such a talent i
I don't know a great deal about photography but i think he has some talent from the exhibitions i attended
I should try to appear smart and discuss his use of light and the postmodern message of his photos, but a photograph can tell a story better than i
I would generally text him in later years asking where are you and i would get a message back saying “i am in the office.”The office was a cafe in Prague 7 where we would meet and over the years he was
translator,photographer,court jester and would often negotiate payment for playing with non English speaking people. I think i saved his neck one night in Zizkov at one of my concerts from a psychopath named Pavel. He did retrieve my guitar and passport from an angry girlfriend at one point
so he paid me back and i still send him on new music when i think of it.