One of Ireland's most talented uilleann pipes and low whistle players, Davy Spillane was born in Dublin in 1959. A founding member of the group Moving Hearts, Davy has recorded for Sony Classical, Tara Music, and Cooking Vinyl, among others.
In 2000, Davy launched his own label, Burrenstone Records. He has worked a number of film scores and was a soloist in Riverdance. Davy won a Grammy award in 2000 for his collaboration with Paul Winter on the album Celtic Solstice. He is an accomplished instrument builder, having made all the instruments he plays.
(This interview was recorded in Dublin in 1991.)
First of all, thanks for taking some time, as you get ready for tonight's show, to have a chat with me here at Whelan's Pub in Dublin, Davy. Can you just start by telling me where you're from.
Right, well, I'm from Dublin originally -- that's what I usually say to people anyway! I was born off Leeson Street in Dublin, which is in a suburb really, near a big trunk road down the country, kind of like a dual carriage way...
From there I moved in to just outside the city when I was about twelve and then I left home at about fourteen or fifteen I think it was, very young -- too young. So, I was down the country, completely, and traveling, and after that I wasn't really from any one particular place. I was repatriating myself everywhere, you know, down the country.
I made a lot of friends and I have neighbors down there, even though I don't live there. I did live down in County Clare for about five years and I have as many, if not more, neighbors and friends there, in a society sense, in the sense of neighborhood, than I do up here. So, that's where I was born and raised, between Dublin and living in the country when I was young, and traveling then after that, on my own and with different groups.
So it was music that took you away from home at that early age?
Well, yes, there's different ways of looking at that. I'm very interested in seeing really what motivated me back then. I have little theories, but I'm never quite sure what role music had to play in my leaving home. I think, at the time, I thought it did, but I don't think so now particularly. Usually, when you look back, you find that they're just symptomatic things you got involved with.
Do you think you found an excuse to do something that you maybe needed to do for other reasons?
That's right yes. It's a very innocent thing, I think, really. My involvement with music started in school when I was playing the tin whistle, you know, like a flagolet penny whistle thing, and I wasn't too pushed about that in the beginning because everyone was playing it. Then gradually I got into it for some reason, I don't really know. Then I had an opportunity for playing a practice set of pipes, which I got into, I think, to avoid after lunch classes like mathematics and the usual which I kind of just dodged.
And then it kind of took over, you know, playing the pipes and the whistle and getting into different music and gypsy music. I think a lot of my drive in relation to getting into something like music, at that stage, was more adolescent, and more psychological and background drive, rather than any kind of mature choice in music.
But you ended up playing an instrument that really is associated with a great tradition and heritage, exploring ways in which to apply that instrument to a much wider variety of music. Did you feel, early on, that you would be somewhat harnessed into only playing traditional music? I mean, I know that in Scotland with the Highland Pipes, there's a tremendous tradition and perhaps sometimes a certain lack of acceptance of new ways of playing. Were you drawn in first of all to the more traditional world of piping?
No, I was never sucked in by the hard-core traditionalists, even when I was a kid, you know. And because my upbringing was around the Irish language, I was pretty protected from pop music in general. Like, don't forget, we're talking about being thirteen. You wouldn't have been, especially then, subjected to radio and records and things. So, at the time when most kids maybe would have been subjected to the general pop culture, whatever that might be, I was kind of getting more and more into the instrument, the pipes.
My rebelliousness showed itself in that, I suppose I wasn't attracted first of all to the conservative sect of the instrument or those attitudes, and I was more attracted to the kind of traveling gypsy style of music. I got to know a lot of traveling people, and was involved in that culture, because there's a whole tradition from that area as well as from the drawing room. It's a class thing.
Anyway, I wasn't really attracted to the very traditional side, even though I understood that certain people really want to protect and hang onto their notion of what traditional is, you know. But I've no axe to grind with anybody like that. I don't spend much time with that myself, and I suppose they've the right to be involved with that.
Mind you, recently in my life now, at this stage, because I'm beginning to wonder and think about myself again as a piper, as a person that plays the pipes. I'm a good bit away from doing that, and I'd like to get back to doing that, as well as, parallel to doing, what I'm doing at the moment. But I haven't had a chance to do that yet, and I hope that I will get a chance to brush up on where I'm at myself.
In relation to this other life I should have, which is in relation to the instrument as an acoustic, non-professional instrument, I think that's very important but I've been too much involved in the professional side of music to give that much of a chance.
I don't feel I'm being very coherent today. You see, it's all these late night gigs. Yesterday morning at seven o'clock, I was in a traffic jam in England outside Middlesborough near Newcastle, and then I came home and I was straight up to the North of Ireland for a gig, and then back at five in the morning, and then in here, so I may not be really great interview material at the moment.
Well let me take you back to something you mentioned just a minute or so ago when you talked about being influenced by the music of the traveling people here in Ireland. Tell me, more specifically, how their approach to music would differ from the more structured approach you might find in an uilleann Pipe club here in the city?
Well, the difference is passion. That's my opinion. Passion and fire. These are words that come to my mind, and pure ability. There was definitely more of an actual tradition of professional piping, as in a person who plays the pipes for a living in a kind of street way, in the traveling tradition, than there is in the settled tradition or the academic tradition, which was a drawing room tradition of appreciation. The other one was all very well, but had to be more in a kind of circus tradition really , I think.
Usually what I've found, not applying this to myself at all, but to other very accomplished traveling style players, is that the traveling style of a couple of players I know, has the ability to take in and to reproduce all of what the masters of the other styles can offer. I think if you were to master all the technique and dedication that you need to put into this style, you should have the ability to mimic all the other styles, if you so wished.
I know a couple of players that's true of. I'm not including myself in that, but I think the other way around doesn't necessarily have the same advantages. So that's kind of an adolescent way of looking at it, kind of like, if you want, serendipity. I don't know. Maybe I'm just as prejudiced as the rest of them. I'd say I am. You're looking at inverse snobbery here!
But in general, you think the more formal, the more notated and structured the music becomes, the more likely it is to lose that wildness and that passion and that free expression.
Well, the free expression in the traveling style playing, within the area of acoustic non-professional music, do you know what I mean? There's a kind of paradox there, but outside of the rock business is what I'm saying. Outside of the music industry, within the folk scene, I would tend to find that yes. Like a very accomplished piper from whatever the other style is called, the non-traveling style, sometimes, it's astonishing, but they can miss something. And then maybe, if you read an opinion of the traveling style from that school, it might say that that was missing something,
I don't know -- it's maybe a mixture of the two. I think it seems to be a matter of taste. I still am not completely, exactly sure where I fit in in any of the styles, because I'm a very maverick player, and I'm a bit removed from playing the acoustic set of pipes due to work pressures, which involves me playing a pick up on my instrument.
I'm playing as a bandleader, and playing with an electric band, which is a different thing to being a technical virtuoso. If I was to really push the technical virtuoso scene I'd play solo, solo, solo, which I did for years and busked and everything. But that didn't sustain me enough really, and while I'm now leaving that alone, I'm looking to see for my own sake. Maybe it's because I'm kind of in my early thirties now, maybe I'm trying to see where I stand myself.
I don't know, doubts or something, I don't know. I'm finding it hard to take the whole thing seriously now and I'm doing my best for you to sum up the differences in my own opinion, but I find myself not thinking about anything like that at all.
So, what do you think about? What motivates you to keep doing what you're doing? What inspires you?
I don't really know. When I'm having my good days, I suppose, like everybody else. I'm more caught up with and I'm more involved with my life and the success in my life where it really matters -- be it in the psychological, emotional, and all those areas. I definitely would think that they're the important issues.
Your wellbeing in those areas is certainly what's worth talking about, as far as I'm concerned. I think that the rest doesn't really matter at all. The rest is a bonus, or not, as the case may be. That's definitely politically where I am. My life is involved at a different place completely.
So, you're saying that in a sense that you don't take what you're doing really seriously but you're serious about what you do?
At the moment I probably am, but I'm happy enough with what I've done in the past decade. I've been very busy, you know and I've worked very hard, and I'm able to say that about myself now. I'd be able to say that into a microphone. I would usually never make such a statement about myself, but I have to recognize that I have worked very hard, for ten years especially. I've been involved in the Moving Hearts project and the whole thing, and my own things, and done a good few records, and I'm running it myself.
So really, it's kind of a natural time for me to start kicking in and getting down into neutral where I won't know exactly what to do now, just right now, this moment. I've been so busy with the momentum of what I have been doing, so it's a very natural place to be, but it's not very interesting for you, because I can't lash out all these definite things for you.
Well then, let's stop where we are and look back over the last decade. We talked about the pipes being an instrument really steeped in tradition. When did it first occur to you to start applying that instrument to a wider range of music? When did you first say, "Wait a minute. It doesn't have to be all jigs and reels. We could play a Bluegrass tune with this instrument and it would work?"
The spirit of the people I grew up with, like the Seventies kids, it's like there was a great atmosphere, especially with the folk music which was pop music then, especially in Ireland. Like, if you were a folk musician, you were a pop star. I didn't even see that at the time, but definitely that's the way it was.
I think one of the first tunes I started to listen to outside of the kind of childhood or adolescent culture I was in, via school or home, would have been "Still Crazy After All These Years." There was a really good sax solo in one of those, maybe David Semper doing a solo on one of Paul Simon's records, do you remember that? Still Crazy After All These Years, a very good record. I remember saying, "Hold on a minute," and I really started to listen to other music then: Steve Winmood, the whole lot, Joni Mitchell, The Band, Van Morrison, you know, the usual.
I was well, well, obsessed about the pipes at this stage, massively involved in the instrument and completely dedicated, and I'd uprooted from home for it. And then I started to get attracted to this other music which you hadn't a hope in hell of playing on the uilleann Pipes. So that was the start of, maybe, an unfortunate set of affairs which meant that I was playing this instrument which took a lot of time and a lot of dedication, that I stuck with, but yet I developed, I hope, an understanding and a feeling for very different music.
And the two don't sit in complete harmony together really, so they set up a tension in me, or a bit of a dilemma, and I think it leant itself to me being accidentally involved. Like you know the way you give out vibes. I think it was because I was aware and very conscious of my interest in other music, and wasn't so much messing around on pipes in sessions, people knew that I was open like that. I suppose that anybody who knew me knew that my attitude was open.
So, my attitude being open, I got asked in to The Moving Hearts, which was my first real place to serve a producer and a band in providing room for crossover with the pipes, if people were interested in doing that. That was an apprenticeship and an education for me and a very important time.
And since then, I've carried on in that tradition, in the tradition of what Moving Hearts have done, which I was a founder member of. So it's kind of like being influenced by what I was doing myself, if you know what I mean. It's kind of a funny thing to say. It's a very funny era for the pipes, you know, and especially for me. The people who ignored me so much, they kind of hold me responsible for certain movements of the instrument, a lot of which, in actual reality, is accidental and timely and more cosmic, if you want. Like more cosmically influenced. I don't mean that in a spacey kind of a way.
You mean: right place at the right time?
I think so, yes. I don't know what the fuss is about at all. I think a lot of things are very accidental, or fated really, and I'd say my position in this whole thing is as a catalyst. I would certainly see it like that, rather than seeing myself as responsible for anything, either good or bad. Musically I'd see myself as a catalyst, which means that something's happening, and I'm just a mortal who's caught up in it.
I find it amusing, and sometimes, because I see things like that, when things are rough for me, or I'm overworked or I'm stressed out a lot, I find it hard to take comfort in it. Sometimes it's difficult for me to catch on to any other idea of myself, because I see it very clearly like that, and take it as it comes.
I'd say the future for the instrument is a bit more secure than it was. I think it's important for the instrument to gain international acceptance, first of all. You can have as much division and clubs and different styles as you want after that, but in the early Seventies, the instrument was by no means secure.
Well yes, I was thinking about the chronology of this. I mean you talked a minute ago about how it was primarily viewed as a solo instrument and had a huge solo repertoire, and then in the Seventies it was drawn into a band setting. We had Planxty and The Bothy Band using it as this incredible driving instrument, but still really within a traditional music format although still really stretching that. It strikes me that the Moving Hearts set up was the first to let it do more. And you've talked a little bit about the impact of that on yourself, but what do you think was the long-range impact of Moving Hearts on music in general?
I don't really know. I don't really know. I haven't a clue.
Well, tell us a little bit about how Moving Hearts got started. I mean, was there a master plan that these characters were plugged into, or was it something that just kind of evolved because of the cast of characters?
It was both, definitely. I think it was Donal Lunny and Christy Moore's idea, definitely. I'm not sure whose it was particularly. Both of those, I'd say, were fairly instrumental in the adult conception of it. The rest of us were involved, I think, if I'm not doing anybody an injustice, in being very involved in it after that, and drawn into their momentum. I think it was Donal's idea and Christy's application, and I think that would be how they would see it. I think that's the truth of it, I'm not exactly sure.
And then, you know, it just took its course. It was there, and it was a co-op, and it was a disastrous co-op! It was very much a rock band in the kind of negative sense too. Really the band undid itself at the end, which was a shame really, because it set up its stage and then it pulled the rug on itself, which was a waste of time because it's like, it was a good eight years there, you know and it was a fantastic apprenticeship for me. I think The Moving Hearts were only starting to get it together with The Storm and then just called it a day, or it went bankrupt, or broke down really. But I think that kind of thing is a shame. I find it hard to celebrate, but it's understandable, and it's the way it goes, you know.
I don't want to sound like I have a negative attitude towards the band. I have a very realistic attitude towards what happened and towards what happens in bands, when people aren't really displaying all the evidence of an apprenticeship. Do you know what I mean? But interesting enough all the same.
Let me ask you, since then, having seen what it felt like to do what you were doing with the instrument, you've used uilleann pipes more and more, crossing over from that traditional grounding, into country music, into jazz, into rock music. How far can you take it? Is it limitless?
I don't actually know. What I'm mostly involved with, like Atlantic Bridge was… I didn't want to… like I'm an uilleann pipe maker, I make pipes, and I was making pipes in the garage, and I didn't want to know about the music business after Moving Hearts. After my last statement about Moving Hearts, that seems to be a very heavy statement, but I don't mean that in relation to other people. I mean that in relation to myself and how I felt about myself, more than anybody else. And you know, it took me a while to recuperate from that period, but I didn't want anything do with it.
And, PJ Curtis, the producer and a friend of mine, he really encouraged me to get involved. I played the guitar a lot, and I thought Jerry Douglas' stuff on the dobro was fantastic, and Albert Lee and all that, and he persuaded me to go and put it together, so I did. He had to persuade me a lot to do it. So you can see, I was open at that particular time to that, and he was open, and that's what we came up with. It's kind of we came up with it -- that's more what happened. There's a lot of input into all the projects from people, but maybe it's because I was prepared to do that that it happened. Part of the reason that it happened, as opposed to any master conception of a plan.
But since then, you're looking at this kind of momentum and consequences that I'm dealing with. Like the band -- I put my own band together after Atlantic Bridge and it's popular, and people come to it, and it has it's own momentum. I'm a professional musician and I play, and that's what I do, but in relation to what else the pipes can do, I don't think it's really where I'm at.
Like a lot of people ask me that in interviews, from the word go and, you know, that's the big one they have with me when they're talking to me. I never really very strongly identified with that particularly, you know: "What am I going to do with the pipes next?" or anything like that. What I was most interested in myself, what I got a lot of pleasure from was writing, especially the slower stuff, and any of the stuff that I would think would be valid, you know, to my own liking. So I am interested in writing.
I think, for myself personally, I'd be very interested in putting music together into a machine or tape recorder, of a nature that isn't necessarily reels or jigs or slow airs, but melodies that I can play, in imaginative settings hopefully, and I'd like to take it that way. That's what I'd like to do, which tends to point towards team music and stuff, which is where I think I'd say I am.
That's what I'm thinking about recently, especially since this last album called Pipe Dreams. But I definitely seem to be thinking about that now, this last six months. I seem to think that, at the moment now, I'm in no rush to get into making another album immediately, which I have been doing. I make an album after an album, which is fairly time consuming, and very involved with a lot of other people and, you know yourself, there's a lot of administration and an awful lot of stuff that's not a lot to do with music. It kind of leaves me with not much head space.
So, after this album now, what I was kind of thinking was that I'd just think about it. And it seems to be that I'll concentrate more on top line music, from my own point of view, just melody, and see what I can come up with, and hopefully have a few partnerships that might develop that from chordal skills of other people, and things. I hope to get a chance to develop that, and that means other people's projects as well.
Apart from the music of the uilleann Pipes and the other music we've been talking about, what other type of music excites you? What other music gets you excited about playing and about contributing what you have?
Well, what all the rest of the people are playing in my band. Like, you know, I play the electric guitar and the acoustic guitar. I have two nice guitars at home, and I play them all the time, not in a very disciplined way, but that's all I do. I don't play the pipes or whistle at home whatsoever, except when I'm applying myself to coming up with melodies or something like that. I don't know how healthy that is at the moment, but that's the way it is. It's been like that for a while.
I suppose a lot of up and running gigging musicians tend to be like that. Albert Lee was telling me one time that, when he takes his break, he works very hard during the year, but when he has a few weeks off, he doesn't want to know a thing about the guitar. I can understand that, you know. It's very hard to have that youthful passion for the instrument when you're hawking it around the world all the time.
Again, not trying to be negative about my trade, but it's like the consequences I suppose. I'm very grateful for what's happening, but there's a price to be paid for it, and the price is that your amateurs Friday night excitement and gratitude for the instrument is harder to find, which is just an honest thing to say.
You mentioned Albert Lee and other characters who have a Nashville base, and a base within Country music really. And that was exciting about the album, Atlantic Bridge. To hear the uilleann Pipes, which are identified, almost exclusively, with Irish music, crossed over with players of the caliber of Bela Fleck and such like, and also to hear the extent to which the uilleann Pipes brought out other qualities in these more familiar instruments. Tell us a little bit about the Nashville connection and what you think the uilleann Pipes can bring to the sound of a banjo or the sound of a dobro?
Well, I suppose, again, it's a catalyst thing. Like this is something I say a lot because I think it's true, but I think the pipes are very like the dobro. I always thought that the emotional qualities of a dobro played well, and the pipes played well, are very powerful, very evocative instruments. They really can get you in places where other instruments can't necessarily.
I think it's got something to do with people's genes, not their Levis now, but the kind of Babylon connection, or whatever, like far back. I think that people are connected up to pipes more than they know, because every country in the past has had their kind of primitive bagpipe type instrument, and it's become such a fundamental instrument that people identify with it, even if they don't know they're identifying with it. I'm not saying that's blanket particularly, but I seem to find that the people who come to listen to pipe music are so varied, and the effects it has is very varied.
The effect the uilleann Pipes has on other instruments, like the banjo and the dobro, I think it tends to highlight whether those other instruments have a background or not. It's very obvious that the dobro and the banjo and those acoustic instruments have. You know, when you hear the uilleann pipes with modern instruments, let's say you hear the uilleann Pipes and only a synthesizer, you can see the stark contrast. You can feel it. You can hear it. One is super-modern and one is super-old. It's like a color. It's like one of those colors that acts as a key color. The pipes can do that. They transcend style, I think, definitely.
Other people kind of go on about the mystic connection, like myself when I'm answering a question, when it's relevant, about do I think there's a connection there, and yes, I do sometimes, and then other times, I couldn't be bothered even thinking about that. So, both are true, you know. I don't mind -- I feel I'm tolerant about people's attitude towards the instrument.
I'd say what I have to work on more is my own self esteem in relation to the instrument because there is, and there has been, something I call The Beano Effect of the bagpipes. The bagpipes are always portrayed, especially in the '60s in comics, with the fool guy as the bagpiper. Or when something was really stupid and off the wall, in comes the bagpiper. You know, haggis, and all that carry on.
Do you know that syndrome? And I used to connect with that and feel inadequate, like if a taxi driver said, "What do you play?" I would mumble, "Oh, the pipes…" Do you know what I mean? It doesn't sound as good. It's kind of a thing that some pipers have. It's a very minority thing and my attitude could still be affected.
It's so paradoxical. I'm in a band and I'm leading a band, and all that, whereas, in the 70s, even during the folk boom, it was never quite a cool instrument to play. The thing about the uilleann Pipes is that they're not cool and maybe sometimes I'd like to play an instrument that you could be a little bit more cool with so that I could hide a little bit behind it and I wouldn't be so bleeding exposed as a person. But I'm personally very glad that they're not a cool instrument. It's very hard to be cool with them. I'm not really into being cool as such, but sometimes, it would be handy to be able to be really cool.
Why do you feel exposed? Do you feel that they're so expressive that it's pulling out something from inside of you and throwing it out in front of the audience?
Well, it's more to do technically with the instrument. It's a very delicate instrument. It's very susceptible to change like, I believe the way to master the uilleann Pipes is not to be the master of them at all, if that makes any sense. Once you think you're the master of them, maybe you're in trouble, or trying to attain mastery of them is kind of like a waste of time. The mastery of them is the fluidity of being able to accept the fact that they don't work well sometimes and to suffer that, be able to suffer it.
Like the fact that you can't dictate to them, and you can't just plug them in, switch them on, tune them up and have all that mechanical backup. They're a handful of an instrument because there are no guarantees that come with the pipes. So when you sit them in front of an audience and you start to play them, you know there are good odds for you to have to work hard at them sometimes.
I hope that never comes across to any of the people in the audience, but sometimes, you're just very busy countering the instrument, you know. Struggling with your head, and hopefully not putting that over, but countering, counteracting climate control - where it's heading out of tune, drifting sharp, and then you make a movement and then it's drifting flat. You've got to kind of manipulate the instrument so much that playing the pipes is a very physical and a very mechanical act as well.
So there are a lot of decisions being made all the time, just to get a sound out of them, completely outside of saying, "Okay, this instrument's now playing, and I'm going to concentrate on what I'm going to play on it." That has to really come out of what you've done to date. Your background, or your homework, comes out there, or not. The act of playing them has more really immediate to do with the night that's in it. They're a daunting instrument and, I must say, I have great respect for people that play the pipes because they really are a savage instrument. There's no doubt about it. And when they're going great it's very rewarding, but when they're going wrong and you've got obligations, they can be very scary sometimes.
How does the audience reaction change how you might play on a given night? Does inspiration and enthusiasm from the audience have an effect, or are you so busy thinking more about what challenges the pipes might be presenting that evening that, in a sense, you're not going to be affected by what's coming back to you?
No, the audience affects me greatly. I'm not a showman, and I can't tell jokes, and I'm not a brilliant out front man in relation to personality, you know, so I have to respect an audience for being there, for a start. It was always a thing I learnt from the Moving Hearts' days and, as well, it's like the classic showbusiness thing. If people are paying to see you doing something, you can't start coming to anything that might be in your head. You've got to kind of give it your best lash, inspite of yourself, sometimes. And I'm very aware of that, and very aware that people are working very hard at their jobs, and they're only the people that have jobs who come and see it, most of the time.
I have great respect for them and it bemuses me. The truth of it is I am kind of amused at the fact that people come out to see a band with no vocals, with uilleann pipes at the very center of it. I have a very stoic attitude towards that which is like, "Wow, that's great, isn't it, " and I don't really believe it, and yet all the evidence is there all the time. So yes, I'm kind of bemused by it, and sometimes that gets me through. I respond to an audience, like the set we have at the moment, the first part of it is more like a concert, and during the second half of it, earlier than the second half, we turn into a dance band then. And if the audience respond and start to dance to that, which they usually do, if there's enough room for them, then that's great.
For an instrumental band to play soft music or listening music for a while and then get into dance music, and people play attention to the first part and then dance to the second part, I mean, that's 100%. I mean that's, for me, outside of how I feel, I have to acknowledge that that is 100% successful, because you can't do anything else with music really than listen to it when it's 'listeny', if you want, and then dance to it when it's 'dancy'. You can't do any more than that, really, in a night, and I kind of depend on that a bit to judge all of us by. That is the audience, myself and the band, as to how we're all performing.
You've been playing for so long, and professionally for so long, and touring and, as you say, working really hard over the past decade. How do you keep your enthusiasm up for it? You've expressed some feelings of having difficulty taking it seriously sometimes, or wanting to retreat sometimes, which is natural in whatever we do. How do you keep up your enthusiasm to take you to the next project, whether it's an album or a tour or something?
It's funny, like I'd like to go home now and come back and do this interview all over again and lie to you, you know. I should have really done that because there's one I can completely level with you, which is a personal interview, and then there's one which is like a professional interview in the music business. I'm kind of in the middle of the two at the moment, and I should really kick in to one or the other for your sake and everybody's sake.
One is like, "I love the band, grateful, great, looking forward to going to America..." all this sort of thing, and then there's the other one where sometimes I just don't care, do you know what I mean. I really don't care, and you know, it's not good show business. Yes, it is honest, and I've been honest.
Like the boys used to criticize me sometimes for giving 'oil rig interviews' as they called them, because somebody would be interviewing me and I'd be narky some day and I'd say, "Yeah, it's like working on an oil rig basically, if you really want to know what working in a band is like." When you're sort of like well-established, but on a sort of cult level, or whatever it is, that it's kind of like an oil rig. You're on, and you're with the lads, and you work hard, and you're looking after yourself now, so nobody's really messing, you know, you do your work and it's hard, and it's very disruptive work and, you know, in relation to the general picture of your life, if you want to keep fit, if you want to have a social life and a marriage, or whatever, it can be quite disruptive. And these are all the realisms of it, you know, you hear people talking about them, so there's that aspect to it.
And then there's the other aspect to it that it's self-employment, you know. So they used to call it the oil rig syndrome and they used to say, "If you're doing an interview, don't say it's like working on an oil rig!" You're supposed to say, "Yeah, I'm really into it, and I really like this, and I really like that," and I think that's fair enough. It's kind of promotion and it's the whole thing, you know, but, it's a funny thing, I could even tell you now that I don't care and that I couldn't really give a shit, which is the truth of it, and then at the same time tell you that actually, I do.
What makes me care, outside of any given moment, is the fact that people have responded, and this is the thing that really matters, and transcends. It's like a discipline or respect that I have for people's response. Over all the years, there's a lot of people have helped me do what I'm doing. That's a fact of life, and a lot of people encouraged me, and a lot of people have suffered me, and all the rest, and you can't take that lightly, you see. Really, I'm responsible for their care. It might seem a little bit smushy, but it's very true.
And all my own work, like, all my own work that was valid, that I put into it, and the good energies that I put into it, has its own momentum that I respect myself. And I look at it sometimes and I think, "This is great", even if I'm not feeling particularly grateful today, it's fantastic, sure. Sometimes I think it's quite a tragedy I can't plug into that gratitude more often, because then I'd be like, happier about it.
But you might be a sadder person inside because you'd feel as though the pressure was on to constantly have a brave face on it. Aren't you a little healthier by playing, enjoying it when you enjoy it, doing your best, and if sometimes if you hate what you do, aren't you just then like everybody else?
Well, exactly. I see it as a very ordinary thing. Like, cynicism aside, because there's a lot of cynicism around, and I see some people that are brilliant musicians that are so cynical they might as well not, I'm not impressed. They can be brilliant all they want, but cynicism is a terribly damaging thing. There's times when I just feel deep pleasure and satisfaction in what I'm doing. It's not so much a wild, tear my hair out sort of happiness, but it comes from a commitment I made a long time ago, an awful long time ago, and that commitment, I was really excited about it at the beginning, and now, the reward for commitment like that is a much deeper thing.
Fiona: Davy, thanks for being so open with me, and for giving me such insight into what you do, and why you do it. I'm really looking forward to hearing you and the band tonight.
Thank you, and thanks for taking the time here. I hope you enjoy it tonight.