GH – As ever, to begin can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
PC – I’ve always been playing music since I was a kid, I even took classical guitar lessons for a few years when I was growing up but I never really took it that seriously. I’ve been in a few bands around Liverpool but it wasn’t until around mid-last year that I really got the confidence to start playing my own stuff by myself. Since then I’ve been recording some songs in the spare room of my parent’s house in Liverpool and trying to get as many gigs as I can.
GH – You’re kind of a double thread in that you’re as much a performance poet as you are a musician. Do you think this fact has any specific effects on your work?
PC – Yeah definitely, I suppose I was writing and performing poetry before I was a musician, I think getting up and performing poetry was the thing which gave me the confidence to then start writing and playing my own music. Performing poetry seemed different to me because I had to think less about how my voice sounded and just focus on the words, then once I got more comfortable doing that I just started writing song lyrics how I would write poems, as opposed to specifically trying to write songs that sounded like songs, if that makes any sense at all. I’ve always loved song writers who write clever or relatable lyrics, like Alex Turner, Cosmo Jarvis or Ezra Furman, so I think that that also had a big influence on my music.
GH – You’re also based between Belfast and your native Liverpool. We won’t ask which you prefer, but how do you find that the two cities compare when it comes to playing music?
PC – I find that both the cities are quite similar when it comes to music, or poetry for that matter. People in both Liverpool and Belfast have a great appreciation for art and I’m very lucky to be based between them. There’s a really good atmosphere around live music and poetry in both cities, they both have a lot of opportunities for emerging artists which is fantastic.
GH – 8 Out of Ten Sex Kittens Don’t Prefer Whiskers, Sticky Floor Serenade – These are some pretty odd titles. Do you think your songs fit into any particular genre, and what would you say are some of your influences?
PC – I like weird song titles because they help grab people’s attention, especially at open mics I’ve found. In terms of genre I always struggle to define it, I just try to write songs that have strong, and perhaps absurd, lyrics, and the music is normally sort of punk-esque influences. Emmet McGonagle seemed to hit it pretty well when he described it as punk/folk, which is now my go to response. My influences are pretty widespread, I listened to a lot of The Clash, The Wombats and David Bowie when I was growing up and they’ve had a massive influence on my work. Although the likes of Cosmo Jarvis, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and Eels, are also places that I have definitely taken inspiration from, primarily their style of lyricism.
GH – We’re a fair chunk of the way into 2017 at this point, what would you say are some of your goals for the rest of the year and what are your ultimate aspirations beyond that?
PC – I’m not very good at looking ahead, but when I’m back in Liverpool over the summer I’ll be looking to get as many gigs wherever I can. However, I think my main goal is to get a load more songs recorded and sent out to as many places as feasibly possible! Also, time for my obligatory plug, I will have a small handful of three track CDs which I’ll be giving away on the night for free. Yes, you heard me, free! I don’t know whether that’ll make anyone take one but it’s worth a shot!
Paddy Clarke will be supporting Emmet McGonagle at his EP Launch in McHugh’s Bar Belfast on Monday the 3rd of April.