His time in Kilgarvan allows Laurie Shaw put a unique spin on events in the UK, writes Don O’Mahony
Thanks to the neither shy nor retiring local political dynasty, the south Kerry town of Kilgarvan will always find itself associated with a particularly pronounced rural accent. Even so, the years spent there have done nothing to supplant Laurie Shaw’s Scouse brogue and verbal tics, forged in the first ten-years of his life in Wirral in Merseyside. Could this refusal to yield his native traits be an act of defiance?
“Maybe a little bit,” the musician replies. Yeah, possibly. I think maybe you get that when you go into your teenage years, that kind of thing of wanting to resist the norm a little bit.
“And I guess a lot of the bands I’m into as well are from the north of England and stuff so there was a part of me that maybe clung on to it because of that as well,” he adds.
“The thing about it is I don’t sound like I’ve lived here for 15 years and it’s a fact I’ve often brought in in me songs because I think it’s important to sing how you talk sometimes because it invokes it with something that’s a bit unique.
Amongst Shaw’s musical heroes are The Smiths, Pulp and Arctic Monkeys, artists who have regularly pronounced upon the state of modern Britain, and his most recent album, Helvetica, is a feverish examination of our neighbouring island. An irony-edged axe to a nostalgically remembered past it may be, but it’s one that comes from a place of love.
As Brexit continues to dominate in Britain, how connected does Shaw feel to the land of his birth and what’s happening there?
“I’m connected in as much as I’m interested to see what happens but I don’t feel connected to it really,” he considers.
It may be his parent culture, but Shaw is also looking at it from a remove. So Helvetica is as much the observations of one looking in as it is a bulletin from the frontline of Brexit Britain.
Says Shaw: “I think I wanted to gel all those different angles, you know. Because in a way I’m looking at it from the outside, but then in a way I’m also looking from the inside. But then I didn’t necessarily want to work out where that ended and began.
“But it’s not the actual idea of the place isn’t something I’ve ever spoke about,” he continues. “I might have but never in depth so I thought: ‘Well what do I actually think of it?’ And I kinda took little personal bits, in the 10 years I did live there, just little snapshots that I felt I remembered fondly.
“So I’ve taken an idea of nostalgia and kinda using it as a weapon in a way. You know, being like, ‘Oh, do you remember the good times when this happened and stuff?’ So I wanted to do the same but not use it in such a propaganda way. Take it and make something beautiful. And I think that I’m not overly nice about the place but I’m also very fond of it at the same time.”
Fresh of face he may be, Laurie Shaw has been writing and recording since his early teens and his releases, albums and EPs, number in the dozens. For him it’s a compulsion.
“The most important thing is to make something you yourself are really in love with,” he says sagely.
Laurie Shaw plays at Bauld Lang Syne on New Year's Eve at the Kino in Cork