Danny O’Reilly: Culture that made me

Danny O’Reilly: Culture that made me
Danny O’Reilly, centre, and The Coronas play at Musgrave Park on Saturday.

Danny O’Reilly plays in Cork this weekend with The Coronas. He tells Richard Fitzpatrick about some of his major musical touchstones and other influences 

First album that stopped you in your tracks

“I remember my dad playing Revolver by The Beatles when we were driving down to Wicklow – we used to have a little holiday home in Brittas Bay – and it sort of blew my mind. As kids, we had been listening to whatever was on the radio at that stage, and listening to a piece of work like that really had an impact. I became obsessed with The Beatles then. I was probably 11 or 12 when this happened. From then on, I was hooked.

Both my parents being involved in the industry encouraged us to listen to different types of music. It was almost like we were ready for Revolver at that age. They never forced music on us but would have gone, ‘Wait ‘til you hear this — this is real pop music’.

First gig

“People ask me what my first gig was and I usually say it was Slane in 1995. My dad brought me to see REM, but truthfully I was at about 50 Mary Black [his mother] gigs before that. The first gig was when I was probably a baby or in my mommy’s belly when she was on stage. When I was young, I didn’t really get an appreciation for my mother’s music. The rebellious 10- or 11-year-old in me just wanted to listen to Oasis. I didn’t want to be listening to Mary Black gigs. It was only when we started doing music ourselves and started touring that I began to appreciate how much of a legend she is. Now I love going to see her. Everywhere The Coronas have been there have been people come up to me.

Even in Japan, there were interviewers asking me about my mother, comparing me to Sean Lennon. I rang up my mother: ‘Ma, what’s the story? You’re big in Japan’. When you grow up so close to it you don’t appreciate it.

"I’ll come back from a Coronas tour and will say something like: “It went really well. We sold out Shepherd’s Bush in London. It was a great gig.” She’ll go: “Ah, yeah. Come back to me when you’ve done three nights in Albert Hall.” There’s always a bit of that slagging going on.

Best festival gig

“When we were about 16 we got tickets to go to Witnness at Fairyhouse, which then became Oxegen. We managed to blag our way into the VIP section. I remember sitting backstage — we were only kids — and myself and Knoxy, our bass player, and Jim, our manager, saying to each other: “If we got to play at this festival, even if we got to open up one of the small stages that would be amazing.” That was the height of our ambition. At that stage we were just a school band having the craic.

A few years later we were playing the main stage at Oxygen. Arcade Fire headlined that day, but needless to say we camped for the weekend and enjoyed it as punters all over again when our set was done.

Book you couldn’t put down

“My father is a great man for recommending books to me. He always gets it right. One book he suggested – and it’s a book I’ve gone back to read a couple of times – is Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. It’s semi-autobiographical.

“He’s an Australian guy who ended up in prison in Australia.He escaped and made his way to India, and ended up in the slums, and worked his way up through the Indian mafia.It’s an amazing story and it has these little gems, these philosophical insights. It had a real effect on me when I read it first in my early twenties. It’s one of those books that make you think about what you want to do with your life.”

Best film

“One of my favourite movies is Goodwill Hunting with Matt Damon. Harvey Weinstein was involved with it so it’s kind of tainted now, but it’s just a great, simple story, well shot. It’s got great music.

“Elliott Smith is all over it. He has four or five songs in the movie. It always just struck a chord with me.

Favourite podcast

“I’m obsessed with sports. I’m still playing junior Gaelic football in Dublin with Templeogue Synge Street. My dad is involved in the team as well. He’s the coach. Me and my brother get to play together, with him on the side-line. We have two cousins playing on the team as well. It’s a great way to hang with the family. I play midfield, just traipsing up and down the middle, picking up breaking ball. That’s my go-to. I listen to Second Captains all the time. It’s a brilliant sports podcast. It’s got a bit of everything. The lads are really funny.

Actually Murph, who is one of the presenters on the Second Captains, plays on our team. I’m a little bit biased because I know him and he’s a lovely guy.

We get the usual like: “Stick to the music!” Or last week I remember I passed the ball into the full forward line. It was a crap pass. I knew it wouldn’t get to its destination. I took a bit of a late hit so I was thinking: I’m going to see if I can get a foul here, and began shouting, “Ah, ref!” It was near the opposition team’s side-line, and I could hear someone say, ‘Ah, you’re not on stage now, Danny!’”

Best music gig gimmick

“If you’ve ever seen those people playing bubble football, they get into these big balls and they run around on the pitch and bounce into each other. I remember seeing The Flaming Lips’ lead singer get into one of them and run out over the crowd in a giant, inflatable, see-through beachball, crowd-surfing while he’s running over their heads. It’s worth YouTubing.

"We were getting suggestions from production people about it. They were like, ‘You could try this’.No way. I’d be too clumsy to do something like that on stage. I’d end up falling over or doing something embarrassing. It would burst while I’m out in the crowd or something.”

Most anti-climactic gig

“I got to see Bruce Springsteen in Croke Park. I’m not a huge Brucie fan. I was little underwhelmed. It was a long gig, a lot of songs. I probably only really knew The River. The sound wasn’t amazing. It just wasn’t my thing. He’s one of those acts who passed me by growing up.”

- The Coronas will perform at Musgrave Park, Cork, on Saturday as part of a roster that also includes Sigrid

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