Shape I’m In: Declan Sinnott, musician

THE first night Declan Sinnott stood in front of an audience in 2012 to perform from his solo album I Love The Noise It Makes he all but died on stage.

Shape I’m In: Declan Sinnott, musician

Up until then he was known for his musical virtuosity, accompanying on guitar and producing records for some of the biggest traditional names in Ireland, including Christy Moore, Mary Black, Sinead Lohan and John Spillane. He was also a founding member of groundbreaking bands Horslips and Moving Hearts. But this was the first time he took centre stage to perform his own work.

“I had done solo gigs over the years but this was different. It was all songs that I had written or co-written and I fell apart basically on the first gig; after all those years of experience my throat went dry, I had to stop. That’s an indication of how much it meant to me.”

He quickly found his groove and confidence. “My girlfriend plays harmony, and now when we sit down in front of an audience, it just about always works.”

Aged 63, a time in life when most people are thinking of winding down, he is enjoying a renaissance, finding a flow in his music and songwriting.

“I’ve started on a second album and hope to release it in January or February next year. All newly written songs. And I’m really pleased with the way my writing is developing.

“Some people say you should have done this years ago but I really feel like I couldn’t have. When it happened, I was just about ready for it.”

Based in Bandon, he is in a relationship with singer/songwriter Vickie Keating. He had nine children from a previous marriage — a son, Kevin, tragically drowned in 2009.

nDeclan Sinnott, with Vicky Keating, performs at Draiocht Arts Centre, Blanchardstown, Dublin on Friday, June 6. Bookings: 01-8852622 or www.draiocht.ie

What shape are you in?

Pretty good. I’m a non-smoker, non-drinker, non-every thinger. You gradually learn what it’s doing to your life and you pull back from what hinders you. Particularly if you are trying to be creative. I don’t exercise. Now and again, Nicky drags me out for a walk and I really enjoy it.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

I was married to Cathy Sinnott and, way back in the ’70s, we were into yoghurt and meuseli and all those things, when they weren’t on the supermarket shelves yet. At the moment I just eat fruit and nuts during the day and I have a meal in the evening and that’s it. I would avoid wheat more or less completely because it has become incredibly compromised. I get fresh milk straight from cow regularly. About three years ago I went on a raw diet — for five months. I felt brilliant. I’d love to do it again.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?

Haagen Daz ice cream — strawberry cheesecake. Every now and again I just break out.

What would keep you awake at night?

Worrying. In recent times I worry about how the greater percentage of my life is gone. I’d worry about my kids. About having enough money.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

My kids — they come every week — and my girlfriend. I’ve distanced myself from celebrity ideas. When somebody says ‘God, I remember you in Moving Hearts, you were just brilliant. I don’t like it. I’ve only once in my life have deliberately gone back stage to meet somebody — it was Eric Clapton.

What’s your favourite smell?

Mansion floor polish and carbolic soap because it brings me back to when I was five years of age. I love where they bring me. Then it’s honeysuckle and lemon grass soap.

What would you change about your appearance?

Everything really at this stage. But I’ll settle for what I have. If I woke up in the morning and looked entirely different I don’t think I’d like it very much.

When did you last cry?

I don’t remember because it happens too often. I get really emotional about things very easily.

What trait do you least like in others?

Bigotry and small mindedness. People judging you and deciding you are not Catholic or Islam or Hindu and therefore you are not right.

What trait do you least like in yourself?

Being judgmental — I’ve just bitten my own tail.

Do you pray?

No. I don’t know if there is anything else out there. And I love that answer because I think it’s better than all the other answers.

What would cheer up your day?

Sitting down and playing the guitar. After 10 or 15 minutes you go into a space where it’s just a different world. It’s a way to journey without needing to go anywhere.

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