A question of taste - Niall O’Flaherty

London-based Niall O’Flaherty, 44, is lead singer with the Sultans of Ping. The Cork band will play at the Jerry Fish Electric Sideshow at the Electric Picnic this weekend.

Best recent book: I’ve been reading a lot of John Updike recently, and he’s been quite a discovery for me, especially the Rabbit series. He gets accused a bit of misogyny but I think that’s a misunderstanding.

Notable recent show/exhibition/gig: Iggy Pop and the Stooges in London. Iggy is well into his 60s by now, and while he was brilliant for the early part of the gig, he did seem to struggle a bit later on.

What formats do you access music? I have tons of vinyl that I never get around to playing, so I’m very much a CD and iPod man. I know a lot of people say the new formats aren’t as good in terms of sound, but for me, convenience counts for an awful lot at the moment.

Best piece of music you’ve been listening to lately: I’m listening to loads of Velvet Underground. I’ve been a fan of theirs for years, but it’s really just struck me lately how great the vocals are, and not just Lou Reed’s.

First ever piece of music or art that really moved you: I remember being really excited by the Boomtown Rats as a kid. Also, the first gig I ever went to was the Damned in Sir Henrys in Cork, maybe in the mid 1980s. I was far too young to be there, but it was brilliant.

The best gig or show you’ve ever seen: The Cramps at Brixton Academy in the mid-90s. It was around the time of Ultra Twist and they really still had it.

Tell us about your TV viewing: I don’t watch a lot of TV viewer, but I do like Game of Thrones. I also caught up on Love/Hate recently, and it was great to see it get better as the series progressed. Fran is a great character.

Name three of your music heroes: Elvis Presley — I still listen to him every day; also, Joey Ramone and Lux Interior [lead singer of The Cramps].

Your best celebrity encounter: There’s been plenty, but if I had to pick one, I’d say Shakin Stevens in a toilet in Brighton. He was playing on the same bill as us at some record company event and came into the toilet in his white suit after being in a big fight with a Liverpool band who I won’t name. He won. I was just so impressed that he could handle himself so well.

Most expensive item of clothing you’ve ever bought: Onstage with the Sultans, I used to wear these silver trousers that cost about £110 a pop in High Street Kensington. They never lasted long, and a few even split on me on stage.

Tech habits: I’m not quite a technophobe, but I only have a very basic phone that I just use for calls and texts.

Unsung hero — individual or group you think don’t get the praise they deserve: Peter Shilton. He was the best goalkeeper of his generation, and possibly of the 20th century. I think he was totally under-rated even though he was a major part of my favourite team Nottingham Forest winning two European Cups.

You are king for a day — what’s your first decree? I’d ban the use of mobile phones in places like cafes and planes.


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