The veterans of the Limerick music scene are among the acts on their way to Other Voices in Dingle over the weekend, writes Eoghan O’Sullivan
THOUGH he may not be too pleased with it, Steve Ryan accepts that he and his band Windings are now established elder statesmen of the Irish music scene. They’ve recently released their fourth album, Be Honest and Fear Not, an intriguing, intense, and satisfying record that’s their best to date. Windings are also one of the most established acts playing Other Voices in Dingle this weekend — only Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, Lisa Hannigan, and David Kitt could claim such seniority.
Ryan is delighted to be among the lineup. “It used to be a thing that every band I knew wanted to do the Late Late Show and that’s just not a thing anymore,” says the Limerick man.
He says it’s been replaced by the allure of Other Voices. “It’s a good representation of the Irish music scene at the moment. All the bands who are playing are currently bands who are, well, playing, releasing, and touring, which is a great snapshot.”
Windings have seen a lot of peers call it a day of late. Land Lovers, the Dublin band with whom they released a split record in 2014, are coming ashore after one final gig on December 11 (they also play Other Voices), while Fight Like Apes, whose singer Mary-Kate Geraghty is one of the presenters at Other Voices, are making a well-publicised farewell. In a Facebook post, the Dublin four-piece cite “massive challenges for a lot of bands, mostly financial, that make this a tough job and sadly, those obstacles have become too big for us”.
Ryan says he takes it for granted that most bands can’t make a full-time living out of just doing music as a band.
“That’s not just in Ireland, that’s worldwide, that’s just the way it is. I think every band has to realise that, from the inception, some bands get lucky but it’s a really small fraction; you can put in all the work and get all the accolades, but still it might not work out and that’s the black and white of it.”
Ryan has been a mainstay in the rock-music landscape for almost 20 years, first in cult alt-metal act Tooth and later the seminal two-piece Giveamanakick. Unsurprisingly, the elder statesman says he can’t imagine not making music.
“I never saw it as a career [playing music] but I always saw it as something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I got terrible, terrible jobs that I’ve been very grateful to have had in order to make ends meet in order to continue making music. That’s what I see being a musician is. Anybody that I’ve spoken to, that’s the way it is, it’s not easy at all, it’s actually really difficult,” he says, adding that it’s important to find a balance between the highs and lows of making music, if just for his own mental health.
“Windings and my music and my creative output is my creative outlet, even, and I know the rest of the guys in the band feel that way too because we all have our own things going on and we pull together to make this noise that we make.”
And that noise is the best that Windings have ever done: Be Honest and Fear Not, which is all autobiographical, is a powerful statement, and one that has already connected with fans on their recent tour — that’s all Ryan can ask for.
“The audiences were cool, people knew the lyrics, which I was taken aback a small bit by. That was an excellent feeling, to hear people sing back your words to them or sing back this line to them. That’s a humbling thing, it’s great.”
Other Voices takes place in Dingle over the weekend. As well as Windings, other acts playing in various venues include Lisa Hannigan, Girl Band and All Tvvins.
Windings play Nelliefreds at 1pm and 4pm on Saturday. Be Honest and Fear Not is released by Out on a Limb
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