Thursday 19 October 2017

Between success in rock and a hard place

Former Horslip Declan Sinnott has just released his first album, but as he tells Richie Taylor, life wasn't always so easy

Guitar legend Declan Sinnott, who has played with many of the big names in Irish music, has revealed how he slept rough in St Stephen's Green.

The Wexford guitar ace came to Dublin seeking fame and fortune but knew nobody in the big city and had no money.

"I had nowhere to sleep. I later graduated to the floor of a friendly arts centre. I could handle running away to Dublin, but I couldn't even think of handling life in London or New York. Yes, I starved some times and had my fair share of hard times. I was on the dole for a long time

"Even in the 1990s it was tough. I remember I was renting out this recording studio and had no customers for six months. But I kept at it and Christy [Moore] eventually came in to book a recording session."

Sinnott played in the original line-ups of both Horslips and Moving Hearts, as well as co-fronting rock band Southpaw with songwriter Jimmy McCarthy. He's the mystery man with the hot licks who up to now has been most comfortable out of the spotlight.

Declan Sinnott spent 13 years with Mary Black's band -- where he maintained a suitably low profile -- and is now in his 12th year as stage foil for the inimitable Christy Moore.

Now, at the grand old age of 62, Declan has just released his very first solo album -- and was pleasantly shocked when it went straight into the Irish Top 20 in the first week of its release.

I Love The Noise It Makes took eight months to record, and only came about after Declan was offered a solo deal by a major record company here.

"Warner Music here offered me a deal completely out of the blue," he revealed. "To be honest, up to now I wasn't ready to make a solo album. I wasn't ready as a singer or as a performer. But with Christy I sing one song on stage every night and I suppose it's slowly built up my confidence.

"Then my old friend Eoin O'Brien, who is a great motivator, encouraged and cajoled me into write songs with him. And it worked."

Looking back, he admits that being in both Horslips and Moving Hearts had him "on the edge of my comfort zone". He adds: "To be honest, my time in Horslips didn't go that well." But he denies the rock legend that he smashed his guitar off the dressing room wall after his last gig with the bearded and be-flared Celtic rockers. Oh well!

"Thirteen years with Mary Black was a long time and I suppose that towards the end my interest waned," he admits now.

"Thinking back on it, when I started playing the guitar, my ambition was to perform with either Van Morrison of Christy Moore.

"So I was delighted when Christy approached me. He gets very adrenalised onstage and we've been working on new material together. No, I never did get to meet Van."

Originally from Wexford but now living in Cork to be close to his children, Declan vividly recalls leaving home and going to Dublin to break into the music business four decades ago.

"Over the years I have been very fed up a few times. But I could never pack it in. I had no choice, all my eggs were in the one basket. As Van Morrison sings, 'I had no Plan B'. This is all I can do."

None of laid-back Declan's children are interested in entering the music business, and he would never force them to do anything.

"No, none of them are interested in pursuing it at all. But I would never push anybody into anything at all. I sometimes think that education and creativity are polar opposites. It's the life and soul of the person that really matters. You have to do whatever it is you want."

He adds: "You know, I was never really into the whole trad rock thing here at all. The music I love is American -- folk, blues, country and rhythm & blues. That's what I love."

'I Love The Noise It Makes' is out now on the Warner Music label.

Sunday Independent

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