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Young Irish songwriter records EP in parents' attic while undergoing chemo for Hodgkin's Lymphoma


James Longergan of Lumberjack

James Longergan of Lumberjack

James Longergan of Lumberjack

A young Irish musician has recorded an EP whilst going through chemotherapy for Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

James Longeran (20) from Dublin had formed the band Lumberjack with friends Ryan Fitzgerald, Daniel Smith and Karl Walsh just a few months before he was diagnosed on September 24 last year.

However, once he started a six month regime of chemotherapy he was unable to work and took to his parents' attic where he recorded songs by himself - including vocals, bass, drums, guitar and piano.

"It was good to get the head down and do something creative," he reveals. "It was good escapism from the illness."


Of recording the music all by himself, he says, "I was in a bit of a humour the first few months, I didn't want to talk to people that much.  I just wanted to wallow in my own misfortune!

"It's great when we play it now and the lads add their own stuff to it but I wanted to make sure it was me coming through on the album.

"It has its own minimalism in a way. There's a very pure sort of feeling going through it, even though it's quite abstract and you wouldn't be able to tell the songs are directly about my illness.

"I felt creative in a way I never had before and it flowed out of me very easily."

James had been feeling unwell for some time and delayed going to the doctor until he had finished college, something he says "is not advisable and was rather stubborn and silly of me".

He had reached stage 3 Hodgkin's Lymphoma (the same disease endured by RTE 2fm presenter Louise McSharry) by the time he started treatment. 

Although it was tough (and put him off sandwiches for life after he ate one during his first chemo session) he says it "wasn't absolutely soul-destroying".

"I did manage to get through it" he says, citing the support of friends and family and the doctors and nurses at Beaumont Hospital as pivotal to his recovery.

!It's unfortunate I had to go through it but it does have its up sides," he adds.  "It does give you a good sense of perspective about things. One thing that has happened is I no longer do things I don't enjoy doing."

His focus is now directed solely towards music.  Just one month out of treatment he's back performing with the band.

"I feel like a normal person again," he reveals.  "I'm starting to come back to life.  I remember comparing a photo of the day I started chemo and the day I finished and I looked like a different person but I'm starting to look like myself again.

"I feel I have huge motivation to put behind the music.  It's all I've ever wanted to do.  Experiencing something like this does give you a certain amount of direction and purpose. 

"Although you do think that if you're told you have cancer you'll become a more proactive outgoing person but I'm just as much of an arsehole at the end as I was at the! start!"

Lumberjack played at the Five Lamps festival and, such was the response, they have been invited back to headline on June 6 (Details HERE)

"We're very confident in the music.  I think we do have our own quality.  It's sort of folk mixed with contemporary electronic," says James.

Listen to Lumberjack on Spotify http://open.spotify.com/track/4YloBNh9gmGXX7ZxM1OYrL

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