Interview by Barry Egan
Hunter S Thompson was pretty much bang on: “The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”
Ireland’s most accomplished manager since Paul McGuinness, Louis Walsh would perhaps do anything for success. This is demonstrated by his answer to the question of whether he’d wear Simon Cowell’s ridic high-waisted trousers in public around Dublin for a month if it meant his boyband Hometown’s self-titled new album went to Number 1 in America...
“I would wear those trousers! In a heart beat! But I wouldn’t wear the high-heels. Simon wears high-heels.”
“He wears Cuban heels, you know?” Louis laughs in reference to his one-time co-worker on The X Factor, before adding: “Hometown are very real. They can all sing, unlike so many of the pop bands these days. We are doing it the old-fashioned way. Playing gigs and singing live. They are a real group. We don’t have a Simon Cowell behind us or a TV show. Hometown are different to anything I’ve heard. They have an incredible blend in their vocal styles. They are going to be huge,” gushes the nabob of gob himself.
You couldn’t shut him up, or dampen his gusto, even if you locked him in a cell in Guantanamo Bay with songs from his old band Westlife blaring permanently through the walls. Notwithstanding the military prisons in Cuba, Hometown have been living in a house together in Canary Wharf in London until recently (when they returned to Ireland to gear up for the release of their debut album next week and their big gig at Vicar Street on December 4.)
Six young Irish guys — Brendan Murray, Cian Morrin, Dayl Cronin, Dean Gibbons, Josh Gray and Ryan McLoughlin — living in close proximity in London brought its own issues, however...
Ryan: “Josh has an ego when it comes to people not cleaning up — and him thinking he’s the cleanest person in the world. He was moaning that no one else cleaned up. He went around with a hoover on his back, like something out of Ghostbusters.”
Cian: “Dayl got caught out one time when there was rotten bananas left in the corner. He was, like, to everyone in the house: ‘Who owns those bananas? They’re not mine!’ And then he turns over the packet and it had his name written on the back of it!”
Dale: “They weren’t mine! I was framed!”
So is Louis bananas too?
Dean, laughing: “He is bananas! Louis is great as a manager, always plenty of constructive criticism — to keep working hard. He knows what he’s doing with the success he’s had with Westlife and Boyzone. He has the ins-and-outs of the music industry in the back of his head the whole time.”
Who is the Brian McFadden of Hometown? Who is most likely to leave the band first — marry a Kerry Katona-type girl etc?
Cian: “Dayl will be the first to marry ‘Kerry.’”
Dayl, indignant: “Where’s my Kerry? I haven’t met her!”
“He’s had a few!” jokes Cian to explosion of laughter around him.
Ryan: “None of us have thought about leaving or who would be the first to leave. Brendan might just get sick of us one day and say: ‘Here, lads. I’m going.’”
Is there a lot to be sick of, Brendan?
“Plenty,” he smiles. “There is enough, anyway.”
Who is the most irritating in the group?
Josh doesn’t hesitate: “Me!”
“They tell me to do something and I’ll do it!” he laughs.
Dean: “That’s not irritating! That’s funny!”
I ask Josh what’s the worst thing his band mates have told him to do.
Cian: “He jumped into a big thorny bush once!”
Dean: “He let me throw a ball at his head!”
Josh: “We went on a recording trip to Sweden once. I went skinny-dipping and they robbed my clothes and locked me out of the house.”
Ryan: “We left him a sock. One sock!”
“Josh: “So I literally had to run up an acre of land, chasing the lads with — “
“ — with a little ankle sock!” interrupts a chortling Cian.
“A baby sock!” clarifies a possibly not chortling Josh.
Strategically placed socks or not, the hotly tipped sextet have come in today to record Hozier’s Take Me To Church for The Windmill Lane Sessions on Independent.ie (“That song is a classic,” says Louis, “and Hometown love real music like Hozier. They support Irish music artists like him and Gavin James.”) Asked how the synergy works in Hometown, Cian says with refreshing, even comical, honesty: “I don’t really know what synergy is but I am just going to go with it!”
“When we met up first we just went straight into a cover song and we kind of went from there. We would know where our voices were sitting. Like — Josh and Brendan are good for the higher bits. And the other boys,” he says pointing to Dayl and Ryan, “can have a stab at the lower bits. Ryan is great for harmonies because he probably had the most experience in that regard. There is a good balance between it all. It has worked well.”
Windmill Lane Sessions: The creative wisdom of the Young Folk