Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Lisa Hannigan interview

WHEN WE last spoke to beguiling singer Lisa Hannigan her debut album had just been released and she was gearing up for a 45 date tour of the United States with crooner Jason Mraz.
Since then she has garnered platinum sales of the excellent Sea Sew in Ireland; completed that tour and another of the UK and had music reviewers and critics eating out of the palm of her rather gorgeous hand; appeared on Jay Leno, Stephen Colbert and Jools Holland’s shows and racked up award nominations and plaudits.
Seems that the rest of the world is waking up to how brilliant this softly-spoken singer really is. “We have just been gigging the whole time really - that's how we have spent the year and it has been great, we are very lucky to have been able to do it, we have just played and played and played - it has been amazing,” says Hannigan when the Limerick Leader catch up with her in Galway.
“The American tour with Jason was brilliant, it was more gigs than we had ever done up to that point. We just said yes and went and did it and had the craic, toured properly together as a band and had an absolute ball.”
A chance viewing of the video for I Don’t Know - filmed by Today FM DJ Donal Dineen in the snug in Dick Mac’s pub in Dingle - on You Tube by Stephen Colbert saw Hannigan and her band receive an invite to perform on his show, The Colbert Report, which is regularly watched by millions of viewers.
Musicians are not regularly invited to appear on the show with the comedian.
“Yeah, the Colbert thing was amazing, very unexpected. It was nice - he had just spotted us on You Tube and asked his producers who we were and to find out if we wanted to do the show, so that was nice how natural it was,” whispers Hannigan.
“Normally you would need someone plugging you and bigging you up, but he just saw the video and asked us.”
Colbert, who portrays himself as a hardline conservative on the show, regularly tearing guests to pieces, even broke character and urged his viewers to buy Hannigan’s album.
Just one more to fall under her spell then.
Up until the release of her album, Lisa was better known as Damien Rice’s backing singer. Over time, it became apparent that she was the shining light in his group, the spine-tingling ying to his often more dirgeful yang, if you will.
He let her go and she went out on her own, with most of his former band. His loss has been our gain, her soulful, restrained and warm debut one of the Irish releases of last year.
Previously she has expressed discomfort at being in the spotlight, often a bundle of nerves before appearing onstage. A year of almost incessant gigging seems to have soothed those tendencies.
“I feel more comfortable on stage definitely. I hadn't really played on stage much at that stage - I had done a bit, but I definitely feel much more comfortable now,” says Lisa.
“I am almost enjoying it more now. The terror of the album coming out, while I was so excited, you do worry as well and you hope it goes well, but you never know. I am really looking forward to doing the next one now and touring more - it has been such a fun year of playing music, I couldn't ask for anything more.”
She says she is working on new songs, some are written, some will be in time. A handful of lucky Limerick Hannigan fans - of which there are many - will get the double benefit of hearing these new songs in the delightful surroundings of St. John’s Church.
“I've heard the church is amazing, my nice uncoordinated dancing should be at home in the dance space,” she laughs, adding with a nice flourish that she is “a big fan of Limerick”.
Expect an almost spiritual experience.
Lisa Hannigan plays in St. John’s Church on Thursday, August 6.
Tickets are available in Empire Music.

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