Noelie McDonnell

Interviews | Nov 15th, 2006

When did you realize you wanted to be a musician for a living?
Must have been the first time I actually got paid to jump around, play guitar and try to sing a bit. I was about 14 and I thought, you can actually make money from doing what you love doing?!!!! What a revelation! It took many years of various studies and jobs etc. before i finally realized that you have to love what you’re doing and that no amount of money can compensate for that. So now I’m broke, but I’m happy!!

How did the Noelie McDonnell band come about? Could you give me a little bit of history about your band and yourself?
I’m very lucky to have many friends who also happen to be great musicians. The band is an ever changing thing because of that fact. I’ve been playing with different groups since I began playing and I hope that never changes because you learn something new from each person. Here are some of the bands I’ve been involved with over the years: The Ceolns, Stir, The Faddantonies, The Elmer Fudds, Mad Dog Dick, Sgt. Peppers, The Whipperwills, The Timbertramps … I’d love some suggestions for a name the current line up, The Noelie McDonnell band sounds like something you’d hear on a cruise ship!!!!!

When I hear your music, I can’t help but think of Colin Hay and Nick Drake. Are they influences of yours, and if not, who are?
Some friends recently played a Colin Hay song for me and said he reminded them of me. I was flattered, sounded lovely. But Nick Drake I’ve been listening to for years and I love, such sadness and fragility. I don’t think I’d include him in my ‘influences’ though. I grew up listening to Bob Dylan songs being played by other people and Guy Clark songs, John Prine, Steve Earle, Townes VanZant. If I could write a song a fraction as good as any of those guys I’d be a happy man!

Now that your debut album has been out for awhile now, any plans to go back into the studio and record more music?
I’ve already begun recording new songs and hope to release them before they escape sometime early next year.

I first heard about you when you opened for the Saw Doctors at Irving Plaza in NYC. How did you meet up with those guys?
I should have mentioned them as an influence. If you grow up in Tuam and you play an instrument, N17 is the first song you learn, then I Useta Lover etc. The Doc’s were heroes of mine when I was young and still are. Leo and I have been friends since I was a kid busking in Tuam. Padraig Stevens used to go out with my auntie!! By the way their new album The Cure is among their best in my opinion. Grab a copy today!!

You seem like a great storyteller, have any funny stories while touring?
I met someone recently who was wondering why there was no information on-line about me. I said there was a web site and a myspace and all that, then I found out that they had googled Ronnie MacDougal, having mistaken my name when they heard it from the stage after a couple of pints probably. That happens a bit. I turned up for a gig in Nottingham last year and they wanted to know where the f**k Natalie McDonnell was! There you go.

Is Jeff Goldblum as huge a star in Ireland as he is in the US? How often do you worship him?
I’ve cut down on my Goldblumistic rituals ever since Jurassic Park. I’d say 36% of Irish people know who he is. It’s either that or 43%.

Did you work any bad jobs before starting a band? If so, what were they and what was so bad about it?
To be honest they all seem like bad jobs when I’m having a good gig or finally getting paid for something but if I was to pick one, it’d have to be cleaning the extractor fans in fast food joints all over Ireland. I’m talking about shovel fulls of tar people, black gloopy burger fat lining the walls of vents. The smell alone was enough to stop me ever darkening the door of McAnything ever again!!!

Who do you think is the best James Bond?
The one in your imagination when you turn off the TV and read the books!… either that or Pierce Brosnan ( Come On Ireland!!)

Tell me about your first date.
Not so much a date as a slow skate to “I’m all out of love, I’m so lost without you …” a wet kiss and a fumble around and she was gone, off into the darkness of Dr. Duggan Hall. I knew things would never be the same after that…

Who are some bands you’d love to play with or collaborate with?
…Wilco, the E Street Band, The London Philharmonic, the band from the Muppet Show, and I’d definitely love to play with Destiny’s Child …

Final comments, anything to promote, etc.?
Thanks a million to everyone who came to see me in the States over the last couple of weeks and for everyone’s support and encouragement. Dublin, Galway, Glasgow, London all in December, check out or for details. Up our side and keep keepin’ on. All the best, Noelie xx


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