Fionn Regan


Interviews, Music | by — January 28, 2013


by Rebecca Biscuit

Off the back of a European tour with Feist and a critically acclaimed third album, Fionn Regan – Ireland’s young ‘Bob Dylan ‘ (as described by Lucinda Williams…Lucinda Williams!! Nothing will ever kill my love of country) – releases his new album The Bunkhouse Vol. 1: Anchor Black Tattoo this month. Unlike Dylan however, Fionn Regan is no Judas to acoustic introspection. On this album he has stripped away the lush strings of previous LP 100 Acres of Sycamore and recorded the entire album live with a simple 4 track.  I spoke to him on Wednesay about this process…

Can you tell me a bit about why you went with the 4 track on this album?

I went on tour and opened for Feist in Europe,  I was playing on my own, and I have been sort of playing with musicians on and off, and it brought me back to that place of recording onto a tapedeck.  I don’t know why, but it felt like the songs didn’t ask for anything when it finished. When I listened back to them, I was getting ready to take them into a studio, but I didn’t feel that they were going to get any better or more honest.

I think when my stuff is done well and when it’s strongest and most timeless, it goes completely against the grain of what the aesthetic fashion of the time is.  I think that I can tuck my shirt in and record in a modern way, but I think it loses power.  I probably could be more commercially successful, but I also think it loses its timeless nature, and Fionn Regan records (or whetever you want to call them) work in that ‘recorded live’ way.

The times that we’re living in, people aren’t making live records anymore, so it feels important to keep making records in this way because it’s interesting to have records that are done like that, up against records made in a more modern way.

I have definitely taken my own journey down whatever road the songs have asked me to do, that is the only way I can explain it. With this record, it felt that it got to the point where it brought me right back to somewhere I was before I even put my first record out.

So is this the way you first made records?

Yeah, I think so. I think that with this record, looking back now, that it was a lot of work to make a record stand like that . When I got the record at that stage just to listen through it, I forgot I was listening to my own record and I thought ‘I quite like this!’

Do you usually listen to your own music?

No I don’t listen to my own records, but at that point you have to decide if it’s all right, if it’s rum and proper…

But I think for some reason the simplicity of it for me makes it my favourite to listen to. The simplicity and that thing when you listen to your own thing ,where it feels mysterious to yourself, it feels like it’s come from somewhere else, it documents your moves and there wasn’t thinking involved- that’s what it feels like to me.

How do you measure your own success?

It’s obvious to say at this point, that I haven’t tailor-made what I’ve done to get on the radio, but I think success of what you do is if you get up and you do what you want to do during the day.  I mean, I’m writing songs now, and I know how to do other things. It’s not elusive to me, to write a song that could go on the radio, or record a song in a way that would sound contemporary – it’s not like I don’t know how to do that.

The songs asked me to do something else, and when you talk about success, that feeling of you know, knowing yourself ,that you’ve stuck by whatever the pact is you’ve made with yourself, that’s what the feeling of success is.

You said you could write a commercial song if you wanted to – what’s your songwriting process? Did you ever have a point where you learnt how to write?

I suppose it’s just knowing and being true to yourself.  In songwriting I mean… I don’t understand it.  I come out the end of it and don’t really know the process.  I think what usually happens just comes out- the best stuff that you might work on over periods never works. Something you come back to, those things I always let go, they never work for me. For some people crafting is their method-when it comes to writing and recording for me, it doesn’t work.

It happens in bursts and I don’t know where it comes from.  It’s like being haunted or something. I come out the end of it and go ‘that was good, that was alright’, and move on, it’s that simple. Sometimes when you go against the grain it means you have to accept other things that come with it, and certain things are more difficult, but that’s the way it goes.

There’s a section on your website advertising a ‘coming soon’ visual arts section. Are you branching off into painting?

I don’t know what I’m going to do with the paintings, but I’m enjoying it. I don’t know if these things have an outcome.  It feels like I have come full circle and I don’t really know what it means. It’s like waving the boat off from the harbour, I don’t know what that means, I can’t say that I’m not going to follow the boat, you know?

It feels good because I’ve reached a point where I knew it was going to be difficult, but with this record I feel I have a certain amount of ‘stuck by my guns’ (for a want of a better way of putting it) against all the odds, and now it feels like…something else, I can’t really explain it, but it feels like I’m waving that off and something else is going to arrive.

What influences your songwriting? Is it influenced by other artforms like painting, or something else?

I think having a life is an influence, you can’t pretend to have a life, you can’t pretend… When I listen to stuff I can tell ‘something’ straight away, it’s an instinct or something that I have.  I can’t speak for anyone else, but when you hear something like that, I think it has a deep affect for anyone who’s open enough to receive that.  But music that’s just good to dance to, I like that stuff too!

What do you like to dance to then?



You can see Fionn Regan live in London on March 5th at what he calls the ‘Islington Something Hall’.   More details here.

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