Pat McManus - Interview - June 26th 2010 Blues Festival LE CREUSOT
Nice to meet you Pat for the Blues Festival in Le Creusot.
Are you happy to be in France ?
I'm delighted. I've always loved playing in France. I think some of the very first
gig I ever did or events were in France, so France as a very special place in my heart,
I've always liked France, you know. Very, very receptive people, when you play music,
they're fantastic, you know, so for me it's always special when I get to go to France.
Let's go back to the past.
AM : Do you remember when you first pick up a musical instrument ?
Yes. I was about 5 years old, and I started playing the violin. That was my early (thinking)...
but apparently when I was eighteen months old I try to play a mandolin (laughing),
but I don't remember that, my parents told me, but I started the violin when I was about 5,
five and a half years old so, and that's my sort of earliest memories of,
there was always music and instruments in the house, because my Mum and Dad played,
my father played the saxophone, the guitar, the violin, the madolin, so he was always
involved in music, in a semi-professional way, because my Mum sang they were,
in what you call a dance band, right, in Ireland, sort of, I suppose maybe, sort
of popular hit songs of that time, so there was always music in our house and then
there was a strong musical heritage of Irish music in our family as well.
See my father was born in New York, but came back to live, he was of Irish parents
and instead of staying in America, they actually came back to Ireland, right,
so he got into the heritage of traditional Irish music, so there was lot of music
and the local where we were from there was a lot of Irish music players. I grew up
listening to an awful lot of that kind of music and of course that's what I wanted
to learn and to play. I did do classical music for a little while, but my heart was
drawn towards the traditional music, so I tended to play more of that.
Why is your nickname "The Professor" ?
Pat laughing, that's quite a long story, well it's not really a long story.
It was a nickname that started in Ireland when we formed a band, when
I was in my first band, with my brothers, we would play a place in Dublin
The Baggot Inn,
which was very famous there, Thin Lizzy started
started there, and we had what we call a residency, where
we could play say every Tuesday. What happened was at the end of the night when
we were finished playing, we would get people coming up, the fans and kids and
young guitar players coming up and saying : what is this you're using and what
is that you're using and how do you do this and how do you do that ?
I would sit down and try to explain to them what I was doing. So one night,
I was always talking to the audience, always, and one night our manager was
trying to get us out of the venue and he said come on professor we're going
because he thought I was been a bit of a professor, so the fans then remembered
that and they started to call me that, so that's how it came about,
it was really silly, really.
Could you please sum up your career as a musician, because you've got different bands ?
Yeah, 5 years work and 25 years hanging about (laughing). No, I'm very lucky,
that I'm still playing music, that was the main motivation behind playing.
I wasn't interested or we weren't interested in the fame and fortune side of it,
all we wanted to do was play music and that stems back to a time in Ireland when
musicians, just traditional musicians for get together, purely for fun,
there was no other reasons, for playing together, other than the enjoyment
of playing music, there was no other, Oh I can make a lot of money from this
or I can be in lights, none of that, so for my point of view, I just sum up,
I'm just a musician, I'm not different from anybody else, this is what I do for a living,
you know it's my job, even though it's the job I love doing. I'm fortunate,
you know, every day I get up and I thankful that I was allowed to be a musician.
AM : So you've got bands called, Pulse, Mamas boys,the Government, the Painkillers, Indian and now the Pat McManus Band.
That's correct. Yes. A lot of those bands, the Pulse thing was really just a name
that we had in the early days, Mamas boys, just before we settled down, we were Mamas boys.
I worked with various bands in between. The Painkillers was mainly my band again,
it was just the name we used. the only exception to that group was a band called Indian,
we were very very different musically to what I did, and than I also had a band called
Celtus with my brother John, I'm not sure if you're aware of that.
AM : Yes.
That was very different, that was a fusion of Irish music and contemporary music
blended together, and we actually signed to Sony records and we did 3 albums for them,
then we parted company, but it was very different from Mamas boy. People were quite
shocked when they actually heard the kind of stuff, they didn't, they couldn't believe
it was us, because we were sort of a hard rock band and they couldn't believe that we
could change round so much, but we were drawing on our Irish traditional background for
that period in our time and a lot of the time at this stage I was living in London and
I decided to come back to Ireland, to live close to my parents and that's where this
old Painkillers and then the Pat Mcmanus band started from, you know,
so it just progressed along, it wasn't something I sort of calculated,
it just developed, I was living in Northen Ireland and actually
I was teaching music a lot of the time, but the band thing just
progressed out of that, it wasn't too serious you know.
On tour you met and worked with lots of bands like Scorpions, Deep Purple,
Thin Lizzy, Wishbone Ash, Bernie Marsden.
AM : from Whitesnake.
Yes, that's correct.
AM : What is your best memory or anecdote you can tell us ?
Oh, there's many. I suppose the best, the funniest story was with
came in to welcome us, because he asked us on the tour,
it was their Farewell tour and he asked if we would do it, and he watched the
very first show that we did, the very first night, and he came in to the band
room afterwards to give us some pointers, you know, about what we should do,
what we shouldn't do. He said this, of course this was our idol and he was in
the room talking to us, it was late, we were standing there with our mouths,
hanging open, you know, hanging on every word he said, we were just drinking
it all in, and he said your image guys, you must have an image, he said
I developed an image and he said it's very important so that people can
recognise and know who you are, so we said oh yes we understand cause we
were just playing in the same clothes that we had worn during the day time
you know, it was a bit like that and the fashion at the time was for leg warmers,
I don't know whether you remember those, there were silly woolly things that
people put round their feet, so Phil had just given this big talk about how we
should be image conscious and everything else, we said thank you very much
Mr Lynott and he left and two minutes later he came back and he asked could he
have the lend of our leg warmers, so it was really funny and there he was giving
us the whole speech about how to be a professional and look image wise and then he
was asking for the lend of our shoes so it was funny, but we had many many funny stories,
some of the bands, the most professional band we have ever worked with, the best band
for me that we have ever worked with, professionaly and everything else was
They were just fantastic, they were just absolutely amazing, every night,
every single night, I mean Thin Lizzy were brilliant but some nights they would be good,
some nights not so good but Scorpions every night were absolutely fantastic.
We learnt a lot from watching them, because we were young and we wanted to
watch everything that they did and we just thought my God these guys are really,
really good, so from being a professional it taught us to be professional,
we learnt from the very best, we were very proud of that.
Are you a friend of Wishbone Ash and Andy Powell ?
Yes. Andy is one of my favourite guitar players. I loved
I've always been a big fan of Wishbone Ash, because I think they have a very
folky element to what they did, I think, because I play traditional music,
I could relate very much to the music that they played, so for me they
were special, you know, a very special band. The first tour I ever did with
Wishbone Ash was in 1982 and it was actually the second tour we ever did in
England, before the Thin Lizzy tour was Wishbone Ash for two weeks.
I asked Andy about this later on and I think he vaguely remembered us being
there you know, again, he didn't quite remember but he kind of remembered when
I told him who we were and we remain good friends and we have become great
friends since, but I have great admiration for Andy and Wishbone Ash
and the music that they make, I'm just a fan.
AM : Like us !
Who are your favourite guitarists ?
All my favourite guitar players are Irish. Yes. No, I'm not being funny.
One of my favourite guitar player of all time of course is
I think Rory was somebody that we all look up to, in Ireland, because for
me he was the first really rock star in Ireland before Thin Lizzy, Rory Gallagher
was the man and to be honest with you, I don't think, even today,
I think Rory was many years ahead of everybody else. I really do feel that because
not alone was he was a real rock guitarist, blues rock guitarist, he was a
great saxophone player, he could play the mandolin, he could play ragtime because
he was just a phenomenon, you know. Once in a life time, there is somebody like
that comes along, and we were fortunate enough to have it in Ireland and also
I was a big fan of Eric Bell because of Thin Lizzy, I love Eric, then
Henry McCullough from Wings and Joe Cocker band and he would have been,
see they were all and because I was aware of the Irish guitar players,
of course Gary Moore was another big influence so, there was a lots of,
mostly Irish players, other way I love
I was a big fan of Johnny Winter. As I got to know they're more guitar players
it's so hard to pick, so many of them are so good, and they all have this sort
of very individual styles. I tend to lean more towards the more bluesy guitar players.
For me it was more a heartfelt. They were playing from their hearts
I supposed to playing with their heads.
AM : In the beginning of June did you attend the unveiling of the Rory Gallagher bronze sculpture ?
Yes. I was very privileged to be asked for the opening to be there. I met Donal Gallagher,
Rory's brother and he was his manager. It was a real honour for me to be part of that
because Rory was such a big influence of my life, that was just to be invited and actually
I was the first musician to touch the statue, I'm really proud of that, I'm really really
proud of that and it was an honour to be there. It was very kind of them to invite us myself
and my wife down there. It's funny because where Rory was born, a little town called
Ballyshannon and that's only about 30 kms from where I was born, so it was quite close,
it wasn't far for me to go, It was just absolutely honoured to be there.
Your latest CD is called "2pm" ?
Yes. That's it there.
AM : What is your favourite track on this album ?
My favourite track on it would be Addicted to the Rush is my favourite
because I'm playing violin on it and I actually like it, I've never really
played it in a bluesy style on the fiddle before, so that is a track that
I really like because It's playing a lot of, as I opposed to playing the guitar,
I am playing more of the fiddle solos on it, which I like, in a bluesy style.
It's a bit like
Clarence Gatemouth Brown,
I was a big fan of his, he played guitar and violin blues fiddle as well, so for me that's
my favourite track on the album.
How do you work to compose a song ? Where do you find the inspiration ?
Normally I start with the music. For me it's just messing about on the guitar and certain
chords sequence would suggest a certain melody and within that certain melody
I would get a phrase. I fix it with the music and things and from then I would work at it.
Most people will tell you that some songs come really easy and other ones are really
difficult to get, you can work over period of time and you still don't get it right,
you kind of have it, it's hard to describe, you have a thing in your head about how it
should acutally sound and it doesn't quite sound that way when you hear it finished and
thinking, that's not exactly what I had in mind but it's like, a kind of, the way
I compose it's almost like a painter I fill in little bits first of all, I colour it in,
in different ways and then I look at the picture overall and say I can do this I can do that,
so that's the way I tend to put the things together, and after a while when you've done
it for as long as I have, you know certain areas to go to and certain areas to stay away
from, and I follow my heart a lot of the time, if I feel good about it, I will use it
in my album, if I'm not so sure about this, if they don't get a buzz from playing it, I won't use it..
AM : You arranged the song "Blowing in the Wind" from
AM : Why did you choose this artist and this song ?
It's funny. It's an anti-war song, right, Blowing in the Wind ?anyway, and I was messing
one night in Ireland because we do a lot of gigs in Ireland, at a soundcheck, and the guys
in the band said, what are you doing ? And I said, it was just messing around and
I was doing Blowing in the Wind like I thought Hendrix would done it you know.
They said it's really good, then I started to do it for fun at gigs and people kept
coming up to me and said will you play it again and that's how, but it's not actually
me playing on the album, it's a young guitar player from England who plays the whole guitar,
I don't play any guitar, I sing it but I'm not playing any guitar on it, the young guy
is 14 years of age and he is called
and he actually, I said Ali I go over
occasionally to England to help him to teach a little bit and I said to him would you
like to play on the album ? He said oh my God you know, so that's why I put that one
on the album, because it was Ali who was going to play the song, the guitar part,
so he plays all of the guitar parts on there, I just sing it. He is a very accomplished
young musician for 14 years of age, he's got a lot of feeling. I just want to help
keep back that old music alive, I mean, the next generation and the next couple of
generations there're the kids that you want to keep the music going and he is into it,
it's fascinating, he is into Rory Gallagher, Johnny Winter,
Stevie Ray Vaughan
at 14, he is mad about them and it's fantastic because he could be watching MTV and he could
be watching other things but he doesn't, he wants to do that's what he loves to listen to,
that's what he wants to do, so for me it's to encourage people so that's why I put that
track on the album, it was to give him a little bit of exposure, yeah, makes me sound
like a Saint... but I am not !!...forget it.
AM : It's nice and good.
I think music is about giving, you know and if you can give an opportunity,
if it arises and help somebody and give them a little of encouragement along
the way, maybe that will bring him along to the next level, that's how I see it,
so that's why I put that track on the album, it was a bonus track,
and it was Ali who was playing on it.
What are your plans for the future ? Do you have some ?
My plans for the future are very simple, I just want to be happy and play music.
Really, I don't have any great agenda ahead of me at all, I don't have any great
plan to put into motion, all I want to do is come to various countries like France
and play little festivals and stuff and enjoy myself. I actually enjoy playing music
and meet a lot of other people and musicians and people who are into the same things as
I'm into, that's really what I like to do, there's no great master plan.
I see myself as a musician and if I get to go to France, it's a holiday for me,
I get to play music, because I get very irritated if I don't get to play music,
right I can't go on a straight holiday as everybody else would do and sit there
and my daughter says to me sometimes 'Daddy I hope you're not bringing a guitar,
(smiling) along on holiday when we go'. I said no, no, no...I like to play and
for me it's an honour to be fit to come to different countries and to be asked
to play, it's fantastic, you know so that's how I keep healthy and happy and
I'm allowed to play music.
AM : So thank you very much Pat.
Thank you, very much. It's always a pleasure and it's nice to see that people
show an interest in what you're doing, for me it's fantastic, I'd like to say
to everybody out there keep rockin' and keep music live !