FLYING UNDER the radar for much of a career that’s grown from pub shows to international tours, Davie Furey’s brand of distinctly Irish folk-rock has led him into an extremely hectic lifestyle. He leans heavily on touring income to survive.
The man from Meath believes in telling stories through his music, taking a leaf from the likes of Bob Dylan and Billy Bragg, and winning fans like Christy Moore and Luka Bloom. He’s toured the US, Germany and Holland in recent months, and new single ‘Fire and Gold’ shot to the top of the Irish rock charts in early April.
“For an independent release, it’s a good run,” Furey says. “I find you build up really quickly, in a good way or a bad way. Thankfully it’s been a good way for me so far, but it could change overnight.”
“Radio is still king,” he says, as a veteran of countless in-studio sessions. “I know a lot of people do Spotify and streaming services and stuff. Spotify has a ripple effect and gets people coming from gigs, but radio is the big thing for me. You can see the figures go up with it. It’s not very romantic to say it, but you’re running your own business doing this, and you have to learn quickly.”
One of Furey’s songs is quite a pointed attack on Donald Trump, one which he bravely brought out whilst touring the East coast of the US recently. “They didn’t say a whole lot against it to be honest,” he laughs. “They’re liberal, Democrat states mostly.”
“I wrote the song because I just can’t stand him. I don’t have a whole lot of hate in the music, but I think music can give a voice to things. I’d feel the same about something like the Tuam babies. If you express stuff and feel strongly enough about it, you do have a bit of a platform to just say ‘this is wrong man’. Folk has that base of Woody Guthrie and that. He wasn’t afraid to say something, he used to write ‘fascists out’ on his guitar.”
Furey has a long history with those pub cover gigs, but these days he’s far more focused on his own work. “I love singing other people’s songs as well, though I haven’t recorded any. It’s getting harder and harder for bands to make a living. I play a lot of cover shows, and I’d draw a distinction between my shows and cover gigs. One is my sound, the other is a cover set with no set list and me just going for three hours.”
“I tend to play long gigs. That buzz with music, that thing that pulls you on, I just can’t get that anywhere else.”
“The album is written,” he says of future plans. “The singles will be on the new album, which is driven by the electric, and different sounds, drawn from bands like ‘The War On Drugs’. Usually I get the Waterboys and Mark Knopfler as comparisons, but this is a bit different.”
“I worked with Susan O’Neil and Darren Holden from The High Kings, which was a great experience. People come in and shift things to the left of the right a little bit for me, they influence my sound. You don’t get that so much as a solo artist, and I really enjoy it. It’s the best of both worlds, I don’t have to tour with them all year, but we get to work together.”
“For the album tours, I’ll be doing some bigger shows, and changing the setlist every night. I don’t like it to be predictable, I like spontaneity, and we have 40 songs to pick from. Going number one is important. It’s important that it’s viewed as being fairly good. I’m not going to be playing the 3Arena, but I do love that feedback.”
‘Fire and Gold’ is out now.
This article is one of my weekly music columns for the Dublin Gazette, reproduced here with permission. Note: this column is published in the Dublin Gazette several days ahead of on this website. The Gazette is a freesheet paper available across Dublin, published on a Thursday. Pick up copies at these locations.
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