“Thanks Brother has folk music elements true to my roots, but the music is grit-pop, a grungier version of pop music.”
Since her debut album release ‘Secret life of Blue’ in 2012, Irish singer-songwriter Róisin O has been steadily making a name for herself with her brand of ‘alternative indie folk pop’. Citing Joni Mitchell as a huge musical influence she was immersed in music from a young age; “I loved a wide range of groups from The Beatles to Destiny’s Child. My debut album was very folk-influenced but with a modern pop twist.”
Daughter of Internationally–acclaimed Mary Black and brother of The Coronas front-man Danny O’Reilly, Róisin is from an illustrious musical lineage, but has that been a gift or a burden? “Both! Danny would agree that we had a great platform with our Mam being so well known in the industry. Both she and my Da would point out the hardships but also help and support us. Sometimes people don’t even give it a chance because they assume what it is even before they’ve heard it and would say ‘Ah she’s only there because of her mother’. But that said the music industry in Ireland has been great to me.”
The singles ‘Here We Go’, ‘Synchronicity’ and ‘How Long’ from the debut album were released to considerable success in Ireland and Germany and Róisin’s immense talent was further underlined by the singles, ‘If You Got Love’, ‘Give It Up’ and ‘Better This Way’. “Those singles were released after the album and really put my name on the map getting lots of air play in Ireland. The tracks were co-written with John Broe and though folk-influenced are more of the pop genre. John and I have been co-writing together for a while so we’ve really excited about Thanks Brother, and we’ll have our new single out next month. We have a licencing deal with a UK record company it’s a different vibe, less poppy but very accessible.”
How did the new band name Thanks Brother come about?
“Well John and I are both huge Game Of Thrones fans and we were at a concert in Vicar Street, just discussing possible band names waiting for the band to go on, when we saw Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister from GOT) walking towards us! He’s our favourite character. So John stopped him and said we loved the show, he smiled and said ‘Thanks Brother’- … Wow synchronicity!”
How does Róisin approach the song-writing process?
“The first album was a collaborative thing with fellow band members, Brian, Alan and Ruth and we all brought something different to it. In terms of my own writing I like to write lyrics and melodies so I love working with John who brings the chord progressions. The wonderful thing with Thanks Brother is I can perform music that’s less about me and my name and more about the music itself. Also being the front woman you have to sell your physical self – when it’s your name and it’s all about your face and the public image. I just got tired of that and I was jealous of Danny having The Coronas behind him and it’s about the band and the music. So when I met John and started writing with him – I thought I’d love to be in a band with him and John is an amazing singer as well. It’s so exciting”!
A recent highlight was Róisin’s performance of ‘Grace’ as part of RTÉ 2016 ‘Centenary’ broadcast cultural celebration over the Easter weekend marking the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising.
“We performed in Kilmainham jail, standing outside the cell where Joseph Plunkett was kept before his execution, which took place the morning after his marriage to Grace. We just used the reverb of the room and it was really great. When you’re standing there, you just find yourself talking so quietly and reverently, it’s that kind of haunting place. The RTE director asked would I do it with Danny and I thought Oh God but this is a love song and he’s my brother, so it felt a bit strange. So we brought in a third person, my cousin Aoife Scott and we could make it a sort of family thing. It worked out really well and people just went crazy for it.
”A fitting journey then from the venerable surrounds of Kilmainham to the hallowed environs of La Chapelle Saint-Patrick at the Centre Culturel Irlandais. On Thursday 15th Feb, Róisin O and Thanks Brother will perform their inimitable brand of folk-based grit-pop.
Article by Mick Walsh © 2018 The Irish Eyes magazine by The Irish Club