Tony Wright, AKA VerseChorusVerse, is a familiar fixture in concert halls, clubs and stages of any kind across the length and breadth of our island. Whether in his past life as a member of And So I Watch You From Afar or his current guise as the solo troubadour known as VerseChorusVerse, Wright has performed in just about every venue of note in Ireland. As one of Ireland's hardest working musicians prepares for the upcoming release of his debut LP, entertainment.ie's John Balfe caught up with Tony for a chat.
VerseChorusVerse will play the second incarnation of eLive on Thursday 22nd of November in The Mercantile in Dublin. Tickets are free but must be reserved via entertainment.ie/tickets.
Aside from the obvious, what major differences have you encountered when you transitioned from one quarter of a band to four quarters of a solo musician?
I suppose a difference is I have so much more freedom creatively. When my departure was announced, and people saw me with an acoustic guitar, a lot of people, myself included I guess, labeled me Folk. As the months pressed on I came to realise that all I wanted to do was write songs. It's all I've ever wanted to do. It's like breathing to me, I know that may sound crazy but it's true. I write songs. Words 'n' all. I hope you like 'em.
Do you still have a bunch of people with whom you can run new music by when you write it, or is the down-side of being a solo artist that you have fewer people to bounce ideas off?
It's a downside if you choose to look at it that way. I had to learn to trust myself again. Which was very hard after a few years of initially collaborative writing with the lads. I torment Davy, my poor saint of a manager, with rough demos recorded on my phone constantly! It's nice to have people to hear what you're working on of course but if it isn't exciting yourself personally then maybe you should move on to something else, or not! Each to their own, you know?
Your first EP - VCV EP - was very fondly received upon its release a year or so ago. You must have been pleased with the response to it?
Thank you very much. Yeah, it was a strange little EP. I kind of panicked after my split from the band that people may think I'd quit music, because believe me, the departure was nearly as much a surprise to me as the rest of us. So I polished up these demos I'd been doing and put them out just as a way of going, "Hey! Over here! With the dumb hair! I'm not going away that easy!", because it's what I do, I write songs. Be they instrumental or otherwise. The response was really cool, it really helped me in what was truly a very difficult part of life. So to anybody that bought it or even just liked it, thank you so very much. You really helped me out. Really, thank you.
What can you tell us about your debut solo album? When can we hear it? I know you've laid a lot of it down - what remains?
Next year all being well! It's all done and just the mastering remains. I'm insanely proud of it. More so than anything I've ever done before, with the greatest respect to those releases of course. It just represents something fairly huge to me. A lot of sorting through some really tough stuff and also trying to celebrate it. Iain Archer (the producer) is an absolute gent and the most creative soul I've ever encountered. He really helped to rebuild me. There's some cool guest appearances from a certain American Punk mariachi band, really cool. I've said too much!
You earned a reputation as an exemplary live performer with the seemingly never-ending tours with your last band, And So I Watch You From Afar. The transition from instrumental rock to solo acoustic isn't exactly an obvious step, did you toy around with the idea of forming another band or was VerseChorusVerse always how Tony Wright's next musical endeavour was going to turn out?
I guess since I'd always played in bands, I thought it would be interesting to really challenge myself. I had a very bad taste in my mouth after my final months in my last band, plus, why bother doing the same thing again, y'know? I could never recreate that sound by myself and, as proud as I am of forming that band and writing some of the "hits", there was never a time when I thought it would be a good idea to repeat myself sonically. Where's the fun in that?! I had to run as far as I could in the opposite direction or die. Quite literally. I know that probably won't be a popular statement but it's the truth. My final actual gig with them I had to sit in a chair at Electric Picnic since I had two broken ribs from getting beaten up in Vienna the night before. I had to run like hell to stay alive. Literally and figuratively! Keep moving, keep growing, keep surviving. Just keep fuckin' going.
Given that ASIWYFA are an instrumental band, and that the vocals are among the most critically-praised elements of your solo career, was there ever a conversation about you performing vocally for your previous band at any point?
Ha that may be among the reasons I'm talking to you now! Or not. But thank you very much for the compliment. I really should've answered, "No Comment", to this one!
What are you listening to yourself nowadays?
In all honesty, foreign Radio mostly. I use that Tune-In radio app and just flick through international stations. Ironically, a lot of classical instrumental stuff too. Oh and Rock & Roll. LOTS of Rock & Roll. But then, barring jazz and classical, it's all pretty much Rock & Roll, don't you think?
Presumably 2013 is going to be a big year for you. What have you got planned?
Well I really want as many people as possible to hear my album, and other than that? Writing and recording as many songs as possible and getting out to play them as much as I can. No change there then! That and trying to keep my mouth shut when appropriate.
Don't miss your change to see VerseChorusVerse completely free on Thursday!