With influences including Wilco, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, Dublin musician A. Smyth has spent years forging his own sound under various guises.
Now, he's preparing the release of his solo debut album 'Last Animals', which is out this Friday, February 19th.
To celebrate, we caught up with him to learn more about his background.
1. What’s the music that you listened to growing up, that you still listen to today?
I'd still have my favourite Bruce Springsteen record on, "Tunnel of Love" - oh, and his live record with the E-Street Band, "Live '75 – '85". My mother played it on vinyl when we were kids and it still gives me a thrill when I listen to it. Pearl Jam's "No Code" was a favourite of mine as a teen, they went experimental on that one and I still love to stick it on in the car. Neil Young, anything by him - even the totally out there synthy stuff he did in the '80s like 'Trans' or 'Landing on Water'. He even got sued by his own label for not sounding Neil Young-ish.
2. In three words, describe the minute before you walk on stage.
Turn off phone.
3. How do you wind down after a gig?
Adrenaline keeps me company for a good few hours after a show, so I usually end up pottering around my studio for a while reading or watching YouTube videos on music gear. Glamorous, I know.
4. What’s the one song you wish you’d written or recorded first?
Emmylou Harris "Red Dirt Girl". That song moves me to tears every time I hear it. The story, emotion, melody and structure, it's all there. Emmylou is a master.
5. You can only have three albums on your phone/in your house at any one time - what three would you pick for today?
Pointer Sisters - 'Break Out'
Kate Bush - 'Aerial'
Phoenix - 'Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix'
6. Name one record, one book and one film that everyone should hear / read / see.
Record - Curtis Mayfield - 'Curtis'
Book – 'Don't Skip Out On Me' - Willy Vlautin
Film - 'A Date For Mad Mary'
7. Pick the director and lead actor(s) for a biopic about your life.
Steve Buscemi - we share a certain mad look. Tim Burton behind the lens; he would be the only director capable of capturing the inside of my head.
8. You’re ordering take-away, what do you get?
Diced breast of chicken curry with fried rice, prawn crackers and chips from San Sans in Santry. It's pure boldness. (I had this on the tip of my tongue by the time I saw 'takeaway'.)
9. Describe your perfect day off.
A lie-in, then eggs and vat of filter coffee followed by a good jaunt in the Phoenix Park. Then back to my studio to lose countless hours diddling on guitars.
10. Tell us, in one sentence, why we should come to your next gig (whenever it may be.)
Because by that time I will have not played live for over a year, so the alt-folk rock energy will be strong!
BONUS QUESTION: Recommend a podcast and tell us why we should subscribe to it.
I'm not really a podcast person, but when I do, I always reach first for 'WTF by Marc Maron'. I love how his rough, no-nonsense approach can put people at such ease. He recently had Daniel Lanois as a guest and my god, did he get some stories out of him about Dylan when they made "Oh Mercy" (my favourite Dylan record) and his studio trickery.
'Last Animals' is released on Friday, February 19th.