Chequerboard aka John Lambert is a celebrated contemporary guitarist from Dublin.
John released his debut album 'Gothica' in 2002, followed by 'Penny Black' in 2008 on Irish alternative label Lazybird, both to universally positive reviews. His third album, 'The Unfolding' (2013), was mixed by legendary producer Ken Thomas (Sigur Ros, Cocteau Twins) and received similar acclaim. With over 21 million streams on Spotify to date, Chequerboard continues to build a global audience for his understated but powerful take on guitar music.
Chequerboard plays the National Concert Hall on Thursday April 13th as part of its new collaborative series Metronome - which showcases emergent music, new projects and new artists.
1. What’s the music that you listened to growing up, that you still listen to today?
The blue double compilation album by The Beatles is something I listened to endlessly growing up, and now my 2-year-old son Finn and I listen to it together. He has his predictable favourites like ‘Yellow Submarine’ and ‘Octopus’s Garden’ but he also loves ‘Come Together’ (or ‘Over me’ as he calls it) and he loves ‘Get Back’. Whenever it gets to the bit towards the end where there is a pause before a final reprise, Finn goes “ Oh!” Little Get Back.”
2. In three words, describe the minute before you walk on stage.
Overlapping quickening thoughts.
3. How do you wind down after a gig?
I usually decompress by blathering uncontrollably, thereby expelling all my overlapping quickening thoughts.
4. What’s the one song (by another artist) you wish you’d written or recorded first?
Well, I wouldn’t want to have recorded someone else’s song, as that would be like some kind of psychic burglary, but I wouldn’t have minded being a runner in the studio where Brian Eno, Harold Budd and Daniel Lanois recorded The Pearl in Ontario in 1984. That would have been great. Just to pop in for a moment with some refreshments and witness them at work.
5. What is your pet peeve?
That sinking feeling during a gig when you can hear your acoustic guitar wandering out of tune mid-song and preparing myself for the inevitable wince when I play the concluding chord.
6. Name one record, one book and one film that everyone should hear / read / see.
A music nerd’s approach for sure, but in the interest of getting the story of Vashti Bunyan’s horse-drawn trek in late ‘60s from London to the Outer Hebrides from every angle, I would go with…
Record: 'Just Another Diamond Day' - Vashti Bunyan
Book: 'Wayward' by Vashti Bunyan
Film: 'Vashti Bunyan: From Here to Before' (Documentary)
7. Pick the director and lead actor(s) for a biopic about your life.
I think my son Finn would be great as the lead in my biopic, as he has lots of practice already. In fact only this morning he announced “I be Daddy” out of the blue, before putting his hands on his hips and frowning a bit before walking in a circle and essentially being me. Spike Jonze could direct. It would mostly be me going around doing my day to day, except it’s Finn with a fake beard saying ‘I Daddy” a lot with the occasional pause for a Hulk smash.
8. You’re ordering take-away, what do you get?
One portion of rice this time instead of two. There’s always one left over.
9. Describe your perfect day off.
Early part of the day spent listening to the blue album with Finn, followed by some hold and sway time with my recently arrived son Rua. Evening time having takeaway with my wife Katie and planning my time travel experience mentioned above.
10. Tell us, in one sentence, why we should come to your next gig (whenever it may be.)
To see the support act ‘Marmosets’ alone will be worth it.
BONUS QUESTION: Recommend a podcast and tell us why we should subscribe to it.
‘To Here Knows When’ - Great Irish Albums Revisited by Paul McDermott. Check out episode 6, covering the story of Michael O’Shea’s landmark self-titled 1982 album.
Chequerboard plays the National Concert Hall on April 13th as part of their Metronome series. See nch.ie for more.