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Posted on 20. Jun, 2002 by admin in Damien News, Interviews.


Despite the fact that his debut album burst straight into the Irish Top Ten, singer/ songwriter Damien Rice is in no hurry to make a name for himself in the UK.

“I want to go and spread the news, for people to hear about what I’m doing by word of mouth,” he says. “That’s the way I prefer it, it’s more rewarding. It’s too surreal to walk into a town you’ve never been before and see loads of people, so I want a slow build.”

After a skirmish with success as part of a signed band in his native Ireland, Rice opted to go solo and began recording his solo album, ‘o’, some two and a half years ago.

Calling on the talents of composer pal David Arnold (a man whose credits include recent James Bond movies), Rice was unhappy with what he heard, resulting in Arnold giving him the cash to buy his own home studio.

But even this was no easy route.

“I began working like I’d seen record producers work, with click tracks and so forth, but when I listened back to what I’d done, it sounded good, but it was wrong!” he recalls, adding that a turning point came when, frustrated, he just sang into the mic’ late one night, without any trickery or planning.

“I was surprised how good it was. So from then on, whenever I’d get inspired, I’d just do it, and if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t. Most of the songs were then recorded in a matter of days or even hours, it became more spontaneous.”

An accomplished collection of gentle, fragile songs which has been a massive success in Ireland already, ‘o’ is encased in some impressive packaging, resembling a hardback book more than a CD.

“I was thinking about what I do for a living,” he says, “and it’s making plastic. Sure I write music, but the end result is plastic, and it felt much better to do a book with a CD in it.”

Illustrated using paintings and drawings by Rice and band member Lisa Hannigan (“…just a few things we had under our beds,” he quips), it’s far plusher than you’d expect from a new artist on their own label.

“Everyone can burn CDs and there’s nothing much in the packaging for the ones you can buy, so I wanted to do something that would make it special,” Rice says.


First record bought:
Michael Jackson’s Bad, it was on tape and I wore it to pieces. Strictly speaking, the first vinyl record I brought was The Heart and Soul of Rock’n'Roll, a compilation album with Blueberry Hill and stuff like that on. I still play that from time to time.

Last record bought:
I was at Glastonbury and picked up a live album by a band called Terrafolk.

What songwriters particularly inspire you?
Leonard Cohen, and I love Nina Simone, but more for the way in which she sings and wraps herself around a melody.

Which classic song (written by someone else) do you wish you had written?
Famous Blue Raincoat by Leonard Cohen

What makes a great song?
That really depends on what YOU think makes a song great. I’ve found that there is no formula. The great ones come out of inspiration with no push.

Which song in your own repertoire are you particularly proud of and why?
Eskimo, because it was the song that marked a turning point in my writing. It’s a song about not being able to write. I was upset about being unable to write anything, and I threw my guitar on the bed and then picked it up and the song came up in about 10-15 minutes. It came out of me pushing myself to a stupid extreme.

Personal career high-point:
I don’t know, there have been lots of very different high points, but the album being so well liked by people and so well received, that blew me away, because I thought it was so personal.
Personal career low-point:
The lowest point had to be after I’d been signed in my previous band, Juniper. I had everything I thought I wanted but I was miserable, and the only thing to I could do to change that was to throw it all away, despite the fact that I’d worked years to get there.

Latest/ next release?
The album, ‘o’, is released in the UK on 22 July – the day we play in Birmingham. We’re putting it out by ourselves so we can build it up.

Future plans?
We may do a single in September, we’ll just have to see.

Any tips for budding songwriters?
Don’t try to write.

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