Marc O’Reilly: No Morality Play

Ahead of a gig in Cyprus Avenue on October 22nd to launch third full-length Mortality Morality, Mike McGrath-Bryan speaks with singer-songwriter Marc O’Reilly.

Corkman Marc O’Reilly has been a busy man this past week, getting ready to head off on a comprehensive run of dates around the UK and Europe, and tonight, O’Reilly finally manages some spare time from his duties, emailing from Skegness, home of the Great British Alternative Festival. A hard man to get hold of, but justifiably so. Third record Morality Mortality is just in the can, and the grind has begun in earnest for O’Reilly and band. O’Reilly briefly digs into his own feelings on the finished product, and the reception it’s met. “I’m really happy, personally, with how it sounds, and how it all came together. It’s probably an album you have to live with a bit, but hopefully people will give it a chance.”

Writing, recording and mixing of the new platter varied this time from his previous efforts, in a big way: in a new studio with a new producer, and with the benefit of accrued road miles under his belt. “I suppose the thing that has changed the most, compared with the writing of the other albums, is that I’ve been touring with a band now for over two and a half years, so that has definitely dictated how I write and produce music. I wrote most of the new album over a six-month period. The themes were mainly dominated by personal experiences over the past two years. I recorded the album with Christian Best, at Monique Studios, just outside of Midleton. It was my first time working with Christian, but it was such an enjoyable process.”

The deal with the release of the record is unusual in modern terms – rather than sign a blanket deal to cover the E.U. area as is standard, O’Reilly signed with Virgin Records on the continent, and is releasing the record independently here. What are the differences between the two, as far as O’Reilly and crew perceive them? “The main advantage is the network the label have in terms of promotion. That is something that’s quite difficult to attain when you release independently.”

Three albums into the grind, and O’Reilly looks at the differences between this record release and the records proceeding. He finds himself to be learning and growing the whole time, the result being ever-increasing confidence with which to tackle challenges before him. “I think the biggest differences are my expectations, and how much more comfortable I am playing live now. I get very nervous all the time before gigs, but it’s definitely improved over the years.”

Away from the hustle and bustle of budding folk superstardom, O’Reilly and brother Pierre have formed electro-pop outfit R, which O’Reilly describes as his “alter-ego”, and has been in for high praise. They’ve even managed to glean radio support for their debut single Change, with the thumbs-up coming from the likes of Steve Lamacq, Janice Long and Paul McLoone. After a bit of a quiet patch thereafter, Reilly is ready to show the world his other moniker. “Yeah, we have the album pretty much done, and hoping to release early next year all going well.”

Ireland’s folk and acoustic scene seems to be particularly active at present. With a wide variraty of bars and venues utilising the singer-songwriter oeuvre as a means of establishing themslves, plus exponentially-growing roster of performers to choose from, O’Reilly is singularly focused as we discuss favourites and the way forward. He quickly points out and pays lip-service to a favourite. “The Young Folk are a great band, and such a sound bunch”. Having journeyed up and down the road to Cork over the course of his career, any funny/interesting road stories, and O’Reilly opts for a less safe, less predictable memory, to say the least. “A fight breaking out in the middle of a gig in Mitchelstown”.

Succinct and to the point, likely spurred on by early touring fatigue, O’Reilly’s shorter answers now are a good cue to round off the interview. But having finished two records in the space of a year, touring one and preparing the other for release and tour, we’d be remiss not to ask at all what his next move is. The answer is quick, and straightforward. “A bit of downtime, then more European touring in the new year”.

Marc O’Reilly plays Cyprus Avenue on the 22nd, with support from LOWmountain. Tickets are on sale now, for a gig promoted and presented by Coughlan’s Live.

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