1. So give us a thumbnail sketch: where were you born and raised? Do you come from a musical family?
I was born and reared in Boston, a place you all …oh sorry, no, I was born and raised in Tuam, a place not too many know well. Went to school in the Presentation Convent run by the first terrorists I encountered in my life: nuns — after which we moved up to the Christian Brothers School up the road.
My mother’s father had a beautiful tenor voice; Tom Waits’ voice reminded me of his in his later years. My uncle Harry also has a strong voice, as well as being well able to play the accordion, neither of which talents he’s used for over 50 years. My father sings at Mass and when he thinks I’m not in the house, he’s a relentless drummer, tapping rhythms on tables and chairs while whistling along – shoulda a got him a drum-kit years ago. My brother loved music and played tin whistle and accordeon; his favourite tune right before his untimely death at the age of eight in 1963 was The Cascades’ “Rhythm Of The Rain” – I’d say he’d have been the real musician in the family.
2. What made you want to be in a band?
I always loved songs: how they could make you feel, move you, bring you on your holidays for a few minutes, learn things about people’s lives and faraway places; the stories, how songs can make you feel good about feeling bad, how they can make you dance and spring into action.
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3. What kind of jobs did you do before finding steady work as an Musician?
At the time the band fell together I was in Galway’s innovative Street Theatre Group, Macnas, generally making tea and going on the bike for messages. I’ve never done too many real jobs – hotel porter for a few weekends, picked gooseberries. I got a J1 Visa (Student Work Visa) in 1983, so I stayed with my cousins in Jamesburg, New Jersey and worked as a bus-boy at a long-gone restaurant, Buxtons. I think it was at Exit 6A off the Turnpike.
4. I always ask this, but remind me: where does the name “The Saw Doctors” come from? Were there any alternate names in the running?
It was a fella working in the sawmills back the Galway Road; apparently he wasn’t much interested in work so the boss gave him the name ‘Saw Doctor’ as a title of false importance and a motivational tool. I don’t remember any of the alternative names at the time, but I’m fairly sure there were a few.
5. So this new album is called “The Further Adventures of The Saw Doctors.” Explain, please.
It’s like “The Continuing Story . . .” – what cartoon was that from? “The continuuuuuing story of a ????? gone to the dogs”? We’re here, we’ve made a new album and we’re hoping it’ll take us on adventures.
6. If you’re all comic book heroes (as the cover implies) — what are your individual superpowers?
We’ve not taken the analogy that far, most likely because we’re as little like any superhero as anyone could be. I don’t believe there’s anything like superpowers in the outfit.
7. Batman, Spider-Man or Superman? Why?
I always liked Superman — he’s such a great all-rounder, and such a romantic as well, not that Batman isn’t. I still have dreams that I can hold my fist up and fly over cities.
8. The tone of the new album is reflective, for want of a better word. What was the mood like when you were in the studio?
Some of it’s reflective I suppose. The mood in the studio was pretty upbeat, and determined that no matter what it took that we’d end up with something we’d be very proud of.
9. Since this is your 20th consecutive year touring the U.S., what is the biggest fashion change the Saw Doctors have undergone? Anyone admit to rocking a mullet in the bad old days? Earrings? Tattoos? Parachute pants?
“Fashion” and “Saw Doctors” just don’t seem to sit together. Someone found an old article about us from Q Magazine in England where they said we were like blind people dressed by cruel friends.
10. If you had to pick three songs from the new album to play for someone who had never heard of The Saw Doctors (assuming such a person actually exists, which I doubt), which ones would you pick, and why?
There are plenty of them, don’t worry – millions and millions in China for starters but that’s a hard question. I’d go for “N17,” “Same Oul’ Town” and “As The Light Fades” off the top of my head.
11. Choosing from the band’s entire catalog, which are your five favorite songs?
I simply couldn’t say, but the three above must be some of them; I tend to prefer the ones off the side of the road like “As The Light Fades” or “Dark Wind.”
12. Which one is the hardest to perform in concert? Which one is the most fun?
We did “Yvonne” once in London — started the gig with it and never played it since. It just didn’t work. For fun and breaking the ice and enjoying yourself, it’s hard to beat “Tommy K.”
13. How is being on the road different now from, say, 20 years ago?
Really and truly, not much. The tour bus has made what can be a very difficult schedule of traveling very easy and I’d say we might not be still doing what we do if it weren’t for [the buses]. I still enjoy it as much as ever and there’s always another adventure up around the next bend.
14. Which one of you has the strangest pre- or post- show ritual?
Only Éimhín really has any pre-show ritual: he does yoga to loosen out his back. He has a condition that makes it hard for him to drum for a few days/nights in a row.
15. Can we end with something quotable?
Great to be alive, four o’clock. The Saw Doctors will perform at the Cape Cod Melody Tent in Hyannis, MA, on August 11 and 12; at the Stone Piny in Asbury Park, NJ, on Aug. 13; and at the NYCB Theatre in Westbury, NY on Aug. 14. For more information, visit www.sawdoctors.com.