Ciara Galvin chats to Ryan Sheridan ahead of his SugarBeat gig and the release of his new album
STANDING in your underwear chatting to megastar Bryan Adams as he stands on a skateboard isn’t your average day at work. However, for chart-topping artist and Monaghan man Ryan Sheridan, that was indeed a ‘day at the office’.
One of the top acts playing this year’s SugarBeat Music Festival in Tuam, Co Galway this weekend, Sheridan cites this bizarre meeting with one of his childhood idols as one of the most memorable moments of his career so far.
“One moment that sticks out was when I got an opportunity to support Bryan Adams on some of his gigs. I was a huge Bryan Adams fan and so were my brothers … There would be albums all over the house. At one of his gigs, in the O2, I was in the dressing room and I got a knock on door and it was Bryan Adams on a skateboard,” he says, laughing.
“I thought it was one of the boys, and I was in my boxers. He was like ‘Hi Ryan, how ya going’. And I’m here having a full chat with this guy who’s been in my life since I was ten years old. He’s on a skateboard, and I’m in my boxers,” recalls the former Riverdance member, as he laughs again.
Sheridan’s career hit stellar heights in 2011 thanks to his debut album and feel-good tunes ‘Jigsaw’ and ‘The Dreamer’. Some may have thought back then that he burst onto the musical circuit over night, but Sheridan worked hard over many years to achieve success.
There was an big gap, however. “I cut music for eight years,” he admits. “Life got in the way, and I started paying bills.” Had he lost hope? Looking back, he doesn’t think so. The hope was just ‘diluted’.
He might not have been making music himself, but he still wanted to be surrounded by it. He opened a live music venue in his native county, and ran that successfully until the pull of his passion became too strong.
“…I just quit it all and went back to busking; went down to Dublin and gave up everything. I was very happy, it was freedom. If people like the stuff [you play] they’ll stay, if they don’t, they’ll go.”
Ryan grew up surrounded by music, with his mother playing the accordion and his father playing the banjo. At the age of three he was enrolled into Irish-dancing classes, and by five he was playing the fiddle.
“I played at All-Ireland Fleadhs, and didn’t play guitar ’til I was 16 … playing guitar at hotel parties [while touring with Riverdance]. I was trying to play any acoustic song I could. Oasis, Radiohead and Blur were huge.”
Has his traditional background influence his current music? Absolutely.
“It has completely influenced me. Playing on stage with a group of people, the energy you get off people is what I love. I got that [energy] when I was busking on the street.”
Famed for his infectiously energetic live performances, the musician cannot wait to return to the stage after a four year break from touring while writing and recording the eagerly anticipated second album, ‘Here and Now’.
Asked if he prefers playing off the beaten track or bigger events, the inventive guitarist is candid.
“It’s been four years since I toured around Ireland, so I’m just mad to get back playing around the country to be honest. I absolutely love playing live, so it doesn’t matter where I play, just as long as there’s people out there to hear us,” he says.
The performer’s love for playing live means that family life in his adopted home of Dublin must be juggled with life on the road.
“It is tough when you’re away all the time, but after three weeks I fly them [his family] over, I don’t like to be away too long.”
Speaking of being away from home, Sheridan’s emotive video for his song ‘Home’ was inspired by reading the script for Mrs Brown’s Boys film ‘D’Movie’, in which the track features. The video is a collage of Irish emigrants holding up hand-written signs saying what they miss about Ireland. A few stars pop up too, like Brendan O’Carroll, Niall Quinn and Stephen Rea.
“I got the script, and it was about home life and how important family is. So that’s where the song came from. And I toured from when I was 15 into my 20s, and I was thinking about what I would miss. You miss the Chinese or the local bar. So, I just had this idea that I’d get on to some of my friends that are away from home at the minute and ask them what do they miss from home and could they write it on a sign.”
So what does Ryan miss most about home when touring?
“I suppose things have changed over the past couple of years. I miss my family now. I miss my son, and I miss home cooking. I think when I was younger I was missing an awful lot more.”
On future plans, Sheridan says he doesn’t think too far ahead. Like the title of his new album, due to be released at the end of the month, he’s focused on the present.
“I’m happy where things are going. As long as I’m keeping creative it will send me down the right path.”
And what can people expect from the weekend’s show in Tuam? Ryan plans to play some of the tracks from ‘Here and Now’, as well as some of his earlier tunes. “It’s going to be a high-energy show, and it’s going to be acoustic and raw, and it’s going to be loud.”