Jim and Peter from Limerick musical institution The O’Malley’s chat about the new album, rehearsing? and have a few good laughs with Limerick Post.
ALMOST forty years into their existence, the Limerick legends have finally put a debut album together.
The individual players have released plenty of solo work and other projects over the years but ‘Can You Hear Me’, will be the first Long Player recorded by the band.
“We threatened a lot to do it, but we never got to do it,” says Peter Donnelly.
Jim Hanley who plays keyboards adds, “It felt right to do this recording. The original idea was to do the live set and the covers we do.”
After a band meeting, the live recording was shelved and the players brought in new songs for the project. With the addition of a few choice cover versions ‘Can You Hear Me’ was recorded and mixed earlier this year by Dave Keary at Red Door Studios and produced by Dave and Jim Hanley.
This new album is an absolute gem, a quality production capturing the band performing at their best. Guitarist Dave Keary and Jim led the project. Keary is preparing to go on tour with Van Morrison over the summer.
“Dave has a crazy schedule with Van Morrison, so it just felt right to do this now.”
“It wouldn’t have happened otherwise, it would have turned into another O’Malley’s thing where we’ll do it next week”, adds Peter.
Recent tracks from Ger Costelloe (‘Who are You, Who Am I’ and the brilliantly mordant ‘One Thing’s For Certain’) and a new version of Peter Donnelly’s ‘Denmark Street’ hit their targets. All the band contribute strong original work along with a few choice cover versions from Sandy Denny and Robbie Robertson.
The recording process was seamless, the band recorded six songs in the one night, a remarkable achievement by any standards. And without the band preparing with warm-up gigs or rehearsals.
The word rehearsals, gets this room laughing as the duo admit that in 40 years, The O’Malley’s have never rehearsed for a show. This record is a wonderful document of the instinctive musicianship these players share.
There is, of course, no O’Malley in The O’Malley’s. They took the name from the pub in Denmark Street where the band first started playing.
One of this album’s standout tracks, written by Peter is ‘Denmark Street’. With its undercurrent of anger, the song refers to the King of Fools and grey days in Limerick when emigration was the only viable option.
“Everybody meets them in bars, don’t you? The one who knows everything.
“Its also about remembering that we always had great craic down Denmark Street.”
All members of The O’Malley’s are busy with other gigs and come together a few times a year for these much loved shows having the craic on Paddy’s Weekend and at Christmas.
“We are all away. We keep these weekends if we can.”
I relate my story to Jim and Peter of an interview I did with another member of The O’Malley’s …
In this paper, a few years ago, I asked band member, Ger Costelloe to tell me how inspiring it is to get together with this brotherhood of good friends called The O’Malley’s every year.
“Its like going back to the well,” replied Ger.
“…. Well!, there is a couple of ways that you could interpret that,” laughs Jim.
“Maybe it’s the optic well”, Peter chimes in.
Inspiration of thirst?
“It is probably a bit of both.”
There is plenty to inspire on the album ‘Can You Hear Me’ as this band with mileage on the tour van clock have brought together a set of songs reflecting on any wisdom gained over the years.
They all contributed songs and there was no strife between the songwriters according to Jim.
“Even though there is three main songwriters in this band, it all just fell into place. There wasn’t one disagreement about anything.”
Brian Mulcahy brought two songs to the project.
“People would know Brian as a person unbelievable at interpreting songs, covers and things.
“People know the songs Peter and Ger writes, but they won’t know how good a songwriter Brian is, that is something that will be new for people at the launch.”
For the first time in their existence, The O’Malley’s got together this week for a …. rehearsal for the upcoming concert at Lime Tree Theatre.
“It was very weird”, admits Peter laughing.
“We were just sitting around looking at everybody … thinking … Oh No, It’s my turn!!!” laughs.
The concert will feature most of the new album. The next generation of the O’Malley legacy made a huge contribution to the recordings. Alan Keary created the string arrangements, Siobhan and Paddy Mulcahy play on the album.
The launch will feature a string quartet and extra guest musicians. Darragh Keary will support.
It promises to be a very special event.
The O’Malley’s launch the new album ‘Can You Hear Me’ at Lime Tree Theatre this Thursday June 6.