“With company is lovely, without is fine too” Bryan O’Connell, drummer, shares his innermost thoughts
First up in our series of short interviews with the members of Abigail’s band is Bryan O’Connell, the drummer. O’Connell plays on Fall into Silence which you can hear on Spotify or download on iTunes.
How did you first meet Abigail? What were your first impressions?
First meeting with Abigail? I’m not sure, but I remember very early on in the friendship how she came to my house to rehearse before the recording of the first album. I was very insecure in the company of so much musical firepower…all the other musicians were extremely agile and very well educated, and my involvement was a big step for me. As the others were total pro musicians, there were only a couple of rehearsals scheduled, but my background was that a recording session would normally be preceded by months of rehearsal. Abigail came over and we did a couple of rehearsals on our own, just to settle my nervousness. It worked. My first impressions, apart from loving her music, and seeing her talent, was that she was extremely thoughtful and caring, as well as determinedly light-hearted and positive. It’s an extremely pleasant and vital mix of characteristics to be involved with.
What instrument do you play? How long have you been playing it? Tell us about how you first started? What was it about this instrument that attracted you?
Drums! And other percussion. Playing since I was 13 or 14, and I’m 40 now 🙁 The drummers always seemed to be having the most fun in the bands I liked…then I got a kit and realised that it was all true. I was attracted by the seeming complexity of the playing, and the complexity of a drumkit…seemed very complicated and grown up! But the longer I play I find that what most attracts me is the exact opposite. I play very simply now.
Who or what is your strongest musical influence? Why?
Jaki Liebezeit! Drummer from Can, and many other projects. Hard to sum up what his music means to me, but it’s been with me for more than twenty years, and never fails to surprise and absorb me. He is a model for how an intelligent creative person can interact and develop an artistic voice. His work is a growing obsession…I could go on and on! Check out Secret Rhythms 4 by Jaki and Burnt Friedman for the best explanation of why.
If you were a scenic view where would that view be and why?
Just above the water line, in freezing cold water, for as long as I can manage it, on a clear February morning in White Rock in Dalkey. With company is lovely, without is fine too. There’s always the occasional porpoise or seal to keep an eye on me. The view is great…it resets my brain. Everything about it is good for me.
Tell us a little about other upcoming projects you are working on.
Apart from the unfortunately sporadic work with Abigail (more please!) my next work is playing frame drum in the Abbey Theatre for Liz Roche Company’s new show, Bastard Amber, in May. I’ve worked with Liz before, I love her work, and my partner Katherine O’Malley is in the show too, as well as some great contemporary dancers from Ireland, the U.S. and France. Can’t wait for rehearsals to start. Zoe Conway, John Riordan and I are playing, and Ray Harman is writing the music.
Looks like the great Si Schroeder might be back in action this year too, happily looking forward to more work with him.