The gritty underground scene of Northside Dublin in the 1980s, the social unrest of the time…THE COMMITMENTS was a film which captured many a phenomena, though none more resounding than the talents of ANDREW STRONG.
27 Magazine’s Kat Tame had a chat with Andrew ahead of his Australian tour.
Kat: So you’re headed on tour in Australia this month, what are you looking forward to most about your trip here?
Andrew: Oh well I mean it’s always great getting there, I mean I’ve toured Australia on and off for like over 20 years I guess so, I’ve got to meet a lot of great friends there so it’s always nice to get back to meet friends and um, you know, just hang out, just play music and um, also this time of year there the weather’s really nice so it’s nice to get away from all the bad weather.
Kat: Yep, no snow storms here.
Andrew: Yeah, and hopefully I can fly out on Saturday and won’t have any impact on my travel plans but um… it’s always great to get out and you know, the Aussie’s love their music and it’s great to be appreciated that side of the world, you know?
Kat: Yeah, everyone here is pretty excited for your arrival, I think. So, what can the audience expect at your show?
Andrew: I suppose it’s kind of, um, you know a mixture. It’s kind of a mature audience, so it’s kind of a generational thing you know. People have come to my shows in Australia um, who originally heard of me like 20 odd years ago and then they introduce their kids to the music and I’ve also had their kids who bring their kids to it so it’s kind of like a bit of a broad spectrum I mean you probably have people there from their early 20s and then people who are into their 50s and whatever, which is great so. But yeah, the energy’s always there and um it’s just always great to play there, there’s a great culture there when it comes to music and um, I remember the very first tour I did there in, I think it was 1991, 92 or something, and it was just amazing and even today I still speak with musicians who played with me back then and we’ve still very fond memories of that so yeah.
Kat: Awesome, so do you still keep in touch with some of the cast from the Commitments, such as Glen Hansard?
Andrew: Yeah, I mean I don’t keep in touch with them, yeah I mean Glen, when’s the last time I spoke to Glen? Um, yeah, I mean we always kind of send each other maybe like little text messages like, “Happy Christmas”, um maybe he might be playing a gig in Dublin and like “Hey what are you up to, do you wanna come down hang out, blah blah blah blah blah”, that kind of thing. But I mean in terms of me staying in touch with everybody… no. It’s not that I don’t wanna stay in touch, it’s just that we all have our own things going on in our life and we all kinda move on.
Kat: Of course, fair enough. When the movie was made did you ever imagine it would become so popular?
Andrew: Well, when I knew that the director was Alan Parker, because he directed stuff like Mississippi Burning, Midnight Express, Pink Floyd the Wall and all these incredible movies which I knew as a kid, so i kinda had, or I knew something was serious about it, because I knew this guy was a serious director, but in terms of me singing it 20 odd years later, sitting here talking to you about it ah, no, but um, but look I mean I think the great thing about the film was that a lot of people regardless of whether you’re a musician or not, I mean a lot of people kind of identify with it, you know because um, it kind of hits on a lot of different social backgrounds, it hits on the different um, in terms of being a musician, like a lot of musicians can identify with it, and also if you’re just like an ordinary family who um, you know, I suppose at that time sort of struggle from the social point of view, they kinda deal with it or relate with it, so yeah.
Kat: Yeah, amazing that’s awesome. So I’ve just got a few more questions for you. First off, what do you find the best thing is about performing?
Andrew: I mean, for me performing is like um, I suppose it’s just getting up there, singing, doing what you do best, coming off stage, feeling like well, yeah I gave it the best I can do. I suppose it’s like, if you’re not related to music, it’s like going to bed at night knowing to yourself well, you know what, I could’ve done better, I could’ve done this better, so for me as a performer, performing on stage, it’s just about being honest and it’s about doing the best you can do and enjoying yourself, and showing your appreciation to the people who come and support you and um, yeah, and just having fun and not taking yourself too seriously and um, yeah, that’s probably, not to get to deep into it but, yeah.
Kat: Absolutely, and you do that very well too.
Andrew: Thank you.
Kat: So what’s the most unusual on stage experience you’ve ever had?
Andrew: What’s the most unusual experience I’ve ever had… on stage? I’m not sure… hmm… I mean, I suppose what I probably find unusual is that, I mean, I remember expecting when The Commitments came out, I remember like playing shows, I remember playing some shows in the UK and um, I remember like I’d be performing on stage and you know you’d have people up the front of the stage and be all like super stoked to see you perform and you’d kinda go in to the crowd to kinda give them a high-five and I remember one time there were like these people, they just wanted to completely pull every hair out of my head and were quite aggressive and I just thought, why are you here? I mean are you here to listen to me sing or do you just wanna pull me apart? You know, that was a little bit bizarre for me, and I suppose I was quite young at the time as well.
Kat: Yeah, I can imagine that would have been a bit of a shock.
Andrew: Yeah, I mean, look, it’s a pretty precarious kind of business, the music business, you know, you do kind of meet a lot of different kind of people and stuff like that, I suppose for the best part. I mean I’m a pretty grounded person and um, I’m kind of, I’ve no problem talking to people or being, or just want of a bit of respect there but yeah. I suppose that was probably one of the weirdest things, was people just wanna like rip you apart, and you’re like, well why do you wanna do that? I mean this is music, I mean we’re not hangin’ down the local butcher shop, you know? So, I found that a little bit strange, but for the best part, I’d say no, I really haven’t had any weird kind of experiences on stage where I kinda felt that uncomfortable.
Kat: Well that’s good! Just some audience members that can be a bit weird then?
Andrew: Yeah I mean, you know, um I’m pretty straight-up kinda bloke and um, you know? When I go and I perform and you know, I just get up there and I do what I do and I have a very low threshold for nonsense and people who try to be disrespectful but I’m lucky and fortunate enough that I don’t really have a lot of that so um, yeah.
Kat: Yeah great. Look thank you Andrew, I’ve just got one more question for you today. From the soundtrack of The Commitments what’s your personal favorite song and what are you most looking forward to performing?
Andrew: Well I guess, um, I mean if you wanna talk about a song what contains a lot of different emotional content in terms of The Commitment songs, I suppose you’d have to take probably Try A Little Tenderness because it starts off very emotional and slow, and it kinda like it just takes you on this really little slow walk and you’re like yeah, and then it just gets to a massive crescendo. I suppose, just from an emotional point of view, from a vocalist and stuff like that probably that would probably cover a lot of ground, like I mean, you listen to stuff like Mustang Sally or Take Me to the River or songs like that, they just have a good up-beat feeling and you’ve go to like a club or a bar and they put on Mustang Sally you just kinda get up and you start grooving straight away. Whereas something like Try A Little Tenderness you know, it’s the sort of thing that kind of just pulls you in and then it blows your head off, if you know what I mean? *laughs* But I mean yeah…
I would say ah, from an emotional point of view, in terms of the content and in terms of where it starts and where it ends I suppose, Try A Little Tenderness, would probably be my favourite song and also I suppose from a vocalist point of view, all vocalists love songs where you know, they have a song where it really shows off their vocals at the start, where it’s very naked and it’s “balls to the walls”, you know?
Kat: *laughs* Absolutely, such an amazing track. Look that’s all the questions I’ve got for you today, but thank you so much for taking time out of your day to have a chat with me, especially when you’re in the middle of a snowstorm!
Andrew: My apologies for being late with you. But look thank you and you have a good day.
Kat: Thanks Andrew, you too, all the best in your travels this month!
Catch Andrew Strong on tour this month.
ANDREW STRONG AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES
Tuesday 6th March – Adelaide – The Gov
Friday 9th March – Tweed Heads – Twin Towns
Saturday 10th March – Brisbane – Eatons Hill Hotel
Sunday 11th March – Canberra – Canberra Theatre
Monday 13th March – Melbourne – Croxton Bandroom
Wednesday 14th March – Sydney – Factory Theatre
Friday 16th March – Melbourne – 170 Russell
Saturday 17th March – Rooty Hill – Rooty Hill RSL
Sunday 18th March – Sydney – The Basement
Thursday 22nd March – Adelaide – The Gov
Friday 23rd March – Perth – Astor Theatre
Saturday 24th March – Perth – Mandurah Performing Arts Centre