We Get To Speak To The Dandy Horses!

Tell us a little bit about where you’re from?

Four of us are from Belfast, and Noeleen (vocals/fiddle) is originally from Derry but has lived in Belfast for several years. Belfast is a city that has seen huge positive change over recent years. There is a great and very supportive local scene, and some fabulous bars and music venues that support local music. A special shout out to the Sunflower Bar and the John Hewitt where we have performed regularly.

How has your location affected your music?

Although the title of the album is ‘Tales from Hard Luck Town;’ we don’t necessarily mean Belfast, although it is true that some of the ‘tales’ have been influenced by our surroundings and experiences. I think that Belfast people have a dark sense of humour which comes across in our lyrics, particularly songs like Barfly and Hydebank Hotel. The title track deals with social issues, which could be relevant to any city.   Some of us have also been strongly influenced by folk and Irish traditional music which has strong roots in Belfast, and this is reflected in the storytelling nature of some of the tracks and the use of traditional irish instruments such as the tin whistle and fiddle. I would say the album has definitely been influenced to an extent by the characters, bars, and sights that we have come across in Belfast!!

What genre would you describe your music as?

We probably fall into contemporary folk, although some people would describe us as alternative country. Possibly a marriage of both genres!

What are you listening too? What are your influences?

At the moment the new Lisa Hannigan album is getting a spin. Jason Isbell has also been recently recommended by a fellow musician . Our drummer is currently listening to the new Dexys ‘Irish Country Soul’ album on vinyl !!!!  There are also lots of excellent artists on the music scene here including Malojian, The Darkling Air and Saint Sister. Our influences are really wide and varied ranging from The Beatles, The Wailing Jennies, Fleetwood Mac, The Band to Planxty and Northern Soul!

Where can we see you play?

We are in the John Hewitt bar in Belfast on the third Friday of every month, and also The Empire ( a well established and excellent  music venue) in Belfast on 9th September. We update our website with all of our gigs   http://www.thedandyhorses.com

Are there any evocative personal experiences that come through in your music?

Our music will often reflect life events or feelings. Starting Over was written about my next door neighbours who lost their home during the recession. Hard Luck Town was written by Sean during a time of relationship breakdown which precipitated a move from suburban bliss to bleak inner city.   He discovered a sense of vulnerability and became acutely aware of how easy it is to fall off the social ladder.

Tell us about your live setup?

Our live set-up is acoustic, although we do use an electric guitar on some of the recorded tracks. Myself and Noeleen share a guitar and swap between fiddle, banjo and tin whistles. Sean switches between bouzouki and mandolin; and then then there is the excellent Rodney on double bass and Marty on drums. Myself, Noeleen and Sean provide the majority of the vocals, however Rodney also joins in for some three and part harmonies as well. Harmonies are a big part of our live sound. Given the amount of swapping and acoustic instruments it can sometimes be a challenge for the sound man, but I have to say we have worked with some excellent sound engineers who have really done us justice.

What’s next?

We are working on promoting our album and gigging and have a live session coming up on Highland radio in Donegal. We are also planning our second German tour for the summer of 2017. Hopefully in between all of that we can work on some new material !


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