With sold-out shows, a Choice Prize nomination and a guest spot on the Late Late Show, Gavin James is quickly climbing the ladder of the Irish music scene. The friendliest man in music spoke to Flux about how he’s coping with his long touted success.
He’s been in and out of bands, playing pubs and clubs since he was 14 years old but since signing with Believe Records Gavin James is finally hitting the success he deserves. With the brilliant chart topping EP Say Hello, he set about taking over the city one radio station at a time, to the point where in December he was the most played home-grown artist on Irish radio.
He sold out his first headline gig in Whelan’s and a week after the show, Gavin says it was the most nerve-racking experience he’s ever had.
“I’ve never been so nervous at a gig in my life. Usually like ten minutes before a gig you get real nervous but then it goes away when you start singing; this time it took ages to settle. It was the most enjoyable gig I’ve ever done. It felt like it only went on for ten minutes.”
People screaming lyrics back at him while he plays is something Gavin will definitely have to get used to, but with his first crowd choir last week he was caught a little off guard.
“It freaked me out! Especially with one of the songs, “Hole In My Heart”, everybody knew every word! That’s one of the songs I wouldn’t have thought would get that reaction. I thought maybe “Say Hello” because that got a little bit of air play but “Hole In My Heart” was nowhere, so it was pretty cool. “
Demand for another show when Whelan’s sold out first time around came thick and fast, so another date was announced and sold out again in March. Will he change much from his debut outing?
“Hopefully I’ll be a bit more comfortable. The first gig had one of the best crowds I’ve ever played in front of. Probably because they knew the words,” he laughs.
With the amount of hype Say Hello created, a nod for Song of the Year at the Choice Prize should have been expected, but Gavin still can’t believe it.
“It’s crazy that I even got nominated for it. I think the EP only came out in November and I hadn’t really released anything of my own before that so it’s a bit mad to be nominated. With The Script and Kodaline and all that up there, it’s amazing!”
Speaking of the former 21 Demands lads, Gavin’s just finished a string of dates in the UK supporting Kodaline. But this wasn’t his first jaunt around the UK as the support act. Last year he spent a couple of weeks supporting American singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson, an experience that saw him grace the prestigious Union Chapel stage in London. In a charming video on YouTube, you can see Gavin accompany Ingrid on her song “You and I”.
“The tour with Ingrid was real cool. It was so fun,” Gavin said.
From countless radio plays to sell-out live shows it was only a matter of time before we saw Gavin James on the small screen. It wasn’t long after the success of “Say Hello” that Gavin got the call to come play RTÉ’s Other Voices.
“When I went down to Dingle, that was great! I did the gig, The Staves were on after and then we all went back to the hotel and just drank until like 6 o’clock in the morning. We literally just jammed the whole night.”
With an appearance on TG4’s Pop Ceoil and a fantastic performance on The Late Late Show to follow, the only thing left for Gavin to conquer is a debut album. The album will be recorded in Metropolis studios in London with legendary pop producer Tom Nichols who has worked with everyone from Hall and Oates to Kylie Minogue.
“I’m going over next week. We have rehearsals with the session band we’re recording with and then I’ll probably be over there most of the next month,” Gavin said.
With no release date as of yet, how long will Gavin leave us waiting for his next piece?
“I’ll have another song out before festival season I’d say, but the album might not come out until September. We have no date yet,” he said.
With the likes of Kodaline, Little Green Cars and the Heathers all making waves in seas much further afield than our own, it’s a really great time for Irish music. Gavin thinks this is all down to the lack of work that’s around country at the moment.
“I don’t know, it’s mad, isn’t it. I think it’s because no one really works anymore,” he laughs. “If you’re not playing music in Ireland now you’re playing football. I think people who can play music are sitting down and saying “I might as well kind of give this a go.” I think if you really like doing something you’ll make something of it in some length of time. If it takes ten years, it takes ten years. You just got to keep on plucking at it.”
After a long time learning his trade in pubs across Dublin, Gavin is finally getting the credit his music deserves. Bigger stages and more chart success awaits, and you never know, it could all kick off with a Choice Music Prize next month.