Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The Beatles and The Beach Boys are a driving influence behind a modern day songwriter.
And while they are two of the biggest bands in the world, personally I find the geographical influence interesting. Such is the case with singer-songwriter Dave Carey, who is a music-loving resident of Cork, Ireland.
It’s clear in listening to Carey’s music that he emulates the melodic flair of such bands along with other British Invasion pop-rock bands, along with a dash of Billy Joel. Carey’s piano-driven songs and heartfelt singing strike a warm and familiar chord among those lending an ear.
Carey recently released his latest melody-driven EP, Backroom Window, and is affiliated with international luxury label Bentley Records.
We had the chance to ask Carey about what the music scene is like in Cork, how he’s faring artistically amidst the pandemic, his love of piano, and more.
What was your favourite part about growing up in Cork, or perhaps Ireland as a whole?
I would have to say all the friends I had back then, and in school. When the summer holidays arrived it was like an overwhelming happiness because you knew you were free for a few months. You’d get up to anything. I have very fond memories of those times and just being a kid.
What are the musical genre demographics like in Cork? Is it a pretty happening scene overall?
It has become an open scene here over the years, depending on what kind of music you’re into, you could most likely find it somewhere for sure. I like that there are a lot of original groups and solo artists here doing their own thing as well.
So who or what got you into playing music and writing songs?
I remember being about 7 or 8 years old having a fascination with keyboards and pianos even though I didn’t have a clue how to play them. If there was a piano in a room you’d find me hanging around it like a moth to a flame. I would be making musical gibberish, but I was happy and intrigued. My mother was a big encourager, buying me a keyboard one Christmas, and also introducing me to The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and other classic rock and rollers. Listening to them, I started to think, maybe I could write songs of my own sometime. So I started piecing together ideas from then on. I also have to give some kudos to the first band I was in called Backtrack. That band really helped me develop musically.
Who are some of your primary influences you may try to emulate in your own way when writing music?
I was influenced very much so by old music: classic rock, country music, jazz, folk, classical music. The Beatles changed how I went about things. The chords they were using I wanted to know more about them. Their melodies are so exceptional. I was in my teens when I bought The Beach Boys Pet Sounds album and I never looked back. I didn’t understand it at first, but it grew on me, and I still listen to it today. There were also artists like Elvis, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Little Richard that broadened my prospective. First hearing The Doors, I thought they really had it going on. What a talented band. Finding out who inspired all these artists and then listening to their music was exciting.
What song or songs have you recently released, or are you looking to release?
I have recently released my first single “Only a Moment” and EP called Backroom Window, which was in the making for a few years, and put together in different countries. I was looking in the direction of having live string and brass sections for authenticity, and I must say I really enjoyed working with Martin Quinn of Jam Studios in Kells, Ireland. He’s a talented producer/musician and a great guy. I was London-bound to record more songs, however, the Corona virus put a stop to that for now. Those plans will commence at a further date.
Do you have any specific pastimes or atmospheres you seek out that aide in your songwriting process?
Yes. Quiet locations always help, being in the moment with nature, being close to water or trees. I have had ideas come to me out of nowhere taking a walk, or sometimes getting hung up on a lyric or chord and being in these places does help bring it out.
Can you talk about how you got set up with Bentley Records?
I had sent some samples to Bentley Records A&R but I had some reservations about them at the start, mainly because they are an R&B and Rap label.
However, I found out that they had signed artists from all over the world who were writing singer songwriter, pop, electro, instrumental stuff. They liked what I was writing, so I signed until such a time the agreement is reviewed, so we’ll see what happens after that.
Best thing is, I have the freedom to work with other labels and companies if I chose to. The team at Bentley are very professional and great to work with.
Do you feel this pandemic has helped or hurt your creative process?
I can say that I have been writing a lot more and experimenting these days, and working on ideas recorded on my phone, so it has helped a little, yes. The very basis has not changed though, it goes on as normal. I’ll write or record when i feel the need to, other days I find myself playing whether I want to or not.
In a post-pandemic world, what might Dave Carey have in store musically? (tour, album, etc.)
Definitely looking at more recording. Not quite sure yet if it would be an album or another EP, or even a series of singles. Touring would be great, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but it would be handy to get the right crew and contacts behind me, and just have fun performing live.
It was already challenging for a musician in a pre-pandemic music world let alone a post-pandemic one, so for now, my focus is keeping on keeping on.
If I come to Cork and am looking for the best pub or place to grab a bite and listen to some live music, where might you send me?
Depends on what you’re looking for. The Thomond Bar on Marlborough St., The Bru Bar- Coughlan’s has won a lot of Best Venue awards. Cyprus Avenue is a great venue to catch a gig, The Roundy and Charlie’s Bar. I’ve heard some good singer songwriters there in the past as well as El Fenix and Crane Lane Theatre. There are venues like Cork Opera house and the Everyman Theatre that are great for bigger known original and tribute acts, comedy shows etc. You’ll find there are some fine venues outside the city in places like Kinsale and Clonakilty also. Now wouldn’t be the best time to visit any of them though….