Wednesday 27 August 2014

Interview with ; Wayne Sheehy.  Read the first part of my interview with Wayne Sheehy.
Tom:  Wayne, when did you become interested in drumming?
Wayne: Well, I was raised in England till I was twelve/thirteen so my father was a Limerick man who had dreams of drumming so he moved to England when he was very, very young and he formed his own band and that turned into a big band so it’s Pat Sheehy and his Orchestra. He was the band leader of his own kind of big band, you know a couple of saxophones, electric guitar, bass guitar, trumpet, trombone, organ and guest singers so he was always semi professional. I used to love him always saying that but God rest him he passed away when I was quiet young but he was great. Ah how can you describe him, he was a great lover of big band music, he wasn’t a very dynamic drummer, and he just loved holding it together. He was a glue man you know. He had very few chops so he wasn’t a fan of drumming funnily enough. He liked music and the drums were I think his vehicle to enjoy music. So, he loved drumming so that’s how it started so there were drums in the cellar of our house and it was a very old house in the midlands of England in the countryside and then my brothers Brendan and Kevin were both drummers. So that was the anything but drums thing from my father so that backfired and when we moved to Cork, West Cork in the middle of nowhere where I have my studio now actually.

Tom:  What part of west Cork?
Wayne:  The sheepshead peninsula and we couldn’t find any outlet for my musicality down there so my father decided I should join “Shalom”.

Tom: That’s an interesting name 
Wayne: Shalom was a charismatic choir from Bantry and I ended up singing in the choir and I hated it and then the drummer got fired and I muscled myself in on the drum. And then from that, I fell out with the priest because he said I was too loud during Mass, played too loud and so I left and when I left the rest of the backing band left and so the priest Fr Kehoe, I would go as far as to say he hated my guts because when he fired me he lost his entire band, he lost about six musicians and that’s when I formed a little band in Bantry. It all started then really.

Tom: Who were your influences at that time apart from your father and brothers?
Wayne: Am, would you believe Rod De’Ath from the Rory Gallagher band, Ian Paice a massive influence, Bill Bruford and John Bonham. Oh who else, from Little Feat, Richie Hayward, a massive influence. I loved his groove and Charlie Watts who is a friend of mine actually. I loved the way Rod played and oh Jesus, I remember I was at The Mountain Dew festival in Macroom and I must have been sixteen, it must have been ‘76. Rory was once again headlining but there was a band on called Joe O’Donnell’s Vision Band. You should Google it actually. Joe O’ Donnell was a famous electric fiddler from Limerick. He had a Canadian drummer, Theodore Thunder was his name. I will always remember it, I think he is dead now, but he was a speed head, he loved speed and he was one of the best exponents of the slip jig in rock. It was amazing. Gales Vision was the name of the album. I would love to get my hands on it, I am sure I will hate it now but at the time it was mind numbingly amazing.

Tom:  You mentioned Bill Bruford.
Wayne:  Of course Bill Bruford was a massive influence and least but absolutely definitely not last and I would like him to go on my list of influences ah the guy from Rush, Neil Peart and of course Stewart Copeland, which you can still hear in my playing.

Tom: That’s right yeah. So I suppose you were playing professionally at this stage?
Wayne: No, I did my Leaving and then I got a place in UCC.

Tom: Oh right, doing what?
Wayne: To do Sociology. I never took it. I ran away from home with a Bantry band called Exedus. We used to live in a squat in Greystones and I’m afraid I got in to some rather unsavoury habits and came back, my tail firmly between my legs to my family who had a hotel in West Cork. We were hoteliers and I was in a bad, bad way and my father came in to my bedroom. This is a nice story actually but potentially depends on how much time you have, but my father came in to my bedroom and I was really quite not well and he put an acoustic guitar at the end of my bed and a pile of albums and he said ah amongst other things he said now there are two friends waiting down stairs you know them both well, one is a singer and the other plays the mandolin and the fiddle.  We need a traditional band here for the hotel for the summer and you need to get on with your life. You have two choices, you take this guitar you improve your guitar playing and you learn all those songs or the option which I hope you won’t take because you’re Mum and I love you so much is that you leave and you never come back. And so I am a huge fan of folk music and so that’s why I play so many instruments because that opens the door for a lot of other instruments for me. So, that was that and then the Banditz happened.

Tom: Ok tell me about that.
Wayne: That’s when the Banditz happened. They knocked on my door and I said no  a few times, I was too shook, I didn’t want to go into my old naughty ways and I was only eighteen/nineteen and then I moved to Cork, Cork City. Then I was approached by a guy called Gerry Lane, who had a heavy metal band called Drive Shaft. And so I became a member of Drive Shaft and we were like I guess, a heavy metal show band and we went to this amazing house down near Bandon and then Kieran Kennedy joined us as in Rio. And Kieran and I were great friends before that I had sort of pulled Kieran into the band. So, then Kieran and I then met John Sullivan, a bass player in Cork and we said ok, let’s go to Dublin. So the three of us left, well myself and Kieran left Drive Shaft formed a band called Nineteen Ninety ( 1990) and am three piece Wayne, Kieran & John O’Sullivan and we moved to Dublin. We moved incidentally the same day that Micro Disney left and I remember we met Sean and Cathal. Yeah we met Sean and Cathal on Patricks Bridge in Cork and said good luck to them. We were going to Dublin and they were going to London. We moved up to Dublin and we added Graham Kimm from The Bandittz, another keyboard player called Edwin Tierney joined us and so there were five of us in the band. Then the Cork mafia, Dennis Desmond had moved up the same time, Joe O’ Herlihy moved up to work for U2 ah you know all that gang Timmy, Timmy Buckley, Cathal Mullalley, Tom Mullalley and Paul Tiernan. We all, within the space of four weeks, the whole of Cork’s music industry moved to Dublin.

Tom:  That must have been an incredible time.
Wayne: It was quiet an extraordinary time and Jerry Feehily at this stage used to come down to my sound checks with 1990 and with an old cassette player, sit and record me.

Tom: Ok, brilliant!
Wayne: So Jerry always cites me as an influence.

Tom:  Excellent, at that stage music wise what were you doing?
Wayne: Neil Peart .1990 was very much kind of like Rush meets The Police. There was a heavy emphasis on technique that was really a time when I was getting my chops. There were a lot of chops happening.

Tom: How were you learning them?
Wayne: Oh, just myself listening and listening. I had a golden rule, if there is something I hear and I can’t kind of do it, don’t learn anything else until you can.

Tom: That’s a brilliant concept.
Wayne: It was great. It was really good for me actually. I really developed and then at the same time I started drumming with my right hand, just in rehearsals and just for grooves not rolls and stuff just to develop my left hand side a bit better. It has never been strong but it developed a lot stronger and  then the story gets a bit easier. 1990, we had an avalanche of A & R Interest

Tom: So the 1990 influence was The Police and Rush and that was the three piece.
Wayne:  Ok except at this 1990 the five piece changed significantly and then the influences were all of a sudden, Simple Minds, Big Country, Wire, Echo and the Bunnymen, Genesis.

Tom:  Ok actually, I have to make a confession here, the guy with Big Country, Mark Brzezicki, I would have been a huge fan of his.
Wayne: Mark, Mel Gaynor and I did a Zildjian tour. I was the opening act, Jesus it was really hard to go on before Mark, well better to go on before him than after him let’s put it that way. Jesus he was unbelievable, so was Mel, but Mel and I were probably of the same ilk. Mel was very powerful as well you know, he was a strong drummer/strong player I was always a rock drummer and then came the Bono intervention and because a lot of the Cork gang were involved in the U2 organisation. We were getting very close to that organisation and Mother records were being formed and Bono came to see 1990, didn’t like the band, told Mother  but liked me and came up to me and said I am going to get someone to call you about something, so then Frank Kearns calls me from Cactus World News and Bono, Eoin and Frank turned up in the Baggot Inn and mentioned basically about the Mother deal and single and that they needed me in the band, that Bono said that if I joined, Mother Records would support the band. So then I did the audition and then I said yes and it was very difficult because I was leaving behind a lot of friends.

Tom: Yes, did that turn your head a little bit?
Wayne: Yeah, definitely, but it was one of the band, one of the 1990 band actually who said “you can’t say no”. Graham, who was much older than me and he just turned around and said you can’t say no. We were sharing a house in Ballsbridge and he said you can’t say no Wayne and that was kind of like what swung it for me really, so I said to Frank ok and then we auditioned  for bass players and then Fergal Andrews, Eamon Andrews son, came and he was just tearingly brilliant compared to everyone else. So Fergal Andrews then became the bass player and that was Cactus.

Tom: Excellent and what happened then?
Wayne: And then of course I asked Bono to produce the first EP because he was just saying if I produce it for you, if I produce the bridge for you, he loved the song, he said I am going to fuck it for you because everyone will just think I am just giving you a leg up. I am quite an idealist Tom, you know and I still am even now in my fifties.  I turned around to Bono and I said I don’t care what people say, would you like to produce it and he said sure. He had an annoying habit of calling me baldy and I just did the electric burma thing like. So Bono agreed to produce a record and that’s where the MCA came in and Cactus choose Chris Kimsey and that’s when Frank became an influence on my playing actually.

Tom: Can you describe in what way?
Wayne: Frank kind of declared a sound for the band which was different and funny enough Frank hadn’t copped that I was a muso, like I had chops, the ideal drummer for Cactus. I think in a way would have been for his visionary in the beginning would have been a slammer like a Ramones type player, yeah. So, then he made some very interesting suggestions. He said why don’t you remove the rack tom and put a floor tom on your left and a floor tom on your right and I let him influence me, so I removed the rack so that meant my rolls, all of a sudden were completely different.

Tom: Where was he coming from?
Wayne: Purely lateral thinking, like he was just thinking if I prevent Wayne or discourage Wayne from his chops because I had a lot of chops at that stage and you can see all my influences. And I had a habit of rolling like Perch you know the triple one,  So, I was constantly rolling and then I loved Stewart’s way of you know always hitting the cymbal on the first beat of the next bar rather than crashing on the floor. So, Frank was feeling and I really respect Frank for this, he was in a way, he sort of encouraged me to develop a system whereas I would develop an absolute style of my own. It was actually very successful for Cactus.

Tom:  You mentioned cymbals, what were you using at that time?
Wayne: I was on stage ah we were opening the first show for The Cult and their European tour and they had just released The Love Album so it was a fantastic tour to be on and we were in Bradford and I break into, we were opening with “Years Later” So, I open it up ah live and I go straight to the high hats, I snap the top hat, gone and Ian Croft who was then the artists liaison officer with Zildjian comes running on the stage and  I will always remember his words he goes “Man you need to use Zildjian cymbals from here on in, you’re f**ken Zildjian endorsing till the day you die” and as he was saying this he was screwing on the high hats for me and am I was quite a nervous character anyway, I have got very high energy and I burn a lot of it off. But that was the beginning of my Zildjian endorsements so I had a lovely collection of Zildjian cymbals. You know, I must actually look at them, I don’t go back in to my past very often.

Tom:  Do you mind reviewing the past?
Wayne: It’s interesting for me actually. So Cactus and Chris Kimsey produced the album and we spent a fortune and we travelled the world. I lived in New York and I did all sorts of wonderful things and fell in love and out of love and then you know Cactus charted well in America, in particular. We became The College Radio Number 1 album in the Rolling Stone Poll and the top one hundred albums, selling out shows all over the States and then Irving Azoff the head of MCA at the time came to see us. We were doing two nights in The Roxy in LA  and Irving was coming to the first show and he is God as you know. So Irving came in and we used to do a version of “America”, Frank and Eoin’s influence. Some of our strategies and our obsessional approach to things were almost military in its operation and that came from the core U2 energy, but I think it was a good influence more than a bad influence.

Tom: So as a band you had no problem playing covers?
Wayne:  We decided that when we played America we were going to do a version of Simon and Garfunkel’s “America” (sings All want to come to America) and a rather smashing version we did of it as well, very powerful and it was a 6/8 feel which is for all us Celts particularly. It’s a very natural feel for us and you ask a French or an American to play it and they struggle with it so anyway we did a lovely version of it and Irving Azoff came in to the dressing room in The Roxy and he said amongst other things he said, “ Gee guys  I love what you are doing, we got to record “America”, it’s got to be the next single. I will get you into Sunset Sands this week, cancel any shows and we will get you into Sunset and we will record that song and we will get someone good to produce it for you”.  Of course, we were young, stupid, spoiled and convinced we were going to be stars with or without Irving’s Azoff’s  influence. We thought the idea of doing a cover was below us, the idea of doing a Simon & Garfunkel cover was even more below us and we didn’t even consider it. We just blew it out of the water and I kind of feel sorry for our management in one sense in that we didn’t have the where with all to do that. It was a rather super idea.

Tom: Do you feel that was mistake for the band’s career?
Wayne; That was a career changing moment for Cactus, one of three. I was on the fence, then we toured the shit out of it and then we started drinking. I was up to a bottle of tequila a day towards the end of the European tour. I was a heavy drinker.

Tom; What were the other, you feel, career changing moments for the band?
 Wayne; Berlin were number one with Top Gun and they had called our management and agent in the UK and they were massive fans of Cactus. Without any buy on, would we do the entire American tour?

Tom: Wow that seemed a fantastic opportunity!
Wayne: Now, our singer was suffering from tinnitus, which most of us have anyway. He was starting to suffer from tinnitus but he wasn’t sharing, he was a nervous wreck. He was going through a real problem with his faith, my relationship was on the rocks and Fergal was home sick. Frank was exhausted and we said no. That was moment number two. That would have been a stadium sell out tour. We would have never really looked back so that was really a pinnacle point in the bands career. I think the pivotal point actually.

Tom: As a matter of interest, who did that tour?
Wayne: I don’t know I must look actually. I think it was somebody that pissed us of as well. I think it was like an English band and because we used to have opening acts, we got pretty big in the UK and we had an entourage as well.  Yeah, I know because I think it was one of the bands who had opened for us in the UK had blagged their way on to it had picked it up instead, can’t remember now. In the mean time Aslan was being managed, without us knowing, back home by our management and using our Irish back line and without Aslan knowing it our management was starting to run up humongous bills, limos to Killarney and van hire, PA hire all us picking up the tab for the boys. We loved Aslan and we didn’t begrudge them a penny of it and still don’t. But that was starting to affect us as well and we were starting to worry about the relationship with our management so then we brought in emergency management. Kieran Owens came in and  we were dropped by the label on a Monday and literally re signed by the American label a month later but the same label we were dropped by London and re signed by LA.

Tom: Wow all within the space of a month.
Wayne: Yeah and then came the second album which for me this was the third and final point for Cactus. For me it comes back to the drumming thing. I had heard Manu Katche playing so Manu was now my main influence, I loved it. I loved ” So” I loved everything about “So” and then Manu Katche became my god and we met David Rose and David Rose wanted to produce Cactus so I could see a shift. So back came the rack tom and Kevin Killen the Irish engineer/producer who did all the Costello stuff and all the U2 stuff. So Kevin Killen and David Rhodes were our next producers and we were to do it in Real World at the very same time that Peter Gabriel was producing the sound track for Martin Scorsese's  Last Temptation of Christ so we had about sixteen, no we had about twenty tribesmen all sitting in the garden. So we were making that album, it was tough on Frank but it was a pleasure for me because every time David wanted me to do something I was very easy, I was one of the first drummers in Europe I would say, to settle in to a click.

Tom: Did you enjoy working with a click?
Wayne: I had no fear of machines and I had no problems with them and I realised from day one that they were going to be a friend, a help and not a hazard and I think I influenced a lot of players about that actually, you know I remember Brian Downey having a lot of issues about clicks and me talking to Brian, Brian I loved, oh actually he is another influence there.  So, the click thing the whole thing we were recording in real world in 1988 and we had done some pre production in Windmall Lane and then my father goes and drops dead. And that would have been four months after Eamon Andrews died so that was the second major bereavement in the band and I just had split up with my girlfriend at the same time who I was living with and that was it that was the body blow that we never recovered from really and then Frank, Frank didn’t like the way Kevin and David were taking the album because they were bringing it more mainstream and I was starting to use my chops again and starting to groove. I was starting to feel soul again, it wasn’t sort of new age and arty, it was back to very groove based music and I was leaping on this and we made the second album which only came out four years ago or something  ah “No Shelter”. It was eight years ago now actually the time flies. That was remixed by Andy Newmark, no Andy Wallace as in Nirvana. And of course what is the guys name from Pearl Jam? The main man, the singer, Jesus what was his name? Oh, God! Eddie Vedder.

Tom; Was he a friend of the band?
Wayne: He is a great friend of Glen Hansard actually, he was a massive fan of Cactus, huge fan, he used to hitch everywhere to see us. I am digressing there so anyway at that stage I can definitely say it was a mixture of everything I had ever heard and on the Manu Katche thing that was when I decided that world music was something I really wanted to explore.

Tom: So what happened then?
Wayne:  I left Cactus not long after that and Fountain Head was very successful in Switzerland. Well then Fountain Head’s manager Kieran Owen started managing another band called Hinterland.

Tom:  I remember, who was the band signed to?
Wayne:  They signed to Island Records and they asked me to join them so that was the next project. It was Hinterland and Fountain Head and a tug of love went on for a year or two.