Q&A with Rory Lavelle: "The Lyrics are a Form of Catharsis For Me."
With upcoming new album, Waves, Belfast based song-writer and performer Rory Lavelle is embarking on a new musical journey, and one that has been a long time in the making. Having experienced previous successes with his bands Indigo Fury and Sparks Fly, Waves marks Lavelle's first full-length solo effort, comprised of a backlog of songs that he has written throughout the years, performed and recorded almost entirely by himself. Looking toward the future, Waves is only the pushing off point. With two more albums in the works for the future and plans to hit the road soon, Rory Lavelle still has plenty to share with those who are willing to listen.
Interview by Dom Vigil
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself for any readers who might not be familiar?
I’m a Belfast based singer-songwriter performer specialising in dark acoustic indie-rock, I’ve been knocking around for a while and imagine I’m a bit of a local dinosaur at this stage!
Do you feel that your hometown and your upbringing have had an affect on the music that you create today? How so?
Definitely. I grew up in a small town where it seemed to rain constantly, there was nothing to do but hang out at bus stops, kick stones and dream. I quickly became aware that parents, teachers and authority figures weren’t the all-knowing, world-fixing folk they seemed and were in fact as clueless and as terrified as the children they were attempting to guide.
What artists or genres inspire you to write?
A few years back I rekindled my love affair with songs rather than guitar based rock which I was besotted with for way too long. The three albums I think have been a major influence on my current tastes and song-writing are John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band, Neil Young’s Harvest and Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks. All three are known for doing their own thing with integrity. Genre-wise I’m open to anything as long as there’s a hook, a lyric or feel that grabs you.
You’ve been involved in other projects in the past, but your upcoming album Waves is your first solo album. How do you feel your experience in previous bands and projects has helped you create the best music possible now?
I think I’ve really come to appreciate the bare bones of a track being the most important aspect of the song, if it sounds great with just guitar and vocals you’re onto a winner. You can give a bad track a slick production and on first listen people may be blown away but those songs are good for two or three listens at best.
What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned over the years while writing music and being involved in the industry?
You shouldn't rely on anybody other than yourself to move forward. You can try and surround yourself with good people but at the end of the day your own actions will determine how successful you are. The industry has vastly changed from when I started which was the pre-Internet flyposting era. You can’t just write and perform and think that’ll do it, you need to wear all the hats i.e. arranging, production, PR and marketing. If you can't get your head around the promotion make sure your music is the best it can be.
Your album Waves will be releasing this April! Can you tell us a little bit about it? What inspired this collection of songs?
I’ve always written faster than I could gather the money to record so I have a lot of songs lying around from my years in various bands, songs that didn’t really suit the style we were working on at the time. I’ve basically gathered these 10 tracks for their simplicity in arrangement and the at times dark subject matter. I’m a bit of an introspective cynic and the lyrics are a form of catharsis for me.
Did you have any goals in mind when you first started working on Waves?
Aside from the drums and some cello’s and violins I performed and recorded the album myself over a two year period so it was always a labour of love I wasn’t sure I would release. More than ever this an outlet for me and I’m not as ambitious and thirsty for recognition as I used to be but if a few people like what they hear that’d be great too!
You recently released “Poor Pride” from the album. What makes this song special to you?
"Poor Pride" is probably the closest thing to a pop song I have, I was aiming for a Marvin Gaye “What's Going On” era sound and again the arrangement is very simple, there’s two chords throughout, but I love it. It drips of sunshine to my ears.
With Waves dropping soon, do you have any other plans for the coming months and rest of 2017?
I mentioned earlier “Waves” is a collection of songs I had lying around, I still have a lot more where this came from. I have another two albums ready to go in my head and another half I've written recently so I am keen to get back into the studio while I still have the breath left in me. I’ll also be taking “Waves” out on the road shortly with a bunch of very talented guys I’ve been lucky enough to meet along the way so watch this space!
Thank you for talking with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks for having me and for the support! ‘Waves’ can be pre-ordered through band-camp right now!