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Homecoming gig for Galway band riding the crest of a wave

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Fittingly for a band called the Clockworks, it looks like it’s time to shine – and the Galway quartet are set to have plenty to celebrate by the time they play an eagerly awaited homecoming gig later in the year.

Friends since their schooldays, the Loughrea-based foursome are made up of London-born lead singer James McGregor, guitarist and backing vocalist Sean Connelly, drummer Damien Greaney, and bassist Tom Freeman.

BY DANIELLE HOLIAN

James and Sean originally played music together for fun, putting music to James’ lyrics in Sean’s shed. Damien joined as drummer and – have seen different bassists come and go – they met Tom in 2017 through the Galway music scene.

“Home for the band as a whole is Galway city, in the sense that it’s where we’ve always had our base, and where we met Tom,” say the lads.

James graduated from NUIG with a BA in English and Philosophy – a degree that has clear benefits for his songwriting.

“I think most people would say the best way to learn to write well is to read as much as possible, and to read diversely

“I think studying English showed me loads of writing that I love, and loads of writing that I really dislike, and so that definitely helps with knowing what and how I want to write myself,” he says.

That said, the writing process is different each time the quartet come together.

“James carries a little notebook with him and writes songs about situations and emotions that relate to him, our group and people we know.

“These words and ideas are brought to the rehearsal room where the four of us work on the song until we’re all happy with every second of it.

“In the rehearsal room, some songs have taken an hour and others have taken six months. There’s no telling.”

Damien took a trial and error approach to college.

“I went from doing a course that I hated, to working a job that I hated to playing music which I loved,” he explains.

“So, I definitely made the right decision. It’s not always easy and it’s not always fun but I’ve never once thought it was a mistake.”

Sean, on the other hand, had a tunnel vision as far back as he can remember; he always knew music was a passion and something he wanted to pursue.

“I always knew I wanted to play music as a career, right the through school. Well, that or be a professional footballer… but I just wasn’t good enough for that so I stuck with the guitar,” he jokes.

Tom, who is a recent graduate from NUIG, bumped into the band around the music scene in Galway. “We chatted a few times, and then Sean asked me to come for a jam. The rest is history.”

And because they all basically grew up in Galway, the west is a strong part of their influence – but not in terms of musical trends.

“Because the scene in Galway is relatively small, there are no trends in music here. There’s no expectation on bands to sound like the latest thing.

“This is great because every band is free to take influence from different places, and this actually makes Galway’s small scene really interesting.”

They’ve toured Ireland, England as well as heading over to Canada to represent Ireland at Indie Week in Toronto last year for the title of ‘Best of the Fest’.

They have been gigging with their music rather than flooding the internet with new releases that may be dismissed in an era that constantly needs to be seen and heard.

With their head-banging indie-rock tunes the quartet are creating a distinctive identity across the nation with their act, compared to doing all they can for short-term fortune and fame.

Their storytelling, tongue-in-cheek, cohesive unit that provokes danceability blending humour and talent with their sharp observations, blunt and gritty instrumental, and classical drumming beats, they showcase their need to stray away from standard music on the radio nowadays.

Combined with blissful angst, attitude and frustration that brings their opinions front and centre, rather than staying in a mainstream line with an instant sense of originality.

They have been travelling as a band with their original material gaining a larger audience across the globe at the moment.

“The reception since bringing out our single Rumours in the Stockroom has been amazing; it has over 30,000 streams on Spotify. Wherever we play there are people who know the song and sing it when we play, which is a great feeling.”

And they have gone from support slots to headliners – and now selling out shows.

They have played Electric Picnic, Dublin’s Workman’s Club, and Whelan’s, Galway’s The Loft, Roisin Dubh, An Pucan’s Fever Pitch Festival, The Black Gate Cultural Centre, as well as shows in London.

But the Clockworks’ ‘this is it’ moment was at a recent rehearsal where they worked four brand-new songs into their set.

“We really feel like we’ve found our sound, and can’t wait to play the new set at our headline gig in the Roisin Dubh on October 13.”

For the Roisin show, fans can expect a ‘brand-new set with some brand-new songs, and the same old Clockworks.’

Since their debut Girls Like You, lyrically their music has evolved in a sense that “the songs are still coming from a similar place: it’s always been vital for us as a band for the songs to be honest, and to focus on topics that matter.”

And fundamentally the band are clear about their mission.

“To write honest songs that you can dance and sing along to, but that ultimately have something real to say and a reason to be.

“If someone came up to us and said that they had been inspired to form a band based on listening to our music…that would be an amazing feeling.”

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Connacht Tribune

Packed like sardines in Salthill and only 200 allowed gather at a game

John McIntyre

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John McIntyre

Inside Track with John McIntyre – sports@ctribune.ie

IN a moment of madness, I decided to take a cycle out to Salthill last Saturday. By the time I got to the Blackrock Diving Tower, I thought I had just come through Torremolinos or one of those sun hot spots on the Costa Del Sol. There were cars and people everywhere.

The first inkling that Salthill would be heaving came when there was a traffic-jam halfway back the Lough Atalia Road leading to the Docks. Such were the number of cars, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Pearse Stadium was hosting a Connacht football final that afternoon.

If the people of Offaly, Laois and Kildare – all currently under partial Covid-19 lockdown – could see the carefree holiday mood in one of the West’s favourite tourist attractions, they’d be wondering had they stumbled on a parallel universe.

As readers will know from previous columns, I have a jaundiced view of NPHET and the Government’s cautious approach to relaxing the coronavirus restrictions. The scaremongering continues at frightening levels and many people are living in a climate of fear – though few of them were in Salthill.

NPHET must be immune to what’s really happening on the ground. If it thinks that there is widespread compliance, the group is living in cloud cuckoo land. All over Ireland’s favourite tourist attractions, there are thousands of holiday makers with little or no observance of social distancing.

My frustration over this scenario is fuelled by the way sport and its followers have been so badly compromised by the Covid-19 restrictions. My club Lorrha was playing in the Tipperary hurling championship last Friday evening and many of our diehard supporters couldn’t get a ticket to the match.

It’s the same in every GAA parish. So much unnecessary agitation and frustration. On Sunday evening, reporting duties took me to Ballinasloe for an attractive derby clash between Tommy Larkins and Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry. In a nutshell, there was nearly as many people inside as outside the wire. The ‘gathering’ limit of 200 annoyingly remains, especially in the context of the throngs in places like Salthill.

NPHET have justified not increasing crowd limits to beyond 200 over fears that people will congregate afterwards and the assumption that individuals from different families are travelling together in the one car. Frankly, it’s a load of nonsense and just irrational justification for not being prepared to compromise.

Of course, if the Government had any backbone instead of acting like a lapdog, it would never have come to this. I am fed up of hearing the line, in the interests of ‘public health’, as if people are dying from nothing else other than the coronavirus. The reality is that there have only been a handful of fatalities from the disease over the past fortnight. In the same period, how many have passed away from cancer and cardiac issues when their standard of care wasn’t what it should have been due to the fixation with Covid-19 over the past four months?

There’s now a genuine health and safety issue at play as well in relation to sporting fixtures. We have all images of fans hanging off trees and ladders, and others on rust-laden roofs, in their desperation to support their local teams. Furthermore, does NPHET have any idea what their draconian approach is doing to the mental health of some people?

There was no justification for stopping sporting activity in Laois, Offaly and Kildare last Friday. Locking down the affected towns where there was a surge of new infections in local meat processing plants would have made more sense. There have been no clusters spread through sport so why should codes like GAA and soccer be punished?

We all appreciate that the virus hasn’t gone away and there is an obligation on all of us to act responsibly, but only making the use of masks compulsory for most indoor settings from last Monday takes the biscuit altogether. Why has it taken so long? The pandemic has been with us since last March and only now is this measure deemed appropriate.

Over the past few weeks, I have observed individuals wearing masks travelling alone in cars, while cycling, and outdoors where there’s hardly a sinner in sight. What’s that all about? It’s not as if you can pass on the virus to yourself! Horse racing is going to extremes altogether. Now everybody at a meeting has to wear a mask outdoors. Suffice to say, they all look ridiculous walking around in what is the equivalent of big open fields.

I have absolutely no issue with our civil liberties being compromised in the ongoing quest to supress the virus, but logic is being repeatedly thrown out the window. NPHET’s ‘one size fits all’ approach must be urgently reviewed and the Government needs to stand back and make up its own mind about what activity constitutes genuine risk.

Though I believe the horse has long since bolted when it comes to wearing masks in indoor centres, I am willingly obeying the rule while as team manager of Lorrha, all our players have their temperatures checked before each training session; there are hand santisers supplied; and the training props are disinfected.

The primary focus should be on sorting out meat processing plants and the direct provision centres, while travel in and out of the country ought to be restricted to emergencies or on compassionate grounds. House parties also need to be clamped down on. Everything else is hardly worth a hill of beans in tackling this pandemic.

Keeping gatherings at 200 and not allowing pubs to reopen are soft targets. I am not proposing anarchy or anything like that, but the powers that be need to wise up and concentrate their efforts on the places where outbreaks of the virus are occurring. Everything else is just window dressing.

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Connacht Tribune

Old mills set for new life as distillery

Declan Tierney

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An artist's impression of the new distillery.

An old corn mill in East Galway is set to be transformed into a €6 million whiskey and gin manufacturing distillery – once planning permission has been granted for the development.

And if approved, the distillery has the potential to create more than 15 new jobs directly in the village of Ahascragh, providing a huge economic boost to the area – and rescuing the old corn mill which ceased operation in the 1950s.

A planning application for the new brewery has just been submitted by Gareth and Michelle McAllister of McAllister Distillers in North Dublin, with a decision due before the end of the year.

Gareth McAllister told The Connacht Tribune that he intended to renovate the old building while retaining some of the old features such as a mill wheel, and utilise the stream that runs through the property.

The complex, as well as producing various styles of Irish whiskey and gin, will also include a visitor centre, rooms for hospitality events, a retail shop and cafe.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also purchase a digital edition here.

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Connacht Tribune

Wait is over for frontman’s first solo venture

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John Martin Tierney

Multi-instrumentalist John Martin Tierney has been a recognisable face on Galway’s music scene for several years – but up to now, largely as the focal point in a band setting.  Comfortable operating as both energetic frontman and rhythm-setting guitarist, he has featured in an array of impressive local outfits; most notably, his work with Dead Horse Jive has seen the five-piece develop into one of the city’s top live acts.

But with all of that experience in a collaborative setting, John’s solo work has sometimes been put to the side.

That’s about to change – if just temporarily – as John releases his debut single, I Will Wait, this Friday; a three-and-a-half-minute ballad, the song incorporates piano and acoustic guitar more than much of his band work has done.

Though the track has existed in some form for a long time, its subject matter was particularly pertinent over lockdown.

“Around the start of June, I started properly putting energy into something that would have an end product,” John recalls.

“I wanted something I could be proud of, even if I wasn’t going to release it while lockd I Will Waitown was going on. I had an earlier version of it but I was never happy with it. I started rewriting it in about May or June.

“It kind of talks about missing people that you love. It’s from the point of view of not being able to see someone physically because of whatever restrictions are in place. That’s where it came from anyway and I think it translates well… I hope it does.”

For full interview, read the Groove Tube in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in all shops now – or purchase the digital edition; full details on this website.

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