Groove Tube with Jimi McDonnell
The sublime songwriter Mark Geary makes a welcome return to Monroe’s Live this Friday, May 22. When he takes the call for this interview, Mark is recording an album he plans to release in the autumn. His process is a little unusual, even risky, in that he goes into the studio without having any songs prepared.
“That’s kind of how I’ve done it on the past couple of records, almost wilfully have no songs and just create around the musicians, write on the fly – it’s awful!” he laughs. “But the creative brain starts to commit, it starts to make decisions. You have to believe what you’re singing about.”
It’s a gamble that’s paying off and Mark has hit a creative purple patch.
“This whole week I’ve been in Westmeath, and it’s the third day I’ve woke up with a new song,” he says. “They’re really the gifts. It’s usually 90% perspiration, 10% inspiration but to wake up with a fully formed, written song, that’s what you wait for.”
In 1992, Mark moved to New York to cut his teeth as an artist. The Dubliner appeared alongside the upcoming Jeff Buckley and made the city his home. A few years ago, he decided to return to Ireland and began to put a band together.
“When I came back from New York, I was looking for a band that I could hang with and sit in with, that would know my back catalogue and add something to it,” he says. “In my head, I wanted singers, as well as bass players and keyboards. I wanted loads of harmonies, because that’s my favourite part of music. The Everly Brothers, The Beatles, Fleet Foxes . . . killer harmonies, it just feels so intuitive to me.”
He placed an ad in Hot Press and began the search. In a world far removed from the callousness of the X-Factor, the auditions were ‘very mellow, a cup of tea and a chat’,
“I was looking for intuitive musicians, not a super group,” Mark says. “Sometimes it can be a bit too session-y. My New York band, a lot of those guys could be playing in ten bands.”
This search yielded a gem when Gráinne Hunt walked into the room. Adding nuance and texture to Mark’s songs, Gráinne is a gifted singer who will soon be releasing her own EP.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.