IN JULY 2004 I ASKED ANDY ABOUT HIS MUSIC FOR A UNION MAGAZINE:
PHIL CLEARY: Andy, you're been a regular visitor to Australia since we first met at the Brunswick Musical Festival in 1990. What do you think of the Australian political scene?
ANDY IRVINE: Along with most thinking Australians, I would like to see the back of John Howard. I can't imagine what deal he cut with Bush over Iraq. These things are still a mystery. I don't really want to go into the Australian political scene though. I probably don't know enough about it to pontificate. I do however know that Howard and his cronies are the type of people who should never be let near a seat of power.The world is run by huge conglomerate corporations fronted by professional, career politicians. It's not the way towards Democracy.Their motto or complaint would surely be 'Democracy would be great if it wasn't for the people.'
PHIL CLEARY: How would you describe your politics?Andy Irvine: I am an Industrial Worker of the World. I'm an anti-Capitalist. I believe the working people should be better represented in the world. I think it obscene that a few clever bastards who have a good way with business should own so much more than they could ever need. I also detest the current lottery systems of the world where, by sheer chance, you can become a multi-millionaire when half the world is on starvation rations.
PHIL CLEARY: Which Australian musicians have you met over the years? ANDY IRVINE: Many. I like the music of Shane Howard in particular. Also like a lot of the musicians on the folk scene in Australia. Kate Burke and Ruth Hazleton are one of the best duos I have heard in recent years and I will have the pleasure of playing with them in Ireland this summer. Their band 'Trouble in the Kitchen' is also tremendous. I'm also very partial to Kevin Carmody. And of course, not to forget, Steve Cooney who now lives in Donegal. A guru if ever there was one!
PHIL CLEARY: You recently wrote and recorded a song about First World War union man Tom Barker, who went to gaol for printing an anti-war poster: ANDY IRVINE: I am very interested in IWW history as well as social history. Tom Barker was a man born of working-class parents in an era where his sort really had no chance. I have huge respect for people like him who tried to do something about it. Not for themselves, necessarily but for all downtrodden, hungry, out of work people.
PHIL CLEARY: Have you recorded or sung many pro-trade union songs over the years?ANDY IRVINE: A few. It is my intention to bring out a CD for next year of trade union and socialist songs pertaining to the Industrial Workers of the World. It is the centenary year of IWW and I will donate most of the profits to that Union.
PHIL CLEARY: Many young people wouldn't know much about Woodie Guthrie, yet he inspired Bob Dylan, you and hundreds of other singers. Why did you fall in love with his words and music?ANDY IRVINE: I found an honesty in his music which grabbed me. I was aware of the fact that I was interested in music from an early age but could not find a special interest. Then one day, I bought an album Of Woody's. In those days such things were rare. As soon as the first notes sounded, I was hooked! Amazing. I spent the rest of my childhood and early youth trying to emulate Woody's guitar style and Oklahoma accent! I still feel his influence in my right hand when I'm playing the bouzouki and still agree wholeheartedly with his social and political attitudes.
PHIL CLEARY:· It's probably fair to say that your career blossomed when you joined the Irish band Planxty in 1972. Why was Planxty so successful?ANDY IRVINE: I think we hit a spot in the Irish soul that was waiting to be hit. We got together again earlier this year and had the same effect - and not just on people who knew us from twenty years ago. A new and younger audience was also apparent.
PHIL CLEARY: Planxty performed again in Dublin in February this year after splitting up twenty years ago. How was it?ANDY IRVINE: Twenty-one years. It was a huge success. It was also a very humbling and emotional experience. We played, in the main, the material we were known for but it all seemed so fresh and new. A lot of people said that we were even better than we had been 20 years ago and I would agree with that. We are older and more mature and are all working musicians. We didn't come out of retirement or anything like that. The response we got so was the most rewarding I can ever remember. We were loved! We are doing more gigs in Ireland in Dec/Jan.
PHIL CLEARY: When will we see you again in Australia?
ANDY IRVINE: It will be paying a flying visitPOSTSCRIPT
Andy will be playing on election night ..9th - Saturday - Melbourne, VICThe Artery,87- 89 Moor St, Fitzroy, VicBookings: 03 9415 9200