Singer-songwriter Padraig Rushe reveals the infl uence that UCD has had on his music to John Gallagher.
“I THINK you can over plan things, but life happens when you are making your plans.” Perhaps it is this John Lennon-like ethos which has led Padraig Rushe to success and prompted collaborations with artists such as Damien Rice and Paddy Casey.
First finding fame as a soloist in the Dublin Gospel Choir, the Dublin native could not have envisaged a career which would involve performing with the godfather of soul, James Brown. “I thought I’d join it for a few weeks but I ended up staying for six years.”
Artists who are used to performing in such a tightly tuned ensemble often fail to adapt to the pressure of solo performance, but this is not some- thing that worries the former MTV Contenders nominee. “It was defi nitely a bit weird at the start,” says Rushe, “but it has its own buzz.”
Padraig’s debut album, Greyworld, is by no means a rushed project. He first started writing it as a student of English and Irish at UCD. “It has been eight years in the writing. I’ve had all these songs and all these sounds which I’ve been dying to get out there”. The album title might indicate otherwise, but Rushe claims that his fusion of “soul and rock” could “lift you out of it and make you a bit better about your day.”
Padraig moved to the States at an early age, and change has played an important role in the development of his music. “When you’re always the new kid at school you get used to your own company. I would defi nitely have been an introverted child; music was a way to entertain myself.” College also played a founding role for his songwriting. “College opened my mind. Great writers gave a confi dence to me as far as treating my songs as art.”
It may be this respect for his art that has allowed the former chorister to avoid the bleaker sound which has granted contemporaries such as Rice and Glen Hansard popularity. “I used to write doom and gloom when I was a teenager”, he admits, “but most of the album is more hopeful. It’s great to express your angst every now and then but it’s a pitfall that singer-songwriters often fall into.”
Having sung as a backing singer for many chart-topping artists Rushe must have partaken in the occasional night of sheer artistic madness, but has failed to emulate the antics of artists like Jeff Buckley, who he has often been compared to. “I’m pretty tame really on that side… I was a backing-singer at Oxegen for Paddy Casey and I ended up staying at his house for two days. I became that house guest that wouldn’t go home. That’s my idea of being a nuisance.”
His after-show habits leave a lot to be desired, but Rushe’s talent is unquestionable. Maybe his upcoming tour will uncover a more rebellious side to this UCD alumnus.
Padraig Rushe plays Crawdaddy on Saturday, 4th April.