In the 1980s Paddy McPoland made an impression on the Irish music scene. He brought bands including Something Happens!, Aslan, A House and Light A Big Fire to Carlow for some of their first gigs outside Dublin. As such, we has responsible for giving opportunities for these Dublin bands to develop a national audience.
Later he became the Development Officer for the Union of Students of Ireland and achieved national prominence with his drive for students to vote, and for politicians to pay more than lip-service to student needs.
Now he manages major events and acts as a tour manager for some artists including The High Kings, Sinead O’Connor, Clannad, Paul Brady, The Stunning, Josh Ritter, Imelda May, James Vincent McMorrow, Picturehouse, The Undertones, Sharon Shannon, Mundy, Kathleen Edwards, Sam Roberts Band, Wintersleep and many more.
He was the Production Manager for – Other Voices, St Patricks Festival, Godskitchen, Oxegen, Festival of World Cultures, Witness Festivals. In addition her was the promoter’s representative for David Gray, Ian Dury & The Blockheads, The Fall, Iggy Pop, Chic, Aimee Mann, Ice-T, Ice Cube, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Jurassic 5, The XX, and even John Lydon’s Public Image Ltd.
You have enjoyed a long career in the exciting and vibrant local music scene doing a
variety of jobs. Can you give the readers a bit of an overview of your career?
As a teenager I realised I didn’t have the faculty or patience to sit and learn how to
play an instrument. I did however have a huge interest in the ‘behind the scenes’
happenings, which ultimately led to my love of the ‘business’ end of music. I still love
the business end of things. While in College in Carlow RTC in the early 1980’s I
became Entertainments Manager for the Students Union, I got to see first-hand and
participate in booking bands and producing shows. After College I immediately went
to work for Promoter Pat Egan who gave me a wonderful opportunity to work with
major Irish artists. I realised that my forte was in touring both domestically and
Internationally and I’m thankful that I still get to do a job which I still truly love over
30 years later!
How did you first get interested in music?
It all started every Friday night in my parents home in West Belfast as a youngster.
My Dad’s friend Len McMaster had an acoustic guitar and Len and all my Aunt’s and
Uncles and cousins would gather in our front room and have a proper family sing
song. My Dad and Len would sing for us all evening. I vividly recall there being only
the odd bottle of stout but there was lots of pots of tea and currant cake. The most
abiding memory though is the songs I heard. The Clancy Brothers, Hank Williams,
Johnny Cash and The Everly Brothers. Those gatherings are the basis of my lifelong
love of music and song.
Where did you buy your early records? Any particular favourite records?
Great question! I was very influenced by my eldest brother John who was a Law
student in UCD when I entered my teens. The UCD students has a Record Lending
Library and my brother brought home some hugely influential records which I played
incessantly! ‘Rattus’ by The Stranglers, ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ by The Pistols
were HUGE records in my life and I quickly developed a taste for Punk / New Wave. I
bought PIL’s first album in 1978 and ‘Entertainment’ by Gang of Four in 1979 based
on my own personal taste. My favourite album is ‘London Calling’ by The Clash and
my favourite single is ‘Making Plans for Nigel’ by XTC. Outstanding work by two
hugely maverick bands.
Were you never tempted to be a musician or to be on stage?
Couldn’t hack it as a musician. I like being backstage instead of onstage! I still do!
Did punk matter to you?
Very big deal and a very influential part of my life. I consumed punk albums and
singles and lyric sheets quicker than any academic challenges!
Did you have any mentors/role models in your early career?
The guys at TCD Ents [Mick McCaughan and his crew] back in the day when I was booking gigs for a lowly RTC showed me that you can book really exciting bands and deal with major players and agents
internationally, and be confident of delivering a high standard of production and
service to some really brilliant bands!
Did anyone help you?
Back in the day there was no event management or music industry college courses for
students to learn the rudiments of the business. We created a new way of conducting
business which was both artist-friendly and punter-friendly. We rewrote the rule
book which at the time was quite antiquated and had a very poor reputation. I got
lots of help and encouragement from really cool bands, crew and managers and
agents because they liked our style and they way we looked after them.
You championed a lot of young Irish bands when you were a really active and enthusiastic
Ents Officer in Carlow. How did you get the position?
I wanted to see some new and exciting music from bands that were emerging, I ran
for election and won, I subsequently became Students Union President the following
year and then USI Union Development Office the year after that.
What bands do you remember booking?
Loads of them, particularly the first ever shows outside of Dublin for Light A Big Fire,
Aslan, Something Happens! and A House. I booked them to play Archies Bar in Carlow
which was a 250 capacity student bar. All of them became big local favourites and
ended up playing to 1500 students within a year or two.
Any particularly great gigs/events?
The Boothill Footappers, The Men They Couldn’t Hang and staging The Pogues in The
Ritz Ballroom for the Rag Ball on the ‘Red Roses for Me’ tour were particularly
memorable. There were 600 people who actually bought tickets for that show and
there are at least 3000 people who claimed to have been there! That was my first
show which became ‘legendary’.
You were part of a co-operative movement between Ents Officers all over the country. Do
you remember those meetings and those personalities?
As the USI Union Development Officer in 1985 I realised that we could develop a
college ‘circuit’ for International artists and we were able to approach UK agents and
book multiple shows as opposed to costly one-off gigs in a one particular college. The
TCD gang were always pushing the boundaries with their progressive booking
policies, UCD and Queens University in Belfast were always part of the strong
development of Irish college tours too…
What other bands (Irish and visiting) made an impression on you?
A House – Louder and tighter than anyone else.
Christy Moore – Consummate professional and knew how to work a crowd of 300
students or 60,000 Glastonbury Pyramid Stage fans, and a proper gentleman to boot.
Five favourite singles from Irish bands.
Tough question to narrow this down to just 5 so I’ve
done a Top 15!
The Radiators from Space – Kitty Ricketts
A House – Call Me Blue
Damien Dempsey – Sing All Your Cares Away
The Undertones – Hypnotised
Paul Brady & Andy Irvine – Arthur McBride
The Gloaming – The Sailors Bonnet
Luke Kelly – Scorn Not His Simplicity
Sack – What Have the Christians Ever Do for Us?
Whipping Boy – Personality
Laura Izibor – What Would you Do
The Outcasts – Magnum Force
Subterreaneans – Maxi Joy
The Clancy Brothers – Brennan on the Moor
Stump – Charlton Heston
The Thrills – Big Sur
Michael Mary Murphy