Dennis McCalmont talks about the eclectic influences that shaped his unique sound and also a look inside what it means to be an indie artist.
Meet Ireland’s proponent of Pop rock tunes with a smooth edge. Dennis McCalmont has the kind of songs in that leave a lasting impression after one listen. After being acquainted with his tracks they become part of your daily playlist. It’s like this beautiful comfort space you want to go back to again and again when you want to feel good. What an honor it is to get is thoughts into writing.
How is the reception of your music in Ireland?
Difficult to answer Question 1! I have quite a lot of ‘Live’ work on a weekly Basis playing gigs in Ireland but I have very little National Radio support for my music other than some Local Radio stations. Most of my consistent Radio Airplay is in USA/UK and France. I have a list on my Soundcloud Page of Radio Stations who Support my/our Music. www.soundcloud.com/dennis-mccalmont
You have this smooth/chillout vibe in some tracks. Who are your influences?
My influences are wide and varied and have changed through the years as I’ve been listening to Music and particularly Songwriters.
The ‘smooth/chill out vibe’ may be from David Sylvian, Sting, John Martyn, Bowie, Paul Weller or Strauss! .
My earlier influences were Free, Jimi Hendrix, Willy Dixon, Magic Sam, Otis Redding, Fleetwood Mac (Peter Green) Led Zeppelin, Rory Gallagher & Deep Purple, I had long Hair then! Then Punk came, The Stranglers, Sex Pistols, Blondie, The Undertones, The 80’s Bowie, Prefab Sprout, David Sylvian, 90’s Radiohead, Supergrass, Neil Young, Oasis, Neil Finn/Crowded House, Springsteen to name but a few!!
Why ‘Nature Of Life?
‘Nature Of Life’ was an album I produced to have a reflection of myself as a Solo Artist/Songwriter that I could use for Promotion/Sale at my ‘Live’ Shows. It is Under Produced deliberately because I wanted people to hear pretty much me with a 12 String guitar just as they would at a Show. It was not intended for Radio!.
The concept for the Album is Two fold (I think!). If you listen to ‘Nature Of Life’ it Starts in Spring and goes through the Seasons to the ‘Circle Never Ends’ the continuation of life through our Children. As you move through the Seasons I document some personal experiences that I guess are the nature of (my) life, New beginnings, Pain, Growth, Peace and the question of Afterlife.
Speeding Train is a personal favorite. What’s the story behind this song?
I’m fond of ‘Speeding Train’ too! It was written quite quickly as I recall it. Basically your life is a one way trip! One way out, no way back. I suppose the message is to be grateful for everyday that you have. Misery is Optional…
What other formats can fans download your music from?
My Music can be Downloaded from www.reverbnation.com/dennismccalmont www.soundcloud.com/dennis-mccalmont
How’s the experience jamming with your band through recordings and live shows?
I have the privilege of playing music with top notch Friends and Musicians Donal Hoban Drums, Craig Donaldson Bass and Michael Buckton Electric Guitars. It’s a lot of fun, a powerhouse of groove/soul adding my Original Songs ‘Speeding Train’ ‘Wishes’ and ‘Missing Persons’ having been recorded so far. We hope to have a 10 track Album this year. I’m Mixing Songs currently. The recording process has been interesting too. I’ve tracked the guys with a Digidesign M-Box using Pro Tools. It’s been fairly quick as they are all really competent Experienced Musicians in their own Right.
How can music enthusiasts prevent the decline of music and artists? This goes to all types of music. It seems these days it’s getting harder for musicians to sell albums.
I don’t think there is a decline in Music or Artists. Membership Numbers for Soundcloud or Reverbnation will testify to this!. I subscribe to these organisations and they make their money directly from the Artist/Musician/Listener in return for a Platform Website to try and Promote/Sell Music. While this is great for Soundcloud/Reverbnation Etc I as an Artist just become one more ‘Bat in the Cave’ trying to have my Voice heard above/amongst the others, in a Big Cave full of Bats All trying to have their Voice heard!!
Whilst I have benefited from the social interaction on these sites gaining ‘Likes’ and ‘Fans’, I have very little Revenue from the experience!
Twitter I have found to be more beneficial Social Media for the Artist as it has led me to People (Like You!) Music Enthusiasts who have an interest in Music and the Artists who Create it. I have people who ‘Follow’ and promote my Websites/Songs on a daily basis for fun and for free, I have Radio Airplay across the Globe as a result of direct access to a myriad of Radio Stations most of which have given my Songs Airplay. If I can turn this in to Revenue to further Recording/Album Releases then this could be a good thing. ‘Live’ performance is where I can make an income. Luckily for me I am involved as a Part-Time Music Facilitator/Tutor with Youth in Music/Education Programs too!!
I think what you (Baxter) and others do for Musicians/Artists is vital ie Blogs/Promotional Tweets/Music Links making people aware that Artists like me exist. The person who ‘gets’ my Songs and ‘gets’ what I am saying will promote me the best/most! I noticed in your first blog that you encouraged people to Listen and Purchase my Music, this is exactly what I need as an Independent Artist. The revenue I get from my Songs goes back into Creating/Recording more Songs…
What have you prepared for St. Paddy’s ?
For St Patricks Week, I’m organising a ‘Go Green Day’ (not the band!) to raise money for Barnardos Ireland (Children’s Charity) on Friday.
I’m trying to get my Song ‘Gone’ onto a few Radio Stations this week, as it’s got a lot of Irish flavour to it!
I’ll be attending our local St. Patricks Day Parade where my Kids will be Dancing and Playing Tin Whistle! Then i’ll be playing a Show myself on St Patricks Night!
Music has been stirring in the veins of Mayoman Dennis McCalmont since he was a lad, but it began to course faster as soon as he heard Paul Kossoff’s fiery guitar solo on Free’s ‘All Right Now’. As Dennis himself puts it, “That raw sound and emotion blasting out of an old radio had a great impact on me even as a child. I was immediately struck by the music bug, and for years I sang in school choirs. In my teens I played drums in a band, until I learned a few guitar chords and became the singer/guitarist in the band!”
Since then, Dennis has been pouring his seemingly limitless creative energies into his music, writing songs, playing his trusty Canadian S&P 12- string guitar, singing, recording singles and albums, doing solo gigs and performing with his band. To a broad range of original songs that cross musical boundaries from mainstream rock into funk, soul, folk, country and blues, he applies his sturdy and sensitive vocals to attract an ever-increasing number of fans both in Ireland and abroad.
The tightness of his band comes from 10 years of loyal friendship and musical explorations with seasoned musical campaigners Michael Buckton (electric guitar), Craig Donaldson (bass) and Donald Hoban (drums). To the influences of Van Morrison, Neil Young, R.E.M., Bruce Springsteen and Sting, McCalmont and his band of troupers add their own exquisite personal touches, as can be heard in their exuberant live performances, and on McCalmont’s most recent recordings of his stunning compositions as ‘Speeding Train’, ‘Wishes’ and ‘Missing Person’. Those recordings will feature on the soul/funksters’ next album, and have been mastered by Ciaran Byrne, whose impressive studio CV includes Sinead O’Connor, U2, Van Morrison and Metallica.
That these guys are on the right track is demonstrated by the reaction to the songs from way beyond the shores of Ireland. ‘Speeding Train’ has been playlisted in France, USA and UK, besides invading the Top 5 of the Reverbnation Irish National Singer/Songwriter Chart. It also attracted the attention and admiration of noted musician and producer Gavin Ralston, further proof of how top music industry practitioners gravitate towards McCalmont’s prodigious talent.
‘Wishes’ has also been playlisted in France, while ‘Missing Person’ proves that McCalmont can take a serious subject and give it the sensitivity it demands. But then this is the man whose ‘Time For Truth’ was a reflective response to the infamous Invasion of Iraq. It helped win McCalmont the coveted “Pick of the Fortnight” accolade in Hot Press magazine from Jackie Hayden, the man who signed U2 to their first record contract.
Those too itchy to wait for the new album can engage with McCalmont’s all-original 14-track acoustic solo album Nature of Life, now available to download at www.reverbnation.com/dennismccalmont and including a bonus track ‘Silent Friend’. Reviewing that album, Danny McElhinney, Irish Mail On Sunday, remarked that “McCalmont knows how to deliver a heart-felt song without any histrionics…’One Day In Spring’ and ‘The Circle Never Ends’ would remind one of Crowded House’s Neil Finn, while there is a nice Bono-esque falsetto on ‘Carousel’… Any Music Publisher worth his salt should be seeking the man out.’ In their review of the album, Hot Press described ‘Lost’ as “a slower atmospheric song with a melody and a vocal approach that evokes Elton John. McCalmont’s harmonies are spot-on too.” The album also attracted references to Fleet Foxes, and included ‘Carousel (Sun is Shining Down)’, which was short-listed for the final of the Irish Daily Mail competition for unsigned artists.
Apart from regular live solo and band appearances around his native part of Ireland, McCalmont has also dipped into his bottomless pit of energy to work as a facilitator with several youth-orientated organisations, his engaging approach to music giving him an instant link with the participating youths.
He has co-written songs for a local musical production On A Wing And A Prayer at The Royal Theatre in Castlebar, raising much needed funding for ‘Hospice’, and he even penned a number about the Titanic tragedy, before Bob Dylan did likewise on his 2012 album Tempest.
So, keep a close watch out for the arrival of his much-awaited new album, but in the meantime you can check Dennis McCalmont out for yourself at any of his upcoming live gigs: http://www.reverbnation.com/dennismccalmont
Dennis McCalmont recordings can be accessed at: www.soundcloud.com/dennis-mccalmont