Paddy's back in business
'Saints and Sinners' singer tells Chris Wasser about his comeback, hangovers and being an uncool dad
PADDY Casey and I have never met before. "It's a blind date," he says as we take a seat in Brooks Hotel on Drury Street.
He seems nervous. Probably because he hasn't done this in a while. Five years, to be precise. "I've never put an album out every year," he says, "so it's business as usual."
That it is. Only, the last time around, Casey had a major label looking after him. He also shared a manager with U2. But then a funny thing happened.
Here we have a Crumlin-raised singer/songwriter who somehow managed to sell 250,000 copies of his first two albums in Ireland.
In 2007, expectations were high for number three, the oddly titled Addicted to Company (Part One). And then it flopped. Bummer. "It got really good reviews," he recalls, "but it didn't sell very well."
What went wrong? Well, maybe it was bad timing. It could be that people got sick of hearing Saints & Sinners on the radio. "Maybe it wasn't as good," laughs Casey. "I thought there were some great songs on the album, but you don't listen to your own music the same way you listen to other people's."
True. Then again, Casey's second album, 2003's Living, had been an enormous success. He knows it, too. Even if he does look back on the whole experience as something of a fluke.
"I don't know how that album kept selling," he offers. "I had this theory that it was because the CDs were so crap in quality that people's copies kept breaking, so they had to buy them again ... "
How very modest. These days, Casey is on his own, having long since parted ways with both Sony and Paul McGuinness's Principle Management Ltd. He's an independent artist with a new collection of songs on his hands. It helps that The Secret Life Of... is a huge improvement on its awkward predecessor. Oh, and it was recorded in his kitchen.
Despite the setbacks, making music is something that Paddy Casey continues to enjoy, but he is still getting used to the business side of things.
"You forget about interviews," he nods, "you forget people are gonna criticise the album. And now, in the last few weeks, I've been going, 'Aw bollocks, here we go again: this is where all the geniuses come out and tell you what you should have done'.
"I just felt like I had to go and do my walkabout, as the Aboriginals do, I suppose. I think the nature of it at the minute is very DIY, anyway. Sometimes I go, 'S***, it would have been a lot easier if I'd stayed with Sony', but I wouldn't have had these songs if I'd stayed."
It's taken a while to get to this point. At 12, Casey decided he'd had enough of school, and left to pursue a career in music.
He later set up home in Galway with a friend and began making money as a busker. By 20, Sony had snapped him up: "But that wasn't very young; that was an old man compared to what's going on at the minute.
"I enjoyed nearly every day of it," he says. "Some things I didn't enjoy. I suppose I used to drink a lot as well. You'd be playing most nights and you'd be drinking most nights, and you'd have a lot of hangovers."
"When you're playing music, you get free drink everywhere you go."
Eventually, something had to give. Besides, the hangovers were becoming unbearable. "They just get worse as you get older; 25 is the turning point. That's where they turn into death ... "
Now in his mid-thirties, Casey is based in Kildare. Sometimes, he lives on his own. And then there are times when his 16-year-old daughter, Saoirse, comes to visit. "Sixteen is a weird age," he says. Right, because by the time Casey was 16, he had his own place.
"Yeah, but I never told her that!" he laughs. "I think she's guessed by now. She plays music as well -- she's really good, actually."
Does she ever ask her father for advice? "She does sometimes, but I think she'd rather not. Das aren't cool," he smiles. "I'm not allowed sing in the car or anything."
As for the future, well, who knows? Maybe the listening public will give Casey another chance. "I'm hoping that something magical happens. It's a weird aul' business ... "
The Secret Life Of ... is available now