A Rolling Stone
Ex-stonemason Mick Flannery looks set to hit the big time, says EAMON CARR
Mick flannery's songwriting has landed him a deal with EMI. But with his debut album White Lies attracting attention, the Blarneyman is staring down the barrel of a dilemma. Tipped for success, this taciturn stonemason is worried about the next phase. Celebrity.
"The more people say that, the more I'm afraid of it," he admits. It's almost as if, at 23, Mick has found himself in someone else's life. "I kinda drifted into things all the way along," he says. "I was always working. I wasn't going to go broke just for the sake of music.
"I was't going to sit in a room and write songs seven days a week and live on bread and beans. I liked doing stonemasonry as well."
But as a teenager, Mick did spend hours in his bedroom writing and recording his own songs. He dismisses his early output as "tripe", but it can't have been that bad. As a complete unknown, Mick won an international songwriting competition in the States. And Tom Waits was one of the judges.
It was enough to encourage him to head for Greenwich Village.
"I was thinking it would still exist the way it did in the bohemia of the 60s," he says, ruefully. "But there's not the same buzz. There's a huge scene there, but you can get lost in it. I think I needed to spend more time there or be more ambitious about it. It was my first time away and I tended to have too much fun."
With his acoustic guitar and his brooding lullabies, Mick fell into a scene he didn't care for. Centered around the Sidewalk Cafe in the East Village, the anti-folk scene lacked charm.
"Maybe I fell in with the wrong circle," complains Mick. "This anti-folk clique. They don't give a shit about each other. I don't know what anti-folk means. It's just folk. It's a strange cliqueish scene, where you develop a genre which isn't a genre. I did a few gigs on my own, but some were horrible."
Back in Cork people were soon talking about this shy character with the powerful songs. Now he's about to embark on a nationwide tour. It's more hectic than working as a stonemason, which Mick is beginning to miss. "It's relaxing," he says of his former day job.
"It gets you up in the morning. It keeps you fit. It's like zen. You're just building a fucking straight wall. There's not much to it, except you pick every stone out and all you think about is where's the next stone? Every ten seconds you're picking up a stone, so you don't have much room in your head for anything else."
Mick Flannery plays Whelan's on Wednesday, September 24th