Are you going to release this album anywhere else?
Yes, it's coming out in July in Australia. And I'm trying to talk about England but there's nothing concrete yet.
Are you going to tour around Australia?
I'm hopefully going to go to Australia in October. It's hard when you're independent to get everything stitched up at the one time. It takes a little bit longer – longer and harder but better. I mean, I've been to Australia before with the Frames. I opened for them last November over there. Our albums are on the same label.
What was your favourite gig that you've played?
One of my most memorable gigs ever was Witnness 2002. I played in one of the big tents and it was packed. It was my make or break it gig I always felt and I made it, I think, through that gig and July became the summer song that year because of that gig. That really has played an important role in where I'm at right now.
What about your lyrics? Do you find them difficult to write?
What I try to do is I try not to put any strain on what I think about. I don't write often but when I do I try and write as honestly as I can because I try and let it come out naturally and in my own language, without messing…I don't like to edit it too much. I don't find it … I have to be really affected by something to write about it.
So they're all really personal?
It can be personal, it can be sometimes giddy, it can be whatever, but I have to be affected by something.
Have you ever been interested in being in a band? What made you choose the solo route?
I didn't have any choice really. Also, I was glad of a record deal when I was 19 and they only wanted me, so that was that. I was playing with a bunch of guys, but I ended up getting the record deal. I wasn't even looking for one. I hadn't really thought about my music career too much. It's all been spontaneous, which sounds sad but it's true. Now I've accepted my job and I've accepted that I'm a solo musician. But you know, I wouldn't mind being in a band. It'd be nice to be in the background a bit as well because I really like playing the guitar.
This is your second album on your own label. Did you find it easier this time than with 24 Star Hotel?
Well with 24 Star Hotel I had no ego..not ego…no confidence in myself. That's why I made 3,000 (copies) and I thought if I sell 3,000 copies it's going to be amazing. And I sold 28,000, something like that. With this one, I have more pressure. I'd like to sell as much as I sold with the last one but only because the last one sold that much. It was an easy album to make, it's easier now I've got quite a big fanbase. I don't have to go looking as hard, but there's the pressure of trying to be as successful as 24 Star Hotel…although it (the new album) did go to number one, so that's good.
Given your experience of going from being with a major label and also going the DIY route, do you think that a major label initially raised your profile in a way you could never have achieved on your own?
Yeah. I mean people always expect me to badmouth the major label thing and to say that it's all bad but I definitely wouldn't have had the profile if I didn't have a major label deal in the first place. It was very important to have the record deal because Sony gave me a profile, so then, when I got dropped, I still had that profile. I didn't have to start from scratch. I would've found it a lot harder to go independent on my first album, because you're trying to get a profile yourself.
Do you think that it would be difficult for Irish bands to be successful outside of Ireland by doing things independently?
It's very hard. I think it's going to get easier and easier, but it's all down to getting good gigs and supports, a good website and a mailing list. It's not that easy starting off. It's easier, definitely easier, when you've had a record deal and then you get dropped, but starting off from scratch it's very hard. I'd recommend it, but I can't say that I started off that way. I had the record deal so I had that little bit of a stepping stone.
What do you think about the Irish music scene at the moment?
I think it's very good. I think it's amazing that live music has had a kind of a revival because there was about 5 or 6 years when bands couldn't get out there playing because of dance music and DJs etc. I think it's great that there's an audience for Irish music. I'm making a living from it, so I cannot complain at all. There are some amazing albums – I mean Damien Dempsey, Paddy Casey, Damien Rice, David Kitt…there's Gemma Hayes, Nina Hynes…so many people that I'm a fan of. A few years ago it wouldn't have been as healthy I don't think, and I don't know how long it's going to last for. That's the big question.