Anderson’s Song | An Interview with Anderson

Ahead of tomorrow night’s ‘BarryGruff Unplugged’ show with Anderson in The Liffey Studio, Newbridge (details here), here’s an interview I did with Anderson, from the last issue of Lookleft Magazine.

When The Rags parted company last year, Dublin and indeed Ireland lost a great if somewhat underrated band. Between 2004 and 2010 they played scores of memorable gigs, released a string of brilliant singles and a superb album, ‘A National Light’. Slipping and sliding from one end of the indie spectrum to the other, The Rags music was lively and energetic, wrapped in poetic lyrics and delivered with a distinctive raspy vocal lilt.

All was not lost however. Having called time on The Rags, front man Daniel Anderson didn’t waste time in returning with his solo musical venture under the moniker of Anderson. While it witnessed a marked change in sound with a folksy sound of irresistible classic pop melodies preferred to raspy indie-punk, the intuitive and honest song writing remained a cornerstone of his work.

Yours truly caught up with Anderson for a quick Q&A to find out more about this exciting and intriguing new departure for one of Ireland’s very best songwriters.

LL: The new Anderson sound is quite different to what you did with The Rags and probably caught a few people by surprise – had you any lingering worries about how people would react?

Anderson: I never gave it any real consideration. My impulse when writing has always been to please myself and by that standard I’m always been hopeful that other people will enjoy it too, regardless of the way it is presented.

LL: You released your debut single & EP in the last few months, what has the reception been like?

A: The reaction has been everything and more than I expected. I think regardless of what anyone playing music says, you are writing to be heard and when people react in such an excited way to your stuff, it helps to reinforce your belief in what you do.

LL: What was the inspiration for this new sound? Was it something you had planned or did it just come naturally?

A: It wasn’t really planned but I was conscious of a need to make the lyrics and melody more prevalent than they had been in The Rags. Melody and lyrics have always turned me on and I think the solo thing has given me the opportunity to accentuated elements that were sometimes neglected in the band.

LL: What has this transition from band front man to solo artist been like?

A: It’s strange because in The Rags it always felt like we where a world within a world. In it I got to share a dream with people I grew up with and loved, and in a way that aspect was almost as rewarding as the music we made. It is a different feeling now it is a slightly more refined satisfaction but I think a part of me will always be stranded in the that youthful utopia I made with my friends.

LL: It seems switch has freed you up somewhat, the previous anger has been reined in somewhat with reflection, optimism and hopefulness preferred, is that a fair assumption of where you are right now?

A. Yes! I’ve brought optimism to this work that I didn’t always have with the band. I’ve worked hard to understand my craft and become a better writer, being the sole contributor I’m never pushed to do anything I’m not 100 percent about. The sense of well being that comes with this is priceless.

LL: You’re songs convey an insight to your life and the world, does your song writing tend to take inspiration from what you know and see around you?

A: I think so. I always feel compelled to express myself through the happenings in an around my life it helps me function day to day.

LL: You supported Villagers on their recent tour, how was that? And how did it come about?

A: Conor contacted me and said he loved the stuff and asked if I would like to do a couple of shows with them. It was a wonderful experience. I was exposed to an audience that wanted to listen and I got an invaluable insight into the life of an established band on the road.

LL: You’re planning to release an album this year? When/What can we expect?

A: I will aim for September but nothing is set in stone. I’ve been writing for a while and I am confident the record will sit comfortable alongside any great records in your collection.

BarryGruff Unplugged: Anderson + The P Affection + Knoxville Morning :: Thursday, July 25 :: The Liffey Studio, Newbridge


It has been an incredible experience putting on all these BarryGruff shows over the past two years or so. On this occasion we have decided to do something a little different and do a set of six unplugged shows in the wonderful intimate surroundings of The Liffey Studio. It’s a great little venue in the heart of Newbridge and it’s a perfect setting for this kind of show.

The first of the series takes place on Thursday, July 25th and will see three superb performances from Anderson, The P Affection & Knoxville Morning. Tickets €5/€7 – doors at 8pm.

It’s €5 if you book in advance or €7 on the night. The cheap list is limited so if you would like to reserve a spot send an email to: barrygruff[at]gmail[dot]com – with your name, & ‘Cheap List’ in the subject title. More details & info below. [RSVP]

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Anderson – Hallowed Heart EP

anderson hallowed heart

Since the release of debut single Patterns / History, Anderson has been writing and recording tracks for his debut album. Intended to be his next release, the process has been more fruitful than expected however, as the Dubliner amassed more songs than space allowed for on one LP. And so the Hallowed Heart EP was born, four tracks from the album sessions that sit together as a separate entity rather well. 

Varying from peppy and positive to melancholic, this is a folksy sound with irresistible classic pop melodies, draped in Anderson’s intuitive songwriting and storytelling abilities. There is a quite buoyant feel to songs like ‘Hallowed Heart’ and ‘Cecilia’s Sister’; the lyrics are as deep and personal as they are optimistic and hopefully, bobbing along some jaunty keys and acoustic guitar mingling. ‘A Sad Lullaby’ hits a gloomier tone, a moving song of a girl lost to the trappings of her life to the point of despair. Closer ‘Death Is Like The Rain’ returns to the previous optimism, a gentle acoustic strum accompanies his earnest voice, leaving Anderson with a wide open space for his lyrics to fill. Serving as something of the Anderson manifesto, it rallies against resignation and depressive decline in a powerful insistence to stay positive. An overwhelmingly powerful climax, leaving the listener wishing the song wasn’t just 1:52 in length.

Hallowed Heart is a simply wonderful collection of songs. These are touching personal tales, taking some of the finer moments ’60s/’70s folksy pop and told through the eyes of an intuitive songwriter and storyteller on the very top of his game.

Best of 2012: w/ Ciaran Dwyer of Knoxville Morning


It’s that time of year when every music website, publication and blog (including this one) are busy compiling end of year lists. This time around, I thought I’d shift the focus to the bands and artist’s who’ve played a ‘BarryGruff Presents’ show this year and ask them for their ‘favourite album of 2012′, ‘favourite song of 2012′ & ‘favourite Irish song of the year’.

Right, that is enough from me, over to Ciaran Dwyer from Knoxville Morning + 1/3 and his picks from 2012.

Favourite Album of 2012: Father John Misty – ‘Fear Fun’

One of my favourite albums of the last few years actually. Joshua Tillman used to be in a pretty boring Folk band called Fleet Foxes, luckily for us he left and went and made this incredible album. Lyrically it is such a joy. It is funny as fuck, but not in a joke song kind of way. Humour is a really hard thing to pull off in a song and when Its done well It sounds like this. Its always good to have music in your life that makes you smile and gives you a good buzz, this is music like that. His vocal on the album is just incredible too. I’d say Gram Parsons would love this shit.

Favourite Song of 2012: Mumblin Deaf Ro – ‘Cade Calf Call’

Again, Easy to pick. I get shivers down my back listening to this song every time. The lyrics in this song are pure poetry (“Feeling a kiss of the mother I miss, a love that’s now in exile”). ‘A Cade Calf’ is a calf that has been abandoned by Its mother and this song refers to the loss of the writers own mother. It is beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. Ronan Hession is a ‘National Treasure’ of a songwriter.

Favourite Irish Song of 2012: Anderson – ‘History’

Another honest, simple and beautiful song and another from an Irish songwriter. Daniel Anderson, in my opinion is firstly a poet, secondly a musician (a very good musician at that, he plays on everything here). Inspired by our literary greats his songs take the shape of poems and whether they are set to the background of a Rock band like his first band The Rags or here in the shape of a beautiful piano balled, the passion and sincerity is always there, and is a trademark of Daniels work. “History” is a Gorgeous song which longs for the yesteryear and calls for us to take stock of what is actually important in life and not to be getting bogged down in the hustle that is society today. Also a mention must be made for the incredible video that accompanies this song. I for one am very excited to see what Daniel does next.

Anderson – ‘Patterns’

Having just called time on The Rags, Daniel Anderson hasn’t wasted much time in getting back on the saddle, returning with his debut solo musical venture under the moniker of Anderson.  

The first taste of his new solo project is ‘Patterns’, and my does it deliver. It’s breezy, poignant and slightly mournful yet chipper at the same time. A gentle strum and an infectious piano tickles, allowing for Anderson’s smooth, distinctive vocals to soar, placing his ponderous lyrics firmly at the fore. The video is really works nicely too. An exciting and intriguing new departure for one of Ireland’s truly very best songwriters. Hopefully there is plenty more to come.

‘Patterns’ will be released in October as a double A-side single, accompanied by ‘History’ and is available to pre-order as a 7″/CD & mp3 now.

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