An Interview with Pat McManus of The Mama’s Boys & The Pat McManus Band

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Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with one of the most underrated Guitar Heroes in the game, Ireland’s own, Pat McManus. Among other things, we touch on what he’s been up to during the lockdown, Pat’s newest music, his days with The Mama’s Boys, sharing the stage with Thin Lizzy, his favorite guitarists, and his favorite music, and more.

If you would like to learn more about Pat McManus, you can head over to their website, and dig in. Once you’ve done that, check out this interview with Pat. Cheers.

Andrew:
Pat, I appreciate you taking the time today. How have you been holding up over the last year or so? What have you been up to?

Pat:
Hi Andrew, I have been OK, thank you. Difficult times all around for musicians, but with the encouragement from friends, family, and fans, I have kept going and tried to find the best way through these crazy times.

Andrew:
Before we dive into your professional career, let’s go back a bit. What first got you hooked on music? What was your formal introduction to the guitar?

Pat:
Well, I think music is definitely in my DNA, and I really began my life in music as soon as I could walk and talk. Music was always played in my family home, and it was somewhat inevitable that I would take up an instrument. That’s not to say that being in this environment meant I was destined to be a musician, but for me, I loved music right from the get-go. My first instrument was the violin, but I also learned acoustic guitar pretty early on as I became a member of my parent’s family band.

Andrew:
Who were some of your early influences?

Pat:
Most of my early influences were traditional Irish Folk musicians, but when I finally came to Rock music it was the likes of Rory Gallagher, Horslips, and Thin Lizzy that led me to change from being a bit of a Folk purist to a rocker.

Andrew:
Let’s talk about recent events first. Tell us about your new record, Full Service Resumed. Tell us about the album, and how it came together.

Pat:
The process for Full Service Resumed had started probably at the end of 2018 when I began to formulate a few ideas. I am always writing I guess anyway, putting ideas down. Then the lockdown happened, and I couldn’t see when I might get into the studio, but most of my songs take shape in my own small home studio, and then I am able to send them to my co-producer ready to work on in the main studio. Finally, we were able to form a “bubble,” and get to the serious recording. Thankfully, as we had done a lot of pre-production, the process was pretty quick. I like to work quickly anyway.

Andrew:
Let’s dig into the lyrical themes on your new album. What message, and emotions are you trying to convey? What do you want your listeners to take away from this record?

Pat:
The lyrics are always somewhat connected to life, and my reflections of what I see around me happening to the world, or maybe to a friend or from a personal experience. I hope listeners find a bit of their story in the lyrics, so they connect with the songs, or that maybe they think about a situation like global warming, and the environment which I sing about in “Doomsday Clock.” I would hope that listeners take away good vibes, and enjoyment from listening to the album and that it may brighten their day or make them think.

Andrew:
Your parents were traditional Irish musicians, right? Take me through how much of an influence they’ve been on you as an artist as you’ve moved through your career.

Pat:
Yes, my parents were traditional musicians, but my Dad, who was born in New York, and my Mum were also in a band the played many songs of the day. The music and love of it they shared with me is definitely where I started, and where I often return to.

Andrew:
You were also a member of the underrated group, The Mama’s Boys. Take me through the formation of that band.

Pat:
The Mama’s Boys really started after we were introduced to a band called “Horslips.” We saw in them a way we could mix our Irish Trad roots with Rock, and it changed my way of thinking. At first, we were called “Pulse,” and played covers for the most part, but soon, I was writing original material. The Mama’s Boys was me and my two brothers John, and Tommy, being brothers there was something special between us…we knew what each other was thinking, so everything came pretty naturally to us.

Andrew:
The Mama’s Boys appeared at Thin Lizzy’s last ever show at Reading Festival, in 1983. What was that experience like? Did you have a chance to interact with Phil, and the band?

Pat:
We had been playing support to Thin Lizzy on their final tour, Reading was the final part of that. It was an amazing experience to tour with them, a fierce learning curve and taught me many lessons I still continue with today. We totally interacted with the guys, and I treasure the memories.

Andrew:
The Mama’s Boys sadly disbanded in the early 90s. What led to the decision to ultimately not continue on.

Pat:
It was not an easy decision, but after our brother, Tommy, passed away we just couldn’t see a way forward. For us, at the core of everything was the three brothers, and we were totally devastated. We needed time, but The Mama’s Boys without Tommy was unthinkable.

Andrew:
Back to the Pat McManus Band now. Take me through the formation of the group, its evolution, and where things stand today.

Pat:
In 2001, I chose to move from London back to Fermanagh. There I got involved in several music projects, bands, writing, etc., in both Rock, and Trad. Finally, I made the decision to form the Pat McManus Band, and get back into touring, and recording. The first solo album was released in 2007, and we started to tour back in Europe, etc. There have been a few slight lineup changes over the years, but the sound of the band is ultimately the mix of Rock, Blues, and with a slight feel of Irish Trad it has been from the beginning. We have been lucky to tour extensively and play at some pretty fantastic places, and festivals. Hopefully, that continues.

Andrew:
In my opinion, you’re one of the more underrated guitarists of your generation. That being said, who would you compare yourself to most? Who are some of your favorites, and why? Lastly, how has your style evolved over the years?

Pat:
That is very kind of you to say so. My favorites would be Rory Gallagher, Gary Moore, Jeff Beck, Billy Gibbons…but so, so many more. I just get these guitarists’ style of playing, and maybe that influenced me. I started as a violinist, and that makes me play guitar in my own way maybe too, and makes up what is my sound. My style is not so different from where I started. I had a sound in my head back then, and I hope years of experience have developed that further.

Andrew:
Easy ones now. What are a few of your favorite albums, and why?

Pat:
Taste — On The Boards, Jethro Tull — Aqualung, Jeff Beck — Blow By Blow, Fairport Convention — Liege and Lief, and Thin Lizzy — Jail Break I just love those albums, then and now. Simple as that.

Andrew:
What other passions do you have? How do those passions inform your music, if at all?

Pat:
Well, music is my hobby, but I am known to like a bit of gardening and I try to be informed on environmental issues, and politics. I read a lot too.

Andrew:
What sort of equipment do you use in the studio, and the live setting?

Pat:
I have a very simple setup, but I like to experiment a little more in the studio, and if there is something new there I haven’t tried before I will give it a go.

Andrew:
Do you collect vinyl? CDs? Cassettes? Or are you all digital now? If you do collect physical media, why is that important to you? Why do you feel keeping physical media alive is important in this day, and age?

Pat:
It may be “Old School,” but yes, I still like to have physical copies of albums. I have collections of vinyl, cassettes, and CDs, and having the physical copies is important to me. My early purchases were of course vinyl, and the anticipation of getting that album putting it on the deck, and then reading every bit of the album cover, and enjoying the artwork was a whole special moment for me. It was a great experience and a very special feeling of being totally immersed in the moment with that album. To me, anyway, music that is passed on to the listener is important, but I hope there is a place in the future for all types of ways of accessing music.

Andrew:
Last one. What’s next on your docket? What are you looking forward to most in the post-COVID world? Do you plan on hitting the road, or playing any festivals in 2022?

Pat:
Just playing and recording music. There is nothing like live music for me, so I very much hope it continues. Yes, I will be hitting the road in 2022 if situations allow. It’s what I do.

Interested in sampling the work of Pat McManus? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full catalog of VWMusic Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interviews

About Post Author

Andrew Daly

With an immense passion for music, a disposition for writing, and an eagerness to teach and share both, Andrew decided to found VWMusic in 2019 as a freelance column under the column Idle Chatter. Over time, the column grew into a website that now features contributors who further the cause of sharing both a love of music and the art of journalism with the world through articles and interviews. While Andrew enjoys running the website, his real passion lies in teaching and facilitating others to do what they do best, and giving them the opportunity to explore their passions in the process. Some of Andrew’s favorite artists include KISS, Oasis, ACϟDC, Elvis Presley, Ace Frehley, The Rolling Stones, Rush, The Pretenders, Led Zeppelin, The Gaslight Anthem, Iron Maiden, John Lennon, The Melvins, Noel Gallagher, Regina Spektor, Rory Gallagher, The Stone Roses, The Strokes, Thin Lizzy, Elvis Costello, Van Halen, Neil Young, Blur, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, and many more.
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