B&L: What animal do you associate yourself with (given ourties to oxen)?
Mick Flannery: I associate myself mainly with an ape, but more metaphorically I’d be a cross between a curious cat and sleepy dog.
B&L: Why music? Why do you seek it? Why do you create it? How’d it come calling to you?
Flannery: Music was a passion of my mother’s, and her father’s, so it was passed down to me. My brothers are all big music fans too. I think what’s attractive about it is that we don’t fully understand why it’s so attractive.
B&L: What’s the making of a great show?
Flannery: I think it’s symbiotic. Place and time are important for show person and audience. The closer the show gets to capturing the mood of its audience at that place and time, the better it gets I think.
B&L: Let’s talk about your latest record, “I Own You.” I don’t own you, I’m just curious what sort of goals you had for yourself when you set out to make this record?
Flannery: I don’t really have goals for records other than to make them as best I can. Sometimes I’ll start out with a theme to help me write subject matter, but I often drop the theme closer to having enough songs for a record. The theme for “I Own You” was going to be about a marriage on the rocks. It turned into something else when I wrote the title track and some others which deal more with society on the rocks.
B&L: That said, it’s been out for a spell. Any new recordings in the works? An album perhaps?
Flannery: Yeah, been working on a theme of a failed musician, but that theme is on the rocks now.
B&L: Is songwriting an easy or arduous process for you? Are you a fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants kind of writer, or do you schedule “office hours”?
Flannery: I have no system for songwriting really, I gladly take it as it comes. Lately I’ve been doing more co-writes which are interesting and productive as you feel the need to get the song done there and then, which as a sleepy dog is a pressure I do not but on myself alone.
B&L: The lore is that you won two categories in the International Songwriting Competition back in 2004. The voting panel included Tom Waits. What the heck was that feeling like – to be shown some shred of support by a man/musician/writer like Waits?
Flannery: Yeah, that was a nice accolade to receive, it felt good to think that Tom Waits had heard it, even I have to think he might have been tempted to vote the songs down on plagiarism grounds. I never met him no, I sent him a fan mail note through the competition admin but don’t know if he ever received. I think I invited him for a drink or something.
B&L: Did you get to have coffee and cigarettes with him?
Flannery: Good one. No.
B&L: What are you looking for folks to take away from the music of Mick Flannery when they place themselves in a position to experience it?
Flannery: I haven’t thought about it that way really. I guess song to song I want them to empathize, hopefully not get bored with subject matter. My songs are lyric based and there’s rarely dancing in the aisles, so I guess the idea is to draw people in to the narratives.
B&L: What’s one tune (or, heck, a couple) that exists out there in the ether that blows you away that you kind of wish you had written yourself?
Flannery: I like, “It’s alright Ma, by Bob Dylan; “Stranger Song” -Leonard Cohen; “Who Are You” -Tom Waits.
B&L: What can folks expect when they come out to see you perform at the Word Barn on July 20th?
Flannery: Words. Barn. I’m entirely sure, but I know I’ll be there.
B&L: Question number 12. If you could have a dozen of anything, what would that dozen of something be?
Flannery: At the moment life is good and lucky and exciting, so I feel like I could go eleven more.
Mick Flannery will be making the trek from Ireland to Exeter when he makes his debut appearance at the Word Barn on Friday, July 20th. Click here for further information and to grab tickets before they’re out of reach.