Gavin James Always Glad To Play City Of Stars!

We catch up with Gavin James, who is eager to get back to Cork and to perform at Cork Opera House
Gavin James Always Glad To Play City Of Stars!

Gavin James is delighted to be coming back to Cork, where he says one of the gigs he previously played here was the start of a huge chapter in his career.

When you look through the songs of Gavin James on Spotify, you’ll immediately notice he has over six million streams a month (and 1.5 billion stream in total online) but also how many of his song have just one word titles.

It’s something Gavin considers in keeping with his writing style. “My mate asked me this as well, I hadn’t noticed it! I always kinda hate when I see it standing out on other people’s albums but I obviously did it too. I purposely have changed some of the song titles on my next record, but really those titles are kind of like how I write, I think it summarises things real quick. I like simplistic kind of stuff when it comes to songs, deceptive simplicity.”

After a pretty non-stop eight or so years, when he toured with people such as Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran and appearing on shows such as James Corden’s Late Late Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live as well as releasing several albums, singles, EPs and guesting on there records, I wondered if the last two years gave him the chance to reflect on the various scraps of songs and demos he’d worked on.

“I have listened back to voice memos I make with song ideas, but only normally on planes really, I’d listen to loads of them and wait for ones where I’d think ‘oh, that’s nice’.

I never wrote so much ever, for my second album I wrote maybe 15 songs and had 13 songs on the record. With this record though, I wrote about 120 songs to pick from!

“In terms of songwriting during the lockdown I started fresh pretty much from the start. I had an album finished before lockdown, and I just pretty much scrapped it, we did it as an EP. I’m happy we did it as we did, scrapping so many songs, I never wrote so much ever, for my second album I wrote maybe 15 songs and had 13 songs on the record. With this record though, I wrote about 120 songs to pick from!”

To pick the tracks that he would take from the 120 songs Gavin came up with an overarching idea. “The album kind of fluctuates, it’s almost like a gig. It goes down and comes back up at the end. I wanted to have an opening song that sets the record up, and then the main thing was — when I was younger and got a new album I used to skip to track number three and five and if they were good ones it was a good sign — I always put the ones I believe in the most at three and five.”

Writing and co-writing over a hundred songs takes a lot of time, and it is a technique Gavin prefers to get done in one sitting.

“I probably should go back over songs more often once I’ve written them and tweak things. I have a lot of mates that have different kinds of songwriting techniques like that, especially going back on songs for weeks, adding on lyrics and stuff like that. I probably should do that a little more, but usually I kind of have to finish it when I start it!”

Gavin James plays Cork Opera House in April.
Gavin James plays Cork Opera House in April.

However Gavin does see the plusses in co-writing. “I do co-write with my friend Mark all the time, and I started with my friend Deggo over lockdown too. You can get it down faster sometimes when you are co-writing. If I’m sitting at home by myself, I feel like I have the idea and I have to rush, but sometimes you have somebody else in the room and it helps you just drag it out a bit more.

“Also sometimes you get a little bored when you are solo, you’re trying to come up with the next bit and you’re like ‘the tellys over there…’ but having a co-writer in the room is great for that.

“Like if you saw The Beatles documentary, the way they just pushed George to get to the end of it, ‘it doesn’t matter if the lyrics not finished, just get the idea down’.”

Observing The Beatles in the practice room reminded Gavin of what he’s done with his band.

“I never noticed that I did it too until I saw they were doing it. Just in between takes, like when they were working out ‘Let It Be’ or arranging other songs, they’d just play some random stuff in between, like other people’s songs or styles. Me and the musicians I play with do that as well, just to let off steam or stretch the finger muscles.

“During sessions, you are writing or arranging something and then you’re really in it and the moment, and then you think ‘let’s just put this down this for a minute and do something weird.’ Like a palate cleanser I suppose.”

I moved back to Ireland before lockdown started. I got a dog… and then nothing happened. And I was like, it was not a bad time to move back, really

Gavin moved back to Dublin just before March 2020, so his timing was superb. “I was in London for a few years and I moved back just before lockdown started. I got a dog… and then nothing happened. And I was like, it was not a bad time to move back, really. I just wanted to move back and have some sort of place that was my own to live in. I used to live in Hackney and it could take like an hour and a half to get somewhere on the buses and trains.”

While it isn’t home Gavin is delighted to be back in Cork too, he considers one of his gigs here as the start of a huge chapter in his career.

“When I played Live At The Marquee it was one of my first ever big headline gigs and probably one of the greatest gigs I’ve played. Everybody there was mad and had the best time there. It was new because I’ve never done a gig that big before.

“I was thinking to myself ‘for f**ks sake, why are ye all here — it’s f**king bananas’. and I’m buzzing to be back in Cork again, and in the Opera House.

“I watched the Rory Gallagher footage here when he played in 1987 or so. I actually used to play ‘Bullfrog Blues’ all the time myself when I was busking and playing in bars. I might play it when I’m at the Opera House this time…

Gavin James plays Cork Opera House on Saturday, April 2, and Sunday, April 3. Tickets available from www.corkoperahouse.ie.

He also plays Wexford Opera House on April 11.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more