Saw Doctors Set to Tour
By Mike Farragher
I useta love them. Once.
Now it’s time to fall in love with Tuam’s favorite sons, the Saw Doctors, all over again. The Docs have been maintaining a breakneck schedule of late, with appearances at the Oxegen Festival, an Irish tour, and a stint in the recording studio working up some new songs.
They’ll be coming to America next month for a working holiday, touring our fine shores to the delight of their U.S. fans.
Joining the Saw Doctors for their August USA tour will be Nashville drummer Fran Breen, who formerly played with Lucinda Williams and Nanci Griffiths. Fran will team up with bassist Anthony Thistlethwaite, formerly of the Waterboys, to provide a powerhouse rhythm section for the band’s songwriting duo, Davy Carton on vocals and Leo Moran on guitar. Derek Murray on keyboards completes the five man lineup.
During the August U.S. tour, the Saw Doctors will promote their recent charity CD release New Year’s Day, a greatest hits collection featuring the band’s three Irish number ones, “N17,” “I Useta Lover” and “Hay Wrap.”
The live CD was rush released in Ireland in January to raise funds for the victims of the Asian tsunami disaster last Christmas. To date the Saw Doctors have contributed over $40,000 in sales of New Year’s Day to the Galway Sri Lanka Relief Fund. The money has been used to build houses and buy fishing boats in the Galle region of Sri Lanka.
The Docs will also be road testing tracks from their sixth studio album, which they just finished at Cuan Studios, Spiddal
in the west of Ireland. Shamtown Records will release the new disc, tentatively titled Last Summer in New York, later this year. Count on hearing the new single, “Your Guitar,” when the boys come calling.
I recently talked to guitarist Leo Moran about the new CD, their surge in popularity with the young pub crowds at either side of the Atlantic, and the fine art of writing anthems that go down so well at soccer matches. Here’s how it went.
You’re in the final mixing stages for the new disc. What is it sounding like? What are you calling the CD?
It’s very hard for me to say what the new songs are sounding like but I must say we’ve really enjoyed recording them. We spent the first sessions just rehearsing them, but recording them just in case and there’s a couple of first takes from those early efforts that have survived the test of time. Most songs we recorded the first time and when Paul Keegan, our engineer, came in for the second set of recordings we put them down again, taking more care with the actual sounds of the instruments.
We still can’t decide on a title but I do feel it could well be our best album to date. Hopefully, some other people agree with me!
What are some of the standout songs in your mind?
I don’t like having to pick favorites myself. There’s a couple of loud guitar songs, a couple of groovy little country folk songs, a lullaby, an unusual song by the late Paul Cunniffe called “Funny World” and a few more. They might not be the same kind of song we’ve always done but I think you’ll know it’s the Saw Doctors all right.
With so many songs that have become official Irish national/ sports anthems like “Green and Red of Mayo,” is there pressure to come up with the next great anthem as you record?
Writing songs is about what you’re feeling and thinking at a present time, so you write what you’re feeling and what’s in your head — some songs turn out like anthems, more don’t. In some ways there would be more value in a new album not copying or trying to imitate what we’ve done before — those songs are there and they won’t disappear.
If what I read is true, the Saw Doctors seem to be enjoying this wave of popularity, with sellout crowds at BB Kings in New York and Galway. It seems that demand has not been this high since “N17” days. Are you seeing that from your vantage point, and if so, what do you attribute it to?
Funnily enough, on the last trip to the States I noticed a large increase in how many people are interested in, and are traveling specially to see the band. I’m very delighted with that of course and you’d have to hope that maybe we can get the new album out to more people and build a bigger fan base in the country, however we’ll go about that!
(The Saw Doctors’ August tour kicks off Monday, August 8 at Musikfest in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. It continues on the 9th at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Virginia; 11th in Cape Cod at the Melody Tent; 12th at B.B. Kings in New York City; 14th at the Egg in Albany, New York; 15th at Hampton Beach Casino in New Hampshire’ 16th at the Surf Club in Ortley Beach, New Jersey, 18th at the Borgata Music Box in Atlantic City; 19th at Look Park in Northampton, Massachusetts; 20th in South Shore Music Circus in Cohasset, Massachusetts; 21st at the River Arts Festival in Huntington, Long Island. Visit www.sawdoctors.com for more information.)