This is part 5 of an interview series with Galway Street Club. If you came straight to this page, maybe go back and meet the band in part 1 first.
Camila: What about the busking scene. Did you find that busking differs from place to place? Do you think that cultural differences have an impact on the response to street performers?
Laura: Getting to experience different cultures was great, especially ones where there aren’t as much buskers as there are in Galway. It was cool to be so well received, I found that no matter where you go people appreciate the music and energy we bring to the street. Busking in cities where the architecture was old, beautiful and unlike Ireland was like a breath of fresh air.
Merle: That’s a great question and I think about that a lot – busking is definitively the best way to get to know the spirit of a place. I’m living in Groningen (the Netherlands) now, which is a lovely place but the busking culture is completely different. I expected a similar type of close-knit social network like the one in Galway, but there is hardly anyone out busking at all.
I am not sure why it’s so different here, but the culture definitely influences the way people perceive buskers. What I have noticed in every town I’ve played in is that it is usually the same kind of people who leave a tip or stop to appreciate the music, and I think it is the same across cultures.
Adnaan: The experience of busking in each city is mostly determined by the cops.
You can meet exceptional and memorable people in any location. You can usually find a good spot to play in the wide Lyonnaise pedestrian boulevards as well as the narrow cobbled plazas of Andalucía. The fuzz are what usually make or break a location. You have Malaga, for example, where busking is illegal. You have to have a permit, and the city doesn’t issue permits. But I have never been stopped from playing in Malaga.
Well, one time, when I was playing Chuck Berry with fiddle, guitar and sax, a ring of people gathered nearby. I assumed it was a magic show setting up in the plaza as they often lay out a rope or some other boundary to make room for their act. It was a bit rude of the magicians to set up so near our spot, but whatever. We were confident in our ability to keep a crowd. Fifteen minutes later the cops showed up. They asked to see our permit, knowing full well we couldn’t have one. As we meekly packed up, I went over to check out the magicians. They were dressed as priests. Odd. It was then that I realized that we had spent the last quarter hour serenading a wake. So, I like the way the Malaguenos do it.
In Barcelona, the laws are very similar. But the pigs are infinitely more piggish. They chased us out of downtown, so we fled to the beach, Barceloneta, where we were threatened by shriveled old ladies who wanted to read their erotic novels in peace and quiet. We were hounded from spot to spot until we finally found a place where we could both scrape a living and be free of the oppressive chains of the fascists. Many among the Galway Street Club embraced Anarchism that fateful day. Barcelona is notorious among buskers for a good reason.
Spud: The energy of places and people is different everywhere; some places dance, some clap, some just stop. In Germany they wait till we take a little break and then cue up to tip and buy CDs.
Ultan: Different cultures definitely have different attitudes and feelings towards buskers. Some city’s residents don’t tip as well as others, sometimes busking laws are prohibitive to playing music on the street. Generally, though, people are delighted and appreciative to hear something good being played on the street; I see it in the expressions and attentiveness of whoever happens to be the audience at the time. This is especially true if it’s outside the remit of a passerby’s expectations of what a street performer should be.
Every place has traditional music in some form or another, or popular musical styles to a region, but in my experience, people just enjoy hearing good music and seeing a bunch of people jumping, dancing and laughing while they do it. It spreads a bit of joy. The world always needs more of that.
Camila: I saw that you’re preparing a new album, which will include original material. What can fans expect? What kind of music are you preparing?
Paul: Right now we’re sitting on about 8 songs that are good. Things that have sort of come about during out time scooting about Mainland Europe; one is a retelling of Homer’s The Odyssey. Another is a tune about a time our violin player ended up punching a waiter in the face and caused him to completely rethink his life – Guy stopped drinking after that. It must have been a hell of a swing. Another’s a ragtime shuffle on the nature of finding sense of purpose through the people you meet… All of which have some crazy energy behind them and I’m looking forward to fleshing them out further in production.
Ultan: Yeah, it’s all drawn from the lives around us and hopefully this will provide the right fuel for creating something lasting and worthwhile.
Johnny: [Musically] It’s definitely going to be something very varied and unique! All of us are influenced by different genres from reggae to metal and traditional Irish to blues. It’s going to be something that will showcase everyone’s style but also project the energy that we create when we play together. I’m really looking forward to it.
Laura: No matter what way it goes, it’ll have our distinct sound; 12 musicians beating the shite out of their instruments.
Spud: Be ready to turn it up and be hit in the face with a club of powerful music!