Arts Q&A: Damien Dempsey on Springsteen, Declan McLoughlin and Noam Chomsky

Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week, Dublin singer-songwriter Damien Dempsey

This year marks the 18th anniversary of Damien Dempsey's first solo album They Don't Teach This S**t In School. He plays Belfast's Empire on November 28

1. When did you think about a career in music and what were your first steps into it?

When I entered the 2fm Yoplait Song Contest when I was 16 with a song about homelessness in Dublin called Cardboard City. I came second overall and won a ghetto blaster and performed with the RTÉ orchestra live on Radio 1. I then applied for the Ballyfermot Rock School, as my mother begged me to go on in education.

2. Best gigs you’ve been to?

Bruce Springsteen in Nowlan Park in Kilkenny (I opened the gig), Ice Cube at Sunstroke in Dalymount Park 20 years ago (he talked about Irish history that day and was so impressive) and Sinead O'Connor at the Blues and Roots Festival in Byron Bay.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band?

Bob Marley and the Wailers would be some buzz.

4. The record you’d take to a desert island and why?

Declan McLoughlin, The Hi Flats. The Bars Along The Quay is one of the many incredible songs off it.

5. And the book?

At Swim Two Boys by Jamie O'Neill. It’s like Ulysses for the layman and gives a great insight into Dublin around the time of the 1913 lockout and the 1916 rising and the Irish Citizen Army – it’s a beautiful love story, to boot.

6. Top three films?

Adam and Paul, Blade Runner (Rutger Hauer's last scene is achingly beautiful) and There’s Something About Mary.

7. Worst film you’ve seen and why?

I had to sit through Grown Ups 2 recently while babysitting. It was like something Beavis and Butthead would write after their lobotomies.

8. Favourite authors?

Noam Chomsky, Christy Brown and Irvine Welsh.

9. Sport you most enjoy and top team?

Rugby – Ireland; boxing – Dillian Whyte (exciting), Katie Taylor, Michael Conlon, Genaddy Golovkin.

10. Ideal holiday destination?

West Clare, Inisheer, Gweedore and Tory, Ventry, Beara, Kilcrohan, Valentia; outside Ireland it would be Berlin or Liverpool.

11. Pet hate?

Bad manners.

12. What’s your favourite:

Dinner? Hake and organic spuds with sea salt and Kerrygold butter.

Dessert? Cheese board and crackers with red wine.

Drink? A good Guinness.

13. Who is your best friend and how do you know each other?

My guitar. We met at a friend’s house and I had to have her.

14. Is there a God?

You're standing on her. I do believe in something good as well – not a white man with a beard, though.

:: Damien Dempsey will be playing the Belfast Empire on November 28. Tickets are still available through Ticketmaster

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