Finbarr Clancy of The High Kings on what's been getting him through the pandemic

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Folk singer and musician, Finbarr Clancy, of The High Kings

Finbarr Clancy of The High Kings, whose new album is Home From Home. Picture by Donnie Phair
Gail Bell

Finbarr Clancy – my wife Gráinne and I finally moved into our new house in the past year


Up and at it – what is your new morning routine? How has it changed?

As a musician, my daily routine during the week hasn't changed drastically, but when we were preparing for a tour with The High Kings, it was always a bit hectic. Luckily for me, I'm a night owl, which is definitely an advantage, given my chosen profession.


What might you eat in a typical working day for...Breakfast?

I start every day with a glass of vitamin C and zinc, followed by toasted soda bread with either marmalade or local honey.


A sandwich accompanied by my guilty pleasure, a bag of Tayto cheese and onion crisps – to be fair, it's only a small bag from the multipack...

Evening meal?

Dinner is different every night – my wife, Gráinne, is an excellent cook and always prepares delicious meals. Disclaimer – I haven't cooked in many years and when I did, my culinary skills consisted of sauce from a jar and boil-in-the bag rice. When on tour, our daily food intake is whatever we can grab, usually.


Have you been able to work from home – if so, how have you found it?

I would love to work from home but unless the audience comes to me, I can't. That's not to say I don’t work on my music while at home. Also, I'm listening back to songs I grew up with and figuring out their chord structure and rhythm on acoustic guitar.


Best/easiest lockdown meal?

My favourite at the moment is chicken with chorizo in a tomato-based sauce over pasta, served with a glass of pinot – it's hard to beat! The easiest meal has to be a simple pizza – even I can do it; just throw it in the oven and have it with a glass of Malbec or a cold beer.


Weekend treat?

My weekend treat is indulging in a drink – something to look forward to...


How have you kept physically and mentally fit during lockdown?

Even though last year brought so much chaos into our lives, there was one positive – Gráinne and I finally moved into our new house. We have been kept busy, both physically and mentally, making this house a home ever since.


What has been your daily outdoor exercise?

I'd like to say that I work out in the gym for two hours every day but I don't. I'm just not a gym person. I try to make it out for a good walk a few times every week and there's plenty of work to be done around the new house.


How do you relax?

Playing my acoustic guitar, particularly finger-picking songs. Funny enough, I don't find singing as relaxing.


Teetotal or tipple?

Well, from my previous answers you can tell I'm certainly not a teetotaller, although I am during the week. I could have added to the previous question that I relax by sitting in front of our fire after dinner with a glass of whiskey in hand, be it Jameson or Powers.


What book are you currently reading?

I enjoy reading books, but I don't read constantly; I'm more of an occasional reader. Having said that, I'm going through a book-reading phase lately, having read two books since January. I have finished A Promised Land by Barack Obama, all 701 pages of it. It's a great book but I'm still recuperating from it. Before that, I read Too Much and Never Enough by Mary L Trump about her uncle Donald – only 211 pages. Two books about two US presidents and that's where the similarity ends. So to answer the question, none at the moment.


Best Netflix?

I actually don’t have Netflix.


Most surprising thing you've learned about yourself?

I suppose I realised that you just have to accept that there's nothing you can do to change the circumstances you find yourself in and that it's the small things in life that can get to you, more than the big things sometimes.


On a scale of one to 10, where have you been in relation to cabin fever and where are you now?

At the beginning, probably a six or seven, which is to be expected as all the restrictions made you fearful to leave your house. Now, I’m more a three or four but, really, I have had enough. My fellow High Kings and I were lucky to record a new album, Home From Home, released last month, so that kept us ticking over – otherwise we would have been bored senseless.


What are the three things you missed most during the beginning of lockdown?

The ability to earn a living, not meeting family and friends and not being able to go to restaurants or take holidays.


Where will you go and what will you do when restrictions are fully lifted?

The obvious one is to get back to work, touring, and also reconnecting with people and places I haven't seen in a while.


Biggest gripe?

That, as a performer, my work virtually stopped and I don't know when it will start again in the sense of touring. I miss being on the road with The High Kings and seeing our fans.


Have your priorities in life or perspectives changed?

Yes, I realise what's important and that some things I thought were important are just not.


Any new skills or hobbies?

Definitely a lot more book reading than usual.


What would you like to see change for good when this is all over?

That we would slow down a bit and spend more time doing things with the ones who make us happy. It took a pandemic to show us people can work remotely and there's no need for daily commuter gridlock on our roads.


Has coronavirus changed your attitude towards your own mortality?

The coronavirus has made us all reflect on our own mortality; we need to live the life we want, tell the people we love that we love them and make time to do what makes us happy.

The High Kings’new album Home From Home is out now.

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