Irish folk band The Jeremiahs are celebrating their 10th anniversary in 2023. Recently we spoke with the band’s singer Joe Gibney about their past, present, and future.
What is your heritage?
Three members of The Jeremiahs are of Irish heritage and one member is of French heritage. My name is Joe Gibney, singer with The Jeremiahs and I was born here in Dublin, Ireland. James Ryan, guitarist with The Jeremiahs was also born in Dublin and Niamh Varian-Barry, who plays fiddle, viola and sings with the band, was born in county Cork in the south of Ireland. Last, but not least, is our flautist Julien Bruneteau who was born in Bordeaux, France.
Where do you currently reside?
Three members of the band, namely myself, James, and Niamh, still live in Ireland in counties Dublin, Kildare and Kerry respectively while Julien lives in Bordeaux in France.
When and why did you start playing music?
I began singing while still in my teens. Singing on a more serious level was something that happened a lot later into my twenties. James began playing music at 16 years old when he took an interest in the banjo and the guitar. Niamh set out on her musical journey on the fiddle at the tender age of 4 years old and Julien started at around 9 or 10 years old on the whistle and flute. All of us, especially those who started very young, were guided towards music and encouraged greatly by our parents. Those of us who started out later, namely myself and James, had been surrounded by folk, traditional Irish and many other genres of music from very early on and I suppose we couldn’t ignore the influence it was having on us. Ultimately those influences have proved to be invaluable when it came to figuring out which musical well to draw from. And the common interests for all four band members? Folk and traditional Irish music.
Are they the same reasons you do it today?
Yes. The reason we do it today is fuelled by that same attraction and love for folk music which drew us to it earlier on. It stays with you and without a love for music and a love for the whole process then a career in music may well be a short lived one. It’s very hard to fake it.
What are the challenges involved with the vocation?
One of the main challenges of having a career in music is trying to find the optimum balance between family life and music life. Music is a huge commitment and demands a lot of a person’s time and effort. Whether it’s writing, listening to, rehearsing, and playing music or taking to the road to tour in many different countries, there has to be a home life balance. Another challenge, which we are lucky to have experienced very little of, is staying creative individually and as a unit amidst all the other business that a music career can bring. The common love for what we do, together with persistence and consistency, keeps us on track. Long may it continue.
What are the rewards?
The rewards are quite simple – having the pleasure of playing music and creating music with great, like-minded people. Breaking down barriers with our music and bringing people together and in turn being made to feel so welcomed as a band. Meeting so many people and making new lifelong friends along the way. Seeing the reaction of people to our music and how it can make such an impact on them for the better. That is up there with the greatest of the rewards. The list goes on.
When did the band come together?
The band was formed in 2013 and has developed gradually over time into the band you hear today. We strive to constantly grow as a band, creating and improving all the time. For us however there is no real end point. It’s all about enjoying the process.
How would you describe your music?
Our music, we feel, is the product of many different things, so our melting pot of influences has proven quite useful. Our music is deeply rooted in the folk and traditional music genre however, so we do class ourselves as a folk band. Through our music and songs, we aim to tell stories and to deliver a message and of course to entertain. Folk music is a great way to find a common ground with the audience and to ultimately take them on a journey with us.
How has the band evolved over time?
The band began with a view to quite simply play tunes and sing songs from different sources but, like with many bands, there’s a longing to begin the process of creating your own material. So, we began to write and create more and more of our own music, only covering material by other artists whose music we all mutually loved. The need and want to be creative has strongly shaped the band’s sound. Over time we have moved from playing tunes and songs in an almost 50/50 split to a more song-based band with every member of the band contributing original music and songs. Having two lead singers, myself and Niamh, has also been hugely helpful and important in creating our sound.
What have been some career highlights?
his conjures a long list but the common highlights for us would be of course travelling to so many beautiful places and so many different countries. Places we would never have seen had it not been for music. Another mutual highlight for all of us would be our appearance in 2022 at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow for Celtic Connections, one of the most prestigious music events in the folk and traditional music calendar. Some other highlights would be of course the release of our first and second albums which will soon be followed by our brand new third album. So keep an ear out for that.
Is the band’s creative process more “inspirational” or “perspirational”?
Definitely inspirational, with no shortage of perspiration at times. Creating your own music and watching and learning from other band members as they create is so inspiring and rewarding. The inspiration comes from the most unlikely places at the most unlikely times, so you learn quickly to act on it.
What makes a good song?
Great question and it can be argued that the answer is subjective. So, for us, a good song is one that can have a deep meaning for us personally upon its conception and for that meaning to translate to an audience and have it affect them and to cause a change in them on hearing it, however slight. So when people approach us and describe how our songs have moved them and caused a certain emotional reaction within them… that’s a good song.
What makes a good live show?
A good live show means first a good connection with the audience from the outset. It also requires, without the risk of being obvious, great music, great sound, and a great atmosphere. If all of these factors are in place, then you’ll have a great live show. The main ingredient however is people. When we make a connection with the audience that’s when something special happens in a live show.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the Irish/Dublin music scene?
The Irish music scene appears to be thriving. There seems to have been a folk music revival in recent years and Irish folk and traditional music bands are at the forefront. If you look in the right places, Dublin city is a hub of folk music and traditional music. Straight from the source of course.
How can that be improved?
There’s always room for improvement. Improved positive and visible publicity for artists is badly needed. Some great talent goes unheard and unseen. We need more positive attention paid towards the arts in general and their importance as a whole in order for them to thrive into the foreseeable future. It should not be taken for granted that it will last forever without support. Nourish it.
What’s on the band’s agenda for the rest of 2023?
2023 is great for us so far, with a UK tour already under our belts in February and a tour of the USA in March. We have a new album recorded which is being released in March or April and we have some festivals and gigs here in Ireland, abroad in Europe and America throughout the year. We will continue to create and to entertain as best we can and to keep on spreading the name far and wide. So, keep an eye and an ear out for The Jeremiahs this year.