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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Marty O'Reilly on Northwestern Snowstorms, European Graveyards, and Capturing the Feeling of a Live Show

Posted By on Tue, Nov 25, 2014 at 8:40 AM

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What is the best thing a fan has told you after a show?
There was one lady that came up to me before a show actually. She had seen me play at a cafe years before and she had met her girlfriend there during my set. And this girl wanted to propose to her girlfriend that night. They got engaged at our show and danced to one of our songs right after.

But I think the main thing isn’t a specific thing someone had said to me after a show...moreso the excitement that this is the first project I’ve been a part of that gets this kind of feedback. A lot of people after shows have something really important that they need to tell us...that this song or that song meant something to them, and how touched they were during the performance. These are things that I’m getting to hear for the first time — that the music I’m writing or playing is really translating to people and it means something to them.

Because you’re self-released, you don’t have any label or anybody helping you.
No, that’s the thing. We don’t have anybody. We don’t have a label, we’re just on the cusp of getting an agent and a manager. We’ve been completely on our own and we’ve had to do all the footwork ourselves — all the management and all the booking. But it has made us much better at handling our own work.

What direction were you going with Pray for Rain — any particular underlying theme?
We had this thing going with the shows we were performing and I think our main objective, even if it wasn’t said out loud, was to get what we were doing recorded so that we could have this as the physical embodiment of what we were performing. We could have made the record so that it was more appealing to radio, that the tracks were shorter, but we wanted to create something that really captured the music when we perform live. This was our first stab at it.
How do you come up with lyrics? Are you inspired by anything in particular?
I think I write for a couple of different reasons. At certain times songwriting is sort of an exploration process for me. I have something I want to write a song about even though I don’t know anything about it. I want to learn about it so I’ll spend a day researching a subject about it and take everything I’ve learned, summarize it and turn it into a song. For example, the first song off of our album, "Dempsey." I wanted to write this epic boxing piece because I had been watching a lot of old Irish movies. Songs are sometimes more story-oriented and sometimes more emotionally-oriented.

What’s your dream venue to play?
Honestly, I’ve played my dream show many times. Not to say there aren’t shows that I dream about playing. But my favorite shows to play are in small venues without a stage and just a bunch of people packed in. There’s this place in Santa Cruz called The Crepe Place that I absolutely love to play in. It’s this tiny little bar that fits 100 people. When we play shows there it sells out. It’s stuffed full of people, it’s hot and muggy and the windows fog up. Everyone is super sweaty and it’s always the most high energy shows we play. The big shows and stages separate us from the audience I feel like but maybe because in my experience I’m used to playing smaller shows and it’s something I’ll overcome by playing bigger theaters more often.

We really want to get on the festival circuit in the area and in California. [I feel like] we really win people over in front of big crowds — we have a wonderful time and they have a wonderful time.

Any highlights from this Northwest tour so far?
We really love doing this circuit  — we come up every six months. And we have a really special connection with Bend, OR. When we went up to Bend this time, they just had a huge snowstorm and everything was snowed in so we didn’t get the crowd that we hoped for. But people that really wanted to see us still made it out. People were skiing to get there — seriously — it was ten degrees and everything was snowed in.

And in Astoria, OR at Fort George Brewery, it was our first time playing in that town. This place already had a built-in crowd because they expect whoever booking it to put on a good show, so there were 70 people there, which is a lot for the first time in a new town. They were all music lovers and it was the best set of our tour so far. But last night I was so sick and congested, I was worried about how the show was going to go but it went well. Now we’re off to Seattl,e so I’m going to try and power nap to get myself healthy again (laughs).

Marty O'Reilly and the Old Soul Orchestra play Amnesia at 9 p.m. tonight, Nov. 25. $7;

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