The Quireboys have been peddling their honky tonk bar room rock for more than two decades but 2008 has been a landmark year for the band. rushonrock caught up with guitarist Paul Guerin to talk the past 12 months, the future and the small matter of an FA Cup song with Blyth Spartans…
Paul Guerin: We were packing them in every night and I think we’re looking at playing a few larger venues in 2009. I know we’re moving to the main room in the Academy at Newcastle and I think that one’s already been pencilled in. There’s been a great cross-section of people at all the shows this year and I don’t think too many have gone away unhappy!
rushonrock: We’ve been hearing great things about your US support act. Tell us more…
PG: We had Mary McBride supporting us for most of the UK shows this time. She’s been brilliant and I’m sure she’s going to get more and more fans over here very soon. I played with her in the US and after the success of touring with Dan Baird earlier this year we decided to bring over another act in the same vein. The record company were really up for it and she went down a storm. She asked me to play with her but I said I couldn’t really do two gigs a night – I’m getting on a bit these days. Everyone’s always ill in December anyway catching colds and the like so I persuaded Mary I had to look after myself! I think she’s coming back over here in a few weeks to open up for Hayseed Dixie so I’d recommend checking her out.
rushonrock: With the success of new album Homewreckers & Heartbreakers have you been forced to work your socks off for the past few months?
PG: Before we finished off the H&H tour in Newcastle last week we’d been touring pretty non-stop for six or seven months. We’ve been over in Europe a lot playing club shows and festivals and it’s been a long, long year. But it couldn’t have been much better in terms of bringing the band to as many people as possible.
PG: It’s been the biggest year for the Quireboys since I’ve been in the band. The new record is fantastic but it only came about after a period of change. We’ve changed a lot in the last few years – moving labels and changing agents and all that business. People thought we were being lazy and taking too much time between records but H&H only came out after a lot of hard work behind the scenes. We knew we had to get it right across the board this time. It took time to get everything in place just how we wanted it but I think we’re there now. Overall it’s the best it’s been since I joined the lads. And I think the proof of the pudding is two sold-out UK tours in one year.
rushonrock: But you’re making an even bigger noise in Europe…
PG: We still play much bigger shows abroad and the record’s still selling really well in Europe. But we’d like to think that the British public is starting to get behind the band again like it did 20 years ago. Our fans have always stayed loyal to the Quireboys but we always want to play to new people when we can.
rushonrock: So what were the highs of a pretty great year?
PG: Looking back on 2008 I don’t think you can really look beyond the tour we did with Dan Baird and I got the chance to spend some serious time with one of my heroes, Warner Hodges. The whole interaction and camaraderie on that tour was great and it’s one of those times of your life you’ll look back on and realise that they were the really good times. Then of course we’ve played the big European festivals in front of 12,000 people all going crazy for the Quireboys. There’ve been a lot of highlights but we’re aiming for even bigger and better things next year.
rushonrock: Is it right that a US tour is in the pipeline?
PG: People keep talking about us going out on tour in the US and there have been offers but like I said before it has to be the right situation. If I was 20-years-old and starting out I’d be going nuts at the prospect of going over there but it’s a big commitment. We’ve all done that circuit a lot over the years and if and when we go back we want it to be on our terms. It costs money and there’s no point unless we do it properly. There’s a lot of planning involved and you can’t just decide to head over there on a whim. But I think when people in America realise where we’re at these days and get the music then it will only be a matter of time before we head over there. I’m pretty confident it will happen. But right now we’re looking at touring Australia for the first time and that’s a huge undertaking in itself.
rushonrock: Forget the US! What about writing the official FA Cup song for Blyth Spartans?
PG: I remember the whole 1978 FA Cup run like it was yesterday. My Mam wouldn’t let me go to the Wrexham game at St James’s Park because I had a cold (yes, another one but it wasn’t in December). In Blyth we’ve been very patient for the past 30 years waiting for the good times to come back. Since we got involved with the song there’s been people ringing me up who I haven’t spoken to for years and it’s amazing the buzz it’s caused. I was at their game against Gateshead on Boxing Day when the song was played for the first time. They played it in the social club before the match and then blasted it out over the tannoy system. It sounded superb and as a Blyth lad it brought a tear to my eye. But I was treated like a king and I can’t wait for the Blackburn game next Monday.
rushonrock: Finally, what does the immediate future hold for the Quireboys?
PG: “The next project is an acoustic album. I think the Quireboys are perfect for that kind of record with a real live feel and some genuine emotion in the songs. It’s something we’re all pretty excited about and it’s top of the agenda to kick off 2009.”