The Quireboys are back on the road this month – supporting critically acclaimed new album Amazing Disgrace with a series of up close and personal acoustic shows. Rushonrock editor Simon Rushworth caught up with guitarist Paul Guerin.
Rushonrock: Your unplugged shows have become a staple of the Quireboys’ live offering in recent years and many peers have followed suit – what persuaded you to take the plunge and embrace acoustic?
Paul Guerin: The acoustic shows started almost accidentally as it happens. A couple of friends of ours in Norway said they were in a position to book a couple of acoustic shows if we could come over. At that point Keith [Weir, keyboards] wasn’t part of what we thought could be an acoustic set-up so it was just the three of us went over there – me, Spike and Guy [Griffin, guitars].
Rushonrock: And how did that work out?
PG: Very well. While we were over there we wrote the Beautiful Curse album and it was a very positive experience. We played the acoustic shows and I thought to myself ‘hang on, we could actually make something out of this’. We all enjoyed it so much it was the easiest decision to do some more. I have to say I truly love those stripped-down shows.
Rushonrock: What’s the appeal of unplugging and baring all?
PG: It’s a totally different scenario to the full live show. There’s no script, the setlist is fairly fluid and we see how the mood takes us. There’s usually a bit of banter and some interaction with the crowd but we’re comfortable with that. As a musician why wouldn’t you want to play in that kind of environment? It’s fantastic.
Rushonrock: Looking back was it one of the better decisions the band has made during the last decade?
PG: It happened by chance but I’m so pleased we took the plunge. We love our band and we love playing live so in that respect what’s not to like? Of course, the acoustic shows have evolved as we’ve realised what’s actually possible. But it’s a very basic premise: we’re just four fellas who are great pals and we love playing music together. Nothing is planned and nothing is rehearsed. What you see is what we decide to do on the night. With social media, fans feel as if they are so much closer to musicians and bands but a Quireboys acoustic show is as close as it gets. It’s the real deal.
Rushonrock: Given the wholly positive response to Amazing Disgrace can fans expect to hear acoustic versions of some new tunes this month?
PG: We’re going to play a couple of new songs during the acoustic shows. Definitely. This Is It and Eve Of The Summertime look like they’ll make the cut. Fortunately, Newcastle is the first date on the tour so we’ll try out a few things in front of some familiar faces safe in the knowledge that they’ll let us know what works…and what doesn’t! You can spend hours sitting down and planning things but sometimes life just takes its own course and amazing things happen. That’s what we’re hoping for in Newcastle and it should set the tone for the rest of the shows.
ROR: How proud are you with your contribution to Amazing Disgrace?
PG: In the past I’ve always come up with a few songs. Guy is more prolific than me when it comes to songwriting but I still write tonnes of stuff. I actually work with a guy in Belfast and the majority of the songs I write just aren’t Quireboys songs. But the songs that I think will work for the Quireboys, I’m always keen to bring to the table. On the new album I wrote Amazing Disgrace and This Is It and I love to contribute where I can. We’re releasing an album a year and so it would be a but rubbish if I didn’t pull my weight! I could bring in more but there’s a system within the band that I respect and it’s worked well for a lot longer than I’ve been in the Quireboys. Spike and Griff are the chief songwriters but I’m proud that I can make my mark alongside them. It feels good to hear my songs on a new album.
ROR: The reaction to the new record has been overwhelmingly positive – what do you put that down to?
PG: Being in a fantastic studio and writing and recording together made a huge difference. These days it’s easy enough to do bits here and there but you can’t beat the old school approach to making an album. For me having our drummer Dave McCluskey in from the start made a huge difference. He’s a very talented guy and he has a lot of important stuff to say. His contribution to Amazing Disgrace can’t be underestimated.
*The Quireboys embark on their latest run of acoustic dates on May 14.