Today sees the release of The Sadness of King Joyce, the new single by Kilkenny-based singer-songwriter Shane Joyce. Shane made a big impression here on us here at FRUK, so much so that we chose his new single as our Song of the Day for which we can now share the music video for. He also took some time out to talk to us about his music, influences and his new album.
When we asked him about the song he said “I try not to get too deep into what my songs are about. I like to let them do that for themselves if they can, but it’s likely clear enough to any listener what the lyrics are dealing with. Though in some ways realising how insignificant you are is a blessing. It means you can just get on with it and live your little life the way you want to live it.”
Q&A with Shane Joyce
FRUK: A glance through your bio reveals someone who is very taken by the art of songwriting. You mention Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg as early influences, what was it about them in particular that drew you to their poetry and prose? Have you ever attempted any of their techniques in approaching writing (legal ones at least)?
SJ: To me, songwriting is about all that matters. Most anybody can sing or learn to play an instrument or dance make themselves look sexy but the real test is to bring something new into the world that was not there before. That’s what songwriting is to me.
The beats had a big influence on me as a young man. Howl and On The Road sort of changed my opinion on how a mind should be. Most brains these days seem to come off the same society stained factory line. These guys helped make me see how easy it is to be an individual and break away from the main.
I write songs and poetry very, very fast which I guess is similar to Kerouac’s 100 miles an hour typewriting. I fear I don’t have the dogged persistence he had. I couldn’t write a masterpiece in three weeks, benzedrine or no benzedrine. But thankfully the fire for writing burns regular and strong inside so that it’s constantly and easily tumbling out of me.
FRUK: Besides the Beats, who else has been a strong influence on your songwriting and music?
SJ: I started playing the guitar and singing when I was 15 and I was fully convinced I was going to be Bob Dylan. He was my initial hero and I got lucky with him. There are not many songwriters who would make for a better instructor. If you listen to any of my earlier efforts (including with my band The Midnight Union Band) you’ll notice that they’re riddled with harmonica. This latest album has none, which is a not so subtle indication that I no longer feel the need to become His Bobness.
The songs in this release more resemble the works of the mighty Leonard Cohen. To my ears Dylan is the greatest lyricist there has been and Leonard is the greatest poet-songwriter. There’s a big difference. Lately, I’ve been leaning towards the poetry angle which I think can be heard on this album.
FRUK: Tell us about your new album release and your campaign to fund it.
SJ: The album [The Sadness of King Joyce] will be released on vinyl, cd and digital download on April 9th. I’ll have another single or two out before that I hope.
On Feb 5th I’m kicking off a Fund it campaign which allows people to pre-order a number of great rewards whether it be a download or a vinyl or a lyric sheet or some limited album artwork. There’s something for everybody. You can even pre-book a house concert which is all the rage these days. I did one last year in Germany with The Midnight Union Band and was surprised with how enjoyable it was, both for us and the crowd.
In this winner takes all music “industry” it’s important to have a small, solid fan base of support which you can rely on time and time again. I’m very lucky and appreciative to have that.
FRUK: And finally…What was the last book you read and album you heard that made a big impression?
I read quite a bit but some time back I spent a year reading everything Ernest Hemingway wrote back to back and it had a profound impact on me. I think it helped with the lyrics for this album also in a small way. It showed me that simplicity can be a very powerful tool and how the use of one word in a sentence can turn it from something good to something perfect. I miss reading him and I haven’t found anyone like him yet.
Two great albums I’ve heard recently are Capacity from Big Thief and Don’t Let The Kids Win by Julia Jacklin. Woman have a way of singing so high and sweet and effortlessly and these albums are great examples of that, along with excellent, no bullshit lyrics and great backing music.
I saw both at Greenman festival last year in Wales and they blew me away. Speaking of which the lineup looks great again this year. Maybe I’ll see you there.
Find out more about Shane Joyce here: www.shanejoyce.com