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Tripping Along The Ledge


“He went out drunk and hit the ball like he was beating the hell off someone. He was a superhero.”

Songwriter Thomas Walsh talks Twitter, Brian Wilson and crisp addiction.

You’re looking well, Thomas.
Thank you. Lost five stone in the last year. I was twenty-five stone, I’m now twenty. Ideally, I’d like to be fifteen. I had a bit of a shock to be honest. I was told if it happened again, I’d be gone before I was fifty. So I haven’t eaten crisps in a year. Seriously, there should be rehab for crisp eaters.

What are the secrets of your bikini body?
My tip would be not eating a big plate of taco fries and falling asleep in the chair. If you do that most nights of the week, with a bellyful of drink and a kebab, that’s not going to be good for you. It’s not a myth. The new album is your major label debut. They finally succumbed. Why?
My guess is it was the Ivor Novello nomination for the Duckworth Lewis Method. Without blowing my own trumpet, I’ve also had some high profile people say kind things about my work.

I’ll blow that trumpet on your behalf. Brian Wilson, Jeff Lynne, Bill Bailey, Simon Pegg and Chris Morris are all fans.
I actually met Brian Wilson when he played Vicar Street. He said, you’re the Nice To Be Nice guy. Great song! That was amazing. I’ve since heard he likes any song with “nice” in the title. But still. There are two photos. In the first, I have my arm around him. It’s a beautiful shot. In the second, I still have my arm around him. But he looks totally bewildered. The light goes on and off, I think.

You recorded the cricket-themed Duckworth Lewis Method album with Neil Hannon of the Divine Comedy. Not the most obvious pairing, some might say?
We aren’t?

Well, he’s very dapper…
He’s dapper. Continue, please.

I’m just laying that card on the table. You can interpret it any way you like.
He’s dapper and I look like a bin man. Well, that’s true. I met him at [Father Ted writer] Graham Linehan’s wedding reception. He had his child along and he was kind of stressed. But a few years later, Graham lost his mobile. He sent an email with his new number to all his friends. There was just a huge list of names. Some very cool addresses. Halfway down, I saw Neil’s email address.

Jesus, so you stalked the fucker?
No, I’d been asked to record a Christmas single for an epilepsy charity. So I asked him to help me with that track. We were driving home after the session and I was chatting away. He said, “Excuse me Thomas, I know you’re not interested. But could I just listen to the cricket results please?” I took umbrage at this. I said, what do you mean I wouldn’t be interested? I love cricket.

So where did the cricket thing come from?
I’m a working class kid. I’m from Drimnagh. And I know colonialism was a very bad thing. But even Hitler gave the world a decent car in the Volkswagen. And I don’t mind saying the British gave the world a wonderful sport in cricket. The first time I ever watched cricket was the famous Ashes test of 1981, when Ian Botham went out drunk and hit the ball like he was beating the head off someone. He was a superhero. Once Neil and I realised we had that in common, I think a light went on in both our heads. We thought, maybe there’s a little more to this friendship than we first thought.

What are the perks to being a major label recording artist?
When EMI signed me to this deal they got me a Blackberry and set me up for Twitter. I’m @ThomasWalsh1.

You could be the victim of a miscarriage of justice.
Exactly, free the Thomas Walsh 1!

Ever regret that all of the critical acclaim you’ve enjoyed hasn’t translated into mega riches?
I live in Crumlin. It’s just a bedsit. But it fits me. My family is here. My life is here. Sometimes I think, oh, I should have gone to L.A. But I never even had taxi fare to the airport. I might give it all up some day and start doing Sinatra covers for a living. I wouldn’t slag off anyone who does that, in fact. But I’ve got a lot more to say for now.

Finally, what’s the best thing about growing older?
No longer giving a shit about what’s cool. Or at least realising that what everyone else thinks is cool isn’t what’s really cool. Like Paul McCartney releasing Mull of Kintyre in 1977. Putting out a song with bagpipes on it about some mull in Scotland at the very height of punk that: to me, that’s the most punk rock thing in the world!

The Olympus Sound is out August 19th.

August 2nd, 2011.

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