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MY STORY

'I Started Out with Nothin and I Still Got Most of It Left'

- Seasick Steve

I am a guitarist and composer living in west Cork, Ireland. My musical interests lie predominantly in the areas of Metal, Rock and Blues-Rock but I find inspiration in virtually all styles of music.

I began playing guitar at about the age of thirteen and immediately tried to form bands with friends in Cork city where I grew up. My first real, gigging band in the early 1990s was a heavy/thrash metal act called Miscreant.

In late 1998 I left Ireland and after some travelling, found myself living in the Ruhrgebiet in Germany. Teaming up with fellow Irishman, Camillus Croke (vocals) and American, Jesse Braun (drums), I toured around Germany and surrounding countries playing a mix of metal, rock and Celtic rock covers while working on original compositions in the rehearsal room.

By 2001, American guitarist Drew Myers had joined the fledgling group and John A.B.C. Smith from the former Yugoslavia had taken up bass duties. Now called Hallowed, the band recorded the 'No Escape' EP in 2002 which secured a deal with Shark Records/Crazy Life Music, Germany.

In 2003 Hallowed released the critically acclaimed album, Forgotten People on the Shark label and played around Germany promoting the record over the following year.

Trying to make a dent in a very difficult scene with a record label that provided no support had begun to take its toll on some band members however, and Croke and Myers left Germany in the Summer of 2004, effectively beginning the break-up of the band. The follow up to Forgotten People was already written and in pre-production, but sadly, it never saw the light of day. By the end of the year, I myself was on my way home to Ireland, burned out and disillusioned.

2005 found me back in my native city of Cork, where I thought my involvement in music would be minimal, but in fact, the opposite was true. My busiest years were ahead of me.

I had kept in close contact with Hallowed colleague, John A.B.C. Smith and he asked if I would help compose material for a new band he was forming with drummer Mark Cross called God's Army. This project gathered momentum very quickly and before the year was out we had a track on a Rock Hard Magazine sampler and I was on my way back to Germany for a promo-tour including gigs with Paul Di Anno, Mystic Prophecy and some headlining shows of our own. We also began recording sessions in Essen for our debut album.

Just as things looked like they were on the up, bad luck reared its ugly head once more and in early 2006, during the album recording sessions, Mark Cross got an offer to join Firewind which left God's Army without a drummer and the lack of activity while searching for a replacement managed to stem the tide of interest in the band and the project slowly fell into a state of suspended animation. But it wasn't over yet....

Meanwhile back in Cork, I had joined Celtic inspired, death metal outfit, CarnĂșn Rising and I was kept busy playing gigs all over Ireland. There were very memorable full house under-age shows in Cork, an Irish tour with death metal legends, Master and an appearance at Cork's Live at the Marquee, in support of Slayer and Mastadon in 2007. CarnĂșn was an unstoppable juggernaut of a live act and as a guitarist it was immensely challenging.

Around the same time, I managed to put together another incarnation of Hallowed, eventually convincing original vocalist Camillus Croke to play a few shows and record demos of new material. It was a blast, but in the end it wasn't possible to recreate the magic of the original lineup and it didn't last.

There followed a period of wandering in the desert where I wasn't sure what to do next. I gave guitar lessons, jammed with various people and for a while hooked up with my old friend Camillus Croke in a rock cover outfit called Xhail which was great fun and very therapeutic!

Towards the end of 2009 I asked Noel Cunningham, who had played bass in the later incarnation of Hallowed, if he and his brother Phil, who is a drummer, wanted to meet up and play a bit for fun. I had some blues-rock type songs written and I thought it might be enjoyable to hammer them out in a rehearsal room and I'd have a go at singing them.

Without taking things too seriously, within a few months we found ourselves with a decent set together, so we thought we may as well play a few gigs and I wound up fronting a band for the first time. Mockingbird - named after a model of guitar by B.C. Rich - first appeared on a live stage in April 2010. We really enjoyed ourselves and public reaction was very positive so we decided to run with it.

By 2011 Mockingbird was gigging regularly, playing two and a half hour shows and focusing on honing our live act. Our first release came in 2012 in the form of an online single Steal Your Heart Away, followed by a five track CD entitled Fresh Cuts, which received great reviews and was picked up by Rockstakk Records, a distributor in Japan.

In an unusual move, Mockingbird's debut album was recorded one hundred percent live. Live Cuts comprised of our complete, unedited set from Wizzfest 2013, recorded during a short tour in Belgium. It was released online and on CD on our own label, BirdRock Records and distributed in Japan by Rockstakk. Myself, Noel and Phil are immensely proud of the fact that we produced a completely live debut album.

At about the same time as Live Cuts was released, I was contacted by John A.B.C. Smith with the news that the debut God's Army album (God's Army A.D.), which I assumed was dead and buried, had been completed and was to be released on Massacre Records in May 2014. As it turned out, Mark Cross was also back in the fold behind the drum kit, but it wasn't until January 2015 that we played our reunion gig; a support slot with Scanner in Rockpalast, Bochum, Germany. We've been building our fanbase ever since and the second album Demoncracy has been completed and is due for release in late 2017.

If you've managed to read this far you'll have noticed there's been no mention of my solo project, Ianos. The reason for this is I wasn't sure how to fit it into the timeline as it's something I've been working on behind the scenes for many years whenever I had spare time, which wasn't very often. Some of the tracks I've recently released began life ten or maybe twelve years ago, while others were composed very recently. Though I've made material available online at different times over the last few years, I only got round to officially releasing the Enter The Unknown EP and the single The Chase at the beginning of 2017. I have a lot of other material that needs finishing and I would love to produce a full solo album, but that depends on my commitments to other projects and time available. I'm confident that I will produce something new, however, before the year is out.

Thanks for reading and Rock on!