You’re unlikely to ever experience music as transcendent as that created by Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill. In this episode, we delve into the minds of one of music’s essential relationships.
Martin Hayes: So this a series of documentaries that, kind of, like - Well, not documentaries like, but -
[00:00:14.02] Well, it's a show called 'Born Optimistic', it's on every week.
Martin Hayes: Alright.
[00:00:16.26] And the show is all about artists and their world views and it, kind of, harkness back - I mean, how I felt as a kid and it was music that really inspired conscience and my morality and my direction and, personally, I feel that music probably deserves a bit more re-elevation in society than it's had over the last few years, you know, and so it's me, basically, as a forty-five year old, nearly forty five, looking back to the seventeen year old me and trying to - And I'm doing it for my listeners as well because it's radio and podcast, it's aimed to people who don't have time so really time poor people, a lot of them have kids, who are looking back at their teenage selves and go 'What happened? Where did that go _?' and so, in a way, I'm going back to the type of people that would've inspired me as a teenager, not that you were playing when I was a teenager, but going back to the people that inspired me and finding out how they cope with life and that. So the show is called 'Born Optimistic' and I'm a naive optimistic and I really appreciate you taking your time to be here so I'd like to kick off by asking you where you feel you sit on the optimism spectrum, Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill?
Martin Hayes: Well, I'd say I'm a pretty optimistic as a human being, if you have a life in music you have to surrender control of a lot of what can happen in your life and if you do it for long enough and things seem to work out without controlling everything then you'd have to believe that life is pretty good and that it most likely will continue if you keep it applying and addressing life in the same way, you know, that it ought to continue in a positive way.
[00:02:07.29] So it's almost if it ain't broke don't fix it.
Martin Hayes: Well, yeah, I mean, I wouldn't fix it, I mean, you know, the things that happen by seeming accident and stuff like that are by chance, you know, a lot of what goes on and happens in life is that I think, you know, and so my feeling is to stay open to that more and more, to trust it even more.
[00:02:39.00] And Dennis, do you concur? Where do you see yourself on the spectrum of optimism?
Dennis Cahill: It's almost a forced optimism, I think, I mean, if something goes wrong I make myself get kind of quiet about it and think, I think there is always a way through this, there is a way out and what I find then is usually you end up on an option that, actually, it could be better, it's just you don't see it because you get so myopic about 'I have to do this.', but sometimes you have to go around it to get it, but opportunity has opened up that's in the music business in particular, I think and in the arts, you're not going to have stability, it's not a given thing, it's not like you're (worthing), but I don't think there's stability in any job anymore so you constantly have to, kind of, look forward in finding things to do and there's always something, you just have to find the way to make it work.
[00:03:28.15] Well, it's kind of like the rest of the world is now re-touting itself as how musicians and artists have to live.
Dennis Cahill: Yeah.
[00:03:35.08] And maybe in a way that's why I'm turning to artists for guidance.
Martin Hayes: Well, you see, yeah, I mean, I think people - I mean, remember growing up, like, there was this concept of the pensionable job or permanent employment, you know, permanent public service employment was like - Prudent parents encouraged people to do this, but as life is moving forward, like, in all likelihood in a number of years there won't be such a thing as a job, like, what's happening for young people now and I see it in Spain and other places you're becoming your own corporation, you're being - You're managing your own life, you're managing your own pension, you're under contract, nobody is giving you anything, you're on the contract all the time to do this so people aren't employing people anymore, you're in charge of your own personal corporation here, you know?
[00:04:34.09] And when you were growing up, Dennis, were you under pressure to get them - Well, the job in the bank was the big one when I was growing up, but were you under pressure to get the equivalent of the job in the bank?
Martin Hayes: He did.
Dennis Cahill: Yeah, actually, I was, I actually did work in a bank at one point during - I was in music school and I worked at the bank, actually, as so it was the longest job I've ever had that was a straight job and it was for all of three months because I went back to school with it and - From there, but my mom was just 'Be a banker.', you know, and -
[00:05:03.08] And you have to laugh now, of course.
Dennis Cahill: Well, I had the laugh when the thing crashed because I remember meeting somebody that worked at the bank and he was a musician, I said 'I bet you're sorry you gave up piano now', he had nowhere to go with anything, I'm still working here now.
[00:05:19.13] And, of course, you grew up in the wilds of Clare, Martin, if you don't mind me calling Feakle as such -
Martin Hayes: Yeah, oh, pretty much, yeah.
[00:05:25.24] What was the expected trajectory for you as a child?
Martin Hayes: Well, you see, I mean, I grew up loving music and it was the number one passion in my life all through my life, you know, but it never occurred to me that I could have a career doing this and so I went to what's now University of Limerick and studied business.
Martin Hayes: Yeah.
[00:05:49.11] I can't picture that.
Martin Hayes: Well neither can I and neither could anybody else apparently because I never actually ended up doing that, but -
[00:05:56.10] But I'd say you're a (canny) man all the same.
Martin Hayes: Not really, no, I'm more of a, kind of - I don't _ - I mean, I'm aware of what's going on in the business world and political world and things like that (doesn't _) for sure, but I operate by different principals largely speaking, you know, because, like, a life in the arts is going to force you to live making what are on one hand seeming like non-pragmatic, irrational choices like the decision to pursue the most passionate element of a piece of music is not in itself a rational choice, you know?
[00:06:42.08] And I'm intrigued at so at what stage your lives intersected, I assume it was after you emigrated to America is when you met Dennis -
Martin Hayes: Yeah.
[00:06:48.22] So just to put that in context, what age were you when you went to America, why did you go to America, was that to pursue music or what?
Martin Hayes: Yeah, well, I mean, after I finished doing the bit of business education in Limerick I actually tried to run - I'm glad this never worked out, I've never talked about this, but it's horrible, like, it was, kind of, providing lunch time meals in factories, like, around the mid west region, you know, it was like this little business, but it absolutely went belly up, you know, and so I was at a loss and I'd also managed to - If my business wasn't going well I managed to break my left ankle which meant I couldn't drive and so my business just went kaputt, like, and there were a few friends who had a kind of a - They, kind of, had a wedding band, you know, stuff like that, it really wasn't probably my thing, but this is 'We're going to the States for a few months, you want to come?' and I come, 'Yeah, let's get the hell out of here!', you know, and so I headed to America and - Well, basically, the plan that I would pay off the debts all that I had incurred here.
[00:07:58.06] Of the business?
Martin Hayes: Yeah, yeah, and stuff, so that took longer than I thought and so I ended up being there and -
[00:08:04.18] And where did you land into America?
Martin Hayes: Chicago, well, I was all over the East Coast, but the last gig was in Chicago so we stayed there and, you know, the music way, it was okay, but I was, well, as I was reading yesterday of Fintan O'Toole that - Now, I don't want to come as _ I was undocumented, okay, I was undocumented and -
[00:08:30.20] And of course, Dennis, documentation was never a problem for you.
Dennis Cahill: No.
Martin Hayes: But it forced me into music, like, I worked in the construction site for a little while and (I'm going) I didn't like that too much so, but music was an option for the undocumented -
[00:08:44.22] Cash in hand.
Martin Hayes: And so it actually propelled me into a music career in spite of myself so you'd have to think like that there are forces at play in this universe that make you do the thing you're supposed to do or at least encourage you in that direction because I'd probably never would have become a professional musician had I stayed here and had I not been forced into that predicament.
[00:09:08.28] And where were you born, Dennis?
Dennis Cahill: Chicago.
[00:09:11.08] You were born in Chicago? So to take the timeline up to speed what have significances happened in your life before you guys met?
Dennis Cahill: I was making a living, I went from one type of music to the other and I was what they would call over there a jobbing musician, you know, you call in, you take the job and Chicago is a great town for work, there is a lot of conventions, there's all sorts of stuff so you can work a lot if you get many contacts and so you'd, kind of, just farm out gigs and then eventually people would call me and if I couldn't do it I'd find a musician for him so I had this thing where the guy gave the gig to would call me because he owed me one and then the other people always called me because I'd find someone for them so there were a couple of us this so we were just passing gigs around, no commissions because you would better just getting a free gig from them so you did okay with it, there's a lot of work in Chicago too.
[00:10:04.20] And Conor Byrne told me something very interesting, the flautist, would you call him a flautist?
Martin Hayes: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
[00:10:11.16] Conor Byrne the flautist.
Martin Hayes: In polite society, yeah, a flute player _
[00:10:15.16] The flute player, the flute player.
Dennis Cahill: The flute guy, yeah.
Martin Hayes: Generally, he would go to the Willie Clancy Week as a flute player, less likely as a flautist, he wouldn't flauting _ flautism, he wouldn't be -
[00:10:29.07] (He's not in) James Galway _
Martin Hayes: Yeah, yeah.
[00:10:30.17] But for anyone who has been to a Hayes Cahill gig they might find this next bit of information slightly unusual, but Conor Byrne told me that you, Dennis Cahill, used to be a stand up comedian.
Dennis Cahill: No, I worked with a stand up comedian.
Martin Hayes: But no, but to be fair, he, actually, he was kind of like - You know the way, in American TV you would've seen, like, the main late night comedian and his sidekick, Dennis was a kind of a comedian's sidekick so he used to put these little unexpected asides into the middle of these comedic routines that would throw things in all kinds of directions so he did, actually, work as a, kind of, a quasi cynical comedian _ just think _ he doesn't tell you (actually).
Dennis Cahill: I did actually, I was _ straight man and, basically, I made fun of the comedian and occasionally someone in the audience if _ popped up, I mean, I think the worst - Well, it wasn't - It was one of the - The ones that - You see, the best part about doing that part of it is he has to keep being funny and I get to sit there and (when) a situation opens up I got all day to write something, you know, and I remember a guy came in, he always did nationalities and _ this guys stands up and he says he's an Indian and he says 'Like from India?' and he said 'No, I'm Cherokee.', this is a dinner show thing and there was about three hundred people in the room and I know this comedian has no Indian jokes, I know this, he's _ because I knew everything, so he turns to me and says 'What do you think about that, he's an Indian?' and I _ in the mic I said 'Do you have a reservation?' and I (couldn't believe) _ it was so wide open.
[00:12:09.16] And now I see parallels between Hayes and Cahill.
Martin Hayes: So that's what he was doing when I saw him in Chicago.
[00:12:15.17] Well, can you remember the first time you met, you set eyes on each other?
Martin Hayes: Okay, this is a tricky one now because Dennis disagrees with this, this version of reality, like, I was working on the construction site in Chicago and I got invited - Well, there was this priest from Clare Father _ Maloney, he was a good friend, but he was trying to help me out, you know, says 'You should come over to Town Foxes', this restaurant and stuff like and this is where I saw Dennis and was playing with George Casey from Muldoc and he'd organised it 'I'll get Martin to play couple of tunes here, he'll sit in with Dennis and these guys'.
[00:12:59.16] A blind date of sorts.
Martin Hayes: Yeah, yeah, so I sat in for a tune, like, I played - Now, Dennis hadn't played much Irish music at that point so I wouldn't say it was like hectic, you know?
Dennis Cahill: Yeah.
Martin Hayes: But he burdened off the stage with a bunch of bluegrass after that, like, then I couldn't play at all and I was if limping off the stage really so this was my first experience with Dennis, like, you know, it's hard to believe we're friends, like, that we, actually, survived that occasion, like, (but we did it) -
[00:13:25.03] What did you make of the hairy upstart, I assume he was hairy then as well.
Martin Hayes: Unfortunately, no.
Martin Hayes: No.
Dennis Cahill: No, nobody wasn't.
Martin Hayes: Short haired country farmer boy kind of look.
Dennis Cahill: He also, kind of, met me at the point where I actually couldn't stand doing this gig anymore, it was driving me crazy and I - It was just a thing, you get an attitude when you're working a gig you don't like, it had nothing to do with the other guy, I just shut up and doing something because it was more about doing comedy than it was playing music and so that was the thing so I probably wasn't the most pleasant human being, I wasn't pleasant to anybody (here then _)
Martin Hayes: He was an edgy guy at that time, now he's an extremely relaxed human being _ (spontaneous like), but he was edgy.
Dennis Cahill: I was edgy and, you know, basically, it would kind of get _ we would (get) _ that was all that was to it and even got to that point in the show where the comedian - I was the guy that hammered somebody if they were heckling, you know.
[00:14:10.17] So has a zen come over you since because you seem like a pretty chilled individual?
Dennis Cahill: Yeah, I'm having a good time now, these were long hours with people yelling at you all the time.
Martin Hayes: I'd give it my assessment of that time, like, it was an interesting - You know, some people complain that they're not getting to do in life what they want to do, right? And they complain and they complain, but even when they get to do what they want to do they're still complainers, right? But Dennis used to complain about not getting to do what he wanted to do in life, but as soon as he did get to do what he wanted to do he, actually, stopped complaining, like, like -
[00:14:45.25] And what was that thing?
Martin Hayes: Well, he get to play music in a way and in a focused way that he wanted to play it and have the freedom to do that. I remember Dennis - Like, I could say Dennis's personality changed on -
[00:14:57.19] That's incredible.
Martin Hayes: Well, you know, it - To a sense, you know.
Dennis Cahill: It was the point of, like, there's something about sitting down with a some piece of music you like and, boy, I love sitting around figuring things out to do, like trying things against it, what can I bring out, what's the melody like, in detailing and stuff and getting the little things done and when you're stuck in a situation where you're having to do things you don't like and there is nothing you can do with the music anyway it's just I'm sitting there thinking, you know, 'This is - I could cut my head off and do this.', I mean, I worked in bands where the literally I - We played, you know, in dance bands and stuff, you know, and you'd play the same thing in a row and if we're playing this particular tune it was ten o'clock because it was -
[00:15:40.25] Oh, my God.
Dennis Cahill: Yeah, it was like a track.
[00:15:42.26] Oh, God.
Dennis Cahill: And at one point I get a new bass player and he got in and he said 'So what key is this in?', I said 'I don't have a clue.' because my hands were just playing, you know -
[00:15:49.29] Automate pilot.
Dennis Cahill: But now, with this, I mean, I remember with Martin with the first tour we did and we were in Norway and I just love going into the - Going into the, you know, hotel room and finding these _ like 'I have an idea!' -
Martin Hayes: I get a knock on that, you know, like 'I have these cards, what do you think of this?', like 'I have this idea, what do you think of this?', you know, and so it was a, you know, it started out as a very good working relationship (that one).
[00:16:10.01] And did you have a light bulb moment, like, did you, kind of, go 'I know what this guy needs, it's me.' or did you say 'I need this guy.', like, you were the instigator, I'm taking it so -
Martin Hayes: Well, Dennis became a kind of a something of a gateway for me into a different music culture in Chicago as well, you know, and I also knew that, like, he knew to play - He knew how to play a lot of genres and I was more attracted to somebody who could play another genres than just let's say traditional Irish music because I always felt there were some connections I needed to make there, there was something I needed to understand, something I needed just to learn so, initially, you know, after being in Chicago a few years and just kind of (annoying it) so we - Like, I finished playing with this particular, kind of, ballad singer, I was playing in bars, well, it was awful, this - Like, my experience I'm doing this, I'm doing things musically I didn't want to do, well, it's trully awful, but I feel like things like that make you appreciate, deeply appreciate when things are actually working well, like, so, like, there's never a day when I do a gig now that I don't appreciate how wonderful it is and what a good experience that is because I've seen it and experienced it in a very different way also, but, anyway, after a few years of that -
[00:17:27.10] How long are we talking about (what years in calendar?)
Martin Hayes: In the mid eighties.
Dennis Cahill: Yeah.
Martin Hayes: Yeah.
[00:17:30.24] It's that long?
Martin Hayes: Yeah.
Oh, yeah, we've been on the road for, like, 22 years.
Martin Hayes: We've know each other a long time, we've been friends for our whole adult lives, you know?
Martin Hayes: We're longer than McCartney and Lennon, longer than Simon and Garfunkel.
And we probably did as many gigs as all of them put together too, I mean, it started - The first tour started in '95.
Martin Hayes: Yeah, but this is, like, there were years in between -
Dennis Cahill: I bet there were years before that.
Martin Hayes: But we had abandoned Chicago together, in the nineties we shared a house, we -
[00:18:00.23] You lived together?
Martin Hayes: We did, yeah, in a house.
Dennis Cahill: (In the apartment).
Martin Hayes: No, we're not gay, but there you go, but, no, it was like a musicians house hangout where we -
[00:18:12.12] Because seeing you live, like, when you play together the thing that amazes me in so many - But, like, when we go to a Hayes and Cahill gig we go to the pub after it and we talk about it and we're, like, going 'When Dennis did that thing that was just at the time when Martin did that thing.', like, really mind-blowing things that you - I can't imagine you rehearsing, but at the same time I can't imagine coming off anything other than this deep, deep, deep -
Dennis Cahill: Well, it's not, you know, it's a - With our melody thing there's a certain thing that's going to happen and you know if he does one thing, I know if he goes on a phrase one way is going to do this, I look at backing tunes like backing a singer, it's the same thing in my whole approach, you know, I get this whole thing as minimalism as minimalism, you live or die by the melody line whether it's somebody singing it or playing it, that's the thing because people really don't - You know, the rhythm thing, the only time they notice it is usually when it's in the way unless it's just a rhythmic thing you're doing completely, but these tunes are beautiful and their melody lines are beautiful and, you know, you do it what you can to bring them out and -
[00:19:19.00] You serve that.
Dennis Cahill: Yeah, well, then you just want to -
Martin Hayes: We both do, actually -
Dennis Cahill: Yeah.
Martin Hayes: Like, it's less obvious in my case because I'm playing it, you know, so it looks like 'Hey, it's Martin doing his thing.', you know, but in - As I teach workshops, they do all kinds of things, like, my playing is not above my playing, my playing is my own devotion to revealing the beauty of that melodic line and to revealing all the potential I think it has and so I've really asked Dennis to engage in this same process with me so whether it's a subtle contribution or a large contribution, well, you know, whichever it is it's the collective of the contribution together, big or small, is in a sense in the end result equal is just whatever is required to make the full experience of that melody be something we can feel deeply, you know?
[00:20:14.19] And what do you think is in these melodies for the audience, like, what do you think they contain?
Martin Hayes: It has beauty, wisdom, love, passion, soulfulness, a sense of who we are as a people, does a - The wisdom of a generation of uneducated musicians from the mountains, there's the wisdom that is contained within that, there's the beautiful artistic sensitivity of people that we never realised were artists, there are so many things, like, channelled into these little melodic lines, you know, and they're recognisable and understandable across all culture boundaries and that's a remarkable thing, I mean, because of the universality of the music language and it's just like - And the universality of Irish music is not achieved by watering it down, it's achieved by going right into the heart of it, you know, and that's the amazing thing so, like, it's the music forum is incredible, it's incredible and it also because it's a simple music it demands of you humility because you can't boast about what you do with this, you can't outrank other music forums because it's simple to play, you can't - You know, so it make you have to be humble whether you like it or not or whether you want to be, you have to be.
[00:21:54.09] Do you concur?
Dennis Cahill: Oh, definitely, I remember having that argument about somebody who played Irish music very technically and, you know, really went for the dazzle stuff which is - It's another factor of doing it and they were going on about it and I just said well, you know, when you start doing this thing and you're flying up and down the neck and a violin and stuff, I mean, all over the place and putting a lot of things into it -
Dennis Cahill: Yeah, showboating.
Martin Hayes: Yeah.
Dennis Cahill: I said okay, if you're going to get into the tech part of it, this was my argument, if you wrote it down, if you had somebody who wrote it down exactly like they played it and you handed it to, say, somebody who came out of Berkeley that was, you know, getting their doctorate in this in as a performer they'd be able to read it and they'd be able to nail it, getting them to try and do Paddy Canny they'd have no idea how to work the bow technique, they'd have no idea how to get the phrasing that way because that you have to learn by understanding the music, it's not at the piece of paper, you have to hear that and that takes a lifetime, it does.
Martin Hayes: Yeah, but anything takes a lifetime, but a lifetime is a very easy thing to attribute to this if it's an enjoyable experience, you know, I mean, like, there's no that's like 'Hey, I worked so hard for this.', it's not like that, I mean, I didn't work so hard for it, I just love doing it.
[00:23:13.01] I'm assuming or guessing with a surname like Cahill or Cahill there might be some Irish roots?
Dennis Cahill: Parents from the Dingle Peninsula, (Cahulaha) originally.
[00:23:23.11] So my question that was did Martin bring this music to you or was this music already in your life?
Dennis Cahill: I have heard some of it, you know, I'd heard, I'd heard some of it, I remember hearing the (Cheepson's) first album and the Bothy Band and things like that and I really liked it, you know, some of it I really thought it was incredible.
[00:23:38.23] But it wasn't the same as growing up in Feakle where it's -
Martin Hayes: Yeah, I mean, he wasn't, like, let's say, he wasn't really playing trad music when I've met him, it was part of the attraction because, like, I said 'Well, here's my idea of traditional music.'.
[00:23:54.07] And this thing that you felt about things not being done right and you wanted to do them the certain way, was this something that you had building up inside you for a long time and you're awaiting for an outlet for it?
Martin Hayes: Yeah, yeah, no, I mean, like, I kind of hit the ground (off X) from how this music was being played essentially, but not as obscurely as one would imagine because I actually was listening to very old musicians that were largely being not heard, not understood, now, they weren't all technically geniuses, in fact few of them were, but their point of view and their understanding and what it is they were looking to achieve and experience in music was magical, was beautiful and so I, kind of, immersed myself in that understanding of music and that way of seeing it and out in the larger world there weren't that many musicians to collaborate with on that idea, that idea of a feeling music as opposed to, like - Of a music about feeling, you know, and -
[00:24:59.07] And were your heroes people that were accessible to you, people that you knew?
Martin Hayes: Oh, I knew them, yeah, and they would've been - My father was a fiddle player, of course, and he was the prime access for me and the prime motivation in many ways, but through him and my uncle Paddy Canny and all the fiddle players of West Clare and East Clare, I knew all the(m) - I knew them quite well and had experienced them up close, had listen to them in conversation, had seen them in my house, people like Tommy (Ponts) from Dublin used to come down, used to spend evenings in the house and they'd play and they'd talk and they'd play and they'd talk, so I was immersed in that from early childhood.
[00:25:39.07] And I almost felt that, for me, having dealt with all kinds of musicians from all different genres trad musicians roll a certain way, there's a certain way trad musicians navigate the world -
Martin Hayes: Yeah.
[00:25:53.00] - That I think it's kind of quite unique and in a way I see a lot about comparisons between trad and graffiti, if you know what I mean -
Martin Hayes: Yeah, okay, yeah, yeah -
[00:26:01.07] In the sense that it's not (for) done with an immediate reward path or an immediate feedback (loop).
Martin Hayes: Oh, that's correct, yeah, there's no - Like, in fact, one does it for the sake of doing it, like, this is essentially I think and there is a community in a sense of belonging as well that comes with it, but that's essentially the only peripheral reward, but the music itself is the reward and -
[00:26:25.00] So how receptive was America, I mean, so Hayes and Cahill started in America.
Martin Hayes: Yeah, yeah.
[00:26:29.10] Could Hayes and Cahill have gotten to where you are today if you had started in Ireland as opposed to America is what I'm really asking?
Dennis Cahill: Very interesting, yeah.
Martin Hayes: I don't think so, I don't think so, actually, I think America - We were, like, kind of, we were in Chicago which is even though it's a big city and stuff it's marginal in a way, it's not the East Coast, it's not the West Coast, it's, kind of, somewhere out there and so we got - I got to spend many, many years experimenting with, like, complete freedom and without, you know, that layer of, oh, you know, or like popping your head up and getting hit down before you get started which often happens like so we had plenty of time, plenty of time to make false starts, plenty of time to experiment with things that didn't work out, plenty of time to make a fool of yourself, you know, trying to do this and trying to do that and then I left it all behind, I went to the West Coast and I left Dennis behind then -
[00:27:26.18] When was this and what prompted that?
Martin Hayes: In the early nineties.
Dennis Cahill: Probably ninety, yeah.
Martin Hayes: Well, it was - All got to do with relationships and women, you know, like, almost every, technically, physical move in my life from one city to another has been - Is a result of that and so I ended up in Seattle.
[00:27:44.26] And how did you feel at this point?
Dennis Cahill: Well, we had that band and it was a very - It wasn't innovative band, but it just simply -
Martin Hayes: (It is) in the face of could fail to reach its potentials.
Dennis Cahill: Yeah, it couldn't get anywhere because it was - My friend, a good friend of mine from the North came to see it and he was perfectly honest and he says 'It's a great band with great musicians', but he said 'After about a half hour I have to go home and lie down' because it was just an assault.
[00:28:11.26] Was it a fusion type of thing?
Martin Hayes: It was a fusion frantic.
Dennis Cahill: All-electric.
Martin Hayes: High energy, all-electric in your face, it was everything that my sensitive soul did never really want, you know?
[00:28:24.16] _ young, dumb and full of cum.
Martin Hayes: It had some of that, yeah, it definitely - Well, but again, part of the reason for that too is that that's what you think you have to do.
[00:28:38.19] But I'm trying to get at did Dennis feel like a dejected, neglected soul when you upsticks and went to - Was it Seattle you went to?
Martin Hayes: Yeah, but the band had, kind of, broken up before that.
Dennis Cahill: Yeah.
[00:28:50.00] So Hayes and Cahill wasn't like the thing, the main thing _
Martin Hayes: No, no, there was no Hayes and Cahill
Dennis Cahill: No, _
[00:28:53.17] There was no Hayes and Cahill?
Martin Hayes: No, you know, the band had broken up, we were friends, but, I mean, we were the central component of the band nonetheless, I think, you know, but -
[00:29:01.21] So for me, like, Live in Seattle which, I think, what years was that?
Martin Hayes: Somewhere in the mid nineties, I suppose, like, or late nineties.
[00:29:09.21] Was it that long?
Dennis Cahill: Yeah.
Martin Hayes: Late nineties?
Dennis Cahill: Yeah, that was the second album (I think).
Martin Hayes: Was it 1999 or something or?
Dennis Cahill: So yeah, had to be pretty closer to (that).
[00:29:17.25] Live in Seattle, I think that the first time I ever saw you was in the (temper) of our Music Centre probably to launch Live in Seattle in Ireland.
Martin Hayes: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
[00:29:24.07] And I've listened to that album, I don't know how many times, but I have no sense whatsoever of where it was recorded or how that came about or what that room was like and, you know, in a way, I don't want you tell me.
Martin Hayes: You don't? _
[00:29:37.16] I've heard it so many times and I have no idea.
Martin Hayes: It's fun, it's fun, I'll tell you all about it.
[00:29:41.25] I have no idea.
Martin Hayes: It's a place called -
Dennis Cahill: Well, the other funny thing about it is that we actually recorded it, we had no engineer.
Martin Hayes: There was no engineer involved.
Dennis Cahill: We've just set up the stuff and we've hit 'Go', that's why that last tracks _ fades out, we ran out of tape so we did -
Martin Hayes: And we weren't in backstage, we didn't know that we had ran out of tape so that had to be a fade out.
Dennis Cahill: So we had to fade it out.
[00:29:58.01] I feel robbed. But for anyone who has no idea about Hayes and Cahill that album, for me, is the perfect - Is the absolute perfect place to start.
Martin Hayes: Because it - Well, it's the closest thing to what happens when we do a concert, of course, you know, and, like, we tend it to, kind of, look at music differently when we're in the studio and just, kind of, (mulling) around in a more contemplative kind of way, but the live performance, like, _ hearing after we had done our 'Lonesome Touch' album people says 'But you guys sound so much different in concert.' so I kept hearing this and I kept going 'Well, I think we better, actually, let people hear something of what we - They might expect if they would ever come and hear us.', you know?
[00:30:41.19] And was there feedback right from the start in terms of - I mean, I find your music very transformative, I suppose, it just - You lock in and, you know, you, kind of, forget about everything except the music, were you getting that kind of feedback from people right from the start?
Martin Hayes: Yeah, and, I mean, the way you describe it is, basically, what we try to do as players, it's how - It's the kind of experience we're looking to have ourselves and so we're always happy if we can hear somebody say that 'Yeah, that's how I'm experiencing it.' because that's what the ultimate of what we're trying to achieve in that sense, but yeah, I mean, we've been edging towards that for a while, I suppose.
[00:31:25.15] And when did you know you're hitting the mark, Dennis, when, like -
Dennis Cahill: Well, I think when the first album came out I was more worried about (if you) told me, like, there's something about letting go of an album and you're not sure what are you going to get because, you know, I wasn't a trained guitar player and, you know, I'm going to get _ -
Martin Hayes: He thought he was going to get murdered.
Dennis Cahill: Yeah, I'm going to get murdered because I'm not playing like anything anybody did, you know, when I'm thinking 'Oh, they're going to kill me.', you know, but they were pretty generous about the whole thing -
Martin Hayes: _ very generous.
Dennis Cahill: Some of the ones that didn't like it just didn't mention me at all and then some people liked it so it was funny.
[00:31:58.20] So what was it like then, kind of, bringing Dennis back to Ireland or anything else, it's like introducing the _ to the family.
Martin Hayes: Oh, yeah, yeah, well, like, I mean, yeah, in a sense, yeah, because he came over here people, like - You came before we made the record, I think, didn't you?
Dennis Cahill: Yeah, well, I kind of went to - I went (it's all my uncle album carry), you know, stuff like that, but -
Martin Hayes: But, like, we arrived to play at the Feakle Festival, like, the local village _
Dennis Cahill: Oh, that was the spirit.
Martin Hayes: And this was, this was like, Dennis was like 'Oh, Steve Cooney was there!' and there
Dennis Cahill: Steve Cooney was there.
Martin Hayes: There were all kinds of people, like -
Dennis Cahill: (And then I) thing with Cooney is - A friend of mine went to, he went to (Ireland) and I had a guitar that I was going to sell and _ back _ and he sold it to Steve Cooney and the first time we met him was at the festival when he ran up to me and he said 'I have your guitar, look, I didn't do anything to it yet.' because he hadn't played it.
Martin Hayes: He hadn't thrashed it yet because Steve does thrash guitars so yeah.
Dennis Cahill: _ guitar _ into whatever, but then we played, we played at the festival in Clare and in - I was really nervous because this is the hometown for him and this is, like, one of the core places and Steve was on the same bill and he came back and he put _ says 'This is going to be great, I heard you on the radio, it's really great.', you know, he was just like this coach.
[00:33:10.29] And had you been to Ireland before?
Dennis Cahill: Hm?
[00:33:12.03] Had you been to Ireland before, before this first -
Dennis Cahill: Just as a vacation, but years and years before, but, yeah, this was like, yeah, because this is, like, not knowing whether I actually knew what I was doing and being thrown into the frontline
[00:33:23.27] Well, Feakle, and (did/then) you chose the place to start, if you can make it there you can make it anywhere.
Dennis Cahill: Yeah, yeah.
Martin Hayes: But, actually, in the first gig you did was at the Galway Arts Festival, like, as part of that run in, the first gig you did was you were accompanying my father and (Francy Dunlop?), the two all-time fiddle players, you know, at the Galway Arts Festival it was.
Dennis Cahill: Yeah, I remember that, I do remember that, they were so - Because we came in off the road, I'm wearing this rumpled shirt and jeans and we're hitting, you know, like, _ and they're up there and they have perfect - They're dressed perfectly.
Martin Hayes: Suits, ties.
Dennis Cahill: And I looked like some guy they found on the street, a busker to come in and _ with them.
[00:34:02.16] And were people receptive and positively accepting what you were doing?
Martin Hayes: Well, as far as we were concerned yes, like, as far as we knew, but apparently there was a significant resistance, like, right from the beginning, I think, with my first album, like, before I even made the albums with - I made two albums before Dennis and I collaborated then again, you know, because I, after moving to Seattle and I worked with (Randal Bass), I worked with Steve Cooney, but then I wanted to, kind of, work with somebody (with who) I could advance the idea and it would continue changing and evolving and that's when I called Dennis and we came back to Ireland and did all this so we picked up, a number of years later, but - What was the question again, I'm _.
[00:34:46.18] The reaction, the reaction when you brought, like, _
Martin Hayes: The reaction, yeah, well, the reaction, like, apparently some people hated it, like, and some people loved it, you know, and so - That's fine, you know, I mean, you can't, like, well, what, you can't have a universal acclaim _
[00:35:03.11] It's kind of like - I'm not, in general, a very precious person and, you know, Hayes and Cahill gigs are incredibly special to me and I'm glad you don't play that often because too much of a good thing can be a bad thing as well, but there's - You know, the whole, kind of, Gloaming thing is something that I haven't dipped my toe, I've bought the albums, but I haven't gone to the shows and I don't - You know, I'm going tonight and I think I am, I'm supposed to be going and I'm just, you know, I'm, kind of, been nervous in a way, I've seen all of the individuals many times, but I - Do you know what I mean? I feel -
Martin Hayes: (But) it's, essentially -
[00:35:42.08] Maybe I'm over thinking it.
Martin Hayes: No, no, I wouldn't - Yeah, I wouldn't think too hard about this, you know, I mean, we don't even so it's like - But essentially I think, like, in the case of (Iarla/earless) singing, it's, like, it goes straight to the heart of _ song, it goes straight to the heart of a song and in the case of a tune being played when I'm playing a tune we still go to the heart of the tune, like, that's still driving it, you know -
Martin Hayes: So it's just a very big, elaborated version of maybe what Dennis and I do in many way, you know.
[00:36:17.05] But, you know, like, the Gloaming was initiated on the back of a Hayes and Cahill freak, Doveman following you around every gig on a tour, like, that was the genesis of it, wasn't it or?
Martin Hayes: Well, yeah, I mean, I've known him since that period and -
[00:36:32.15] That's how the story is told, right.
Martin Hayes: So I known him for a long time, yeah, and - But it's a bit like Dennis as well in that, like, you know, when I wanted to create this idea bringing in Thomas was like bringing a guy who had had his hands in many different musical worlds and it was well and so I - But I also knew that he knew my world and that he knew the world of this music as well and I just - It was, like, kind of, an effort to bring all these different attributes together as one.
[00:37:04.21] So did you want something more than that Hayes and Cahill wasn't giving you, was that how you perceived it to Dennis, like, from your thing, like, what you know about needs and wants -
Martin Hayes: Yeah.
Dennis Cahill: I think it's good to put things together like that because it makes you think out of the box, you will - The thing will expand, I mean, when we go back to playing, like, we play it, we do a duo thing and then we expand in our own way that way, but when you're with this other thing now you're going to make a little room and you got to, you know, you got to figure out how to works things.
Martin Hayes: It was about taking pressure off of this duet as well -
[00:37:37.03] Which you did.
Martin Hayes: Like, you know, like the pressure to make all the money, the pressure to sell all the gigs, the pressure to keep coming up with new stuff, the pressure, the pressure all the time so it was just kind of like a release valve, yeah -
[00:37:48.22] Yeah, and I feel that, but as a fan I feel that because there's not a pressure for Hayes and Cahill to get bigger and bigger and bigger and I love that because I remember that trajectory and I remember going with it and I remember asking myself where is it going to stop -
Martin Hayes: Yeah, yeah.
[00:38:01.26] And that was really cool. So the weird thing, like, this show is, you know, normally, a lot more philosophical that we don't talk about music and the minutiae of it, but the weird thing is that while I get what Hayes and Cahill fans will not get, but what listeners who don't _ Hayes and Cahill won't get is that, for me, the politics of the surrounding world is almost the subtext of your shows, it's almost like you're - What you're bringing us all in away from and what isn't really mentioned.
Martin Hayes: That's right, yeah, because, you see, like, I mean, what's really true, you know, like, in life, you know, and no matter what the political situation is, like, the antidote, like, is truthfulness, heartfulness, openness, trusting, love, joy, passion, those are always a good antidote to what's going on in the world, I'm actually very - I think both of us are, like, quite political in our thinking, quite, like, animated by that, but we rarely speak about it and sometimes, you know, in a complicated, confusing world where you take opposing sides on issues the truth is never on one end of any opposing side, it's actually somewhere mixed in the middle of all of this, you know, the truth is spread everywhere so it's, kind of, like, but in music, you know, you can go for an absolute truth of soulful, heartful, joyful, unimpeded, trusting expression, you know, like, you know, you can't argue with it, you know, and, I mean, it's not something you always achieve, but it's something you're always yearning to achieve and it's a depth and the truth of something that you always want to have happen if possible and so every gig, every moment of every performance is simply directed at that and is, to a greater or a lesser degree, succeeding in getting there, you know, and there are high moments and there are moments (have) almost high and, you know, what not, you know, but that's life.
[00:40:03.14] So (quite literally), I mean, Dennis, that the music is the answer.
Dennis Cahill: Well, it definitely makes people feel something and question things which is great, it's - (But) there's a reason when people take over countries they stop music, that's one of the first they go to because when (you're) one good anthem away from a revolution -
Martin Hayes: Yeah, yeah.
Dennis Cahill: But it's dangerous, it is dangerous because it cuts right to the chase, it cuts absolutely to the chase and it's very interesting (that they will have to) add any lyrics into it and it gets really dangerous at that point, but it -
[00:40:42.01] You haven't pressed the nuclear option yet.
Dennis Cahill: But there is a thing about it because it's the universal language, it will work, it makes people think and feel things and -
Martin Hayes: How central was it to the sixties movement?
Dennis Cahill: Yeah.
Martin Hayes: Music was like and people would imagine that it's - And it's not just lyrics, you know, it's, like, there's - People can experience joy and love and euphoria in all kinds of ways in music and _ thing is just that a positive thing to put into the world, you know, it's a meaningful thing, this is why you end up as we go back to speaking _ conversation, like, you know, you have to trust it, all of this stuff.
[00:41:25.03] And when you were growing up, Dennis, like, at what stage did music become the thing, like, what was that process like, when did you start getting really into music and when did you realise that music was going to be your life?
Dennis Cahill: Probably about ten or eleven, you know, and it just kind of went from there and then I tried to talk myself 'If you're going to be a professional musician you got to go to school and do this', and so I did and walked out of (there) thinking I was really not - You know, I learned that - What I found in school, I'm not saying school is useless, it isn't, but what it does, it won't prepare you for the real world of doing it, but it does give you a reference of where to look for things that help your problems and - Because you can, I mean, there's a thing of that, you know, there's thing you're going to learn when you get out there because people don't follow the rules, you know, this is _ in the book -
[00:42:17.25] And who were the musicians that, kind of, peeked to you, that became your focus or, you know, kind of, started dragging you in this direction, who was that then?
Dennis Cahill: Well, they were a bunch, I mean, there was the folk thing, you know, you had Pete Seeger and you had, you know, Goodman was around and Prine and those guys, I was part of that little folky thing there for a while, I just started out I was like -