Interview with Noel and Padraig Duggan
due to the release of their new album "Rubicon"
A long time it was a rumor until it finally became certainty: Noel and Padraig Duggan have released a "solo"-album. At this occasion the team of Clannad-News.de met the twin brothers for an interview to find out actual news about Clannad in addition to informations about the new album.
CN: First of all congratulations on the release of your new Album „Duggans and Friends". After all these years of rest concerning the members of Clannad, we now see, after Moyas activities, some more members of the band on there own way.
Noel: This is right.
CN: What made you to decide to record this album?
Noel: We had a meeting about a year ago that we would make a Clannad album and myself and my brother Padraig we started writing and writing and there was nothing happening and we wrote so many songs and the manager said "Hey, do your own thing" and that's the reason we've done our own album.
Noel and Padraig Duggan at the interview with Clannad-News.de
CN: Did you follow a special kind of style? What kind of folkmusik is waiting for us?
Noel: It's something similar to Clannad. We wrote most of the songs, just about four traditional songs from Donegal there, and the rest are songs that we're composed ourselves. Mostly it was the beauty we kepted in the script, the beauty of Donegal. You know, something similar to Clannad.
Padraig: The inspiration we got is from the home of Donegal … right of Tory Islands, Poison Glen. I wrote a song called "Memories" which has to do going to the graveyard where all your friends were gone so then I right to put my cats and nobody knows that I bring … the cats…
CN: The cats? (laughter)
Padraig: Yeah, the cats. (laughs)
Noel: He's a catlover! (laughter)
CN: Where did you produce and record the album and how long did it take to finish it?
Noel: We only needed four weeks. If that was Clannad it would have taken six months. And a low budget. And we got lots of friends as you might see on the album, it's called "The Duggans & Friends" and "Rubicon" means "the point of no return". We said we're gonna do this album together and there is no turning back, so I think the "Rubicon" is a nice word. We have – of course – Moya Brennan on it, Clannad, Finbar Furey and Maire Breathnagh from Riverdance and 18 musicians from Ireland have also taken part. And most of the [people] from Norland Wind are on the album. Ian Melrose produced it and Kerstin [Blodig] did most of the harmonies for us, so it went, went well, smooth.
CN: A question about the friends: How did you choose them? Did you just ask your musician friends or did they offer you their collaboration?
Noel: Well, see, Ian Melrose knows a lot of friends back in Ireland and then Moyas band, almost everyone, has taken part, so there's a lot of talent out there.
CN: Will the album be promotet by a Solo/Duo tour or do you only limit it to the integration on the Norland Wind tour?
Padraig: At the moment it's the Norland Wind tour but Thomas Loefke – he's the main man in Norland Wind – wants to tour with "Duggans and Friends", that's his idea. We have to think about it, because on stage we do only two but four numbers and if there's gonna be a "Duggans and Friends" tour we need to do more CDs. It may happen, it may not. We have to think about it.
CN: Do you plan to publish some more solo albums in future?
Noel: Well, it's looking good for Clannad. We had a small meeting back in Ireland before we came and Moya said she wants to do a Clannad album in January/February. That is looking positive.
CN: Where may the album be ordered?
Noel: Our Manager has no record deal at the moment. We are selling this on tour for the cost and I think he is putting it on the internet for sale. And there are a few labels in America that are interested but none in Europe. He is still working on a few labels but it's quite difficult.
CN: Not only since Moya Brennan published her biography, fans get to know more about the private side of the musicians. Till now there was only little private one could find out about you, though there are always questions appearing also in our discussion forum at Clannad–News.de. What's the reason of this? Do you want to separate strictly your private and your public life or just don't you want to talk about it?
Padraig: No, at the moment we have an official website and we had a big discussion with our manager and he was asking us all these questions. The answers are all in there. Some of them are private, some of them are not.
CN: One of the questions in our forum was, what kind of music are you privately interested in, what kind of film do you like and what kinds of books do you read?
Padraig: Depending on the mood, we listen to all kinds of music. My favourite music would be from Marc Knopfler and I can change that to the Rolling Stones and then I can go to traditional bands: Planxty is back together. It's all depending on the mood.
Noel: And we like good country music. Not the country [music] they play in Ireland, some good country styles are american.
CN: Where do you live today? Do Duggans an Brennans still live all together at Gweedore in Donegal? Of Moya one knows that meanwhile she lives in Dublin.
Noel: Yeah, we all live in Dublin. Ciaran lives in Wicklow and Moya lives in Dunleary/Dublin. I live in Stillorgin outside of Dublin, Paddy lives in the northside of Dublin and Pol Brennan is thinking of coming back to the Clannad "camp" again, but not as a member but as a co-writer to Ciaran. He lives in Kilkenny. But we go home to Donegal on Christmas and Easter.
CN: What kind of relation do you have towards the Brennans? Is it a difference that you are Duggans and not Bennans or do you all see yourselves as a big family?
Padraig: As a big family. In 1970 we went to a competition in Donegal and we had no name so I didn't know how to call it. I got a friend that said we call it "clann e". "clann" means "the family", "e" has been my father. But it was too personal, so I said "clann as dore" means "clan from Dore", but that was too long. And then I said "clann" and the abbreviations "a d". So it is a big family.
Noel: We do have our fallouts like the other groups, that's normal, but hopefully we will release the new album in the next year.
CN: Some of our forum users want to know if you are married and if you have children. Do you want to answer this question?
Padraig: Well, I'm married, but I've no children than cats, two cats. The day made it will be children. (laughter)
Noel: I am not married, but I'm looking for a rich lady with a bad cough. (more laughter)
CN: Though your new soloalbum is most important by now, there is a big interest in the developments about Clannad. We as german news-site about Clannad of course would like to present our Fans some exclusive news.
Since the publishing of the new, remastered versions of the albums and the new official Clannad-Website there seems to be new actions in the band.
By now there are a lot of rumours and inofficial reports that Clannad is back again and records a new album. This information also came up three years ago, so what is correct now?
Noel: A lot of people think that Clannad are broken up for good, which is not true. Moya Brennan wents solo, we're doing a solo thing but we never as a group said we were leaving the group. Moya is playing tonight as we spreak here, she is playing in Cologne. No, we're not broken up.
CN: And the new album?
Noel: [The last release] "In a lifetime" is a compilation album. And the live album which is on the table is coming out as well which we recorded how many years…?
Padraig: …six…seven years?
Noel: Seven years ago. It's a live album and it's gonna be released as well.
CN: But you're not in the studio all together?
Padraig: No, we start on January. Ciaran Brennan has his own studio at the moment which is good for the cost instead of going somewhere else.
CN: Another rumour sais that Pol is also back again. Is it true?
Noel: He is back, but not as a member, but as a ex-member that he is co-write and maybe produce or ex-producer or something. I think Ciaran wants him back, but not as a member. We were thinking getting somebody like Daniel Demar to produce the album.
And also on this album [Duggans and friends] we took the other Brennans like Bridin and Deirdre which is very good. There at the family is well done. They were able to play the harmonies.
CN: At some concerts of Moyas tour through germany there was a special interest in the old Clannad songs though the audience was rather young who experienced the active time of Clannad in the 80s and 70s as childrens not knowing of Clannad.
Also in our online forum there are more younger than older fans who never saw the band live and really would like to.
Sometimes ago Moya said in an interview that there will be definitely no Clannad tour any more. What do you think about this?
Noel: It's a difficult question now. She doesn't want to tour but she does want to release more albums. She doesn't want to tour because when Clannad toured it was a big show, 30 people on the road. [That's what] Ciaran wants. He wants saxophones, keyboards and drums, big things. Moya tours just with an acoustic band and there are difference in the attitude. When Ciaran didn't want to go on the road like Planxty do. He wants to be the big thing, a big orchestra.
But we as brothers would rather tour.
Padraig: Just see the five were back again on stage acoustively.
Noel: Yeah, we want that, but Ciaran doesn't.
CN: Maybe a smaller tour for a promotion?
Noel: That would be nice!
Padraig: Oh yeah!
CN: With the pastpresent-album there was an old video released on VHS, years ago. This video today is very hard to get. Do you think there is a possibility in this time of DVD that there will be some new things on DVD or maybe the old pastpresent-video as a new release on DVD?
Noel: We really don't know about that. We will ask the manager.
Padraig: When we are in the studio making the new album that will be appropriate for that. We will see.
CN: Did the band think about the time after the new releases? In the former times there were releases year by year. How do you think about it.
Noel: Yes. It was too long to get and that's the reason why we did this album. Eight years is a long time and people would forget the band. We were keeping it alive so as Moya is keeping it alive.
Padraig: And in the internet a lot of people are saying, every time we go to the shop there's a compilation, a compilation, a compilation and they are asking when you are gonna do a studio album?
CN: A lot of fans got in touch with the music of Clannad by sountracks like the "Robin of Sherwood" or other filmscores you made. Enya did some songs for the new "Lord of the rings" movie which was very fantastic.
Noel: That's right!
Padraig: Yeah, really
CN: What do you think? Maybe when Clannad is again more active will there be a way to do music for movies again?
Padraig: It's not easy to get in there. There are so many groups in Ireland when there is a movie made, in Dublin or in the country. The Cieftains and others are in there, you know. It's not that easy. But it's a perfect thing to have music on a film, we wants to do this stuff, maybe advertising.
Moya has a track on the new movie "King Arthur", it's pretty good.
CN: In our internetforum there is a big discussion at the moment if it will be a good idea to found a new Clannad Fanclub to get more in touch with the band and help the band to reach more people. What do you think about it?
Noel: I think it's a good idea because all the time we had a fanclub something went wrong and we weren't happy what was happening. There were writing false in informations about the group and I think it's a good idea.
CN: At last some questions about Norland Wind. How was the beginning of the connection to Thomas Loefke and the rest of the formation?
Noel: Well, we know Thomas for a long, long time, many years. He had a band with Ian Melrose and Peter Jakk and about eight years ago they decided to leave Thomas. Thomas came to Donegal and he asked myself and Padraig that we would go on the road with them and I said yes. So we went to the four piece band with Kerstin Blodig, Thomas and the others on tours as seven piece band. We enjoy coming here every twice a year, in march as well on a bigger tour.
We know Thomas for a long time.
Padraid: 1976 when we toured germany first Thomas was a little boy and he used to come and sit at the front seat and was amazed by the harp. And that's how it started. Then he went to Donegal and…
Noel: I think he was in love with Moya… (laughter)… don't know…
Padraig: Yeah, we're going back a long time knowing Thomas.
CN: The music of Norland Wind is quite familiar to the beginnig of the Clannad music. Is there a connection?
Padraig: We, myself and Noel, sing the gaelic songs in the show and they do their own things. This is an element of Clannad, the harmonies, the haunty music and the harp, you know.
Noel: They have a good show on the road.
CN: Are the tour dates at the beginning of a year and late in the year fix every time?
Noel: Yes, they are quite fix.
CN: So the next time to get you live will be in March?
Noel: At march, yes.
CN: Ok, then thank you for the interview and all the best for the future.
Noel: With pleasure. Thank you.
Padraig: Thank you.
This interview was conducted by
Diana & André Weckeiser (Clannad-News.de)
in autumn 2004