Interview: Saw Doctors

Mention the name The Saw Doctors and you’ll say "Oh yes I remember them". If I then asked you to name one of their singles, unless you were a fan I reckon you’d be fumbling around in the dark for ages, muttering something like "Didn’t they do that "Two Princes" song a few years back?" and you’d be wrong, because that, as the more educated of us know, was the Spin Doctors. Some of you may manage to blurt out the words "World Of Good" and if you are of Irish origin the chances of you not knowing "I Useta Lover" are remote but the band still remain almost exclusive to their own fan club. Singer Davy Carton answered a few questions…….

AD: You’re the first band I’ve ever known who plan to play a gig in the paddock of a racecourse (Sandown). Is it still going ahead and what on earth brought that idea on?

DC: Yes. The only reason we might have cancelled is because of the foot and mouth but hopefully it’ll be all over by then. Basically we’ve become good friends with a lot of the jockeys over the years…we played at a party for Richard Dunwoody. He gave us a call and asked us if we fancied playing a gig to celebrate the end of the jump season and we thought it would be a good laugh.

AD: You seem to be something of an enigma over here. You have a huge and ever expanding following yet to date have only had modest singles chart success. How do you explain that and do you prefer it that way anyway?

DC: It’s been amazing. The only reason I can think of is that we own our own record company, we haven’t got a monopoly on the radio stations and we’re never on the front cover of the NME. I’m not sure that we’d be considered cool or hip enough, but yes, I prefer it as opposed to being media darlings one minute and forgotten the next. Some of them only last two weeks and if we’d ever been in that situation we wouldn’t still be here enjoying ourselves.

AD: What’s the secret of the Saw Doctors’ longevity? You seem to have been able to effortlessly pick up new fans whilst never losing those who were there at the beginning.

DC: I think the main thing is that people look at us and we look like their friends, so there’s always a good atmosphere….and at the end of the day it has to come down to the music as well.

AD: Back in the early days, you must have been a little surprised at the speed things happened. You had Ireland’s biggest selling single of all time ("I Useta Lover"), played to packed houses in America and had a Channel Four documentary made about you. Did that feel weird, and was it hard to keep your feet on the ground?

DC: Not really because we’re all down to earth people. When we play gigs it’s everyone in a room together. To us, the audience is as much a part of the show as we are. People know a lot more of the words than I do even! Even the newer ones, people are singing the words before the end of the song and it’s all a big rush. When we started I’d already been in a band for ten years. I was 30 years of age when it all started and I thought it was a dream. I mean, I’d been in a job for 12 years and was married with three children! Of course as well as the things you’ve mentioned we actually played at Knebworth in 1992 believe it or not. We were an early opener for Genesis and we were quite nervous about playing to 80,000 rock fans. That’s the good thing about us though, we seem to be able to get any crowd going. We got to half meet Phil Collins too, who was a nice man….although because of his music, I think most people would prefer it if he was bollocks.

AD: Did it ever piss you off when people got you mixed up with the Spin Doctors?

DC: Not at all. There must have been a good few people who turned up to our gigs thinking we were them. I didn’t mind because people thought they were MY hits and we must have gained quite a few new fans because of them!

AD: You’ve always had interesting subject matter for your songs. What’s the story behind the new single "Bound To The Peace"?

DC: We have this saying in Ireland and I don’t know if you have it over here but "Bound to the Peace" means being on parole so that’s basically what it’s about. We’re really pleased with it. The thing is, you’re only as good as the next thing you do and we’re the biggest critics of the Saw Doctors ourselves. One day something sounds fantastic and the next day it sounds terrible, so we have to be ruthless to keep up the high standards.

AD: What other Irish bands are worth listening to?

DC: Well, in America they seem to getting really into traditional Irish music, but I’m not too sure about any rock ‘n’ roll, and all these commercial bands that are around — it’s just dreadful stuff. The Boyzone fans have grown up though and are now into Barney.

AD: Finally, what do you feel has been the pinnacle of your career to date?

DC: Even up to this day, it has to be the Royal Albert Hall. My mother and father emigrated to England in 1945 and lived there for 25 years. The next time she came back to England, I got her a Royal box at the Royal Albert Hall and the victorious Galway football team joined us on stage. It was really moving and I had difficulty finishing the song, but my mother said it was the best thing she’d ever seen. She’s wanted to come to them all since and it’s a job to stop her!

It’s the same for everyone who sees the aw Doctors live — they give such a spirited, joyful occasion to their ever increasing fanbase it’d be a job to stop ANY of them. Don’t miss out….you never know, they might even cover "Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong" for a laugh.

Interview by Tone E.

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