Ten minutes with… Cathal Smyth of Madness

Ten minutes with… Cathal Smyth of Madness

CATHAL SMYTH, better known as Chas Smash of British Ska band Madness, releases his first solo album this week.

A Comfortable Man is a 12-track album and the product of a testing time in the musician’s life going back to 2005 and the break-up of his 28-year marriage, when sorrow turned to song while the artist was recovering in an Arizona rehabilitation centre.

Royal Academy of Music-trained composer Joe Duddell, who’s worked with the likes of Elbow, has contributed string and choral arrangements on the Alan Winstanley-mixed album.

Now based in Ibiza, Cathal — whose London Irish connections come via his late father who set up an Irish dance school in Camden — worked on the album with producers Charlie Andrew (Alt-J), Paul Powell and Felix Quine.

What are you up to right now?


Finishing of the lyrics for three new songs, which I’m performing at my album launch this week.

What’s been the best decade of your life so far and why?

The last as it’s been the most challenging, life affirming and continues to be an adventure.

What record sends a shiver down your spine? 

The Women of Ireland performed by The Chieftans.

What is your favourite place in Ireland?

My great Auntie Annie’s cottage in Mayo.


What makes you angry?

Man’s inhumanity to man.

What book influenced you most?

Shambhala: The Sacred Path of The Warrior, Chögyam Trungpa.

What was the worst moment of your life?

When my father passed.

Which local star in any field should the world outside Ireland know about?


Daniela Prasuna Coppeli, who runs a restaurant in Ibiza, La Paloma. A beautiful human being and an amazing cook.

If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?

I would stop smoking cigarettes.

Can you recommend an interesting website?


What is the best lesson life has taught you?

Breath deeply, it too shall pass.


The Dali Lama, one of Cathal Smyth's heroes The Dali Lama, one of Cathal Smyth's heroes

Who are your heroes?  

The Dalai Lama, Rumi, Jesus, Buddha, Michael Smiley, Eckhart Tolle, Alan Watts, Sir Ken Robinson, Brene Brown, Robert Tressell, Susie Pearl.

What is your favourite film and why?

It’s a Wonderful Life. It never loses its impact and always brings a tear to my eye.

What do you believe in?


The power of prayer and good intent.

What trait do others criticise you for?

Self doubt.

Where do you live and what are the best and worst things about that place?

I live in Ibiza, Spain. The best thing is the tranquillity of the countryside, the worst is the holiday season mayhem.

On what occasion is it OK to lie?

When the truth might hurt someone.


What do you consider the greatest work of art?

The Creation of Adam, Michelangleo.

What is your ultimate guilty pleasure?

Taking a holiday.

Who is the love of your life?

My ex wife.

Talking Musical Revolutions presents Cathal Smyth in conversation with Gavin Martin on May 13 at The Boogaloo, 312 Archway Road, London N6 5AT. Doors 6pm. Tickets £8 (Ticketweb), £10 (on the door). 


Cathal’s debut solo album A Comfortable Man is released on May 11

Watch Cathal Smyth perform in London's Wilson's Music Hall here: