Ten minutes with Cork singer / songwriter Rob Harley

Ten minutes with Cork singer / songwriter Rob Harley

AT THE END of August Rob Harley released his album Big Tree. Previous singles include the title track Big Tree and Straight For Your Love which saw national coverage in the press and radio in Ireland.

Produced by Christian Best (Mick Flannery) in Cork, Big Tree was due to come out during Covid but lockdown pushed it back until now.

Big Tree - the album

What are you up to? 

I am promoting my album Big Tree, which was released at the end of of August.

Which piece of music always sends a shiver down your spine? 

A Day In The Life by The Beatles. It's so unique, there's no piece of music like it that captures so many genres in one song.

Which musician has most influenced you?

Lindsey Buckinham —an incredible guitarist using the Travis picking style which I try to incorporate into my own playing

Who would be in your ideal band? 

Rory Gallagher, Lindsey Buckingham, John Entwistle, John Bonham

How did you get started in music?

I listened to a lot of music growing up from classical to rock, my older brother showed me my first couple of chords on the guitar and I was addicted from that point on, I had to know more!

Where are you from in Ireland, and what are your roots? 

I was born in Croydon in London to Irish parents, we moved to San Francisco and then came back to Cork. My mother is from Cork and my father is from Donegal.

What’s on your smartphone playlist at the minute?

Bob Dylan, Ron Sexsmith and Beck

Football or art galleries?

Art galleries, I visit the Crawford art gallery in Cork a couple of times a year, lovely place for a sit down and a cup of coffee.

What is your favourite place in Ireland?

West Cork, I love going to Clonakilty there's a great venue called DeBarras Folk Club there, then on to Connolly's of Leap, another brilliant venue and then down to Baltimore.

What would be your motto? 

It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

Mozart or Martin Hayes? 

Martin Hayes all the way, I love the haunting Garrett Barry's Jig on his latest album Peggy's Dream.

Which living person do you most admire? 

Paul McCartney, he's just unstoppable, going on tour at 81 and keeps churning out brilliant music and looks great for it.

Who will act you when they make a film of your life?

Cillian Murphy a fellow Corkman, although it would be a bit of a step down after playing Oppenheimer!

Rob Harley

Who will you thank in your Grammy award acceptance speech?

I would like to thank my lovely partner Léan and daughter Fiadh.

If you weren’t a musician what other job would you be really good at?

I think I would be good at electrical repairs or plumbing, I'm pretty handy around the house.

What's the worst piece of advice you've been given this year?

"Always stay the same, never change". I think we have to evolve, especially when you have kids.

Have you a favourite line from a song? 

"I ain’t a-saying you treated me unkind, you could have done better but I don't mind, you just kinda wasted my precious time, but don't think twice it's alright" — Bob Dylan

In terms of inanimate objects, what is your most precious possession? 

My guitar, it's not a very expensive one but I've had it for a long time, it's my workhorse.

What’s the best thing about where you live?

Cork is a city that is relatively small, you always meet someone you know walking down Patrick Street, and stop for a chat. Also there's West Cork, and loads of beaches nearby.

. . .  . and the worst?

The roads are in a pretty bad condition, and traffic in the city is awful.

What’s the greatest lesson life has taught you?

To always keep moving forward, as I say in my song When It's Done, "you think on but don't think back".

What gives you the greatest laugh?

That would be my daughter Fiadh, she is the funniest little toddler and has the best laugh.

What do you believe in?

I believe in knowing your own value and believing in yourself.

What do you consider the greatest work of art?

The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh, it's such a spectacular alive watercolour that jumps off of the canvas.

Who/what is the greatest love of your life?

My daughter Fiadh is the greatest, she just gives me constant joy, happiness and I learn more about myself through her every day.