Ten Minutes with Mick Grace of alt-folk act BRIARS

Ten Minutes with Mick Grace of alt-folk act BRIARS

BRIARS are an alternative folk act from Cork City, Ireland. Inspired by a wide range of traditional folk and alternative contemporary music, their sound ranges from fragile subtlety to raucous energy, visiting every stop along the way, always underlined with a signature twist.


Mick Grace, from Cork City, answers our questions

What are you up to?

Well, we just released our new single, Qualms which has been going well so far. So much work goes into the build-up of a release, it's strange when you just have to leave it out there to fend for itself.

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

Planxty’s version of The Blacksmith, when the pipes kick in.

Which musician has most influenced you?

To be honest, probably other musicians around me. The Cork music scene has such a high standard, I think that’s what has pushed me on more than anything over the last few years.

How did you get started in music?

A lot of the family played music on both sides, so it was always around in some way. When I was 11 I started harassing my parents about getting a guitar; around the same time they found my uncle’s old guitar and gave it to me. I think I barely left it down for the next couple of years. Then, one Christmas, I got my first electric guitar, and Paul (the other half of BRIARS) got his first drum kit, so we’ve been playing together in some guise since then.

Where are you from?

Originally from Kilkenny, but based in Cork City for 13 years now. People in Cork think I have a strong Kilkenny accent, and people in Kilkenny think I have a Cork accent. You can’t win.

Have you a favourite all-time singer / band?

It feels like a cop out answer, but honestly, The Beatles. I always thought they were a great band but then I saw Paul McCartney live and it completely blew my mind, since then I’ve been full on obsessed.

What’s on your smartphone playlist at the minute?

At the moment, Pillow Queens, Manic Street Preachers, Luke Kelly, The Scratch, The Strokes, Pixies, The Menzingers, Volcano Choir.

What’s your favourite film?

Forrest Gump.

What is your favourite place in Ireland?

Dun Chaoin in Dingle never fails to make an impression on me. Feels like the edge of earth kind of thing. Also, some of the best pints of stout in the world can be found in Krugers down there.

Which trait in others do you most admire?


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

I’m not sure about the “really good at it” part, but I occasionally go through baking phases. There’s something about the process of baking bread that I get really into. My grandfather was a baker in Waterford, so maybe that’s where it comes from.

Have you a favourite quote from a song?

The latest one that got me was “If I come in to your periphery, please just act like you don’t see me” - Strangers Forever by The Menzingers.

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

I think my mandolin. There have been a couple of times that I left it behind me somewhere and it was terrifying. I think I’m more protective of it because it’s smaller and easy to lose.

What’s best thing about where you live?

Cork City has a very strong pub game. Definitely one of the best cities in the country for a night out, kind of goes hand in hand with the strength of the music scenes, also.

. . . . and the worst?

Derelict houses and buildings being left empty and unused, it’s a killer.

What’s the greatest lesson life has taught you?

You can’t please everyone.

What do you consider the greatest work of art?

There’s a pub in Cork called The Corner Flag, where the outdoor seating area overlooks the pitch in Turner’s Cross. A genuine work of art.

What is the greatest love of your life?

The Irish football team. Doesn’t seem to matter how many times I get hurt, I always go back.

What’s next?

We have some BRIARS gigs coming up, so work has started for those. We’ll be in The Roundy in Cork City on July 31 if you happen to be over in Ireland (Tickets are on sale now, by the way, on all BRIARS social media accounts).