I Mother Earth front-man Brian Byrne is making a triumphant return to Ottawa after the newly reformed act tore up the Bluesfest stage in July. Byrne, whose voice you may recognize from the "There's No Place Like This" Ontario tourism ads, will play a solo acoustic set at Swizzles on Saturday, Sept 15.
Byrne talked to Xtrapolate in advance of his show about Ottawa being the best stop on I Mother Earth's recent tour and why Swizzles audiences are as amazing as the earth, the sky and everything in between.
XTRAPOLATE: I detect a definite East Coast sound on your solo albums. Would you say being from Newfoundland has influenced your music?
BRIAN BYRNE: For sure. Growing up in a community where music is such a big part of the culture -- even storytelling is a massive part of the culture -- you can't grow up there without feeling connected to that in some way.
X: I Mother Earth reunited this past summer for a slew of concerts. When you were approached for the reunion, were you apprehensive or excited right away?
BB: Excited right away. It had been a very long time; it was eight years, and a lot of things can happen in eight years. Any of the negative things that had happened along the way, whether it was on the road or with the record label, any of that sort of stuff seemed to dissipate and all you can think about is being on the road with your friends and doing something that you love again. It becomes very pure, very organic.
X: In retrospect, were you satisfied with the shows you did this summer? Were there any highlights?
BB: I think Ottawa [Bluesfest] was one of the highlights, for sure. The crowd was really good, and all the crew who operated Bluesfest, as we were leaving the stage, they all clapped. I've never had a crew clap for us ever. It was pretty heavy and the review was quite nice. That was one of the better ones for us this summer.
X: Can fans expect a new I Mother Earth record?
BB: No, actually, I don't think we are going to do a record in the traditional sense. I think we'll keep recording and releasing music as we do it. We won't put together a physical album right now. With taking eight years off and coming back, if we were to take time off to do a full record again it would be another couple of years before we were up and running. I think we will stick with being able to go out and play shows and have some momentum. In the downtime between shows we will continue to write and record and put stuff out as it happens.
X: Your love of tattooing is apparent on the cover of your album Tailor Made. Would you say tattooing is your second passion after music?
BB: I think it's art in general for me, honestly. I love fashion, I love photography, I love drawing, I love tattooing, I love playing. Anything that sparks that artistic thing inside me is what I'm drawn to. I'm never going to be a banker.
X: What can Ottawa fans expect at your Swizzles show?
BB: They are generally really loose and fun. I tell some stories and take my time with it. It's pretty much the antithesis of the I Mother Earth machine, where it's heavy and we go for it and jump around. There's not much talking. It's the complete other side of that. I couldn't be happier that a friend of mine connected me with Swizzles. At the last show I played there I thought the crowd was really attentive and open, which was really cool. Sometimes you play and people could care less. They're drinking and doing their thing; not that everybody has to hang on my every word. I don't want that since everybody is out having a good time, anyway. It's a social scene; it's a bar. But I found that crowd in particular to be very considerate and great listeners. I'm really happy to go back there.
Brian Byrne at Swizzles
Sat, Sept 15, doors open at 7pm
246 Queen St
"Far from Good."
"Oscar Thomas Finn (Wish You Well)."