A musician’s musician, Pat McManus is not only one of the best guitar players in the world but also has an amazing set of stories, only rivalled by Rick Wakeman, that speak of an extraordinary life.
Since emerging from County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland in 1978, his two brothers John and Tommy at his side, Pat ‘The Professor’ McManus lead Mama’s Boys to bring their own kinetic brand of Celtic Rock to the masses, playing every major festival throughout the globe and opening for bands like Thin Lizzy, The Scorpions, Deep Purple and Iron Maiden amongst many others.
Upon the sad passing of youngest brother and drummer Tommy from leukemia in 1994, Pat and John decided that they couldn’t go on and finished the band.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0uywUcZlm8&w=560&h=315]
After a lot of reflection and soul searching the two remaining brothers finally joined forces again to form Celtus, a more world music meets rock outfit that, again, saw great critical acclaim and toured extensively, producing four albums before they too folded in the early 2000’s.
The Professor finally formed The Pat McManus Band in 2007 and recruited Paul Faloon on drums and Marty McDermott on bass and this new power trio have been seemingly on the road ever since. With a number of studio and live albums under their belt, displaying their mix of blues and hard rock, the years on the road have honed them into a rock solid and airtight unit, McManus’s dazzling guitarwork and constant smile always at the centre of the action.
With both an incredible talent for music and the utter dedication to his craft, this musician, songwriter, producer and all-round good guy is never short of work but is certainly missing the road at the moment…
First off, and most importantly: How are you doing?
100% on the most part. Missing touring of course as it’s been my life for 40 years, so it’s a very strange thing to be at home this long. Totally missing the Paul and Marty and of course all the brilliant fans and friends…that’s tough.
How have you been keeping yourself busy?
Playing guitar and fiddle, learning old material….and a lot of gardening!!
Have you been doing any online live shows or seen any good ones?
Yes, to both questions.
Have you had to change your way of writing material?
No…I have a way I write and that hasn’t really changed, although I haven’t been writing as my new album is ready to record.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnpPZ4EjyH8&w=560&h=315]
Do you keep in touch with your fellow bandmates / other musicians much?
Yes absolutely my fellow bandmates are my friends and like family to me…and I have also contacted and chatted with many other musician friends that I wouldn’t usually have the time to catch up with…this has been one good thing about lockdown.
What plans have you had to change this year?
Lots, so much cancelled, but hopefully rescheduled for 2021.
What do you think of the social distancing gigs (like the one that happened in Kansas recently – 229 people in a 1,100-seat venue) or the thought of drive-in gigs as has just been announced by Live Nation?
If it makes everyone a profit it’s ok, as both the venue and artist/s have to make money, but I am not sure it’s a good thing long term. Personally, I think the whole vibe of a gig is a packed hall or room, with fans right up at the front of the stage with the artist and public enjoying the vibe of the gig together.
The drive-in gig is a good possibility in the short term maybe, but who knows what the future may bring and I guess we will have to evolve and adapt.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbAEeYRnbfk&w=560&h=315]
How do you think the music industry will have changed after this period of lockdown?
In the short term dramatically, but I hope in the long-term things will return to normal. Still as we have had to present music through other platforms maybe this will evolve, but there has to be a way that musicians and bands are guaranteed payment as a ‘ tip hat’ doesn’t insure payment and anyone can share your work. I am happy for now as my original motive for live streams was to help people that were isolated, but we do have to make a living long-term.
What plans have you got for when the isolation finishes and gigs start back up again?
Just to get back out there and enjoy playing live and seeing everyone again.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZxWXpBoShA&w=560&h=315]
How can people support you during this time?
Keep watching the live streams and be there to support my band The PMB when live shows return…it means so much.
Interview by Paul Monkhouse for MPM