Since arriving on the alt-pop-rock music scene in the 90’s with a string of multi-platinum hits (including his hit 1996 debut album Jelly Legs and an iconic rendition of “Galway Girl”), Mundy has cemented his status as an internationally beloved musical artist.
As the County Offaly native embarks upon a new US tour (including a couple stops in Kansas City in October), we were fortunate to chat with the musician over the phone, where we talked about his upcoming tour of the States, the ever-changing landscape of the music industry and the unpredictable beauty of the creative process. Answers have been edited for clarity and length.
KCIC: Where all have you been touring this year?
Mundy: My tour start(ed) the 2nd of October. I’m off to Seattle, Portland, Kansas City, Philly, NYC, Florida, Maryland, Germany. I’m away proper for a month. Three weeks in America, then one week in Germany/Italy.
KCIC: Is there a place you’re most looking forward to playing?
Mundy: I love Kansas City, I have to say. I’ve been going there a good bit these last 6 years. I’ve played the Kansas City Irish Fest and Winterfest as well as Knuckleheads. Just excited to go back that way and see good friends. I’ve never been to New Orleans, so that’s exciting. It’s a last-minute concert and I’m excited.
KCIC: I know you’re doing a house concert here in Kansas City before your KCIC concert. Have you been doing many house concerts? What are those like?
Mundy: They’re getting more popular, I suppose. My first house concert was probably in Europe, and then I did a couple in New York and then down around in KC. They’re getting more popular, more affordable because the crowd is there and you don’t have to depend on marketing them yourself. The person hosting does it, then people buy CDs. It seems to be more efficient, more intimate.
KCIC: It’s been 22 years since the release of your debut album, Jelly Legs. Looking back, did you ever expect to be where you are today?
Mundy: I had no idea! If I was 21 and I look to where I’m at now, I consider myself really fortunate. I’m very lucky to even still be playing; I know a lot of really talented and creative people who have had to go back to work and were unable to keep the creative job going. The music business can be hard to rely upon. It gets harder and harder.
KCIC: How have the changes in the music industry affected you as an artist?
Mundy: They’ve slogged down my will to put out stuff on a consistent rate, you know, because it just keeps changing. In the last 22 years, the whole medium of how music came out has changed a few times. You had vinyl, cassette, and CDs when I first started out. Then we have the digital age which just keeps changing. Even with marketing on Facebook—you try to create an ad and it’s a “oh sorry you can’t do it that way”. For a creative person it’s hard enough to put out a song without marketing it. It’s a minefield, really. I haven’t flapped my wings enough on social. I’ll get there eventually.
KCIC: What’s your song-writing process like? Has it changed at all since you started out?
Mundy: I tend to, and it’s a bad habit, but I try to write the lyrics first because I like to look at a full page before I write the music. To try and match the story with whatever the melody is trying to express can be quite difficult. I’ve picked up some bad habits and sometimes it works out well. To be honest, I will take the song whatever way it comes. I’m always waiting to be inspired. You have to be on, you have to be aware. If you’re not willing to be aware, you’re going to miss a lot of opportunities.
KCIC: Yeah, that creative process can force you to go interesting places sometimes, right?
Mundy: Oh yeah. I’ve had a few books that I’ve picked up, you set timers and you put 5 minutes on and you write as fast as you can. It’s a cool way to pull memories out of your subconscious and out of all that tangle, and you can find a couple of lines…one for me recently was with a newer song ”Dentist”. I remember going to the dentist and I had to get a tooth removed and it brought back some crazy memories that I hadn’t really approached, you know? (Those memories) are there waiting to be challenged. You have to take out the whip and give yourself a kick in the ass even when you’re not feeling inspired. You have to find angles.
KCIC: A video of you performing “Galway Girl” with Sharon Shannon and We Banjo 3 in the streets of Galway recently went viral. How did that whole experience come to be?
Mundy: Kamil (the director of the video)… saw the opportunity. Galway is trying to become the European city of the arts. He tried to get everybody together to sing the song. Loads of drones and a camera crew. He did it really well and made sure everybody got it done really well. Got it done in about 20 minutes.
KCIC: That’s it?? Only 20 minutes?
Mundy: Ok, I got it done in 20 minutes.
KCIC: After this tour, what’s on tap for you? What’s next?
Mundy: I have a few bits and pieces in November and December. January is a very creative month for me. And then on again. Next year I’ll try to put out on EP. It’ll be 4 years (since my last album) by the time that one comes out. A few little things happened along the way that made it tough. I keep truckin’, yeah.
KCIC: What’s your personal favorite song you’ve ever written and why?
Mundy: A new song I’m really enjoying called “Sometimes I Thought I Was You”. It’s kind of like a little autobiography in three or four verses: My journey going to Dublin with my guitar which my parents gave me. Meeting people, getting a record deal then losing a record deal. Another one is “Beaconettes”. Lyrically, writing part of it seems to be from another place. It’s quite amusing. It’s kind of spooky to me, you know? The subconscious. I was not fully present when I was delivering it. It kinda pours out of you and you’re like what the hell? I don’t think people will get it, but I’ll leave it there and see what happens. Often people will come back to me and say, “That line is brilliant.” That’s the beauty of art, the happy accidents.
Catch Mundy LIVE with Carswell & Hope at the Kansas City Irish Center on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. Tickets are available now!