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 The Showgrounds, Clonakilty
 Wednesday 19th September, 2018
 7:00pm | Performance
Price: €35 (+booking)
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Interference are a group centred around singer-songwriter, poet and painter, Fergus O’Farrell. Citizen of the world, & former resident in God’s own country, West Cork, Ferg has since left this mortal coil but his memories, music & friendships live on….

Interference on the night will include Paul Tiernan on acoustic guitar and vocals, Maurice Seezer on accordion and piano, James O’Leary on electric guitar, Anto on guitar, drums and percussion and John Fitzgerald on bass and piano & some very special guests including Glen Hansard and more to be announced….

Interference is the cult Irish band based around singer-songwriter Fergus O’Farrel. Their sound has influenced a generation of Irish musicians (including Frames/Swell Season front man Glen Hansard), and are featured in the hit movie musical Once

One of the charms of the hit Irish movie ONCE was the way it, without fuss, put the songs on centre-stage, allowing them to breathe and fill the space in front of the camera lens. The film is very much about the role music plays in peoples’ lives; how it inhabits the space in and around different people, pushing and pulling them into contact – bridging the gap.

Amidst the brilliant performances by the main characters, played by the Swell Season duo of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, there’s a spine-tingling moment, set at a low-key party, when a group of musicians centred around an unassuming man with an extra-ordinary voice play a song called Gold. The song swoops and sways, its poetry merging effortlessly with the sound, creating a glittering, warm gift. It’s a moment when the musicians merge into the music; to paraphrase Yeats, ‘how can we know the dancer from the dance?’.

Jump back to Dublin in the late ’80s and early ’90s and you’ll realise why it’s so fitting that there’s an interference song in the heart of this musical. Initially formed in school, by O’Farrell and guitarist James O’Leary, Interference grew and took shape in a Dublin where most bands and record labels were trying to imitate the sound and success of U2. Interference were different and intriguing.

For starters there was the fact that they lived in an old shoe factory! A big space, where jam sessions developed naturally, with a core band being joined by various other local musicians. Their mxing of styles and sounds puzzled record companies, but built them up a steady following on the local live circuit, and amongst the audience at any gig were serious musicians in their own right – members of The Frames, The Mary Janes, Hothouse Flowers amongst others.

With a growing fanbase and support from the likes of DJ Dave Fanning – Ireland’s answer to John Peel, who remarked of the Interference that they were the only Irish band he couldn’t pigeonhole – things looked promising for the band, but for one reason or another no major label record company was interested in the band. While he’s keen to downplay it, the fact that band frontman Fergus was in a wheelchair due to the effects of muscular dystrophy can’t have helped (he was told, off the record, that record companies can market blindness, but not wheelchairs).

This left the band with little alternative but to go ahead and record their debut album on their own – setting up their own recording studio. Something that is now commonplace, but which was a rare thing indeed back in the 1990s. Their debut album, released finally in 1995 was a spectacular achievement. It was launched with the single Vinegar Girl, co-written by the track’s backing vocalist Glen Hansard. Typically, for the Interference, Hansard wasn’t the only guest, with musicians like Liam O’Maonlai and Planxty’s Donal Lunny participating.

This was pre-internet, and marketing a band required record-company support and/or regular gigging – something which O’Farrell’s health ruled out. By 1996, the band had run out of steam. O’Farrell moved back to his home-town of Schull, suffering what he now admits was a crisis of confidence – one which lasted a number of years.

An informal re-union gig in a pub in Schull in 2002, quickly followed by an invite to perform on a new TV show hosted by Hansard and produced by musician/film-maker Philip King, helped jolt O’Farrell out of despondency. The Interference performance on ‘Other Voices’ was remarkable, and such was the positive reaction that the band’s album was re-issued.

While working on new material, O’Farrell has steadily taken on more gigs over the last couple of years – including appearances at international festivals in both the Czech Republic and Italy.

Which brings us full circle back to ONCE. When the film was getting off the ground, Hansard and Carney got in touch with Fergus asking him if he would appear in the film singing Gold, a personal favourite. No-one, least of all Fergus, could have anticipated the success that the film would have.

Skip forward to May 2008, and O’Farrell and Interference are on stage in New York’s Radio City Music Hall, playing along side the Swell Season, the band formed by Frames frontman Hansard and the co-star of the film Marketa Irglova. Head over to and you can catch a glimpse of that magical moment when the two bands joined together that night to perform a rousing rendition of Gold together.