Damien Rice Frees Up
Irish bard returns after an almost decade-long hiatus
By William Harries Graham,
10:00AM, Thu. Aug. 6, 2015
Damien Rice released his third LP, My Favourite Faded Fantasy, last fall after eight years of silence. The Irish recluse, who’s all but sold out the Bass Concert Hall on Aug. 13, sings of love found and lost on the title track: “I’ve hung my happiness upon what it all could be. I could love you more than life if I wasn’t so afraid.”
Rice found other ways to build bridges beyond romance.
“I noticed music could be understood by anyone, regardless of language or beliefs, and it felt like one of the most universal ways to express myself and feel connected to others,” said the singer-songwriter by phone last weekend.
Rice broke out with the band Juniper on Polygram Records in 1997. The rock group came together via school mates on the Emerald Isle.
“At 13, I pretty much turned full time, at least internally. Music became my compass in life,” he says.
In 2002, Rice released his first solo disc, O, hit single “The Blower’s Daughter” charting in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the United States. My Favourite Faded Fantasy (Warner Bros.) teamed its author with production guru Rick Rubin. Nearly 42, Rice is grateful for the success and the opportunities it has granted him.
“I don’t think success is anything to measure,” he reasons. “I think that’s an illusion. To me, the purest form of success occurs in the moment you overcome a fear. So success can happen on a daily basis and on a personal level, all through your life.
“It’s not dependent on others’ view of you. The potential for growth is infinite, so we never really ‘make it.’ There’s always something new to realize, thankfully.”
Fans are eager to connect with Rice again after the nearly decade-long hiatus. Often tagged as a sad poet, he’s feeling pretty happy these days, at times even inviting audience members onstage with him. He ponders those stages a moment.
“There are many factors that make a good espresso: the beans, the roasting, the freshness, the pressure, the balance. Concerts are the same. It’s not just the audience, it’s the venue, the day of the week, the time of the year, my mood, the audience’s mood, and the balance between all of these that makes a concert what it is.”
Rice has ridden the vast industry changes of the digital age of music, which has freed him up professionally and then some.
“I stay open to learning. Everything changes all the time, so no surprises there,” he offers. “To me, freedom is internal. Only when I’m conflicted within do I then experience conflict on the outside. So, I work on the insides and slowly the outsides fall into harmony. At least in my perception they do.
“When alone, there’s only one person to fight with: yourself. You can never win when you fight yourself, so I’ve slowly learned to stop fighting and instead to follow and move forward, and stay as inspired as possible.”