Ryan Kelly has just had a hectic 2014, which included topping the iTunes charts with his Live In Australia album with Celtic Thunder pal Neil Byrne. More of the same is expected this year, with a Celtic Thunder ‘Best of’ tour set to start soon.
Irish Music Daily’s Pat Kehoe managed to grab a quick chat with Kelly, to ask what he thought of his incredible success last year, and what are his hopes for the future.
How are things with you at the moment? You seem to be working and touring all the time. Did you manage to get a break over Christmas and New Year period?
I’m good Pat, Thank God! Yeah, you’re right, it’s been pretty hectic lately! I think 2014 was probably the busiest year I’ve had to date with extensive touring with both Celtic Thunder and with Neil Byrne in our “Byrne and Kelly” shows where we got to tour Australia, the United States and Canada more than ever before. It really was a fantastic year.
Tell us about your new album with Neil – Byrne and Kelly Live in Australia. Why did you decide to do a live album at this point?
We released “Live in Australia” a few months ago and the response has been incredible – with it topping the World Billboard charts and i-Tunes charts in the US, Canada and Australia. We actually decided on our Australian tour that, with so many people telling us how much they’d love to take home what they hear and experience at our live gigs, it would be great to record our show in Sydney and give people that live feeling of a Byrne and Kelly show – and so “Live in Australia” was born!
There are quite a few Irish songs there like Raglan Road and Fields of Athenry. How did you go about selecting which numbers to do? Was it just how much you liked the songs, or perhaps the reaction they get from audiences?
I think it’s probably a lot of both! I mean, the beauty of the Byrne and Kelly gigs is that any songs we play at the live shows are songs we have chosen ourselves and therefore are songs we have a special affinity with and enjoy performing. We also tried to choose songs for the album that we know people enjoy hearing and request again and again – and, most importantly, sing along to at our live gigs. One song that we debuted as part of the Australian tour was a cover of the Men At Work classic, “Land Down Under,” and it went down so well at the gigs that we just had to include it! I hope we’ve gotten the balance right on “Live in Australia” – time will tell I guess! 🙂
Byrne and Kelly – Live in Australia preview
Do you and Neil ever fight over who gets the best songs?
Thankfully we haven’t come to fisticuffs just yet! 🙂 Seriously though, I always think we’re very lucky in that we have a great understanding musically and know which songs suit each other best. We’ve worked hard on developing a “Byrne and Kelly” sound and that means there are times when I’ll be harmonizing to Neil’s lead vocal and times he does the same to me, and I think we’re both very happy to do that in order to get the best possible resulting sound.
Do you have any plans for a solo album?
I do love song writing and find it very therapeutic to do so, so I’ll always try to keep doing that and, I always love getting my own songs out there eventually and enjoy listening and reading people’s reviews to them and what kinds of emotions they can bring to people. To me, that’s what makes it all worthwhile. Actually I was delighted to include one of the songs I had written for my most recent solo album, “Life”, called “American Dream,” on the “Live in Australia” album. So, to answer your question, yes, I’m pretty sure I’ve got a few more solo albums in me yet! 🙂
You’ve recorded Baby it’s cold outside with Natalie Toro. How did that go and do you have any more plans to work with Natalie again or other female artists?
I thoroughly enjoyed working with Natalie and really loved the process of recording both on her album and shooting a video for “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” I do love working on new collaborations and, in fact, I recorded recently with the fantastic Canadian singer/songwriter Lesley Pike on her soon-to-be-released superb new album, “November.” I sing an original duet on the album with Lesley called “Every Time We Say Goodbye” and am really looking forward to hearing people’s reactions to our song and to the album as a whole.
What’s coming up with Celtic Thunder?
Well, I’m back on the road in a matter of weeks with Celtic Thunder as we undertake our “Best Of” tour, performing a selection of the classic CT songs from the past seven years. It’ll be great to get back singing the songs that bring back so many brilliant memories for me of past tours and I really think this tour will have a real nostalgic feel to it. It’s definitely one I can’t wait to get started!
What’s next for Byrne and Kelly?
Well, we’ve actually been concentrating on doing some collaborative songwriting for a new album to hopefully be recorded later in the year. I must say, we’re really excited about what’s resulted from the songwriting sessions so far. We definitely feel the next step is to release some original material to develop the sound we’ve been working on. Alongside the album we’re also looking at booking some more shows later in the year, both in North America and maybe further afield. As I always say – watch this space!
You always seem to have a great relationship with your fans. Tell us about that.
I truly believe I’ve been blessed in a lot of regards in my life. I’ve got the love of an amazing family, doing a job I truly love and I’m so fortunate to have the support and encouragement of an incredible fan base – who have been unbelievably generous and loving to me from the very beginning – through some very difficult times over the last few years – and whose support drives me every day to be a better artist, performer and person. That will never be lost on me.
Finally, what are your long terms plans into this year and beyond?
I think it’s probably more of the same! The Celtic Thunder “Best Of” tour will take me into late Spring time, and then it’ll be concentrating on the Byrne and Kelly album, getting the tour dates together for the summer and autumn and then I’ll see what the end of the year brings as well! I’ll never rest on my laurels for too long! I think that would kill me! 🙂