Q&A with Irish street artist Vincent Zara - Rory Gallagher, Beatles, over thinker, mess maker, Beamish tippler

"Rock n Roll is so expressive, emotional, political. Its certainly an art form in its own right."

Vincent Zara: Rock n' Roll Clover

Vincent Zara is a Cork based Father, Artist, Photographer, Music Lover. Rory, Sabbath, Beatles. Over thinker, mess maker, Beamish tippler. Vincent says: "I stop and start so many things. It’s awful really, working on so many ideas, styles and experiments all at once. I usually get 75% into something and park it for a long time afterwards. It’s an ADHD symptom. My mind never stops. My drive comes and goes...usually outside influences spark an idea. Radio is on all day, every day. Irish radio is amazing. (John Creedon RTE Radio 1 89.7 FM 8-10pm is a gift) I consume documentaries also, especially around art. Right now, its Gerhard Richter and LS Lowry and I'm being more exploratory and maybe even braver to throw paint about some more."

Following on from the highly successful of Rory Gallagher's album ‘BLUES’, Chess/UMC will be releasing ‘Check Shirt Wizard- Live In ‘77’ (on Friday 6th March). This 20-song, previously unreleased, set is culled from four shows (London, Brighton, Sheffield and Newcastle) during an early 1977 tour across the UK in support of Rory’s then latest album 'Calling Card'. Featuring fantastic live versions of tracks from that album as well as songs from the 1975 'Against The Grain' album and other live favourites. The cover painting is by Irish graffiti artist Vincent Zara who has stencilled Rory’s image across his home country.

Interview by Michael Limnios                    Artworks © by Vincent Zara

How has the Rock n' Roll Counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Rock n Roll is so expressive, emotional, political. Its certainly an art form in its own right. Rock n Roll Counterculture I'm not sure, it was something I was so passionate about as a younger person. Your young, you push back, revolt. Counter the cultural norms, it’s what any teenager is programmed to do isn't it? It definitely gave me belief in staying the course though. Most of all it brought friendships, that is the fuel for a good life.

How do you describe and what characterize your artwork? Where does your creative drive come from?

I stop and start so many things. It’s awful really, working on so many ideas, styles and experiments all at once. I usually get 75% into something and park it for a long time afterwards. It’s an ADHD symptom. My mind never stops. My drive comes and goes...usually outside influences spark an idea. Radio is on all day, every day. Irish radio is amazing. (John Creedon RTE Radio 1 89.7 FM 8-10pm is a gift) I consume documentaries also, especially around art. Right now, its Gerhard Richter and LS Lowry and I'm being more exploratory and maybe even braver to throw paint about some more.

How important was music in your life? How does music affect your mood and inspiration?

After my family, music is THE relationship. Its casts such vivid memories first of all. Smells, mental and audio photographs, its magical. Tape cassettes lined up to record the radio, records carried home like precious cargo. The goosebumps, the random tears. Nowadays its so easy to choose what you need. I tend to feed whatever mood I'm in rather than let the music affect me. But then the randomness of radio is great. I still have a notebook next to it and always scribbling new artists and songs into it.

"Ireland is like a conveyor belt of culture. The Irish end up everywhere. In my opinion we are great at picking up and using the sounds we find but also those of the past. There’s lots of Irish Trad in places you wouldn’t expect. Lots of new Irish bands are not afraid to use those influences today." (Photo: Rory Gallagher & Phil Lynott / Artworks © by Vincent Zara)

What would you say characterizes Rory Gallagher music in comparison to other musicians and guitarists?

Rory is honest. Nothing over produced or carried too long. He expressed himself without outside influences. Ok, obviously he had his musical influences i.e. folk/blues but when he became his own man, found his own niche, he remained faithful to it. He didn’t respond to 'charts' or trends. That’s difficult. Maybe it comes across as stubborn, it’s a value I appreciate though. Rory the man fascinates me, the Irish climate (not the weather) of the 50s he grew up in and how it influenced him or more importantly didn’t. He went his own way.

I’d like to give a thank you to Daniel Gallagher for the opportunity, Rory’s legacy is in such safe hands. To Shaughn McGrath for putting together a beautifully designed package both in vinyl and cd.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

Guitar solos and bridges. Oh, and Hammond organ. I love the classics. I used to have fears but now, in Ireland especially, there is a huge resurgence in folk, in rock n roll, in metal. Alfi, A Lazarus Soul, Lankum, Fontaines D.C., Girl Band. It encompasses such a broad spectrum now and extremely experimental. I used to believe, naively, all the good melodies were used up. Wrong.

If you could change one thing in the musical/art world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

Judgement. I'm all for criticism but quickly judging a band, an artist without giving them a chance helps no one. I used to be that way. More openness and patience please. On a practical, real world, level...more space please. Studio/Live music space is lacking.

"A lot of racists wear t-shirts and listen to the music of their 'opposing' race/skin, a lot of politicians 'listen' to punk and Bob Dylan. Both parties should take a second look. Its all their, love and freedom, stop leaving it at home." (Photo: W.B. Yeats & Samuel Beckett / Artworks © by Vincent Zara)

What were the reasons that made Ireland to be the center of Folk/Rock/Blues researches and experiments?

Ireland is like a conveyor belt of culture. The Irish end up everywhere. In my opinion we are great at picking up and using the sounds we find but also those of the past. There’s lots of Irish Trad in places you wouldn’t expect. Lots of new Irish bands are not afraid to use those influences today. “I heard some Irish folk songs that were so funky-the words were so together and the feel" - Jimi Hendrix

What would you like to ask WB Yeats? What would you like to say Phil Lynott? Cork is…

I couldn’t begin to ask Yeats anything, I'd love to go through the papers with him over a pint. I’d like his opinion. To Phil Lynott, "Call your Mammy." What a wonderful lady, I met her in a market a few years back and helped her load plastic flowers into the car. She said she had enough of changing the fresh ones but still gave Phil a kick every time she visited him. Lovely woman, raised an amazingly talented son. (Ireland in the 50s reference again, tough).

What is the impact of the Blues and Rock on the racial, political and socio-cultural implications?

A lot of racists wear t-shirts and listen to the music of their 'opposing' race/skin, a lot of politicians 'listen' to punk and Bob Dylan. Both parties should take a second look. Its all their, love and freedom, stop leaving it at home.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

Two stops. 1, go harness a T-Rex and 2, use that beast to barge to the front of the Isle of Wight 1970!

(Photo: Bob Dylan & David Bowie / Artworks © by Vincent Zara)

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