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But this Monday evening in early September is all about the songsmith from Celbridge, Co Kildare, beginning promotional rounds for the release his first album of new material in eight years.
Iceland has become something of a home from home for Rice.
He estimates that he has spent nine months over the past two years in this strange, captivating land - and My Favourite Faded Fantasy was largely recorded here, with local musicians dominating the credits on the album's liner notes.
There was much talk about the lengthy hiatus between U2 albums before they dropped Songs of Innocence into half a billion i Tunes accounts last month, but such a gap was nothing for those waiting for Damien Rice to get around to releasing a follow-up to 'difficult' second album, 9. "When I started off in music," he says, "I started with a real innocence, a real love for the instrument, the writing the songs, the playing the songs and the sharing and the recording and experimenting. "Then, this thing called success came and something happened at some point where I became disenchanted and I lost the innocence.
OLOIZIA: You mentioned previously that you attributed a lot of the reason you and Damien split to your songwriting styles being incompatible. I had no business having any opinion about the songwriting style. I was driving in Dublin and one came on the radio, and I didn’t recognize it for a minute.
I’m getting to play gigs here, and that’s all I ever wanted to do.
JEFF OLOIZIA: It seems like you’re in a really good place. I’m really proud of the record, and I think that’s the main thing. It’s just a terrible place where people are so casually mean. OLOIZIA: And you got to sing with Ray La Montagne, which is exciting. And I really wanted a duet on the record, like a proper duet with two people signing to each other.
Because often, with the Internet—the Internet is just a big well of homophobic people chatting that things are gay. It’s a weird thing to say, but because I feel proud of the record, I feel insulated from—not any insecurity, of course; I know lots of people won’t like it, and that’s fine—but I know that I like it, so it does make you feel happier in general. And so I had my tiny list, which was pretty much Ray and maybe Tony Bennett. HANNIGAN: And I sort of asked him through his manager because I wanted him to be able to say no. And he happened to be in London, so it was very serendipitous how it all happened.
But actually the key that it’s in makes his voice quite fragile and light.
And it’s quite low for me, so it just has this really nice dynamic between him being a bit more fragile and me being a bit more boisterous. Was it a big thing for you before, this idea of making it in America?