Tim Landers Interview | Stronger Than Ever

Fresh from appearing on our television screens in Fair City, Fergus Dennehy talks to Tralee actor Tim Landers about the long and winding road he’s taken to where he is now, how he’s happier than he’s ever been and how sometimes, he will still run with excitement to rehearsals and auditions.

“Tralee people like to see one of their own doing well and hopefully by now, I’m considered one of Tralee’s own, I don’t know if I am or not.”

These are the modest words of Tralee’s resident actor extraordinaire, Tim Landers, one of the towns most well known and well liked faces and a man who for the past 15 years has lent his significant talents and stupendous energy and work ethic to almost all of the various stages that we here in Kerry and further afield have to offer.

Even now, after an acting career that has spanned almost 27 years and which has seen the Dublin born-turned Tralee local feature in Game of Thrones, Killinascully and more recently a prominent role in Fair City, Tim insists that he is only just getting started and that there is so much more to come from him in terms of honing his craft even further and striving to be the best actor that he can possibly be.

The origins of this amazing passion and love for his job can be seen in the circumstances of how he came to be on stage in the first place; a promising soccer player for at both League of Ireland and International level with his country and with a lucrative paid contract wirth Galway United in his hands, it only took the breaking of his leg and an off the cuff offer of a role in an amateur play back in 1990 for Tim to realise his love of the acting craft and for him to turn his back von what many would have considered to be a dream career. A dream career for many, but not for Tim, he had his own dream to pursue, that of acting.

“I was working in the Bank of Ireland in Galway from 1987 to 2002 and for the last five years there, I was very unhappy. I had been playing soccer but I broke my leg and I was out for a year so my friend went and introduced me to amateur drama and that was it for my soccer career, I had caught the acting bug,” said Tim, talking to The Kerryman on Thursday.

“In Galway, I did my first ever amateur play there way back in 1990, it was called ‘Seven Brides to Seven Brothers’ and I haven’t looked back since and I’ve done every piece that I could lay my hands on,” he laughs.

“I took a two year leave of absence from the bank and I moved away to England and I did a lot of pantomime work while over there and then when I came back from my leave, I worked at the bank for another three months and I found that I couldn’t do it any more and I just left; that life wasn’t for me and I just wanted to be an actor, that’s all that I wanted to do.”

tim-blog-quote“It was a massive leap of faith for me at the time, and my family weren’t sure at all what I was doing leaving such a well paid job but I can honestly say that right now I’m happier than I’ve ever been.”

‘Happier now than I’ve ever been’ is quite a statement to make, but what is it about acting that after all these years and all those hours of travelling and rejection that showbusiness is so famous/infamous for, what is it that has Tim, now at 50 years old, still so enthused and excited about going to rehearsals and being on stage?

“What I love about acting is being given the opportunity to step into someone else’s shoes and being allowed to present their view point; I might not be like that person but my job is try and become that person on stage and in front of an audience and I absolutely love that challenge and that feeling,” he says.

“When it comes to the adrenaline that I get from being on stage, let me put it like this; I’m a hardworking actor, I know that there’s infinitely more talented actors out there than I, but I know that I work very, very hard on my craft, I really do.”

“I watch movies every day, I watch the actors, I watch people in real life and how they are and how they interact with people and I think ‘I could do that in my next part’ so it’s like a job, I’m constantly learning and working to be better.”

“When you’ve worked on the character, you’ve broken down the piece that you are doing and then after a lot of long hours of practice and rehearsals, you get to go out on stage in front of an audience and someone goes ‘Wow, that was great’, that’s the rush, that’s the vindication for all the hard work I’ve put in and for me, there’s honestly no better feeling,” he says, the pride now obvious in his voice.

“I have to say that my first time on a stage back in 1990 is possibly one of my fondest memories from my career, I remember it being like getting hit in the face with this sheer buzz and happiness; back then I was used to performing on the soccer pitch but there I was now performing in front this audience and for them to come up to me afterwards and tell me that I did a great job was amazing.”

“I remember just going ‘oh man’ and this buzz and excitement washing over me; you get this buzz when you’re on stage and you get this hunger for acting and you want to do everything. I’m still like that now, I will run to rehearsals sometimes, that’s how excited I am to be doing this thing that I love; in my head, I’m thinking that this is my passion, this is what I want to be doing for the rest of my life,” he continues.

Fresh from his starring role on Fair City last week, a role in which he played the gangster-esque character Donnacha O’ Riordan and got to star alongside two of the shows most famous characters in Paul Brennan and Niamh Cassidy, Tim has nothing but good things to say about his experience working on the RTÉ show and he jokes that he will sit anxiously waiting by the phone to see if his character gets a returning role.

“When I was working in Galway and thinking of leaving my job there, I would sit at home after a days work and I’d be watching Fair City and I just thought to myself, ‘I would love to be on that show. I think I might just be good enough for that.’” he says reflecting on his excellent start to his year so far.

“Working on Fair City back in November, it was just a culmination of all my years of hard work for me; it was an absolute pleasure to work on the show, people were just so lovely up there. There was a lot of support from everyone there, banter between the scenes, they were respectful and engaging, I couldn’t have asked for more,” he admits.

Going from relecting on one of his proudest career moments to date, Tim goes on to look back on his proudest all round moment as an actor, a moment that he says that will stick with him for the rest of his days, the moment that he collected his AIMS award for ‘Best Comedian’ at the INEC for his role as mad German playwright, Franz Liebkin.

“When I won my AIMS award in the INEC back in 2014 and a thousand people rose up to their feet to applaud me and support me, that was my proudest moment as an actor, it’s something that I’ll never forget. It was just amazing and incredible.”

So, what now for the Tralee actor? What does the future hold for him?

“I’m currently rehearsing for my role as King Herod in the musical ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and I can’t wait for rehearsals to begin, it’s going to be a lot of fun!”

We reach the end of our interview after about 20 minutes of talking and I ask Tim, if he can, to try and sum up his acting career and journey so far in a few words or a single sentence and his answer is wonderfully typical of the hardworking actor…

“Not finished, there’s much more to come,” he states.


Gavin James Interview | A Surreal Three Years

Gavin James Performs At O2 Shepherds Bush Empire

Gavin James in action.

GETTING Gavin James’s phone number for an interview ahead of his upcoming show in Killarney proves a lot tricker than both I and the staff at the INEC had anticipated; even the mans location is hard to nail down at first, with his social media first showing that he is in Biarritz, or is it Paris? He seems improbably to be in both locations!

After eventually tracking him down though, we get to chatting and it turns out that he’s already back from France and sitting in his flat in London, wearing a big fluffy jacket, he delightedly reliably informs me.

While the thought of this amount of travel is baffling to this humble writer from Tralee, this whirlwind and jet-setting lifestyle is certainly nothing new to Gavin though after what he describes as the “absolutely mental” and “surreal” past three years of his life which has seen him support huge acts such as Kodaline, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and appear on both the Jimmy Kimmel and James Corden Shows.

This is certainly quite the journey for the 25 year old Dublin born singer but he quickly admits that while the last few years have been as unexcpected and amazing as they have been, he always looks forward to coming home and playing to Irish crowds, something which he says he can’t wait to do at the INEC on Saturday, February 18.

“Playing back home here in Ireland is always an amazing feeling, it’s like you’re just out there playing a few songs for your mates; the crowd are always so supportiveI first played the INEC acoustic room once a couple of years ago and I played the main room there with the Coronas about four years ago and again then with the Coronas again just before last Christmas, I think I jumped on stage to play one small song towards the end so this will be my fourth time playing there and I can’t wait” he says, the excitement clear in his voice.

“I absolutely love playing there, it’s always great fun for me! Going to Killarney and playing there is almost going on holiday, there’s always a relaxing atmosphere around the town; the crowd down there are always well into having a good time, it’s something that I’ve always noticed and loved about playing there.”

When asked about his fondest memories of the South Kerry town, the ‘Bitter Pill’ singer goes quiet for a second or two before letting out a loud sigh, saying that it’s hard to pick just one for him.

“My fondest memories? Oh man, that’s a tough one! If I had to pick, I would have to say that I remember that we crashed a wedding down there once, well we kind of crashed it, I mean, I think that we vaguely knew one guy that was maybe there and we just sort of went to this strangers wedding and at the end of the night there, we ended up on the ground with all these strangers doing that dance you do sitting down, you know? Rock the Boat, that’s the one and honestly, it was absolutely hilarious; that was great craic,” he continues.

When talking to someone of Gavin James stature, it’s hard to avoid the elephant in the room for too long and talk inevitably soon turns to the whirlwind success that he’s enjoyed over the past few years and most noticeably, THAT gig in his home city of Dublin, in a little known venue called Croke Park.

“Ah man, I can’t even describe how mental that was, I just couldn’t believe I was up there! All that I was thinking when I was playing to the crowd was ‘don’t mess up. don’t mess up. don’t mess up’,” he laughed.

“You can be on stage playing a song that you’ve played a hundred times before and suddenly your mind can drift to something completely random, like burritos or a movie you watched recently and then you remember where you are and it’s back to don’t mess up. don’t mess up. don’t mess up’,” he laughed again.

Honestly, It’s amazing the simplest things that you can forget when you are up on stage playing to thousands of people, it all becomes about ‘how do I play a g chord?’, the simplest things just become so huge,” he reflects.

“Thankfully though, the only thing I messed up in Croke Park was that I think I said the word ‘arse’ at a couple of points, I had a few people message me about that but that’s all the mistakes I made, so it was all good, thank god!,” he chuckled.

Reflecting more on these bizarre situations that he has found himself in over the past few years leads Gavin to reveal the even more bizarre way in which he was approached for these gigs.
“It’s a strange story how that whole situation came about because it all happened very quickly and nicely.”
“I had gone to see Ed [Sheeran] play a gig that he was doing for VH1 and he just shouted across the room, casual as anything, ‘Gav, you want to play Croke Park with me?’ and I was just standing there going ‘Eh, yeah! I’d love to…’

“That was literally the start of that whole situation, it’s so weird looking back on it but it was such a nice thing from Ed to ask me.”

“The likes of the James Corden show then when I did that, I was on tour with the Kodaline boys in the States and as I’d met James before, he’s a lovely, lovely lad. I thought I would just gave him a call and I asked him out for a pint. He couldn’t make it out unfortunately but he then he just asked me straight out if I wanted to play on his show the next night and of course, I said yes! I was supposed to be heading out with the lads but I just hopped straight into bed,” he laughed.

“It’s all kind of happened like that, these really weird little moments but I’ve enjoyed every single minute of it.”

On his upcoming show in Killarney, James says that people can expect a varied type of show on the night, but he says that one thing that he can guarantee is that people are going to have a great time.

“There’s going to be a few cnew songs that I’m going try out on the night so we’re going to have a little bit of fun with that; this is going to be the biggest show that I’ve done this year so far so I’m going to go all out on stage to enjoy myself.”

“It’s just going to be this weird show that will have a mixture of intimacy, madness and whole load of banter; it’ll be this emotional rollercoaster,” he laughs.

“People will be laughing and crying in equal measure,” he joked.

“Ah, it will just be mad craic on the night and people are going to be leaving and they’ll be buzzing. We’re going to have a great night,” he finished.

Eddi Reader Interview | ‘I feel like I’m coming home’

London Folk And Roots Festival - Eddi Reader

Eddi Reader in full flow.

Ah, It’s so great to hear your voice and to be reminded just a little of Kerry and its people”

These are the first words that the award winning singer/songwriter and 80’s legend Eddi Reader says to me when she answers the phone to me late last Friday afternoon and it’s right then I know that I’ve chosen to right person to talk to this week.

Eddi, who along with her then-band ‘Fairground Attraction’ gained worlwide attention back in 1988 and 1989 for the song ‘Perfect’, a song which she jokingly now refers to as her ‘calling card’, tells me that she is delighted to take my call as it means that that her upcoming show in Siamsa Tíre on February 19 is getting ever closer, a prospect that she admits is all too exciting.

“Oh, I can’t wait to play there again, we’ll be a player short on the night there as one our members is heading away to Japan but I’m sure that we’ll still be able to make a good noise anyway!”she says in her pleasant sounding, almost lyrical, Scottish accent.

The Glasgow born singer has achieved much in her career; she has been awarded an MBE, won two BRIT Awards back in the 80’s and had a UK number one and two with an album and song respectively. For all this success though and all the things she has achieved and the places that she has been to, talking to her on the phone, Eddi only has room in her mind for one topic and that is her beloved Tralee grandmother Margaret Nammock, or as she was more affectionately called her, Madge.

“Well she lived in what I think was Lower Abbey street in Tralee and although she left there way back in the 1920’s, she never stopped telling me about this wonderful place that she called Tralee; I never heard anything but great things about Tralee from my granny Madge. She talked about the town as if it was a Walt Disney magical kingdom,” letting out a loud laugh at the memory.

“She told me about the magic water at the Spa and how she would walk up Rock Street to put some money on the dogs at the track; I just absolutely loved her stories about Tralee, I couldn’t get enough of them, I gobbled them up! She made the town sound like it was some sort of paradise, and so to be able to come back here again and play to my family and relatives here in Siamsa Tíre, it’s a wonderful wonderful feeling.”

Speaking of family, Eddi tells me that there are still a few Nammocks and Roches scattered around Tralee town, some in the Connolly Park area, name dropping Danny and Jimmy Burns specifically as she goes and she says that she will always make the effort to seek them out when she is over here. They remind of her of that special connection she shared with her beloved Madge.

“Granny Madge was 87 when she passed away and I still miss her to this day. I’ve still got all of her records that she kept throughout her life. She wrote to me all throughout my own life when I was growing up; I left home at 18 and she wrote to me, when I lived in London she wrote to me and all through the shenanigans of my youth, she always wrote to me; her advice to me was always so lovely and to this day, I still cherish all of those cards and letters she sent.”

“I had such a strong and special connection to her and Tralee and I think that she, more than any other relative, instilled in me a wonder about the world and that where she came from and grew up was somewhere different and this gave me such wanderlust to see and do so many different things in life,” she continued.

“She gave me some of her Tralee-ness, some of her Kerry-ness and I’m not really sure what it is but certainly when I’m on my way to Kerry and Tralee, I feel like I’m coming home”

Eddi tells me that her upcoming show in Siamsa is her third or fourth time playing the famous venue and she lets out a loud laugh when she remembers her first time playing there, when just her family showed up to watch her play before jokingly praying that people actually turn up to see this time,

“The second time that I played there, there was a few more people there,” she laughed.

“There had been a lot more hype in the papers and a few more people had heard of me so that probably helped! Suddenly there suddenly these two coach loads of people arriving to see me play; it was almost like I was being ‘claimed’ as a Tralee person. A lot of distant Nammocks came to see me play and I even had Elvis there aswell, you know the guy from Tralee who impersonates Elvis; I thought that my Dad would be so proud of me, I had Elvis in the building,” she laughed.

Aside from her upcoming visit, my mind turns to another interest of Eddi’s, poltics. When doing a small bit of research for the interview, my attention was brought to Eddi’s Twitter page, a place where I learn that aside from being a talented singer/writer, she is a staunch activist for everything Scotland with regards to Brexit and Scottish Independence and so I knew that I would admonish myself if I did not at least ask her opinion on the current political situation happening across the pond.

“Brexit, I’ve got no idea about how it’s all going to unfold; all I know is that Scotland, like Ireland all those years ago, we are in a position where it is kind of being ignored.”

“We, the Scottish, have to figure this position out; is this okay? What can we do to change this? Hopefully we can get people around a table with a cup of tea and debate it out like adults with a bit of common sense; you just can’t be sure of what’s going to happen though.”

My talk with Eddi lasted over half an hour and we discussed much more than can be written here, but her final note is one that I feel is a fitting way to end this story:

“When I sing at Siamsa, I feel like I’m singing to that my Granny and that is a very feeling for me. I feel like I’m home”.

The show is set for 8pm at Siamsa Tíre on Sunday, February 19; tickets are €23/ €21 and are available from Siamsa Tíre.

Welcome home, Eddi.