Band Members: Alexander M Gow - Vocals/Mandola/Violin Miles Mclean - Guitar/Vocals Neville Smith - Tin Whistle Paul Hannon - Vocals/Bodhran
Date Founded: 2002
Discography: Hopefully sometime in 2010
Influences: Paul: The Woolftones, The Dubliners, Christy Moore, U2, Damien Rics, Great Big Sea. Alex: Jethro Tull, Dick Gaughan, Horslips, all the boys who played in the sessions back on Jura Nev: Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Genesis, Jazz particularly Charlie Parker, Classical music from my orchestral days, Indonesian Gamelan from my time in Jakarta, the music of my second home Isaan, and the influences from the Celtic music back in Bangkok and KL. And of course Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy.
Websites: (It's in progress - http://www.ganainm-sg.blogspot.com/)
Synopsis: Things really took off for Gan Ainm when the Iris ambassador invited them on board a visiting Irish naval boat to play a reception.
Interview with Paul, Alex and Nev from Gan Ainm
What does the name Gan Ainm mean?
Paul: Its Irish for No Name. We used to play open session nights in Irish pubs in Singapore just for fun. Then suddenly people were offering us gigs and wanting to advertise us for up and coming events, so drunkenly one night when asked for a name, Barry (an ex band member) said Were the band with no name, to which I said, Gan Ainm Irish for no name.
Does the band still have all its original members?
Paul: No, the band changes from time to time. It started as a seven- member band but people relocating etc means members have come and gone. The biggest member of the band plays the smallest instrument and the smallest member plays the biggest... This must be the only band that has two Southerns, I mean south of Watford Gap southerns, in kilts!
How and where do you choose songs for your repertoire?
Paul: Its been difficult adding new material as the band has changed a lot. Since Alex joined weve added a lot of material that hes chosen. Nev and Miles also! Me, well I just beat the dead goat and try to remember the lyrics.
Alex: Since I joined, it's moved from being an Irish band to a Celtic one, with a lot more Scottish stuff. Nev introduces new tunes, and although traditional stuff was a bit alien to Miles at first he certainly has played a part in developing the structures of the songs!
What's the worst gig you've ever played?
Paul: For me personally, the worst gig would have been many years ago when the monitors blew and we couldnt hear ourselves at all. Then some woman spilt her drink on the sound desk from there it got worse.
Alex: It was in the middle of a stint where I was playing in three different acts and had 42 gigs lined up in 35 days straight. Barry had repeatedly made the same mistake in the same song for several gigs, no matter how often we had gone through it, and I was so exhausted at the time that I bollocked him and buggered off stage for a song. Not my finest hour! But it's all good now... and I'm sure that's not why he left the band!
What's the funniest thing ever to have happened on stage?
Paul: Without doubt there are two:
1: It was St Patricks week about three to four years ago and we were playing one of Singapores most popular Irish pubs. We jumped into the first set and about three songs in, I started to intro the band, but I made the mistake of welcoming everyone to the wrong pub. Needless to say the owner, staff and regulars were not amused. We dont play there anymore!
2: When we were onboard the Irish naval ship six years ago, one member thought it would be hilarious if I were to drop my cipin (drumstick) something Ive been known to do from time to time. Well, we set up for the gig and started playing. Next thing there are cameras on us as ChannelNews Asia was covering the visit. What do you think happened when the camera panned to me? I didnt just drop it, but it went flying through the air and I had to go crawl through the crowd to find it. Karmas a bitch!
Alex: On stage with these boys is always funny, and I'm usually a few beers down by then so I don't remember much! It's probably got something to do with kilts though...
What do you love most about the music you play?
Paul: I love how liberal it is. Its so much about having a good time and we do!
Alex: I don't know if Paul meant liberating, but that's how I feel... and it reminds me of home! Nev: It's great for jamming, and wonderful to hear the boys singing great songs that people actually know and join in with.
What is your favourite song to sing /play?
Paul: I really love it when Alex, Miles and I are belting together as I think our voices work really well. I love singing Granite Years and Ready for the Storm.
Alex: Ready for the Storm is an absolute favourite! Love the vibe it has!
Nev: Caledonias my favorite, and songs about horses.
Your most memorable gig?
Paul: We just did one on Sentosa for the Volvo Ocean Race. There werent many people there but we were really tight, had great fun and after I was buzzing! Ive not felt like that for a long time.
Alex: As I said, memory is not my strong point. We've played some great private functions, but it's the ones where the guys who regularly follow us are able to come that are usually most enjoyable.
Nev: Mosaic out by the waterfront is the most memorable gig for me, especially afterwards when a young lass, Karen, introduced herself to the band and played great fiddle for the next year.
Do you have a favourite traditional Irish music artist?
Paul: Nope, I grew up listening to the music in pubs and at family gatherings. Ive never really heard it on CD. If I had to choose one, itd be Christie Moore. Hes someone Id love to see live. His voice is stunning and his music is moving. His song Ordinary Man is a favourite of mine.
Alex: Irish? Yeah, probably Christie Moore... If you'd said Celtic it would be Dick Gaughan.
Nev: Thanks to Barry it's gotta be the virtuoso flute player, Kevin Crawford on Lunasa. Followed by Dervish, The Bothy Band and Panxty.
What's your favourite ever album?
Paul: For comic reasons, Im tempted to say Greatest Hits of Kylie Minogue but the CD that keeps going back in the player is still U2s All That You Cant Leave Behind. After that David Grays White Ladder holds special memories, as does Damien Rices B-Sides.
Alex: Jethro Tull, Thick as a Brick. But if you're looking more traditional then I've been immersed in Gaughan's Outlaws and Dreamers recently.
Nev: Judging by my iPod favorites list it's Puerto Rican Power - Men in Salsa - just so vibrant and positive.
What do you miss most about Ireland? Will you ever go back?
Paul: It goes without saying that I miss my family and friends right?! But Im missing them growing up and having kids and building homes and careers. It kinda feels like Im being left out sometimes I feel like a stranger when I go home. However, life in Singapore is something special for me and that too would be impossible to replace. I have another family here who I love unquestionably! I will go back to Ireland for sure, but when is an impossible question.
Alex: Only been there once and spent most of it Guinnessed up! I miss Scotland, Jura in particular - miss the family and friends there. And I'm heading for a visit this year, first time out of Asia in three years. A few old friends have died since I've been here though, so it'll never be the same.
Nev: I miss the green field and real Guinness. It would be great to go back. From the music I have many friends in Dublin and Belfast, I'm sure a great session could be had by all.
Do you speak any Gaelic?
Paul: I used to be very good at the language but now Ive got the basics maybe. My aunt still writes to me in Gaelic and, while I can understand it, Im not great anymore. A shame really.
Alex: I learned some Gaelic (pronounced Gah-lik in Scotland, not like the Irish Gay-lik) when at primary school, but never followed it through. I can 'cheers' and swear a little, and I still remember the chorus to an old Gaelic song about Jura, but that's it. I wish I knew more...
Nev: No it wasn't very common in Northampton.
Have you ever played to a crowd that just wasn't into the music?
Paul: Of course! Theres always a critic in the crowd. I was once accused of selling out and of not being true Irish. Its impossible to please everyone and some people are just stupid.
Alex: Plenty of times, in plenty of places, with plenty of different bands. And it's often those gigs that, when you finish, you get someone coming up as you pack away saying "Is that all? We were just getting into it! Come on, play another tune!".
Nev: No, if the crowd is still there by the end, then they're into the music. And where else in Asia do you get a truly Celtic band performing great songs for a jug of beer?
How many gigs do you usually play around St Patrick's Day?
Paul: We normally get four or five gigs in the weeks surrounding St Paddys Day. This year I think people are feeling the economic pinch and so weve only confirmed three gigs. Weve played the American Club for four years running and its always great fun.
Alex: A couple of years back we were doing the run-up to the Mosaic Festival, playing in bars all over Singapore - that was the aforementioned gig marathon for me! That was undoubtedly the busiest St. Pats we've had! But we get quite a few bookings around St. Andrew's Day and Burn's Night as well... keeps us busy!
Nev: Too many and too much beer to remember.