Alan O’Hare is the driving force behind “Only Child”, a musical project that has drawn many a Merseyside creative into its artistic orbit. He also drives the excellent “Liverpool etc” – a must go-to for all things creative on Merseyside. We met up with him for a coffee to discuss the new album, Emotional Geography, that is scheduled for 2019….
Liverpool Noise: How does this new album differ from your last?
Only Child: It’s better! The songs are better, my singing is better, the production choices are our best yet… everything is a step-up really. This album has a theme too, it’s about people and places. We noticed during recording (it had passed me by in the writing) that every song mentioned a person or a place. All the songs are connected, there’s a thread running through it.
Liverpool Noise: Has the writing process been different?
Only Child: Not consciously. I’m always writing, but this time the lyrics just seemed to connect to each other. I’ve got a four year-old daughter and she’s heightened every emotion inside me. My songs always, always, always reflect where I am in my life and the writing of this record has been no different. But something’s definitely changed.
Liverpool Noise: And what about the recording and production process? Who have you collaborated with?
Only Child: The album has been recorded by Jon Lawton at Crosstown Studios. Jon is a mate and plays guitar in Only Child, too. He’s also got the best ears in Liverpool and I see nothing that’s going to change that anytime soon. We co-produced the record together… I come in with the songs ready and all my production ideas prepared and Jon facilitates them. Often he’ll make suggestions and changes too and it’s a collaboration that means a lot to me. Ain’t nothing better than making music with your mate! All the live band have played too; Stu Todd and Howard Northover on bass and drums came in to track a few tunes live; my mate Lee Shone plays some lovely keyboards across the album; Amy Chalmers from Two Black Sheep turned all my riffs into gorgeous violin lines and we also had the pleasure of recording with Amsterdam’s Fiona McConnell who played whistles, flutes and sang beautifully on the song ‘Scouse’.
Liverpool Noise: “Lookin’ For A Song” is a personal favourite of mine….Tell us about the inspiration behind it?
Only Child: Thank you. It’s a true story! The first verse actually happened – the song is basically about some close friends and I following Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band around Europe when they tour! So, the “Barcelone, Paris, Dublin” lyrics are all true and the rest tells the tale of why we do it: isn’t everyone looking for a song? Great songs are the saving grace of my life. I guess, deep down, it’s about us all having more in common with each other than the things that divide us.
Liverpool Noise: How do you see yourself within the current Merseyside music scene?
Only Child: I don’t! Scenes are constructs that always fall apart eventually anyway. I have lots of friends who make and listen to great music and I’d like to think they feel the same. I’d rather talk about the wider community and how music fits into that… we have to fight to keep music mainstream.
Liverpool Noise: You are absolutely correct about that! You also seem to wear different hats….musician and journalist. Are these two positions at odds with each other or complimentary?
Only Child: It’s less of a problem these days than when I started making music (I was a writer first). Nowadays everyone is a jack of all trades so it’s not unusual. They do both… sometimes it’s a help and sometimes it gets in the way. I’m a writer – but when I write about things affecting me, I like music to accompany those words. I’m glad I do both, I’ve met some fantastic friends wearing both hats.
Liverpool Noise: Plans for 2019?
Only Child: ‘Emotional Geography’ comes out in February and we’re launching it on Friday 22nd with a big party in the Phil’s Music Room… you’re all invited! We’ll get the album finished up before then and start rehearsals in the new year. Beyond that, there’s gigs lined up for Southport in March and a return to Thornton Hough in the new year. Plans afoot for shows in Manchester, the north east and hopefully London too. I want as many people as possible to hear this album – it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. we’ve also got a live thing possibly coming out too from a show I did with a string quartet in November. That was a special night and it’s a gig we play once a year, with the strings, so it’d be nice to have a recording of that out and in the catalogue. Stay tuned!
Tickets for Alan O’Hare at the Liverpool Philharmonic Music Room: