The Saw Doctors are still ‘mad for the road’ twenty years on

The Saw Doctors who Play Derry's Millennium Forum on Sunday November 20th
The Saw Doctors who Play Derry's Millennium Forum on Sunday November 20th

It is hard to believe that The Saw Doctors are about to celebrate their twentieth anniversary. And it is going to be a long celebration as the Galway band are embarking on a 50+ date tour. Lead singer Davy Carton spoke to the Journal about the band’s place in Irish music history and stepping onto a tour bus decades after the first time.

“Sure we’re mad for the road. It is always fantastic to get out there where you never know what’s going to happen. The whole enjoyment is playing the songs we wrote and having people sing them back to us. That’s the main draw.”

The band have released 14 studio albums in 20 years. An output which would be considered rare these days but totally necessary only two decades ago.

“We write songs and if we don’t like them we write more. That’s always been my attitude.”

It has been the songwriting talent and that attitude which ensured both the bands longevity and their endearing popularity.

“Well there is no plan by any standards. I love live rock and roll and it is that which has prevailed.”

The band released their latest single, ‘Hazard Song,’ last Friday but does having such a large back catalogue and new material to promote make deciding the set list difficult?

“Well lets just say there are a certain number of songs that if we didn’t play we wouldn’t get out of the hall alive, sure you know yourself,” said Davy in his unassuming Galway twang.

Songs, such as the evergreen, ‘I Usedta Love her’ but especially the ‘longing for home’ anthem that is ‘N17’ are, Davy agrees when asked: “As relevant today as they were when first written.

“Well I knew if we hung around long enough we’d come back into fashion. I don’t know if flares are next but I’m delighted we’re about to hit the road even after 20 years of playing, touring and recording. In many ways those songs are as relevant for those who have had to leave Ireland in the last few years as they were back in the 1990s. I hope we can take a little bit of home out to them.

“They are the kind of songs everyone has at home but it is actually, I think a great song. People ask me do I get fed up singing them but how could you?”

‘I usedta Love Her’ spent 35 weeks in the Irish charts, nine on the top spot and held the record for biggest selling Irish single of all time.

“Well that single started the whole thing off for us.”

When pushed on the fact that the Saw Doctors have earned iconic status in Irish music history, Davy said: “Look it’s nice to be part of Irish music history but its nice to be part of its future as well.”

The band built a huge following in USA, England and Australia having initially played to ex-pats there. “The US shows are massive. It was just incredible that we pulled in US audiences especially, we started in 1991 and slowly but steadily built up a large fan base there.”

History repeats itself in the spring of 2012 when the band tour the USA again.

“There are only five of us in the band but we make some noise,” said Davy. The current line up is original members Davy Carton and Leo Moran, former Waterboy, Anthony Thistlethwaite on bass and Kevin Duffy and Eimhin Cradock complete the line up.

In addition to the boys 18 show tour of the UK and their Irish committments, The Saw Doctors have a remarkable 30 US shows in less than forty days.

“Next year is going to be great,” said Davy with some pride.

Clearly this is a man with the same if not greater enthusiasm than when he loaded his amp and microphone in his first tour bus.

To maintain that enthusiasm the band “play homage” to wherever they play live. In Derry that takes the form of a ‘Teenage Kicks’ cover. In London they covered Petula Clarke’s ‘Downtown’ Mrs. Clarke heard the version and invited the band to record it as a duet with her.

“It is such a great song. The whole thing just seemed to happen organically.”

That single will be released in December. However you don’t have to wait until then as The Saw Doctors play Derry’s Millennium Forum on Sunday November 20.

The Derry Journal, thanks to our friends at Wonderland Productions NI, have two pairs of tickets to give away to the show. Simply email with your name and phone number and tell him how many years ago The Saw Doctors formed? See classified pages for terms and conditions.