Damien Leith is an incredibly busy man, releasing eight albums in nine years, writing two books and now, taking his one man cabaret show The Parting Glass: An Irish Journey on tour around the country. That’s why we at Glam were thrilled to be able to steal 5 minutes of his precious time to chat about his latest endeavours.
But first to start at the beginning. And no, we don’t mean the infamous TV show that shot him into the spotlight. Before the days of Australian Idol, Damien was a man of science. A chemist in fact, we quizzed him on what seems like such a strange transition to novels, songwriting and theatre?
“Actually music and literature was with me all along. It was the Science degree that was a step in a different direction for me. I’d been in my family band for years before and I just wanted to try something a little different. When I was offered to do science at UCD (University College Dublin) music and literature were already such a huge part of my life. I was playing around four gigs a week with the band at that point, so this was just something new, and I guess something to fall back on to.”
But as it often does, passion and pure talent prevailed, and not only is Damien 22 shows in to an almost 35 show strong tour, he also just released his eighth album since his Australian Idol win in 2006. For a one man show that could be quite draining we imagine?
“Look it has obviously been a huge run and it has been tiring but the reward at the end of each performance outweighs that. It’s such a buzz. We’ve been lucky enough to have a fantastic run and the show has evolved so much since the Adelaide Cabaret Festival debut. It has become quite a different show. I think it has really come together and it’s a lot more smooth now.”
Wanting to delve a little deeper into the plotline, we asked him to tell us more about the play. What inspired such an honest performance? Is it purely fiction or are there some family truths?
“I can’t deny that there’s a lot of me and my background in this play. It’s spoken by the role of an old Irish father sipping Guiness in an Irish pub, talking about his son living in Australia. He can be a little narrow minded as you often find with the front bar of an Irish pub, which leads to a bit of comedy, particularly for the Australian audience… I worked in bars many, many years ago when I lived in Ireland, many of the people I met then helped me create this character. So obviously it has a lot of correlations with my life, and I guess it’s almost loosely how I see myself being in years to come. It’s filled with a lot of love and raw emotion too.”
With the coinciding of this tour with the release of his latest album Songs of Ireland we asked Damien if anything from the new album featured in the play or if he’s chosen to keep them separate?
“No I haven’t written anything new (for the play) but I played around and created new arrangements for traditional Irish songs I love. I wanted to lift the song or bring them to a new place. But yes I kept them separate from the album. I like having them independent of each other.”
Of course we had to touch on The Parting Glass: An Irish Journey debuting in our humble city.
Yes debuting the show at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival was incredible. David Campbell contacted me and asked if I’d like to contribute. He’d heard that playwriting was a passion of mine. It’s actually where it all began really. I started writing plays when I was about 13. I’ve written a lot. But yes, we had such a humbling response at the Cabaret Festival. Of course, as I mentioned it has really evolved since then. But I’m excited to bring it back to where it all began.”
This time around The Gov is the only Adelaide destination on the tour. What was so special about this venue for you?
“I love it (The Gov.) We actually played a few shows there on tour several years ago now and honestly it was one of the best places we performed on the tour. It’s a little bit rock and roll, and it’s very intimate which works perfectly with this performance. I wanted the main character to be right there talking directly to the crowd and this venue is so personal, it works perfectly. I’m very excited to get back there.”
So after the play is all over, what does the future hold for Damien Leith?
“I actually think the show has a lot more legs. Like I said it has evolved so much since its beginnings in Adelaide and I think it could still develop different paths and go different places after this particular tour. The plan is to take it to America next. The themes of immigration, family and being Irish I think would really work for the audiences over there. But as far as my other avenues go, lots of it comes and goes with my moods. Sometimes I feel like writing songs, sometimes I feel like writing novels. It changes with the wind.”
Throughout our chat we felt inspired by Damien telling us he writes every single day, no matter how he feels because there’s always potential for new ideas in those thoughts.
“I look back on journals from years ago and it often sparks new material for me. I’d always say that to writers, no matter what your chosen field I think it’s important to write every day if that’s your passion. And to create goals. I give myself a lot of deadlines, and then I tell other people about them, so then I HAVE to get things finished.”
So that’s the secret to success folks! Tell the world about your plans, then you can’t back out. Just incase you’re wondering: Glam is planning world domination. See? Now we can’t back out.
Chatting to Damien, especially as a writer, was truly inspirational. He has achieved so much and is a constant source of talent and drive. His continuous successes are a direct representation of his passion and certainly motivated us to push a little harder for those hopes and dreams. We can’t wait to see The Parting Glass: An Irish Journey up close and personal when it arrives at The Gov. And in the mean time we’ll be playing Songs From Ireland in the background of the Glam office, whilst daydreaming of skipping through the Irish countryside with a man named Finn.
The Gov | Fri 9 Oct
Tickets: $34.70 + Booking Fee
Doors open @ 7:30 pm
Set one: 8:45 – 9:45pm
Set two: 10:05 – 11:05pm
To grab tickets to Damien’s Adelaide performance of The Parting Glass: An Irish Journey click here.
To learn more about Damien click here.