EACH time you hear about Rackhouse Pilfer, they have passed another milestone on the road to success.
Following the success of the band’s album ‘Love Havoc’, released just over a year and a half ago, the band have gone to win Hot Press magazine’s Best Folk/ Trad Band for 2015 in a readers poll, play for the Irish President and more recently, record two songs on the new Sir Tom Jones album- ‘Long Lost Suitcase’.
Fiddle player and vocalist, Fiachra Cunningham took time out of a busy schedule to talk to the Sligo Weekender about recording with the legendary Tom Jones.
“Tom’s producer heard out album ‘Love Havoc’ and we had been in touch with him [the producer] about possibly producing for us. He is a dream producer and after hearing the album he thought it was a perfect fit for what he was putting together with Tom Jones,” he said.
Although the recordings with Tom Jones are only coming to light now, the Rackhouse boys actually recorded it back in March of this year having been offered the chance in January.
Since then, the project was kept under wraps by Fiachra and his bandmates.
“We were the session band for two of the songs left to record on the album. In January they asked and in March it finally happened. We had to sit on it and wait to see if it would actually happened because they [Tom Jones and his team] had about 40 songs recorded so we did not know if ours would make the final cut. We didn’t know if the songs we recorded would actually make it on to the album or not.”
The songs which Rackhouse Pilfer did record have made it and ‘Honey Honey’, a duet with Tom Jones and Imelda May, with Rackhouse as the band is set to be the leading single off the album.
The other song that the boys recorded with Tom Jones on the album is a Rolling Stones cover of ‘Factory Girl’ from the 1968 album ‘Beggars Banquet’ which has a distinct Bluegrass feel in keeping with Rackhouse Pilfer’s sound.
For Fiachra and his bandmates, since the release of ‘Love Havoc’ there has not been time to bask in their successes and with gigs coming up again in October (at Sligo Live on Sunday, October 25 among others), touring has been relentless.
“It has just been a rollercoaster. We are gigging all the time flat out. It has not really sunk in so we will just keep going,” he said.
Despite the successes on the road, it is important to Rackhouse Pilfer to make time to come back to Sligo where it all began.
“It is our home town. It is important we want to keep our feet in Sligo. They are our core audience and they are core fans so it is important to us to keep close to them. We started off in McGarrigles and really out of Sligo everything else has come,” he said.
For the band members there is now the added balance of gigging nearly all of the time, and also having families.
“It is a balance like in anyone else’s working life. You have the hours that you are away from home and then you have the time where you are home so you just have to make it work. It is kind of flipped on its head. I am at home during the week whereas most people are there at the weekends,” Fiachra said.
Although ‘Love Havoc’ is still very much gathering momentum and the Tom Jones album is not hitting shelves until the second week in October, already the band are looking to get back into the studio and record fresh material in the new year.
“That is why we got in touch with Ethan Johns, Tom Jones’ music producer. We wanted to see if he would be interested in working with us. We are coming up with a few demos to show him. He is in such demand. He works with Paul McCartney as well so he is really the dream producer. We have some really good material and we have a good few songs so that is exciting,” Fiachra said.
For full details on the upcoming Tom Jones album see www.tomjones.com. Details on tickets for Rackhouse Pilfer at Sligo Live on October 25 can be found at www.sligolive.ie