After the lighthouse, ADT back in spotlight

September 20th, 2023 6:00 AM

By Martin Claffey

ADT retuns with his second album Volume Two, which will be launched at the Clonakilty International Guitar Festival. (Photo: Bríd O’Donovan)

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AFTER a summer shining a light at unusual venues around Ireland’s coast, singer songwriter ADT is returning home to launch his new album Volume Two.

The summer spotlight came from a successful tour of Ireland’s lighthouses, and now the Ardfield artist  launches his second album at this year’s Clonakilty International Guitar Festival, performing an early gig with full band at DeBarras on Sunday September 24th at 12pm midday.

But back to that summer, and that tour with a difference, which included memorable performances at the Fastnet. Where did the idea come from?

‘I have a fascination with lighthouses. Growing up, I used to look out my window and look out at Galley Head Lighthouse.  But it’s more than that, I love their structure, and the stories of the people who lived there. 

‘I had an idea about playing music at lighthouses of Ireland and I asked Irish Lights who are responsible for the lighthouses if I could get permission. 

‘Eventually six agreed, and I tied it in with festivals. So I performed at Rathlin Island, the Great Light in Belfast, Valentia, Loop Head, the Fastnet as part of the Skibbereen Arts Festival, and at Sea Church in Ballycotton.’

ADT – Alan Daniel Tobin –  is ready to face the spotlight again this week when he performs an early gig at DeBarras on Sunday September 24th  as part of this year’s Clonakilty International Guitar Festival. ‘I think I’ve played the festival in some guise every year since it started, so it’s great to be there to launch the album,’ he says.

Now aged 43, ADT is quietly becoming something of a veteran of the music scene, but still manages to combine music and performance with his work as a graphic designer, and family life in Carrigaline with wife Katherine and their three children Ada Rose (8), Evie May (6), and Eliza Jean (4).

‘I don’t have any interest in going on long tours or going away for months on end. I’d miss my family too much,’ he says. 

It’s clear ADT is happy to do things his own way. He speaks of ‘field work’, carrying a recording device with him wherever he goes, and recording sounds and thus capturing moments in time. The new album Volume Two includes some of these moments, soundbites from his recent life, from New York to Cork. ‘I’m not a perfectionist with the music. If there’s outside noise, I want to capture that too, that moment,’ he says. 

‘I think that’s why I enjoy working with (producer) Justin Grounds so much too. We’re both in the moment.’ 

The sea is a huge influence on ADT’s new album, as is family.  Growing up in Ardfield, ADT’s musicial inspirations were loud and proud: AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana. He still loves that music, but somewhere along the line his inspiration for his own music saw him turn the volume down a bit, to a much more softer, acoustic sound, developed with bands he performed in like Low Mountain.

The years on the music scene in West Cork and beyond have seen him build up a bank of friends – some of his old friends play their part on Volume Two.

‘There are a lot of collaborations. My old bandmates Niall and Deirdre from Low Mountain appear on the album, as does Justin Grounds, Elly O’Keeffe, Emma Langford, QUIET, and The Bones Below.’

Some of these collaborators, including Justin Grounds, Deirdre Archibold, and Ger and Mary Walsh (The Bones Below) will perform with ADT for his gig at DeBarras.

The artwork for Volume Two was a specially commissioned piece by Aidan O’Regan from Clonakilty, who reworked a photograph ADT took on an early morning run from Carrigaline to Crosshaven. ‘Aidan is so talented, I love what he does,’ says ADT. And to mark the launch of the album, ADT will perform a few songs from the album in a special acoustic set at Aidan’s studio, The Store Room on Astna Street in Clonakilty,  on Thursday 21st, which ADT will livestream online also. 

Meanwhile, ADT is active in education also, and the students of Clonakilty Community College will get to benefit from a design and music workshop with ADT on Friday September 22nd. This is one of a number of community events taking place around the town as part of the Clonakilty International Guitar Festival. 

• See clonguitarfest.com

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