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Waterboy-in-chief Mike Scott has been there, done that and written a song about it. Now he’s chronicled it all in a funny, moving memoir. The biggest revelation? Being a raggle-taggle pin-up doesn’t attract many groupies
Olaf Tyaransen, 05 Jul 2012
One sunny summer’s afternoon in the west of Ireland in 1988, a crazed Peter Lorre lookalike named Bandy Donovan went after The Waterboys with a loaded shotgun. The band had hired this tragic ‘only gay in the village’ typecast to cook and help around Spiddal House while they recorded their now-classic Fisherman’s Blues album.
While the arrangement worked well at first, things soon went sour. Having paid Bandy much bemused attention in the early days, once they got down to serious work the musicians had a lot less time for any inane banter. Suddenly ignored, their hapless hired-hand felt jilted. So much so that, on receiving his first paycheque, he loaded up on booze, pills and shotgun cartridges, and went looking for revenge.
Thankfully, he was blotto enough to be easily disarmed by two of the crew. Not quite grasping the seriousness of what had just occurred, the chastened Bandy asked, “Will I go and make the dinner now?” Not unreasonably, the response was a screamed, “Just fuck off!!”
Waterboy-in-chief Mike Scott was wearing headphones while the incident happened. “I missed most of it,” the silver-haired 53-year-old admits. “I was in the studio recording ‘Spring Comes To Spiddal’, cheerfully oblivious. All I knew was, when I came out, there had been this big fracas. There was [producer John] Dunford and your man with the rubber face, squirming.”
The Spiddal shotgun incident is just one of numerous amusing anecdotes peppering the pages of Scott’s brilliantly written memoir Adventures Of A Waterboy. Like a full-length version of one of his better songs, it tells the tale of the Edinburgh-born singer-songwriter’s single-minded devotion to his artistic muse, from his teenage years in Ayrshire, editing fanzines and fronting garage bands, to his long peripatetic career as shamanic leader of The Waterboys.
We’re sitting in the comfortably faded grandeur of a reception room in Borris House, a large and impressive country pile outside Carlow, having just finished a public interview as part of the Éigse Arts Festival. While he’s enjoying the experience of being a published author on a book tour, reading onstage rather than singing is proving strange. “I would’ve brought my guitar tonight, but I thought there was gonna be a piano.”