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The big time came knocking but Jack L said, "No thanks, I’d rather do my own thing." In a revealing interview, he explains why he’d rather be an underground star and tells of how melancholy gets him out of bed every morning.
Craig Fitzsimons, 20 Oct 2006
To begin at the beginning. Jack L was born Sean Loughman (hence the early song ‘Lock Man’) in Athy, Co. Kildare, and worked as a trainee mechanic until, busking around Europe, it dawned on him that he could sing for a living.
Following a stint in the short-lived but intriguing Serious Women, a Sly Stone-influenced funk entity, Jack properly found his voice with the Black Romantics, who created a mighty word-of-mouth stir within weeks of their first gigs in early 1995.
Mixing Jacques Brel covers with Jack’s own embryonic forays into songwriting, those gigs soon passed into local legend, with the gang serving up pure black midnight magic to an increasingly enchanted audience.
At a time when the zeitgeist in general was well-disposed to string-soaked torch-song balladry (Tindersticks and the Divine Comedy had just burst into bloom), this stuff was manna from heaven. Jack’s singing was, without any exaggeration, comparable to vintage Scott Walker, while his stagecraft was spellbinding: a touch of Sinatra Swingin’ Lovers slickness, hints of Nick Cave’s preacher-storyteller theatricality, possibly the ghost of Jim Morrison welded into a unique whole. On more than one occasion, his heart-on-sleeve delivery brought to mind the great Willy deVille, not a compliment I’d bestow lightly. This period is documented to fine effect on the Wax album.
Wary of being seen as just a tribute act, Jack split from the Blacks in 1996, concentrated on his own material, and belatedly hit record stores three years later with the universally well-received Metropolis Blue.
Another collection, Universe, followed in 2001. By now, Jack’s rabid live following (there are people who claim to have witnessed every one of his Dublin performances) was packing out The Point on a regular basis, while the voice was being hailed as ‘a national treasure’, and serenading Lansdowne Road audiences at rugby internationals. And the momentum continues. His first album in five years, Broken Songs, recently went double platinum, and has just been joined in stores by a sparkling live DVD entitled Memento, released in response to public demand.