This is a milestone year for The Saw Doctors in more ways than one.
Not only is the band celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2011, but it is also raising a collective glass to 20 consecutive years of touring in the United States.
Saw Doctors singer/guitarist Leo Moran, a founding member of the hard-working band from the West of Ireland, recently reflected on two decades of tours on American shores.
Medleyville.us: What do you remember most from the first time The Saw Doctors toured the United States?
Leo Moran: “I actually remember quite a bit — our first show on the American continent with Tommy McGann in his bar in Easton [Massachusetts]; our show in The Channel in Boston after a late get-in after a teenage metal afternoon; The Iron Horse in Northampton [Massachusetts], a town that has become a home [away] from home for us over the years; Tramps on West 21st in Manhattan [with] people literally hanging from the rafters; trying to find The Chestnut Caberet in Philly and getting confused with I-95 and I-195; Sly and Robbie calling in to the dressing room; Turps [former member John Burke] drinking Wild Turkey the night we arrived before the first gig, not realizing it was a shot of whiskey they ordered in the movies with the beer, not a whiskey whiskey.”
Describe American audiences in five words or less.
Moran: “Loyal, early, particularly interested.”
In terms of issues unrelated to performing, what have been the most challenging for the band over the last 20 years of touring the United States?
Moran: “It’s important for us to reach out to the music community at large — not to be seen as just an Irish band. Rather, we want to be seen as a ‘band from Ireland’ — a subtle difference, but it’s important to us. We would ambitiously like to see ourselves — and nobody else might see us — as being in the area of Steve Earle or Ron Sexsmith, sharing our ideas and idioms with the rest of the world as they do, so we constantly try and balance the Irish draw toward the audience with a general music fans’ appeal.”
In “Indian Summer,” the latest Saw Doctors single, there’s the line “We’ll find a quiet spot where few footsteps fall.” Does the band have any favorite “quiet spots” — in this case, bars or restaurants — around the U.S.?
Moran: “There’s a slang word for drink over here — it’s ‘gargle,’ or, more locally, ‘gaagle.’ We have many, many favorite watering holes and restaurants; we’ve even considered starting a Web site called www.gaagleearth.com — though, of course, we probably never will.
“I love the food in the U.S. — the seafood in particular, [and] the steaks and loads more. It’s funny: When you arrive back in a familiar, or half-familiar town, the memories come flowing back.”
— Introduction and interview by Chris M. Junior
The Saw Doctors on tour (schedule subject to change):
* Aug. 11 and 12: Cape Cop Melody Tent — Hyannis, Mass.
* Aug. 13: The Stone Pony — Asbury Park, N.J.
* Aug. 14: NYCB Theatre — Westbury, N.Y.